Last week Myles had the privilege of staying for six nights in the home of a ZEC pastor in the capital city of Lilongwe. It was a very comfortable home by Malawi standards and Myles quickly relaxed into the very different, calm rhythms of life in a Malawi household.
He quickly got used to ‘taking a bath’ Malawi style using his cupped hands to fling water over himself from a basin on the floor of the wash-room. He even got used to the typical ‘long drop’ pit latrine and after a bit of research on the web (we are talking about Myles after all) achieved the correct balancing technique to avoid nasty accidents!
In fact, with the pastor’s house sitting together with the church in its own large walled compound, Myles felt he could have been in a rural village rather than in the middle of the city and only a few kilometres from the seat of government.
And it struck him how much the Malawi household is dominated by the steady, joyful service of the womenfolk as they worked tirelessly with simple tools to keep their family and their family’s home scrupulously clean.
Later in the week, this ‘solidarity of the sisterhood’ was even more evident as dozens of women descended on the compound to prepare for the marriage of one of the daughters of the house; filling the place with laughter, song and dance from (too) early in the morning until (long) after dark as they selflessly prepared food for the coming celebration.
We should avoid romanticising the challenges faced by so many Malawians in their daily lives. However, this was yet another lesson for us in the contrasts between life in the West where we have so much materially but see ever increasing levels of anxiety and stress in people, and Malawi life where people have so little materially but we see such a clear sense of communal joy in God-given life itself.
We certainly have a lot to learn from each other before together, as believers from all nations, we are gathered together in perfected communal joy before our Father in heaven.
“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”