Friday, July 9, 2010
Travel Season in Malawi
This is travel season in Malawi – not for Malawians to travel but for “alendo” – visitors – to travel to Malawi. Since this is summer in the northern hemisphere, it is vacation and travel time, so there is the freedom and flexibility to come to Malawi. This is prime time for church groups, young and older, to try their wings at mission life. That was evident at church on Sunday and around the Mission all this week.
Sunday evening is an informal worship time at St. Michael’s and All Angel’s Church. The 5 o’clock service is more like a vespers service. It is a time when some of us who preach regularly can actually worship. Many of the internationals who live in the city come for worship because the style of the service is more of praise and prayer than a traditional service. And the service is in English. It is a comfortable place for visitors. Sunday there were more visitors than regular worshippers. There were three different groups from Ireland – two from Northern Ireland and one from southern. There was a large group from Canada, several folks from the Netherlands, two from Germany and one from South Africa. It was an international worship time, just with the visitors.
This week has followed the pattern of alendo. Some of the folks who were in worship have been visiting the Synod, being introduced to our programs and projects. There have been teas and dinners and lots of trips to various projects. Yesterday one of the groups from Northern Ireland, led by a pastor, Dr. Jim Campbell, who taught at Zomba in the 1980’s, had a wonderful reunion with some of his former students. Tea was a time of telling stories. Monday, large container arrived with supplies that a team coming from Australia will put to use when they arrive later in the month. They are serious about working. They have sent everything from cloth for sewing to car parts for repairs. A college student from the US is here until mid-August learning about the church in Malawi for her senior paper in Religious Studies. I am her local advisor and have been overseeing her travel to various churches and groups. She is in and out of the office as she works with orphan care and youth clubs. We will be traveling together much of next week to visit some of the more rural areas. I have had three meetings, working on details for groups coming in the next week or so. I have alendo who arrive this afternoon and will be here until Tuesday, when they head up north. These folks are from US and Zambia. Monday Chigodi is hosting a group from Canada who will learn about gender issues in Malawi. Next Friday my good friend Dr. Sue Makin comes for a short stay. Sue is a medical doctor who served here for 11 years and is coming “home” for a few weeks before returning to her new post in South Korea. Next Saturday a group of 19 from Illinois arrives and the following Saturday the group from Australia lands. And the list goes on until late September.
The joy of this is that all these folks want to experience the Warm Heart of Africa and are delighted with what greets them – more than they had ever imagined. They experience the hospitality here but even more, they share in the faith and worship of life here. Some may have a once in a lifetime experience, a more than memorable vacation, but a few of them will lose their hearts to life in another culture. They may not return to Malawi (some will) but a number of them will examine again what God wants of them, regardless of their age, and where God might be calling them to serve. It is a great adventure to be a small part of that process.