The Merry Family

Merry Mission Journal

November 8 , 2004

Weekend Update

A lot has been going on in our lives over the past few days, so I thought that I would tell you about it.

On Thursday, the girls went to school as usual, but after school they had practice for the “Wizard of Oz.”St. Andrews International High School is putting on a production of the play at the end of this month and both girls have been asked to be in the orchestra. Heather will play the clarinet, and Brooke (who plays the bass clarinet in the USA) is learning how to play the xylophone, cymbals, bells and other percussion pieces needed for the score. They practiced until 4:30.

Dan was busy all day seeing people, solving problems and keeping up with the General Secretary’s correspondence.

I had to do some last minute shopping for groceries, and that took some creative thinking because our large “supermarket”is closed because of a strike. (The employees want a 400% raise, management has offered 12% - it may be a long strike.) Many things that we regularly use (like skim milk, cold cuts, wheat bread) are not available anywhere else. I managed to get what I needed, and spent the rest of the day getting ready for 11 dinner guests.

I picked the girls up after school, as well as Brooke’s Malawian friend, Sarah. They head straight for the computer to work on a big project about the British Empire in 1914.

Our dinner guests arrived at around 7 p.m. There were six people from PC(USA) headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, two from the Medical Benevolence Foundation, Frank Dimmock, a PC(USA) missionary from Lilongwe, Malawi, and two Malawians. The group was on a fact finding tour of medical facilities in Malawi.

I served them a dinner of Malawian foods prepared in an American style.

We had curried egg salad, Malawian goat cheese and fruity iced tea for appetizers. Local vegetables comprised the salad, along with a plate of fresh sliced tomatoes. The main dish was free range chicken breasts with a tomato and youngberry sauce as well as Kilambro rice and fresh rolls. Desert was a fresh fruit salad (strawberries, mangoes, & papaya) served with banana and macadamia nut cake.

We really enjoyed the time to chat and exchange information. They really appreciated the use of our computer, and they sent emails to family and coworkers.

On Friday morning, Dan went to work and the girls went to school as usual. I took some of the Americans shopping in downtown Blantyre. Their time was short, but we managed to find them some beautiful souvenirs. In the afternoon I took one of the Scottish World Exchange missionaries to the orthopedist for an appointment.

Every other Friday night the girls have youth group, (which usually has games, dinner and a Bible study) so after Dan and I dropped them off at 5:15 for that, we decided to go to the airport for dinner. I know it sounds sort of odd, but we had a lovely evening. We sat on the balcony of the observation deck and watched three planes land while we ate delicious fish and chips ($4.50 each.) It was a nice chance to unwind from a busy week. Brooke came home around 9:00 p.m., and Heather spent the night at a friend’s house.

On Saturday, our family was invited to the Lunguja’s “bush house,”but the girls had orchestra practice, so just Dan and I went. Dan has been there many times before on previous trips, but I was astounded by the road we took. It was barely wide enough for the truck and was full of rocks and deep ruts. Besides that, it descended down a mountain at an alarmingly steep angle. I never thought we would get there.

However, we arrived in one piece and were greeted by the entire Lunguja clan….children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. After a snack of orange Fanta and corn muffins, we were given a tour of the farm and homes. They were all situated on a rocky hillside. Mr. Lunguja is 85 years old, his wife is slightly younger, but they both work in the gardens every day, hoeing and weeding. They have crops of maize (corn) and sweet potatoes as well as over 20 mango and avocado trees that they have planted over the years on their property.

One of the daughters was married to a CCAP minister who died suddenly several years ago. She receives a small pension from Blantyre Synod, and has a job three days a week at the Chigode Women’s Center (CCAP) so that she can support her six children. Her house had a fire inside a few months ago, and is uninhabitable, so she and her family live with the Lungujas. The Merry family gave them some money to repair the home.

As we were visiting the oldest daughter’s home, it started to rain. We looked at the roof in the dining room/bedroom where we were sitting and noticed that it was full of holes. “Does it leak?”Dan asked. “Yes,”we were told. The house is 40 years old and it leaks badly. The family does not have enough resources to make repairs.

As Mr. Lunguja showed us around his home, he pointed out the brand new white paint on the outside walls. He had painted the house in honor of our visit! He also chopped down a banana tree with Dan and gave us a big bunch of sweet red bananas. We marveled at the fact that although these people have so little, they give us the best that they have!

Then we were treated to a smorgasbord of Malawian food. The ladies of the house had cooked over a charcoal stove all morning. After washing our hands in a basin, we were treated to home grown chicken, red beans in a tomato and onion sauce, fresh green beans, cole slaw, creamy Nsima, rice, and boiled potatoes. Bananas were passed around for desert. It was delicious, and we laughed and told stories throughout the meal. It was a wonderful way to spend the day.

After praying with the entire family and singing a hymn, we finally took our leave and Dan put the truck in 4-wheel drive and we managed to ascend the hill and exit the village. We passed the well where the Lungujas have to get their water. It is right next to a mosque. Muslims get water for free. Christians have to pay 2 kwacha per bucket.

Saturday evening, we were invited to the Soye’s house for dinner. The Soyes are with the Presbyterian Church of Ireland and Andrew works in the projects office. During dinner, the kids talked about school, and the adults chatted about Synod news. We all enjoyed getting to know these dedicated people better and shared a delightful evening with them.

On Sunday, Dan preached at St. James CCAP, where he is the associate pastor. He started the service right on time, and there were only about 40 people in the sanctuary. By the time he delivered the sermon, however, the pews were full…about 1,500 people.

The girls decided to attend church with some of their friends. They walked to the Synod and enjoyed the more contemporary worship service. I used Chinese cabbage harvested from our garden in a stir fry for lunch and then at 5 p.m. we went to St. Michaels and All Angels CCAP Church for their evening English Celebration of Worship together.

At 8:00 p.m. we gathered in front of the computer and watched a diagram of Heinz Field with markers showing where the ball was on each play of the Steelers’football game. Needless to say, there was a lot of cheering before bed.

It was a very full weekend!

Beth Merry

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