The final few days have been about meeting up with friends whom we used to serve with here in Malawi. I met several when I attended a National Youth Conference, and others I have visited in their homes, or they have come to find me at the ZM office. It has been good to hear about what has been going on their lives and ministries, and to see their growing families.
When I return to the UK I will be quarantined for 10 days in a hotel because of Malawi’s sudden promotion to the Red List. At times I am sure I will wonder if it was worth it! I will try to remember the warm welcome and hospitality I have received with every visit. It is quite humbling to see how much these friends appreciate our lasting interest in their lives – they do not seem to realize how much an encouragement they are to us, each one a trophy of God’s grace.
Today (Tue 24th) was probably the day I have been looking forward to the most – being back with the Children for Christ Ministry team, on the road, doing Bible clubs.
Joseph, Elevate and Lackson collected me from the ZM office at 7am, and we headed to the beautiful mountainous area of Phalombe. Four of CFCM’s volunteer trainers live in this area, and they are doing an amazing job at establishing Bible clubs, training teachers, and generally raising the profile of children’s ministry in that area. Gazeni and Chipoya had organized three Bible clubs for us to visit today, each with about 150 children. Everything ran to schedule, with the children gathered in each location as we drove up, and the singing already started. Unfortunately, as the day got hotter and hotter, the mango trees we sheltered under were getting smaller, till at the last club there was very little shade!
I taught the story of the siege of Samaria from 2 Kings 6-7. These children really understand hunger. They know what it’s like to go to school or to bed hungry because there’s only enough food for one meal in the day. They know what it’s like to survive on a diet of mangos when the maize has completely run out. So it was good to teach them those wonderful verses from Lamentations 3:22-23, “The Lord’s compassions never fails. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness”. They memorized the verses well, and we pray that they will be able to recall them and be comforted when they go through bad times as well as good times.
When we finished and started heading back home, the wind was getting up, and then the rains came. This is the usual pattern at this time of year, and people are relieved to see the rains arrive; they are already preparing the ground for sowing their maize next month, and if the rains are good, and their crops do well, their hunger will be minimized.
The problem is that sometimes the rains come with a bit too much gusto. The area of Phalombe has suffered badly in the past because of sudden heavy rain destroying homes and crops. A few years ago CFCM provided blankets for some of these children whose families had lost everything, and the steel sheets for the roof of Chipoya’s house which had to be completely rebuilt. Teaching children God’s Word is always CFCM’s priority, but in a land as impoverished as Malawi, where life is lived on a knife edge between having just enough and having nothing, the physical needs of the children and their leaders cannot be ignored.
A few months ago our pastor at home in Bedfordshire was preaching about encouragement, and used the example of the different kinds of encouragement received by those who run in a marathon. Marathon runners get encouragement from their friends who have wished them well and sponsored them. Then they get encouragement from those who turn up on the day and line the streets to cheer them on. Then just occasionally a fellow marathon runner stops to help someone who is struggling, by running alongside them and helping them reach the finish line.
Ruth is now (Monday) in the Zambesi Mission office in Blantyre and can take up the story herself!
My rescheduled flights mean I was three nights “in the village” – as they call it in Malawi. I had no idea until I arrived just how far away from “civilisation” Mlambuzi ZEC is! Even the ubiquitous minibuses don’t go there, and a bicycle taxi is quite perilous given the huge gullies in the road carved out by the rains. Not surprisingly, there’s no mains electricity or running water. But such lovely people waited to give me a warm Malawi welcome. And to my relief the Chichewa greetings came back to me easily, indeed more and more of the language came back to me as the days went by.
Ruth’s schedule in Malawi is as busy as it always is. Yesterday (Friday) Ruth landed in Lilongwe and immediately traveled to Mlambuzi in the rural outskirts of the capital city. There Abusa Matthews Khumaloh pastors the Zambesi Evangelical Church. Ruth got to know Mathiews well when he was studying at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi.
This morning Ruth was straight into action with coaching sessions on the topic of Leadership to a gathering of the elders and chiyanjano (ie woman’s fellowship) leaders of the church. This afternoon she continues with further training at the chiyanjano meeting.
Since we logged off in early 2019, Ruth had one more trip to Malawi in late 2019 in her ongoing role as a representative of Zambesi Mission, but then Covid locked the world down. How exciting that she is at present back in Malawi for the first time since!
For those who have not seen it, the ZM website is carrying an article (based on our last newsletter if you get that) which reviews our three years in Malawi…and the way ahead. Why not go and have a look at the article, and all the other faithful activities of ZM in Malawi.
Last weekend Zambezi Evangelical Church was joined by friends from Zambesi Mission and other friends from around the world to celebrate 125 years since Zambesi Industrial Mission was founded by Joseph Booth. It was a time for a typically Malawian celebration: a riot of joyous colour and song combined with heartfelt praise, thanksgiving and worship. Continue reading →
Apologies to Bing Crosby for distorting his famous seasonal song but after a few years in Malawi it is a green Christmas that we find ourselves praying for as so many of our friends send us greetings with frosty snowy scenes. Continue reading →
Another post for those interested in the underlying economic context of Malawi life. For there are no easy answers to the spiritual and material challenges faced by this wonderful country, but the more time we spend here the more we realise that the solutions to the material issues are bound up in the solution to the spiritual ones.
