We’ve been trendy and “off-grid” for a few days, but now (Wed) we have finally reached Karonga, and in a guest house that not only has electricity – but air-conditioning as well – a first for us!! This is our most northerly base for this trip, though one of our planned day-trips will be to visit the church at Chitipa, which is almost at the Tanzanian/Zambian border. We will then be able to say we have been at the most southerly and the most northerly points in Malawi during our stay.
Our weekend of training in Rumphi was again well-received, and it was humbling to see the distances some had travelled to attend “Preach the Word”. A prayer-house we had visited during the previous week, where we had been presented with the gift of a goat to mark our visit, sent the largest number of delegates to the training, despite having the farthest to travel, being dependent on passing trucks for transport, and facing 2 nights sleeping on the floor of the church.
Although overall numbers at the training were lower in this more rural location, the people trained were much better targeted: men and women who actually preach and teach in their roles in the church, and therefore gained the maximum benefit from “Preach the Word”. Myles was particularly impressed by a number of young mothers who attended the whole course with babies strapped to their backs, and managed to concentrate and fully participate.
Thanks to UK supporters, we have been offering subsidized Bibles everywhere we go, and church members who have never owned a Bible, and for whom even paying one fifth of the retail price is a major expense, have seized the opportunity to buy one in either Chichewa or Chitumbuka.
Cross-denominational Sunday School training also took place in Rumphi, and for this Ruth was joined by another colleague from Blantyre, Etiny Thole. They were encouraged by the number of Pastors who attended the training as well as the Sunday School teachers from their churches – a really strong indication of the value they place on children’s ministry – something that is sadly not reflected everywhere.
Our third weekend of training completed, it was time for a few days break, and a much anticipated trip to visit Livingstonia where the early Free Church of Scotland missionaries established their mission to Northern Malawi in 1894. In the mountains at 3000ft above sea-level, on a strategically located plateau, they established a church, hospital and school that became the centre of their outreach in the region that reached as far as Mzuzu. The original buildings are well preserved because they now house the small (800 student-strong) University of Livingstonia. The carefully planned village layout and the architecture reminded us of Scottish mill towns like Blantyre in South Lanarkshire.
But most memorable was the bumpy, rocky 15km drive, incorporating 20 hairpin bends, from the lake shore up the steep mountainside to reach Livingstonia. As we gained height the views became more and more spectacular – and the challenge of passing an oncoming vehicle (thankfully not many) became more and more hairy. Our ‘back-packer chic’ accommodation at the Mushroom Farm was also second-to-none – we will let the pictures speak for themselves.