June 3, 2005
A Busy Week
Each week that we have had the privilege of being here in Malawi, has been filled with activity of many kinds, but this week has been particularly busy…
Brooke goes to school until July 1 st, but this week she has had exams all week. Each night we quiz her on biology, physics, geography, history, French or another subject. She has really worked hard at her studies this year. When she comes home from school she unwinds by playing with Alfred’s children and helping around the house. She has been reading her Bible Study lesson too.
Heather finished her huge GCSE examinations last week, but this week has been busy doing practice questions for her SATs on Saturday. (Although it costs three times as much as it would in the states, we are thrilled that her School, St. Andrew’s, is the only place in Malawi that is a test site for the SATs.) She is done with regular classes, and so she now volunteers at the Phoenix Primary School on the Synod grounds in the mornings. She loves helping with the third grade class, and it is good experience for her, since she wants to major in Elementary education in college. This week she also began going through all her clothes, and will be leaving most of them here in Malawi for the people in Ndirande. She leaves for the States in just three weeks. She is going back early so that she can go on a mission trip to Mexico with her Youth Group at Bethany Presbyterian Church. Two of her Malawian friends had birthdays this week, so she baked them treats, wrapped presents for them and walked to their homes to deliver them.
Dan has been busy as Acting General Secretary this week. Daniel Gunya has been out of the country at meetings, so Dan has been handling the day to day running of the Synod, as well as each crisis that develops. As usual, there have been many. He has also made several trips to the Chileka Airport to bring Synod visitors in through the VIP entrance.
We love to welcome visitors into our home and this week, we had a lot. I was shopping on Tuesday and saw a young Mennonite family in the store. They had opened their homes to our girls and Ariel Carver in January when we visited the remote Ntaja region, and I wanted to reciprocate their hospitality, so I invited them over for supper. We had a delightful evening with this dedicated young family. (I hope to write more about them at a later date.)
The next evening we welcomed the group from Beulah Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh into our home. We had been anticipating their arrival for weeks. They arrived on the same plane as a small group from the First Presbyterian Church in Blacksburg, Virginia, so we invited them to dine with us as well. Alistair McCracken, an Irish Presbyterian missionary, dropped by the house to chat, so I invited him to stay also. It was quite a crowd, but we had a wonderful evening of food and fellowship. Malawi has been a great place to meet interesting, faith filled people.
The next morning I met the Beulah group at Grace Bandawe and took them downtown to change dollars into kwacha. Walking down Queen Victoria Avenue they were greeted by my friends, Happiness and his father, who promised to stop by the house at a later date with batiks and wooden curios for them to look at. I then took them to PAMET, where they saw elephant dung paper being made, to the Central African Book Store, to a grocery store, to see what it was like and buy some Malawian tea and coffee, and to an African art gallery. But I think that they enjoyed our stop at the Blantyre Market the most. Here they were welcomed into the “Warm Heart of Africa” by merchants saying, “Azungus, welcome to our market.” Then they examined Malawian hoes and their unusual construction, saw hundreds of bananas displayed for sale, were fascinated by the carefully set up vegetables in neat piles, and asked questions of the vendors about the many varieties of beans. We stopped and looked at the brightly colored, beautifully patterned chitenje fabrics on display at several booths. Most of it was a feast for the eyes, but noses were especially alert as we walked through the section where dried and fresh fish were sold.
After that, we went back to the house for lunch. Then in the afternoon, Dan took them over to the Synod and gave them a complete tour of the historic grounds, including St. Michaels and All Angles Church, the Missionary and War Graves, Henry Henderson Institute, the Resource Center, and the Synod Offices.
In the meantime, I met Toya Richards Hill, a reporter from the PC(USA) news service who is traveling with a group from the First Presbyterian Church of South Bend, Indiana. She used our computer and internet for a while, and then I took her downtown to the artist’s market. She was a natural bargainer and got along very well purchasing a few small souvenirs for her family, but at one point we were completely surrounded by about 30 eager artisans. I said, “Back off! Give her some space to just look.” Some persistent merchants kept saying things like, “please buy these necklaces, I have to feed my family. I have had no sales today.” Sadly, we knew that in many cases, it was the truth.
By the time we finished, it was getting late, and we enjoyed her company so much, that we invited her to stay for supper. Heather cooked us a delicious meal. This morning Dan drove Toya out to Mulanje Mission Hospital so that she could interview PC(USA) missionary, Dr. Sue Makin.
Tonight the rest of the group from South Bend is scheduled to come by for dinner and the girls have youth group. On Saturday I am driving Wicke up to Ndirande so that we can deliver a custom made wheel chair to one of the women who is a faithful attendee of our Tuesday sessions.
So, as you can see we have had what the girls would call an “awesome” week. We are thankful God bought so many wonderful people and activities into our lives this week.