Monday, November 24, 2008

Two New Churches

Two new churches have have been built in the Nkhotakota District of Malawi!  Lozi Assembly of God, and Sani Assembly of God.  Construction began about the middle of September and was complete last Friday.

Sani A/G is located on the south side of Nkhotakota in a small trading center by the same name.

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Lozi A/G is located on the north side of Nkhotakota in a small trading center by the same name.

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Each church will now place window and door frames as well as finishing the floor.  Their work will be difficult, but the greatest part is finished.  Each congregation is extremely proud of their new buildings!

How Hot Can It Get?

Okay, I am hollering, "Calf rope"!  As they say in Malawi, "It is too much hot".  Oh, the actual temperature is not that bad, less than 95 degrees.  But, the humidity has to be above 85 percent.  By the time you get dressed your clothes are sticking to you - EVERYWHERE!  Below is a picture of Pastor Ndovi and his wife of Dwangwa Assembly of God.

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Sunday we visited this church in Dwangwa, Malawi.  Dwangwa is a trading center located on the northwest shore of Lake Malawi.  The heat and humidity was absolutely oppressive!  If the heat was not bad enough by itself, the church is in the middle of a construction project.  The new building is being built around the old building.  Once complete, they will remove the old structure.  Do you get the picture?  The walls of the new structure are blocking any air that might be moving from entering into the old building.

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When we were escorted in the back door you could actually feel the body heat radiating from the already full house.  That was the coolest moment of the entire service.  Long before I took the pulpit for ministry my clothes were literally wringing wet!  There was not a dry spot on me.  My glasses would not stay in place, and all I could taste was salt from my own sweat running down my face.

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All of that said, it was an incredible time just being part of the service!  The people of this church were on fire (no pun intended) for God.  The building was totally packed, and at the end, when I gave the altar call, it was not possible to move beyond the platform.  Each one that came forward had a heart of anticipation, a heart that was yearning for God to work in their life.  They were not disappointed, for surely God was present to touch each of them!

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Please keep this church in your prayers.  They have struggled so much to get the building finished.  All they lack now is the rafters and roof sheets.  It always amazes me how far a group like this has come... but how much farther they still have to go!  Surely the Lord will help them to accomplish their dream.

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Under This Tree

In 1840 an Arabic trader named Jumbe Salim Bin Abdalla, established a post in Nkhotakota for the purpose of trading slaves. During the height of his power, Jumbe transported between 5,000 and 20,000 slaves through Nkhotakota annually. From Nkhotakota, the slaves were transported in caravans of no less than 500 slaves to the small island of Kilwa Kisiwani off the coast of modern-day Tanzania.  Nkhotakota, Malawi has been an area of strong Muslim influence for a very long time.  There is a national monument in Nkhotakota today - the tree under which David Livingston met with Chief Jumbe in an effort to get him to stop trading slaves.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Little Bit of East Texas

Lake Malawi is an interesting place.  The story is told that when Dr. David Livingstone saw Lake Malawi, he asked the local people what it was.  They told him that it was nyasa.  So he said, "I will call it Lake Nyasa"  What he didn't know was the word "nyasa" is the Chichewa word for "lake"!  Livingston had just named Lake Malawi, "Lake Lake".

Lake Malawi has literally thousands of species of cichlids that are indigenous to, and only found in, Lake Malawi.  People come from all over the world to snorkel and see the beautiful fish.  The water is VERY clear, and the fish are simply amazing.

Last week, while traveling in the lake area, I discovered a fish called "mlamba".  Mlamba looks like a Texas catfish - sort of.  I bought a dozen or so and brought them home for a mini-fish fry.  They were good but not catfish-good.  The meat was a bit mushy, if you know what I mean.

We visited a church today in the northern part of the country - the lake area.  On the way home we were able to purchase a few goodies.  First of all, we bought mangos.  Now, in Malawi you don't call them mangos, you call them "mahngos".  The a is not long.  The good thing about getting these mangos is that we were able to purchase them at a Malawi price rather than the azungu price.  You see there are two different prices for products in most of Malawi.  The Malawi price and the azungu price.  If your skin color is dark, you get the Malawi price.  If your skin color is white (azungu) you usually pay much more.  When shopping, I have learned to ask the question, "Is that the azungu price or the Malawi price?"  We are always told that we are getting the Malawi price - whether we are or not!

