Thursday, June 26, 2008

YIKES! Culture Shock again...

                                       Mice (2)

Do you need a closer look?


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Oh yeah, you're correct - MICE!  Those are mice on that stick you are looking at.  Can you believe this?  These guys were sitting at the side of the road hawking their goodies - MICE!  Actually, mice on a stick.


It seems that these guys start a fire at the edge of a very grassy area in order to drive out the mice; then they catch them.  At this point they boil them in salt water - hair and all!  According to the chef, the best part of the mouse is the liver.  Oh my goodness, can you believe this?  My gag reflex is kicking in just writing about this.


  Mice (6) Mice (7)


My friend, Blessings Gamah, offered visual instruction showing just how one might eat a mouse.  YIKES!  He slowly took hold of the head, gave a little twist, then PUT THE HEAD IN HIS MOUTH AND CRUNCHED IT DOWN!  As they say in Texas, "That would gag a maggot!"


My wife gamely said, "I would like to try it."  YEP!  She did!  She didn't crunch the head, nor did she scarf the hair, but she did pull the meat (does a mouse really have meat?) and ATE IT!


                                Mice (10)


I hope she will be happy with her new family.  I am dropping out of the rat race (pun intended)!  Seems kind of appropriate that she is wearing an Aggie shirt for this cultural experience!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chigwirizano Assembly of God


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Sundays are so much fun - serious, but fun!  Sunday morning we were with Pastor Duncan Machemba, his wife Maness, and the congregation of Chigwirizano Assembly of God.  Chigwirizano means "together" in the Chichewa language.


Chigwirizano A/G is in the village of Likuni, not far from Lilongwe.  Driving through the middle of the trading area is a real trip in rural Africa.  People standing on the side of the road were selling clothes, chickens (live), fire wood, fried potatoes, and cooked meat.


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In the picture above, you will observe that offering time is blessing time!  The group praying above are people that desire to commit themselves to the work of the Lord.  The people of this church have a great desire to reach the unchurched in this area. 


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                  I preached about the second coming of Christ this morning.   


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After the service we were invited to the pastor's home for lunch, along with some of the board members of the church.  The ladies prepared a traditional Malawian meal that was absolutely wonderful!  Fredna and I receive special treatment during these times.  Even the fact that we are offered eating utensils when most of the others eat traditionally - with their hands, proves this!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Keying In On Culture

Today Fredna and I experienced something new from a third-world country.  Fredna needed fabric to make some curtains in the house.  Off to the market where we should find the needed material.  While she was shopping, I stood at the door of the shop people-watching.  It was unbelievable how many people there were walking up and down the road.  I was simply fascinated, but then again, I have always enjoyed watching people. 


It was a bit disturbing to me when so many people would stop in front of me and just hold out their hand.  Though I didn't speak their language, I certainly understood their gestures.  I asked the shop owner why there seemed to be so many people begging for money.  She told me that today was Friday.  You see, most of the shop owners in this area are Muslim, and every Friday they give money to the beggars.  I was relieved to discover that it was not just me.


One shop we visited not only sold fabric, but many other things as well.  In fact, it is the only shop in this city that I have found where you can get a key made.  While Fredna was looking at material, I decided to have an extra key made for our vehicle.  I have had keys made in this shop before, and it didn't seem to take too long, so I thought I had plenty of time.  I was wrong this time.  The gentleman making the key finally came from the back of the store and told the sales clerk that she had given him the wrong blank, so she gave him another one.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  About an hour later the gentleman appears with the key, and we are off. 


What took so long?  The man that usually makes the keys on a key cutter died last week.  The man making my key didn't know how to operate the key cutter, so he was doing it the same way they did before there ever was a key cutter - with a file!  When we got back to the car, I tried the "hand-filed" key.  Surprise, surprise - it didn't work.  Back to the shop I went to tell them that it didn't work.  The man that made the key came from the back and explained to me that he was leaving for lunch, so I must go with him.  What he really meant was that he would go with me - to the car so he could work on the key.  Sure enough, he brought his files and began working on the key.  After another ten minutes or so, I told him that I had to leave and that I would return next week to get him to make the key.  Now I have a key that belongs to me. I paid for it, and it doesn't fit anything.  But it is handmade!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chilota Assembly of God

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Today Fredna and I enjoyed ministering at Chilota Assembly of God church.  Pastor McDonald Mbale and his wife, Kathleen, made us feel very welcome!  The picture above is the entire Mbale family.  After church we went to their house for a traditional Malawi lunch.  A traditional Malawi meal may include nsima, rice, chicken, some greens and a sauce that is poured over the rice.  Dessert is usually a soda pop of some kind.  Most pastors have taken us home for the noon meal after a morning service, and this is the meal that is served.


