All too quickly it is time for us to once again say farewell to Malawi.
As we drove up the escarpment from the Shire River to Blantyre this afternoon at the end of our second road trips, I must admit that I found myself disappointed that it would inevitably be some considerable time before we would be back in what now feels like a second home.
Our last meeting in Lilongwe on this busy day was with Pastor Rex Umali, who is the pastor of Area 23 ZEC. It was to be a perfect example of one of the most exciting things about these visits; their complete unpredictability. Your are just never sure what you will find and how God will use it to shape you. This time we were surprised and challenged to hear this faithful pastor’s wonderful testimony.
It reminded us a little of our time in Plano, Texas in the 90’s as we drove through the large flat plots of land on the outskirts of Lilongwe that were filling rapidly with expanding suburbia. And there, incongruously, in the corner of a giant building lot, sat the small “Gulliver Prayer House” of ZEC.
Tired after a long day of visits we nevertheless stopped off at Namitete ZEC on our way to our guest house at Mchinji in the very west of Malawi, near the Zambia border. However our weariness quickly evaporated in the face of the cheerful enthusiasm of Pastor Masoamphambe, his wife, his family, and his leadership team.
As we left the Anglican guest house at Chilema little did we know how long a day it was going to be of travel interspersed with interesting visits and conversations before we found our way in the dark to the Roman Catholic guest house in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. Regardless of the state of the truck’s suspension, by then our personal “rear suspension” was painfully sensitive after sitting in the cramped rear bench of our 4×4 truck. Little surprise that the plain quiet comfort of the guest house run by nuns was very welcome indeed!
We were all up early for our drive from the Chilema guest house to the ZEC operated clinic at Nthorowa. Being the end of the rainy season everything is bushy and green but that did not stop Simon and Luckwell directing us down ‘roads’ that looked more like overgrown bridlepaths. I was driving and as we grew in confidence we decided to take a “shorti cut” that turned out to be a “shorti cut” too far.
Today we celebrated a very special Palm Sunday with a new group of Malawi brothers and sisters at Malosa Zambezi Evangelical Church. And there was no mistaking it was Palm Sunday either as we spent the 70 mile drive from Blantyre on the Zomba road either dodging long lines of palm branch waving locals on the way to church, or the palm branch selling entrepreneurs desperate to make a quick buck!
EBCoM students focussed on their game of bottle top drafts”
Ruth and I were privileged to be asked to return to the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM) on the student’s only real rest day (Saturday) to be able to meet with them socially over lunch.
It was a great time to see these committed men and women relax together over a game of “bottle-top drafts” or strumming a guitar. But it was even more inspiring to hear their personal testimonies of sacrifice and calling as we chatted through lunch.
We were delighted to returned to EBCoM on Saturday to meet with a remarkable lady, Mrs Mercy Mkwezalamba, who some time ago established a course for the wives of the male 3rd year students. In a culture where women so often fail to complete high school this is an innovative step.
As with our first visit, the start of this return visit to Malawi has been relatively slow as we have recuperated from the long flight, readjusted to Malawi life, and had some important coordination meetings with the leaders at Zambezi Evangelical Church and the leaders of the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi.
Its been over 6 months but finally, tomorrow, aboard a Kenya Airways flight, we will be heading back to Malawi with Mike Beresford of Zambezi Mission to further investigate the opportunities for us to serve Christ in Malawi. Continue reading →