This week has been a whirlwind! My goal was to post this blog on Sunday, but stuff came up and I lost track of time. Better late than never though, right? 🙂
This past week started out with Lewis and Lena moving back to the States and ended with a very inspiring leadership conference in Blantyre. On the Sabbath, we had a going away party for Lewis and Lena after services. It went really well! We had a mini potluck and they were given gifts, and then on Monday, eight of us drove to Kamuzu Int’l Airport to see them off and wish them safe travels back to the States.
The church here in Lilongwe has two vehicles—a Toyota Prado that seats 9 and a Mazda Bongo that seats 12 (ish). Right now one of our deacons has the Bongo since his car was totaled by a truck running into him (nobody was hurt), but that has worked out really well since he has started taking people from his village to services with his family—we’ve gained around six new prospective members from Bible studies he was conducting. Brennan and I are currently driving the Prado. It’s a ’96 but “very strong” according to every mechanic who has looked at it. Because it is such an old vehicle we tend to spend more time than we’d like at the mechanic shop. On Tuesday, after Lewis and Lena had left, we went to the shop to get the engine lifted (no idea what that entails but it required a welder and cost $7), and after waiting for the power to come back on, we now have a functioning and much quieter and less shaky Prado that made it all the way to Blantyre and back!
Wednesday morning we made it to the church hall and drove down to Blantyre with 14 members to attend a leadership workshop given by Steve Myers. The whole conference was such a great blessing. We learned about qualities of a leader, personal responsibility, and so much more. My favorite part of the weekend was when we had the chance to sit down as a congregation and discuss our strengths, weaknesses, goals, and challenges that we face. At one point, we went around the group and all threw out something we’re gifted in that can be used to strengthen the Body. As I’m sure most of you reading this know, we’ve been working on translating the hymns into Chichewa. Now, in addition to the hymns, we’ve been translating the church’s booklets! Paul, in 1 Corinthians, talks about different spiritual gifts that God has given us to edify His Church. In verse 10 of chapter 12 he goes into gifts regarding languages and the interpretation of languages. I can’t explain how exciting and encouraging it is to see people who are gifted in translation use their talents to share the gospel! Once this translation project is over (or really, once we finish the first booklet), we can start handing out booklets to people and preach the gospel in a language that people understand. The leadership conference led to many discussions about practical actions we can take to better serve our brethren.
Sunday was a long day. We drove back from Blantyre, which took about six or so hours, then when we got home the power was out. We didn’t have much food in the house so we decided to go out to eat. Bad decision. A football game had just ended and we happened to be so lucky enough that we got to drive right through the mass of cheering, branch waving, car pushing, orange and blue people. Yep, car pushing. A car tried to drive down the road, but the parade of people didn’t want to move out of the road so they pushed his car backwards and out of the way. It was… a sight… But we got our food and got home without any real problem.
During our conversation about strengths and weaknesses, a member—who happens to be a very skilled mechanic—said that he really enjoys helping people. On the way back from Blantyre, we found out that the Prado’s hand brake wasn’t working so he volunteered to spend all Monday fixing the handbrake and replacing the rear brakes. It was a huge blessing to have him work on the car for free on a day when the mechanic shops are normally closed.
Living here, we have the privilege of being with so many wonderful people. We have a mechanic who will spend his whole day working on the church’s car for free, a doctor and his wife who are pretty much the on-call medics for the congregation, friends who will drop anything to help, moms who welcome you into their homes with hot food and hugs, and just a real family.
On a random and unimportant note, I’ve now cemented the difference between “madzi” and “mazira” after accidentally asking a man selling drinks if he had any eggs. Turns out he didn’t have any eggs, but after some gesturing, he did in fact have the water I wanted! I guess you win some you lose some 🙂