Sabbath in Blantyre. Wedding day minus one....

Saturday, April 27, 2019
Blantyre, Southern Region, Malawi
The data bundle on our Internet dongle ran out. So, we’re without Internet again.  In the AM, we asked the JGG to top it up again.  While we have had haphazard Internet, I was able to post a lot of things on my my blog, send things to the home office like the eNews and answer some necessary emails.
We sent out some clothes to be washed. Going to breakfast out of the corner of our eye we see them hanging on the clothesline trying to dry. They did finally come back to the room after a couple of days. We have never stayed at such a nice-looking place where where you feel like you’re “roughing it” with few places to sit, warm cold drinks and chasing after the Internet.
The dongle for Internet was taken by two girls from the UK, I think, that were using it.  We had to follow them around to get Internet as the dongle extended only 11 meters. We finally told them that we were following them for WiFi, because it may have appeared that we were stalking them. At the end of this day we had some WiFi, but by morning it was all gone, probably because the the dongle needed to be plugged in to recharge and the girls didn’t understand that.
Dan Ringo picked us up about 10 am from the Lodge. He texted me that he’s a bit late. Tomorrow is his wedding and I know that that it's very much on his mind. When we arrive at the Blantyre church building, there is a feeling of comfort with our congregation. We have known some of these people for more than 20 years. Beautiful people who have stayed the course. 
Here are some of the lovely people we cross paths with again:
·       Kelvin and Jane Nhlema. We had given her a scholarship to learn tailoring and dress-making. At the end of church services she and her husband made a presentation.
·       Tinyade, daughter of Mwai in Lilongwe and her little daughter Oleti
·       Of course, Litatha Mapinda again and Dennis and Flora Chinangwe. Litatha and Dennis are brother/sister.  Their mother Mrs. Mapinda was here, too, and I spoke with her. Her English typically has not been very good, but we were able to communicate better than ever before today.
The people here have expressed much sincere appreciation for what the United Church of God is producing.   It was so heartening to see them carefully watch the Beyond Today television program. Both days the BT program was by Steve Myers. Today’s program was about what church you should be going to and included on-the-street interviews.
Mr. GG Chakaza gave the sermonette today. It’s about the continuation of the meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread by being in a state of watchful repentance. He’s almost 90 years old and had to be helped up to the stage, but his voice was strong and he delivered the message with clarity and conviction. At one time he was an elder in the Worldwide Church of God, but chose not continue as an elder in the United Church of God. What a wonderful man! He congratulated me for being reconfirmed for another three years as President of the United Church of God. He was baptized in 1974 and has a long history of being a kind and loving elder who instantly commands respect because of his humility and love.
Here are some others that we talked to:
·       BB Buvunguti from Monkey Bay. That’s a long ways away and he can only get to services on the Holy Days.  The next time he said he’d come to Blantyre from Lake Malawi would be for Pentecost.
So, we talked with BB and GG. Here are a few others:
·       Bob and Quest Chikaza (scholarship students)
·       Clement Makomba, who is now a guard and caretaker of the grounds
·       Kingsley Chisombo, “big fish”
·       Also, Elizabeth Chipalinga, who is going strong at almost 90 years of age.
I delivered the sermon on the subject of grace. I’m working on the proposed booklet on grace and am somewhat filled with the subject, so pastor Gracious Mpilangwe said it would be a good topic for the people. I thought it went well. The consecutive translation is a bit disconcerting. I thanked Osborne Liyawo for staying with me. He told me that I was easy to follow. At one time I thought it was good to have the momentary pause while they were translating into the native language, but I found that it could be disconcerting and you could even lose your train of thought!
After the service on the Sabbath they have tea and bread. That’s the tradition and it was so today. You have a choice of bread with butter or peanut butter. The choice was obvious to me. 
The people just casually talk and talk afterwards and we found ourselves being “one of them.”  Again, the young adults—birds of one feather—were all in a big circle with socializing and  talking or just plain being together. 
Tonight we were to go out with Mark and Agnes Katsonga Phiri. She is a friend Rotarian who back in 2004 arranged for our two ambulances for LifeNets. She has been Assistant District Governor for Rotary here in this part of Africa. She’s been president of the Blantyre Club and has also worked directly for the President of Malawi in Inland Revenue, Excise and Customs.  Her husband Mark has been a member of Parliament, Head of the Chamber of Commerce and owner of the AXA bus company that we travel on between Lilongwe and Blantyre.
We had a some mix-up on times and when and where to meet. They invited us to stay at their home on the south side of Blantyre, but with the wedding the next day, I needed to stay at the Jolly Green Giant, for better or worse. She had driven down from Lilongwe through the day and insisted on bringing us down to their home. Her husband was not able to make it as he’s campaigning for a seat in the Parliament. He had also been a candidate for President of Malawi from the People’s Progressive Movement, but for Parliament he’s campaigning as an independent. Both Mark and Agnes have stayed with us in the US a few times and I went with them to Chicago in 2005 for Rotary’s 100th anniversary Convention at the McCormick Center. 
We have really appreciated our relationship.  They have been very helpful to the United Church of God even though they are Catholic. Last year they helped us get electric power to our church building in Blantyre. We were on limited solar for about a year and finally Mark Phiri, through his connections, was able to get us connected. Everything is so painfully s-l-o-w.
Agnes talked about the successes of their three daughters. Heather married an English medical doctor Harry and lives in Birmingham, UK. Yolanda used to live in Australia and now lives in Blantyre. Tiamo is graduating with a master’s degree in Chicago. She had gone to college in Greencastle, Indiana where we knew her when Bev and I lived in Indianapolis. Mark and Agnes are going to Chicago for her graduation in June.
We got home after 11 pm. The wedding is tomorrow!
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