Monday, June 4, 2007

Afrikan Adventure: Malawi Edition

Guess who’s back, back again…you guessed it, me. That’s what I like about you, you’re quick! I successfully diverted being eaten by lions and made it home safely from a two week adventure to Malawi. It was a fortnight ago that I and the Whitfield family, comprised of Luke and Elise and their three children, Macey, Emma, and Payton (ages:6,4, and 2) set out on a 12 hour car ride to Malawi. If that’s not good enough to make me never want to bear and raise children, I don’t know what is! Our mission was to visit the Burn’s family who are serving with ACTION in a small rural area called Ntcheu and see what was happening over their and be able to be a part of some of their ministries there. Setting out at 4:30am and with only one child becoming car sick, we successfully made it to Ntcheu.

Malawi is a beautiful country with lots of mountainous terrain, reminiscent of my homeland. The twisting mountain roads made me feel right at home. The Ntcheu area is in the midst of the mountains comprised of many small villages with the “boma” (city centre or the hub) being where we stayed where there was a couple small stores and a market areas. It was awesome to be able to be in a more rural environment. I think I much prefer it to the big city such as Lusaka.

The Burns family is made up of Chet and Leanne and five of their nine children that are living with them right now. There is Jeffrey and Eric (17 and 16) and then three adopted children: Peter and Silas (age 7, adopted from Ethiopia) and Elsie (age 4, adopted from Zambia). Elise and I became fast friends as she had finally found someone to play “Uno” with her and she taught me a new game called “Sherlock.” “D-d-do you wanna play Sherlock?” was a phrase I heard about 3-5 times a day. Although seemingly young and innocent, this girl didn’t mess around when it came to games…she was a tough competitor. If I lost concentration for one second she would capitalize on it and take me down.

I had the opportunity to spend some time in a village called Madzanje. God is doing some really cool things in the hearts of the youth there which as awesome to see. They have a group of youth (ages 14-25) from several churches in the area who have really stepped up as leaders and the light of Christ in their village. They have voluntarily started a kids Bible club on Wednesday afternoons as well as serving wherever they can in the community. For example, this week they constructed an outhouse and shower area for a widow in the village. And they do these kind of service projects every week all initiated by the youth themselves out of their love for God and desire to serve Him. It is pretty amazing to see the youth stepping up in this way and really being leaders in their village, especially as youth here are definitely not seen as the powerful or influential people of society.

I was able to attend the kids Bible club on Wednesday and bring my guitar and play a little diddy that we sing with the kids here in Zambia. There were about 250 kids which is pretty average and when those kids sing the decibel level is through the roof, it was awesome! After the club I attended the youth meeting which also good.

On Friday we went with the youth to help with the building project on the widow’s property. Elise, the kids and I sat with the her and many of the surrounding neighbours as the men constructed the structures. Not much was able to be said but we sang some songs and just seeing the deep gratitude the elderly woman had was a beautiful thing.

I was also able to attend a youth meeting at another church and was able to share my testimony with them through the help of a translator. Getting up and playing and singing in front of a group is way easier for me than speaking so this was a good stretch for me. We focused on how just going to church and doing good things doesn’t save you but it’s a decision to follow and be changed by the power of Christ only through whom that emptiness can be filled. And it’s because of this love that we desire to do good to everyone, not because it in and of itself saves us. This was a good reminder for me of why I’m here.

We attended two different churches on Sunday morning witnessing one young woman give her life to Christ. Then in the afternoon Luke joined the soccer team in Madzanje to play in a match in a neighboring village. I went to watch and hung out with a bunch of the youth girls from Madzanje. Here I really felt like was in Africa. The setting was beautiful, there were hundreds of people cheering and singing on the sidelines, a couple of the Madzanje youth where shouting out their own play by play commentary both in Chewa and English which was pretty hilarious, and there I was sitting on the sidelines gnawing on a piece of sugar cane with the girls. At half-time Luke shared and three young men made the decision to follow Christ that afternoon. So the real need they have right now in Ntcheu is for people to come alongside these people and offer follow up and mentoring/discipleship.

So we had a great time in Malawi. I was even able to hike on of the nearby mountains, although slightly more challenging in a skirt. It was great to be able to spend time with the Burns and see all the amazing things that are happening in Malawi.

But now it’s back to life in Zambia and cold season is upon us. It’s a good thing a brought my toque, gloves, and long-johns (I only wish I was referring to the doughnut here!), remnants from my time in Ontario. It’s strange to see leaves changing and falling, short brisk days and it being June.

I hope this dissertation finds you well. I am working on getting some pictures up on the blog hopefully this week. Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragement. I miss you all greatly! Take care.

From a computer in Africa,


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