September 6, 2004
Blantyre to Domasi to Mozambique
The past week was another busy one for the Merry Family. We traveled from Blantyre to Domasi to Mozambique and hosted two Americans and an Irish family. The girls and I also had the privilege of seeing the Mulanje Mission for the first time.
On Friday we all went up to Domasi to see how work on the Garden project had progressed. The aqueduct through the garden was complete, and although there is much more work to be done, it was wonderful to see the results so far. We brought Ted Stewart and Chuck Cahall of Cranberry back to Blantyre with us. They stayed with us until their flights left for the USA on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
On Friday night Dan and I took them to a fund raising event for the Combined Choir at the Mt. Soche Hotel (that is the ritziest hotel in Blantyre!) It was a lovely evening. The food was good and the fellowship with CCAP members from all over the area was great. The music was fabulous! The choir featured local composers of gospel tunes. They sang from 7 pm until midnight –nonstop! We had to leave at 10 because of an early trip to the airport in the morning, but really enjoyed the wonderful Christian music that resonated from the rafters.
On Saturday we took Chuck (and ourselves) sightseeing. We drove out to Mulanje. We stopped at the Mission and the first thing we saw as a wedding at the CCAP Church there. The ceremony had just ended and the bride was seated like a queen in the back of a pickup truck and all the celebrants were around the wedding couple singing and dancing. There was a parade to the reception hall. It was a joyous occasion!
Then we toured the hospital. Although we didn’t go in any of the buildings except the Pittsburgh Hall, it was a very moving experience. The hospital is not anything like US hospitals. There are no CAT scans or candy-stripers. Each ward is in a separate building. There is no foodservice, so relatives stay in out buildings and cook food for the patients and themselves. There is an outdoor market nearby to buy staples such as fruit, sweet potatoes and corn flour.
There are courtyards between the buildings that have beautiful flowers in bloom. There we saw parents holding desperately sick children, trying to make them feel better in the sunshine and fresh air. Sixty percent of the patients at Mulanje have Aids. The hospital is the only provider of healthcare in the area, and is serviced by only three doctors, all of whom are missionaries of the PC(USA) (although only one is American). I have never seen mission money so well spent. There is a mill there too that provides enriched flour to the people to ward off malnutrition.
The hospital also has a thriving school of nursing. We saw the students on their lunch break, eating nsima and chambo (whole fish), chatting and laughing. They get classes and clinical training, and live in Emily’s House (more on that beautiful building another time- what a touching story!)
I have to say that of all I have seen and done here in Malawi so far, this was the most moving thing I have seen. The Mission is doing amazing work there –and Pittsburgh Presbytery and the Dorrance family have had a huge hand in helping it become a reality.
Later we drove to the Mozambique border (about 15 miles further down the road) and then on our return trip we stopped and toured a tea plantation. It was fascinating to see the workers take the new tender leaves off the top of the carefully groomed bushes and put them in large baskets on their backs. The tea is then weighed and everything is carefully recorded. At a processing plant we bought some freshly made tea.
Later we bought some freshly picked pineapples and bananas at a roadside stand. It was quite a memorable day.
Chuck got off safely on Sunday, and Dan and Anderson from the Partnership Committee went off to a “Paper Sunday”(he will tell you all about that later). The girls and I attended English services at St. Michaels and All Angels Church. In the afternoon we went to a native dance exhibition at the cultural center. It was colorful and energetic.
So, another eventful week has gone by. This one proves to be exciting too –the girls are really looking forward to starting school tomorrow. Tonight we will eat dinner at the Moderator’s home. We will fill you in on all the details soon.
Thanks for keeping us in your prayers. We have bouts of homesickness occasionally, but they pass quickly when we get ready for our next activity.