September 1, 2004
What Exactly is Dan Doing?
I can’t believe a month has already passed and I have not written a journal entry …please forgive me. This first month has been a whirlwind of activity, change, adjustment and settling in. Beth and the girls have done a good job of giving you a hint of what it is like to begin making a home in Malawi. It has been a challenge and a joy at the same time, but Praise God we are really beginning to feel like Blantyre is our home.
Let me use this journal entry to tell you a little bit about the work that I am doing with the Blantyre Synod. The work is divided into four specific areas and I will try to give you a flavor of each.
First, my official title in Blantyre Synod is “Assistant to the General Secretary.”That means that I work closely with the Rev. Daniel Gunya (General Secretary) every single day. The Rev. Gunya has an impossible amount of work that comes through his office. I am helping to lighten that load. Specifically, I will be sent far and wide in Malawi to represent Blantyre Synod and the General Secretary. (This has started already - in less than three weeks I have put 2000 miles on our truck!)
I have been to Enbangweni which is about seven hours North of Blantyre to represent the Synod at the bi-annual meeting of Livingstonia Synod. While there I was asked to preach …what a joy and an honor to speak before that body. I have been to Lilongwe (about 3½ hours from Blantyre) twice for various meetings. Blantyre Synod seems to have as many meetings as Pittsburgh Presbytery does. Some things never change!
The major part of my work with the General Secretary will be assisting him in implementing “A Strategic Plan for the Operations and Future Development of the Synod of Blantyre.”The Synod has many challenges ahead in operations and development and I have been given the responsibility of moving this process forward. Change is hard anywhere …but for the health of the Synod, change is needed.
Second, I will be helping to strengthen the partnership that exists between Pittsburgh Presbytery and Blantyre Synod. A program has been developed for the first half of my stay, where I am out three Sundays a month preaching in Partnership Churches. From now through December some of the churches I will visit include: Limbe, Balaka, Namska, Mulanje, Zomba, Domasi, Bamba in Ntaja, Kachere in Ndirande, Mangochi, Mpiripiri, Nsoni, and Ntchcu. What a wonderful opportunity to see and share. t>
Third, I have been assigned to be the Associate Pastor at the St. James CCAP Congregation (the partner church of Parkwood UPC). St. James is a large, active, evangelical congregation. On a typical Sunday morning there are three Celebrations of Worship. The first (and best attended) is at 6 a.m. and is conducted in Chichewa, the second is at 8 a.m., and is in English and another Chichewa service is held at 10 am. St. James has about 5800 Christians and on an average Sunday there will be about 4000 attending the three celebrations, altogether. I will be officially inducted by Blantyre City Presbytery as Associate Pastor at St. James on September 12th. I am told that it is a very grand Celebration of Worship and I should “be prepared.”(I have no idea what that means!)
The Pastor at St James CCAP is the Rev. M.P. Nasiyaya. The Rev. Nasiyaya has been at St. James for five years and is a well educated, thoughtful, compassionate pastor. It is a pleasure and an honor to work with him.
Finally, the Merry family has made our home a center of hospitality. In the month we have been here we have had five overnight guests (and that does not include the sleepovers that the girls have hosted for several of their future classmates), three dinner parties, a number of “tea”guests and a constant flow of folks who just stop in to visit. What a joy it has been.
We have also met and made friends with most of the missionary families stationed at the Synod. We are the only Americans except for a retired couple from East Oklahoma Presbytery who are working short-term with the Projects Office, but they leave on December 1 st. Our Malawian friends are also beginning to let down their guard as they get more and more comfortable with us.
In closing this rather lengthy epistle (sorry!), I want to thank you again for making this opportunity a reality. God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good! (That is a traditional response during CCAP worship.)
Zikomo (Thank You!)