Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Highs and Lows of a Missionary's Life

Living life as a missionary certainly has it's highs and lows in many ways.  Two days ago I experienced one of the "lows" in this life.  It had been raining most all day, the weather was on the cool side, and the electricity had been off most of the day.  It was one of those days that you begin to look for a bit of comfort.  You may not be totally depressed, but you certainly are not on top of the world.  You know the kind of day it was.

When the weather turns cool I think of hearth and home - not really sure why, but I do.  One of my favorite foods is Wolf Brand Chili, and it too makes me think of hearth and home.  Another food is Campbell's Home Style Chicken Noodle Soup.  When we packed our belongings and moved to Africa early in 2005, I made sure that we had plenty of both.  Or at least I thought I did!       

Chicken Noodle Soup

The Campbell's Soup was finished before 2008, but I was able to ration the Wolf Brand Chili.  That wasn't really difficult seeing how Namibia is a desert country, and the climate is rather warm.  I didn't get a hankering for chili all that often.  Now Malawi is a different story.  It is cool and wet and just right many days for a good hot bowl of Wolf Brand Chili.

Back to the "low" I experienced the other day.  I went to the food pantry and dug around on the bottom shelf for a can of chili.  To my surprise, there were only 5 cans left in the case.  I tried to remember how many cases we had upon arrival in Malawi last year.  There was only one case left -  now that means there are only 5 cans left!  Yes, I did open that can - remember, it was cold, wet, dark, and I needed hearth and home.  What can I say, I find comfort in food!

The five remaining cans of Wolf Brand Chili are under lock and key - rationed just like tires, petrol, and nylons were in WWII.  I am sure there will come another day that I REALLY need to feel hearth and home, and I plan to be ready!


"How long has it been since you've had a big, thick bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?  Well, that's too long!"


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Faces Of The Village

Who Am I That...

I got out of bed this morning with great expectation - like most Sundays.  It is such a thrill to get to travel Malawi and preach in the Assemblies of God churches!  I sometimes think, "Who am I that God has allowed me to be a part of His great plan of salvation?"

Ukwe (Ook - way) Worship Center is the church we were at this morning.  I met Pastor Naaman a few weeks ago when I was introduced to him by another pastor.  Pastor Naaman invited me to come to his church and preach.  I happily accepted the invitation and then asked where his church was located.  Location - now that is a bit of a problem here in Malawi.  I have only found two road maps for sale here, and both of them only give the major highways in the country.  Giving directions becomes a bit difficult, to say the least.  So the next best thing was for both of these pastors to take me to the village so I could see for myself where it was and how to get there.  You must understand that I am pretty good with directions - I have been all my life.  I even have a GPS system in my car to help out.  We left the tar road just outside of Lilongwe and drove for a LONG time on dirt.  I noticed on my GPS that we were coming to the end of the dirt road, so I thought we must be near.  Was I wrong!  For the next hour and fifteen minutes we were driving in the air according to the GPS.  The road was dirt, then it was a cow trail, then it became a foot path - THANK YOU STL!

The Road to Ukwe  The Road to Ukwe (2)

As good as I am with directions I knew that I would not be able to find my way back to this village without help.  Arrangements were made for the pastor to come to Lilongwe on the Saturday before I was scheduled to speak on Sunday.  He would spend the night at the A/G Bible school, then go with us Sunday morning back to his village.  This worked great!

We arrived just in time for Sunday school - or did it start because we arrived?  Ukwe Worship Center does not have its own building; like so many of the churches in Malawi they use the school that is in the village or close by for their services. 

School or Church 

Their desire is to buy land and build their own church, but that will take some time to come to pass.  There was no furniture in the building, except chairs they had brought from someone's house for Fredna, me, the pastor and my interpreter to sit in.  Who am I that I should get a special seat?

After Sunday school - which was all in Chichewa - the service began.  The only musical instruments used were a trap (drum) set and one guitar. 

  Musical Instruments (3) Musical Instruments

 Musical Instruments (2)

The praise team came forward and led us in some of the most beautiful music you have ever heard.  I am convinced that the angels in heaven gather with anticipation when the Africans begin to warm up their voices!  Visitors were welcomed to the church (not us, our welcome is always very special, and saved until just before I preach).  Special songs were sung by various individuals or groups.  One man even offered a poem.  It was titled "Amazing Grace".  I sang this song at the end of the service; most of the people there had never heard it as a song!

Congregation (2)  Congregation (3)

Congregation (4)  Congregation

Now it was time for preaching.  I was asked to speak on the subject of "Repentance".  After an hour of preaching I asked which of them felt the need to repent and ask for God's forgiveness.  Most of the church came forward to pray and repent.  It is very humbling to think, "Who am I that God would use me to lead others to Himself?"

Preaching  Preaching (2)

At the end of the service, the pastor received an offering for us.  The people gave joyfully.  When the pastor presented me with the offering, he apologized for the small amount.  While he was apologizing, I thought to myself, "Who am I that I would deserve any amount?"  I also thought of the widow who gave out of her need, and Jesus commended her for her sacrifice.

We were then ushered to the pastor's home for some water.  In the Malawi culture taking you home for some water really means that they are going to feed you before you leave.  The ladies of the church had prepared for us the traditional Malawi meal that we have grown so accustomed to.  Rice, relish (boiled greens), chicken, and a sort of tomato soup.  I sometimes remind myself of Pavlov's dogs.  My mouth begins to water when the last "amen" is said at church!  Malawi traditional food is really good.

Lunch Malawi Style (2)Lunch Malawi Style 

Lunch Malawi Style (3)  Ladies That Cooked 

Pastor Naaman and his family.

IMG_0915 [640x480]

Like every church we visit, they can't wait for us to return and be with them again.  We feel the very same way! 

Who am I that I should be so blessed?