May 9, 2005
The Mvano Visit
On a recent Wednesday night Dan received a call from the Session Clerk at St. James CCAP Church, where he serves as Associate Pastor this year. Andrew told Dan that the Mvano would be visiting us on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Since Dan had to attend a Presbytery meeting in Ntaja, he was unable to be here, but the girls and I got ready for the big event. (Even though we were not quite sure what to expect.)The Bandas and Michael helped, by making sure that the yard was well swept and tidy.
We had no idea how many Women’s Guild members would come, so I baked three spice cakes with caramel icing, and made several gallons of iced tea.
Believe it or not, the women arrived early! (So of course I assume that it is the men here in Malawi that are always getting things started so late.) One Mvano from every Cottage (13) came singing into the house. I greeted each one at the front door. When they were seated in our living room, their leader asked each person to do a “self introduction.” Some of the women said their names so quietly that I could barely hear them. Malawians have a habit of talking very softly. Often I find myself leaning closer to hear them. They sang a hymn and we had prayer together. Barbara, who led us in prayer, got down on her knees. I can’t remember the last time I did that!
Then my friend Thoko got up and preached. She used a Scripture lesson from Hebrews and told us to use our faith to follow God’s call. She did a fabulous job of making the Word come alive. She preached in English, and then another woman translated it into Chichewa. After that they asked me to say a “few words.” After living in Malawi for the better part of a year, I had an idea of what to say. I told them how glad I was to have them in my home, and how important it is to do what Thoko told us – faithfully follow God’s call in our lives.
After that we sang and danced some more, prayed again and then they presented me with gifts. I received a pretty green chitenje, about 10 kilos of rice, a package of salt, 12 bars of Lifeboy soap, 20 bars of yellow laundry soap, cooking oil, candles, matches, a set of 6 glasses, an African style shirt for Abusa (Dan), and about 7 kilos of sugar. I was astounded at their generosity. Their gifts were so practical. Every item is a necessity to daily living in Malawi. Some of them, I know, do not have such abundance in their own homes, yet they sacrificed to make sure that we were well provided for. I kept saying, “Zikomo Kwambire,” but I don’t think they will ever know how much I appreciated the thoughtful gifts.
After that I told them that I had prepared some cake and “American” iced tea for them, and said a blessing. Brooke and Heather had things all set up in the dining room and the women seemed to enjoy the treats. A few of them told me that they still like hot tea better. We laughed. They each had one piece of cake and I told them that there was another whole cake, so they all went back and got another piece, wrapped it in a napkin and put it in their purses. We chatted while we ate, and I asked them to each sign our guest book.
We sang one of the few songs that I know in Chichewa and Brooke accompanied us on her guitar. Then they danced their way out the driveway, climbed into a truck and I waved goodbye.
It was very hard for us to leave our families in America for the year, but after the Mvano visit, I truly believe what one of them said during the visit, “We are sisters in Christ.” It certainly is nice to be part of the family!