Malawi must appear to the rest of the world as if it is always complaining. Last year we were complaining of too much rain flooding vast areas of maize, this year we are complaining of too little and too sporadic rain across the south and much of central Malawi. Continue reading →
Originally posted on Echoes of Grace: It was last weekend, the 27th February, 2016 that Echoes of Grace Malawi had an event in Blantyre hoping to perform at its main market and to have a jumble sale aimed at raising…
The last few weeks have been pretty steady in Blantyre. We have moved house a little bit closer to town. It’s basic, but we have a lovely little porch and garden which still allow for eating breakfast outside – one of my favourite things about living in Malawi.
Caroline is now working in the paediatric nursery – babies from 1 day up to 6 months. I am really enjoying working on a ward and having continuity with patients each day, although this makes losing patients quite a lot harder than in A&E. The ward is split into HDU – up to 15 babies and “main bay” – around 25-30 babies. I mostly work in the HDU but find it difficult when our main bay is being run by new interns who have maybe just starting working in paediatrics and are sending home 1 week old babies with very little outpatient…
Our latest ZM Pastors Bookset Conference was 27-31 July in Muloza (see the approx location on Google Maps here) in Mulanje district. After the event in Mchinji the team came together again like a well oiled machine, and we were pleased to be joined by the local ZEC pastor, Synoden Mulamba. Continue reading →
We are discovering that Malawians have a very different concept of distances than we have, and often places are a lot further than they give us to understand. “You’re nearly there” seems to be the standard reply whenever you ask “How far is it to the trading centre?” – when in reality you may still have 30km to go! Continue reading →
Yesterday (9th May) I was tempted up Michiru Mountain again – this time with Mhairi, who I discovered sets a wicked pace when walking up mountains! At one stage I had to point out that I was 33 years older than her, as she looked back with a rather pitying look on her face. Continue reading →
We started this wordpress based blog as an experiment as we stepped out with God and took a new direction in our lives. To keep costs down we used the free service that posts adverts at the bottom of the blogs so WordPress can make money from the excellent service they provide.
However some of you have commented that you are beginning to see adverts on our site that are distinctly inappropriate. Since so many folk are now looking at the site, and given we are finding it such a great way to help all our friends and partners to feel really part of our service here in Malawi, we have coughed up the $ to “go premium” and get rid of the ads.
We hope you will continue to enjoy keeping up to date with our activities and thoughts as you partner with us in ministry for Christ in Malawi.
Every blessing from Myles and Ruth on a hot and sticky Sunday afternoon in Blantyre.
There was almost a Swiss alpine feel as we had a pitstop at Dedza on our morning drive to Llilongwe today. Clean flushing toilets, a fridge that works with cold cans of Fanta, warm sun, cool breeze, lovely views.
YOU CAN PROVIDE SUPPORT DIRECT TO GRASS-ROOTS MALAWI
On Saturday morning as we travelled to a meeting we saw first hand the impact of the exceptional rains on a high lying suburb of Blantyre where houses had collapsed and schools were home to displaced villagers.
Further afield and lower into the Rift Valley we know of collapsed houses and churches, and of crops (that for most Malawians are literally their livelihood) buried or washed away.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:40)
This video article by The Economist caught my eye this week for obvious reasons. In the run up to Christmas – which so many of us in the West use as an excuse to over-consume – this video is a shocking reminder of the reality of life for so many of our brothers and sisters arround the globe and the complexity of issues involved. Continue reading →
Things have been so busy over the summer that our posts have dried up. But that will soon change as we head back to Malawi in the not too distant future. In the meantime, if you can join us tomorrow for our commissioning service at Mickfield Evangelical Church then we would be very happy to see you.
We get so used to having network connection everywhere we go that I failed to realize how challenging it would be to keep a daily journal while Ruth and I were on the road in Romania, Budapest and Ireland. There is not only the challenges of web access, but also the need to focus on the people and places we have traveled to see, and the fact that without taking my heavy PC with me I cannot get photos off my best camera while I am on the road!
I will need to get all this sorted before our Africa trip, but in the mean time now that we are home I will be updating the blog with photos and thoughts from our recent travel. Oh, and if anyone has any smart tools that allow blog posts to be built offline ready for when you do have a few minutes online then do let me know!
It is 2pm Sat 6th July. Ruth and I are sitting in the sun on the ferry in Fishguard harbour after a drive from the east to the west of mainland Britain on our way to Youghal, County Cork in Ireland.
This is the second part of our great adventure this summer as over the next few months we visit and share with Christian missionaries in Romania, Ireland, Kenya and Malawi. (Our second visit to Belgium has been postponed to October). It’s all part of our quest to understand God’s call for this next phase in our lives.
The first part of our summer adventure was a return visit last week to Daniel and Danny Ispas in Carand, western Transylvania, Romania. Over the coming weeks we will post more about that physical and spiritual journey as time (and internet connection) permits.
Please support and encourage us by following our posts on Facebook and on our new WordPress blog. At both places you can leave your own contributions and comments to help us on our way.
The idea of the blog is to allow our friends to share in our thoughts and experiences as we spend time in so many different places. However, perhaps more importantly, it will give Ruth and I a mechanism with which to reflect on the experience and the lessons learned.
We hope you enjoy sharing in our great adventure this summer as we step out with God.