This morning we had a respite from the extra full days of travel and moving about. It is Sabbath morning and we rested well. I had a chance to do some studying for my sermon today plus do some journal writing. Services are scheduled for 11:00 but we were told that people from the country are sometimes an hour late and services can start as late as noon. It is about fifteen minutes from the Baptist Missionary apartments where we stay to the Malakia Clinic where we hold services. We agreed for our drivers in the ambulance to come and get us at 10:45 am.
They were there, but the traffic back to Area 21 of Lilongwe where the clinic is located was fierce and in gridlock. It was almost completely stopped and we had to find an alternate route along a dusty road to get to services. We were a half hour late and most of the people were already in their seats waiting for the services to start.
It as wonderful to see everyone again. We recognized most of the people. There were a few new people as well. We definitely have a bond after five trips to this area in six years. Also, from New York City were Henry and Cindy Khembo. Henry used to live in Malawi, but has married Cindy and now works in New York. He travels three to four times a year to Malawi and is an aggressive business person.
Edwin Chonde was the song-leader and I accompanied him on the electric keyboard on the table next to the podium.
Then the elder Gladstone Chonde gave the sermonette, the Cephas Chafumbo from Jumpha gave the announcements and I followed with a sermon about the New Testaments meaning of the Day of Atonement.
After services we fellowshipped and slowly worked our back on foot to the Chonde's home where we had dinner and talked a lot more. Henry Khembo is an intense person who had lots of ideas about improving Malawi.
Alice Chonde and her daughter-in-law Edda prepared dinner of rice, beef, sweet potato and greens accompanied by a bottle of soda pop. We just really enjoy being with these people!
The Khembo's took us back to the Baptist Missionary Apartments in their travel trailer. They keep this vehicle in Malawi for travel within the country on their often trips.
Tomorrow morning I do the wedding for Lovenace and James Luwanja before Bev and I head for the airport and on to Blantyre. The wedding was to be done by Gladstone Chonde, but when visiting ministers come, a task like this is quickly passed on. So, we'll see how that goes.
Malawi marriage customs are difficult to explain. The couple is really married when they become "engaged." There is usually quite a celebration at that time with all the families involved. The Luwanja's have been engaged for almost two years. Usually the marriage follows shortly, but they waited for this time for the formalities of the marriage ceremony.
Bev and I ate some bread with jam and an orange where we stayed. You cannot go out safely once you're in a compound and we have no vehicular transportation.
Sabbath in Lilongwe, Malawi
Saturday, September 30, 2006