The Merry Family

Merry Mission Journal

January 28, 2005

Galimoto (Part 2)

Galimoto took us down the road a few kilometers from the church and we dropped off the girls with the Mennonite Missionaries. The family had a guest room cozily prepared and invited them inside for a real treat – chocolate chip cookies! The girl’s played with the couple’s young sons and Heather read them bedtime stories before indulging in another treat – a hot shower!

The adults got situated in a government hostel a bit further up the road, but our accommodations were not quite as welcoming. The women of the church had noticed a few uninvited guests in our rooms, so they had come in earlier and “doomed” them. Doom is a brand name for a powerful insecticide. They had also cleaned the bathroom and provided a roll of toilet paper! There were still a few things moving on the floor, so we made sure that our suitcases were up on the dresser. The curtains were dingy and faded, the tiles in the ceiling were stained and sagging and Dan noted that the sheets smelled. However, there was a mosquito net over each bed, and we were so tired that, after a lingering look at the stars, which were magnificent (no light pollution – we could see the Milky Way and Southern Cross clearly), we tumbled into bed, exhausted. Whenever you sleep in a strange place, rest is elusive, and this was the case. We were awakened by unusual noises throughout the night.

In the morning we discovered that a hose had been hooked up to one of the faucets in the bathroom, and a water pump was on, providing a “shower” of sorts. It was a great start to what proved to be a wonderful day.

The girls had warm coffee cake before we picked them up at the missionary’s house. We then whisked them off to breakfast at an elder’s house next to the church. It was a wonderful time of fellowship, since we had almost two hours before church started. We feasted on a delicious breakfast of fried eggs, boiled eggs, bread, butter, French fries, peanuts, tea, and cocoa, and then Dave got out Brooke’s guitar and we started singing. We taught our Malawian host family several of our favorites and practiced one to sing later in worship.

Church was scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m. and got underway at about quarter after. The sanctuary was packed. Half of the chancel was filled with children. The Celebration of Worship was very festive. Four choirs performed two anthems each. (That included the Carver and Merry Family choir – which brought down the house with our final song – Palibe Ofana Naye, which we asked the congregation to join with us in singing.) There were announcements, prayers, an offering, Apostles Creed, Lord’s Prayer, about 5 hymns, and an inspiring and creative message by Dave Carver, which was translated into Chichewa for the congregation.

About 20 minutes into the worship, Rev. Matakanya called me up to the chancel. As I was walking up front Dan whispered to me that I was going to do the time with the children. (I always do an impromptu speaking exercise with my students at Waynesburg College, and now I know why!)

I had my digital camera with me, so I took a picture of the assembled crowd of children, and then showed it to them. I told them that I needed a picture of them so that I would remember them when I went back to Blantyre and to the USA, but I told them that God did not need a photograph to remember them. “God knows you and is always with you.” I said. When I finished speaking, the pastor indicated that I should pray with them as well, which I did. After I took my seat again, a number of the Church School children stood at the front of the sanctuary and recited Bible verses that they had memorized, some in Chichewa and some in English. They were very good!

Later in the worship the Merrys and Carvers were all called forward again. Each of the females was presented with a chitenje (Heather was thrilled because ours were blue with pineapples on them) and then the Carvers presented gifts to their sister congregation. The celebration of worship lasted until after 1:00 p.m.

Once again we were ushered into the church hall for a Malawian meal and (thank goodness!) cold drinks. We were all parched and a bit dehydrated. The temperature in the church was in excess of 95 degrees, with no breeze.

Then we spent an hour on formal goodbyes. Each of us was asked to give a short speech (we thanked them for the wonderful hospitality and worship celebrations) and then the pastor, clerk of session, head of the partnership committee, head of the Mvano, and others gave goodbye speeches. More gifts were exchanged, and we finally climbed in galimoto and started the drive back to Blantyre.

We traveled a bit slower on the way home because galimoto was riding rough. (Wouldn’t you too if you had been dragged around in the mud for a few hours?) We will take it in for an alignment this week. The scenery was again breathtaking, and we arrived home in galimoto in late afternoon, tired, but with a new store of vibrant memories.

Beth Merry

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