A look at Ruth’s typical Tuesday (hint about title!) gives a good picture of the activities she is involved in the rest of the week here in Blantyre.
After morning devotions with the Zambesi Mission staff, I go off to my Chichewa lesson at the SIM Malawi compound. For the first four months Myles and I have had shared lessons, but now we have our lessons separately to allow for our different learning speeds. This means more of the hour can be spent practicing conversation with Fanny. We can also start to focus in on vocabulary that will be specifically useful for me teaching children, and training Sunday School teachers, so that in time I am able to do this without needing an interpreter.
From my lesson I go straight to the Children For Christ Ministries (CFCM) office at Mitsidi, where Joseph and Elevate are usually already met and down to work. Our main work is in running Bible Clubs in the Blantyre area, encouraging and providing materials for others who run clubs, running occasional special events like our recent 5-day club, and running training seminars for Sunday School teachers and Bible Club leaders. The clubs we run are on Thursdays and Fridays, and the training seminars are on Saturdays. Office time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is needed for organizing these events, planning budgets, and currently revising and translating the handouts given at each seminar. As far as office equipment goes, there is one computer, (but electricity only 70% of the time) and a laminator. All printing and photocopying has to be done at shops in town. Likewise, there is no reliable internet service in the office, so if there are any emails to be sent, that currently has to be done at an internet café in town.
At 12.25 we set off for the Bible College – it’s a 20 minute drive if I have the car, but if I don’t have the car, it’s an hour’s walk. At the Bible College we meet with the students who are particularly focussing on children’s ministry and whom CFCM help to train to run Bible Clubs, and provide their teaching materials. Each student reports on the clubs they are running as part of their activities, and we have a time of prayer for all the children’s work that is going on. The work with the students is particularly strategic, as at the end of their courses, these young men and women will go off to work in all parts of Malawi, and in many cases will pioneer children’s work and Sunday School. We seek to train them to a level where they can start to train others wherever they go.
When Joseph and Elevate leave the Bible College to go back to do more office work, I stay on, and switch to music teacher for the afternoon. Tuesday afternoon at the college is a time for vocational training – some learn to sew, some do hairdressing, some do basic construction – and some want to learn music. I help one of the staff members, Jacob, who has been focussing on guitar, but with my coming we have been able to add keyboard and music literacy into the session. Regularly 8 young men, and 1 of the wives, attend the music club. Many years ago music was axed from the curriculum in schools in Malawi, so even if everyone can sing, and a few have picked up a few chords on guitar, they have no real understanding of the theory of music and how it works. I can tell by the searching questions they ask that they really want to get their heads around it, and to have the knowledge and confidence to use music in their future ministries. Most weeks, besides a bit of theory, they choose a song they want to play, we work out the chords needed for guitar and keyboard, and by the end of the session aim to have a new song put together. It is such a joy to see them piece things together, progress from one week to the next, help each other out – and discover a new skill they didn’t expect to find at Bible College.
Tuesday evenings is rarely a time to put my feet up. I will have to do my Chichewa homework, and learn any new vocabulary from the morning’s lesson. Sometimes I will need to prepare a story, or a memory verse, or a colouring sheet for a Bible Club later in the week. Or a session for a teacher training seminar. Lately I have been typing up the newly revised and translated CFCM course notes for the new booklets we are producing. Other times I might need to start preparing for the next music literacy session that I run every second Sunday afternoon for church musicians. Or prepare for a talk or devotion I have to lead. It’s great being busy – and busy doing things I enjoy so much – and to be able to see how the opportunities and experiences of recent years have equipped me for my many roles out here in Malawi.