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We drove on down the road a bit, and I saw some mavwende at a roadside stand.  Yep, you are too smart - you guessed what mavwende are, didn't you?  They are watermelons!  Some people call them chimwela.  Whatever you call them, they are good!  Not quite as good as watermelons from Alvord or Sunset, Texas - but good.  Negotiations were held, a price agreed upon (Malawi, not azungu - yeah right!), and two big mavwende were loaded into the car, just beside the mounds of mangos.

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On the road again, we pass through the trading center known as Chia.  I chuckle almost every time I pass through Chia because I think of the chia pets that are so popular during the Christmas season back in the States.  The Chia trading center, located very close to the lake, is where you can buy fresh fish - all kinds of fresh and dried fish.  Chambo is the most popular fish.  As I was driving into the the village today, a guy stepped out from his stall holding up a stringer full of catfish, whoops I mean kampango!  Now these guys are not to be confused with the mlamba I bought last week.  Kampango are the real-meal deal!  Catfish - real to goodness catfish!  Yep, I stopped and bought two of these big boys!  Of course I didn't get them without the negotiations taking place.  You guessed it - azungu price in effect here!  Fortunately, one of our A/G pastors was with us, and she took my place at the negotiating table.  Even then the final price was somewhere between the Malawi and azungu price.  The deal was struck, and the fish were tied to the luggage rack of our trusty Toyota Land Cruiser (thank you Speed The Light!), and we were on the road again to finish two more hours of driving before arriving home.  Why yes, I did say tied to the luggage rack for the two-hour drive home.  No, you can't buy ice here to pack your fish.  No, they won't spoil - as long as you are driving, and the air hits them.  Yes, they do get a bit dry, but they don't spoil.

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While I was cleaning the fish, Fredna was preparing the side dishes and heating the oil for the fish.  Tonight, we had a little bit of East Texas - a catfish fry!

By the way, I learned something tonight - what I like may not be what you like.  One of our guards came by while I was cleaning the fish.  He looked in the bucket where I was throwing the heads, entrails, and bones.  He said, "Pastor, are you throwing these away?"  I looked at him and said that I was saving them for him if he wanted them.  He was so happy!  I can just imagine him thinking to himself... that crazy azungu is saving the fillets and throwing out the best part of the fish.

I love Malawi!

Monday, November 17, 2008

You Can Be An Overcomer!

Suya Church (2)

Overcomers Assembly of God - I like the name of this church - I think it says it all! 

What a wonderful Sunday.  It rained last night, it was hot and muggy, and there was no electricity - at least no electricity running through the electrical wires.  The atmosphere in this church was another story!  The spiritual electricity of over 700 hungry people seeking God is quite another story!

Suya Church (3)

During the service a special offering was taken for the building fund.  The church is slowly beginning to expand their facilities.  Offerings in Africa are a bit different than offerings in the USA.  If God really loves a cheerful giver like the Bible states in 2 Cor. 9:7, then there was a whole lot of love during the offering.  The Pastor announced the engagement of the young couple below.  He said they would do this for the next three weeks, and if anyone could give reason they should not marry, they had better speak now (within the next three weeks) or they should forever remain silent.

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Rev. John Hiamambo, General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God of Namibia, was our guest today.  Pastor John is attending the Master's program at ANTS (All Nations Theological Seminary) this month here in Lilongwe.  It is a pleasure to have him with us, and he enjoyed the day very much.  I asked him to interpret for me as I greeted the congregation in the Oshiwambo language of Namibia.  Everyone really enjoyed this!

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Declaration: "This is my Bible!" And this was the altar call; hundreds came forward!

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At the end of the service we were stationed outside the church.  EVERY person shakes your hand and thanks you for such a wonderful blessing of your presence.  All 700 of them!  This is not unusual; every church does the same thing.  The people feel that it is quite an honor to have guests, and they must express that feeling.  After this we were taken to the pastor's home for lunch and fellowship.  Have I ever told you that Malawi traditional food is wonderful?  It is!  In the picture below from left to right:  Myself & Fredna, John Hiamambo, Thoko & Christopher Suya (Pastor), and an elder in the church who served as my interpreter today.

Suya Church (9)

Rev 3:5  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.