Last Day in Lilongwe - sorry to leave...

Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Lilongwe, Central Region, Malawi
We came by the LifeNets Business Center today and our business manager Joseph Mughogho was not himself.  He has malaria. He was feverish and had what he suspected. He went to the clinic earlier this morning for an assessment and for antibiotics. It is our last day here and because we have an important meeting with him as the church’s accountant, he wanted to be sure to be here.  I feel bad for him.
We came into the church hall where we had tables set up for the meeting. Also, Wilfred Chitseme, our member from far away that I had earlier described came by.  He is staying the week to observe the Last Day of Unleavened Bread here in Lilongwe. He told us that he was feverish, too, and I anointed him with Brennan being present.  We hope that the malaria is not spreading!
We are trying to find a way to move Wilfred to Lilongwe so he wouldn’t have so far to travel and be closer to the church. He is so faithful and has been so for decades.  He is an inspiration to others of putting God first, no matter what the circumstances and condition are in his life.  
The first item of business was talking about what could be done for Wilfred.  His sister lives in Lilongwe and a proposal was made to build him a little home on her one-acre plot, if she would be agreeable to that.  Also, a thought was proposed for him to provide a battery charging facility for cell phones where he could earn a little money. EVERYONE has a cell phone, but with power outages and being away from outlets, charging stations are doing well. He would use battery packs to provide the power for the phones and make a little money that way.
Our group went on, then, to discuss the Lilongwe church budget. It really needed a makeover as the Lilongwe budget and Blantyre budget are completely separate now.  There were some additions that needed to be made, but mostly certain vestigial reoccurring expenses need be eliminated. We went on about that for some time. 
Then Filius Jere and his wife Chosiwe joined us. 
Brennan and Michala brought up a proposal to start a small church farm.  It would provide some food, but very importantly be a project to involve our young people. We are looking into buying a plot of land on the outskirts of Lilongwe and putting a borehole on it for irrigation. The Hilgen’s already have some of the financing provided by interested parties in the United States. The farming proposal would use Conservation Farming methodology and would be a training experience as well as a food raising one. It would be a demonstration farm. 
Filius then spoke at length about the Conservation Farming (“CF” as he calls it). It is actually quite simple, but labor intensive.  He explained the entire process of mulching, composting.  Its results are great.  It is important to start small.  A farmer starting out should see the difference on his own plot with planted maize or ground nuts.
Finally, we talked about a combined Feast of Tabernacles site for the Chipata, Zambia people and the Lilongwe, Malawi brethren. I didn’t know what reaction we would get from the Lilongwe group, but it was very positive and enthusiastically received.  I told them about the Sunnyside Lodge outside Chipata that had a little lake and reasonably-priced cottages.   It has a shelter where services could be held.  Plans were quickly underway to send a delegation from Lilongwe to take a look as early as this coming Sunday. 
The meeting adjourned just after 3 p.m.  We have been together for almost six hours.  Filius and Chowise are anxious to get back to Zambia and Cephas Chapamba drove them to the border.  Cephas lives close to the border and often has patients to his clinic come across the border from Zambia.
The Hilgen’s then took us to a nursery to look at various plants from the area and have something to eat.  It was most enjoyable looking at the plants.
Police are on the road everywhere and we get stopped often.  Almost every day with Brennan, any length of ride has a police stop checking for insurance and driver's license. Brennan told me that when they traveled to Blatyre, they were stopped 12 times.  It's always the same thing.  Insurance, license, how long have you been in the country etc.   
Then we went back to Brennan and Michala’s home to do a podcast and talk more about his duties as modified by our coming to visit here. When we arrived the power was out.  It can be out for hours.  I think that this is one of those times.  We just sat and talked as the evening came on.  We fired up one of the solar-powered lanterns that we brought and it really worked nicely!   It gave an ambient glow to the room and we had adequate light to see one another and see things around us. 
We did the podcast. It ran 25 minutes and I thought it was most interesting to hear Brennan and Michala speak of their experiences.
Finally, the Hilgens drove us back to the Mafumu where we are staying.  The temperature outside is markedly cooler as the season is turning to autumn and soon it will be winter here.
I have been without Internet all day… it was not working all day at the office, but I was able to upload some photos tonight.  As I’m writing this on Wednesday morning, the Internet is out at the hotel, as well.  But, we get used to this.  You have what you have and what you don’t you don’t. 
Oh, one more funeral parlor name sighted today:  Earth Clock Funerals. Could maybe Earth Clock and Heaven Bound consider a merger?
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Scott H.

We can very much relate to the internet being is what it is...catchy funeral home safe!

Lorraine Barnett

So thankful for your updates. Will be praying for Joseph and Wilfred and the malaria scare! You bring us closer to our African brothers and sisters with your thoughtful blog posts. I was excited to hear about the Conservation Farming and the possibility of a church farm. I have been researching for the past year or so a method of farming/gardening that is referred to in various terms in this country--Back to Eden...which is essentially the "chop and drop" mulching which sounds like what "CF" is. I have thought many times as I tend my newly converted "Back to Eden" garden that this would be a beautiful way to feed the world's people in God's Kingdom! Exciting to hear that Filius is thinking this way, too. Can't wait to hear more about it!

Filius Jere

Yes, Lorraine, CF is actually all about heeding God's directive to Adam and Eve when He (Gen 2:15)took them, put them in the Garden of Eden to dress (take good care of) it and keep (not destroy) it. Unfortunately, man's subsequent actions over the centuries have been rather selfish and destructive to God's gift, with dire results to the soil and its capacity to produce food, and the environment. Yet it only takes a few simple steps backwards to reclaim what we have destroyed - steps so simple they are unbelievable. In the coming year, Brennan and Michala may convince a handful of people in Malawi that it is still possible to replenish our earth!

Aaron Dean

Glad to see things going well. Lots of memories.

GregRandi Hilgen

Nice to hear the ideas on growth in the congregations! Keep up the great work...