Hi friends. I got thrust back into my US life and have neglected to finish blogging about my trip to Africa. I took the time today to finish all of the posts, so I will release them all over the next few days. Nothing like a speaking engagement in 2 days (at St. Mark’s Chapel in Storrs) to light a fire under your butt. You will finally have the complete story from my trip to Malawi :) Here’s day 8: Sunday, August 24
Today we went to church in a small village called Kachimanga. I love how the service didn’t start until we got there. No one is ruled by the clock here. In fact, it is much more important to stop and greet someone than to be anywhere on time. Everyone is always running late in Africa, so we affectionately called this “Africa time.”
We took our seats on the concrete benches in the small church, the men sitting on one side and the women on the other. The service had the feel of an American Baptist Church, only with a translator. Super easy to follow (for me) and I liked that. I could tell the Pastor was a dynamic speaker – older and wise. His message resonated with me: Unity in Christ. Here we were, Americans. Middle-class Christians. Mingling with Malawians. Some of the poorest of God’s people. Yet bonded together by our faith in Christ. And brought together by the generous offerings of my family, friends and even strangers. Powerful stuff! Just powerful!
The founder of Little Dresses for Africa, Rachel, raised enough money to open a well in Kachimanga. It will serve 3,000 people, where before they would have been retrieving their water from a dirty, muddy hole.
We held another VBS with this group of children. We used our men to help tell the story, so that they could show the Malawian men that they too could take an interest in children’s ministry. There don’t seem to be very many Malawian men, and the ones who were there seemed to be standing around.
We also served lunch to the children. They each got one (bite-sized) piece of goat, rice (which was a splurge – they said it felt like Christmas!), nsima, beans (though we ran out) and cabbage. The children receive meals from the feeding center on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. They only get one meal that day. The other times they eat at home, if they have any food at all.
We did another craft. Remember, they have never seen a craft before. They had no idea what to do with foam stickers. I had to teach them to peel the backing off so that it would stick to their project. The paper ended up on the ground, which prompted us to teach them another lesson on caring for your community (in other words, put your trash in the bag). As you can see by this picture, trash is a huge problem here:
We distributed more dresses (chaos!) and delivered more Buckets of Hope to widows, the disabled and child-headed families. As we were walking through the village, a woman handed us three papayas – probably the only thing she had to give. I knew it was a love offering, an offering of gratitude (even though she did not receive a bucket). It reminded me of this verse:
“I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” Mark 12:43-44
I also met Janet, who is 11 years old and takes care of her 3 siblings in her own home because her parents have died. Her Gogo lives nearby but needs a lot of help herself. Janet wants to be a nurse when she grows up and is supported financially by some of the people on my team. She is the main reason why they decided to put a well in Kachimanga. It has made life in her village so much better.
At dusk, we used equipment borrowed from the Ministry of Hope to show a Jesus film. The sky was so clear you could see the Milky Way! What an awesome experience to see a movie being played in the middle of an African field! Had these children ever seen a movie before? We used flashlights to find our way to the bathroom, but we saw the children walking home in the pitch dark. No parents walking home with them. There is a huge sense of community and family here, where village people seem to look after one another, but I couldn’t help but worry about their safety.
It was a long day. We’d have another hour ride back to our lodge where we would have to wait quite a while for dinner (remember, “Africa time?”) We’d play another round of Eucher before we’d call it a night.