We arrived at the appointed time and found the pastor and a few men praying before the service.  When it was time to begin Sunday school, the pastor announced that I would be teaching the class.  Surprise!  I suppose that I had misunderstood the invitation to preach - it included teaching Sunday school.  The scripture teaches that we should be instant in season and out of season.  If today was my test, I trust I passed.


I had been teaching/preaching for what seemed to be an hour when I asked the pastor what time I should quit, so they could start the main service.  He said that I should go to 10:15 - thirty more minutes!  I had fun, but I don't know about anyone else.


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There were not many people in the service because there was a funeral that was taking place in the village.  Pastor Mbale explained that although the chief of the village had given permission to have the service, many were not going to be in attendance.  Sometimes the chief of the village will not allow a church service to take place if there is a funeral.  We are invited back to preach so everyone in church will be able to attend.


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In spite of the small crowd we enjoyed the fulfillment of the the scripture that states where there are two or three people gathered in His name, He will be there.  It was a wonderful time, and the Lord really ministered to many.  The ones in the picture above came at the altar call to receive Jesus as savior.


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Kathleen Mbale is teaching Fredna how to wrap a tjatinji.  A tjatinji is a cloth wrap that most women wear around their clothes.  It is an extremely versatile tool.  It can keep your dress clean, carry a baby, keep you a bit warm, be laid out on the ground to lay things on, wrap a large amount of small items in order to carry to name just a few uses.


Our container has arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, and has cleared customs.  It is scheduled to be delivered to our house tomorrow.  I will share more on this in the next post.  Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Area 49 Assembly of God

                      Reuben & Flora Jerry 

Today Fredna and I ministered at the Area 49 Assembly of God.  This thriving church is pastored by Abusa Reuben & Flora Jerry.  The word Abusa is the Chichewa word for Pastor.


There were somewhere between 300 and 400 worshipers in the service today.  There is so much energy in a service like this, and it is so easy to preach!  The people respond to the Word of God, and are ready to allow Him to minister in their lives.


Greeting Praise Group

The ladies group of the church performed a special that depicted different people with all kinds of illness, deformities, blindness, and lameness coming to Jesus for healing.  It was wonderful!


Preaching  Fredna & Friend


I preached about God's desire to heal broken lives.  When I gave the altar call for this purpose, there were at least 150 that came forward.  It was a tremendous altar service with God touching so many lives and bringing restoration.


At the end of each service the Pastor, his wife, Fredna, and myself stand at the door and shake everybody's hand.  This seems to be a very special time for the individuals that are present, and they don't get in any hurry.  Malawi is called, "The Warm Heart of Africa" - and we know why!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mwalandiridwa Assembly of God


Church Name Arnold and Violet Banda


Fredna and I preached at Mwalandiridwa Assembly of God church.  Arnold and Violet Banda are the pastors of this growing church in a very poor area of Lilongwe, Malawi.


Sunday, God's day!  A day to sing His praises, worship Him, bring our offering before Him and hear His Word.  Thinking about it, wouldn't it be interesting to be able to look in on every service around the world!  Can you imagine the differences you would see?  High church, low church and everything in between.


Most of the services we have been in Africa have been very different to most services in the States, especially when it comes to offering time.  Today was no exception.  During the offering there were three baskets placed on a table.  The first basket was for the morning offering, the second was for faith promises & tithes, and the third was for missions.  Another offering was taken at the end of the service - this one was for special projects.  Today's special project was electricity.  It will cost about MK12,000.00 ($86.33 in US dollars) to have an electrical meter installed at the church.  They take this offering on the first Sunday of every month, and it is a very special time!  The special project changes when the needed funds are collected.  I am not sure how many first Sunday's this project has been active, but today they raised about MK8,500.00 ($61.15) - short the needed MK12,000.00.  It was heart-lifting to see this offering.  People danced as they gave, and several made a real production of laying several bills on the table.  One guy put about 25 MK20.00 bills on the table - laying them on edge all around the table.




This church has a vibrant Children's Church program, and all kids love to have their picture taken!


Childrens Church Take my picture

I have always heard that no matter how far you go into the bush around the world you will most always find two things: Assembly of God missionaries and Coca Cola.  Today I saw something new... a Fort Hood tee shirt with a Texas flag!  I told this gentleman that I had to have my picture taken with him since he was wearing the flag of my tribe!