September 2008 Visit

Our Twinning Partners – Back to Malawi

The September 2008 Visit

As Convenor of the Malawi Partnership Group I led a party of 23 to Malawi in September of this year for a 17 day visit to our partner churches.  After a long journey and three flights from Aberdeen we arrived early morning in Lilongwe to be met by an eager television crew who wanted to interview me.  I know I looked a sight:  I was dressed in the same clothes I had left in from Aberdeen the day before. I needed a shave, my hair was  tousled from trying to sleep on the aircraft.  However, I managed to give a good interview which was aired on Malawi television for about 10 days.

After a further five hours cramped up in a bus we arrived in Blantyre to be met by about thirty or forty members of the Mpachika Women’s Guild who had come to greet us all and help us make our way to our hosts’ homes where we were to spend our stay.  That was the beginning of a rapturous welcome that was to continue throughout the whole time we were there.  To say that both Kath and I were treated like Royalty is an understatement and we were aware of that welcome and the love everywhere we went.

To those of you who think I was away on holiday I would ask you to think again.  I was in a country that has become special to me among a people who are also special and I wanted to give as much of myself as I possibly could.  A lot was crammed into my time there but Sunday 14th September may highlight for you how I spent my time.

I was awakened at 6am and told my bath was ready.  Bath meant a large basin filled with hot water, which you stepped into and proceeded to wash yourself all over.  No shower facilities, but it was fun.  I had breakfast, then was picked up and taken down to Mpachika church to start the Service.  When Kath and I arrived there several of the 8 choirs were already practicing.  The service started at 6.30am and people started to arrive many having set out several hours earlier.  We ended the first service about 8am, had some tea and bread and butter before starting the 8.30am service.  During this service I was preaching and conducting the Sacrament of Holy Communion.  During that same service I baptized 31 babies and conducted 11 marriages.  At the close of the service I conducted a Healing Service to which something like 240 people came for healing.

At the close of that service (1.30pm) Kath and I were taken to one of the Cottages where lunch was provided for about 120 people, including us.  After lunch we were taken to a home where I was asked to share in a funeral of a young lady that had died of aids the day before.  I felt intrusive, but could never have expected the way I was welcomed by the family of the deceased and family friends.  That I had taken the time to do what I did, gone to the bother of finding out something about the lady and speaking about it and going to the graveside meant more to that family than anything you care to mention.  Incidentally, her death meant another 4 aids orphans added to the long list in Mpachika.  They are more fortunate than some of the other children as they would be farmed out to other relatives.  Some of the other orphans are not so lucky.

After conducting the funeral it was back to my host’s house to change and be picked up again for a dinner back at Grace Bandawe Centre at 6.30pm.  Who said ministers only work 1 day a week!  It was tiring, exhausting and demanding, but it was wonderful and I would do it all again tomorrow, if I could.

Mpachika is a wonderful partnership and over the next few months I will be trying to raise some more funds for the project that I started.  I know that you will help me.

Thank You, all of you.
John