We’re still up and running! I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while. Recently life has been rather same ole same ole (with the exception of some unfortunate corrupt police meetings and immigration problems) so I didn’t feel like I had anything interesting to write about. We’ve been working on the Chichewa hymnal (it’s coming along so well!) and have printed out the rough draft copy of the Fundamental Beliefs booklet. In more good news, the church hall is basically done! Flowers, bushes, and a tiny tree have all been bought and planted! The bathrooms have also been decorated with the addition of shelves, mirrors and lights. The hall is really looking beautiful J.
This past weekend was great! We went to Chipata, Zambia with ten of our members to keep the Sabbath.
We left the church hall (our meeting point) at 7:30 to start our drive to Zambia. We arrived at the border at around 9:30 then went through the whole process of legally leaving the country, paying taxes (I think it was a tax that we paid?) on the Bongo, and proving that we didn’t steal the Bongo. Then we got to the Zambian side. Once there we had to buy Zambian car insurance, pay a carbon tax, and once again prove that we didn’t steal the Bongo. Last week Brennan and I went to Zambia to renew our Malawian visitors permits and ended up buying Zambian double entry visitors permits, so we didn’t have to pay this time and the whole situation was much easier. We’ve never had to prove our vaccinations in any border crossing before (including the many trips we’ve made to Zambia), but this time there was a health official (not too sure what that means, but he had an official-looking white coat on) who said we couldn’t enter the country without our yellow fever vaccine. Our Malawian members could enter without it, but because we’re Americans, it’s required. We explained that we were only going to Chipata (I read somewhere that it’s only required if you’re going to Lusaka) and were only going to stay the day, plus we were just there last week and didn’t get asked for it. Thankfully he finally gave the “exempt” stamp and let us through. We’re so thankful for all the people who prayed about this trip because we had quite a few “close calls.” Our Malawian members almost weren’t allowed to leave the country and Brennan and I almost weren’t allowed into Zambia (in three different situations), then on the way back in, Brennan and I almost weren’t allowed in Malawi due to a grumpy officer who thought we were illegally working in Malawi. But thanks to God, everything worked out, even in a couple of those situation where it shouldn’t have. Then we were on our way to the church hall!
I know I’ve talked a lot about Chipata in the past, but it never ceases to amaze me! I’ve never really understood the verse in the Bible that talks about doing good so people will glorify our Father (Matthew 5:16). How would people glorify God through someone’s light? But visiting the congregation in Chipata helped explain that verse to me.
The congregation in Chipata is built on selfless love and unity. The land that the church hall is built on was donated by their deacon. The same deacon who supplies the youth with jobs by teaching them practical skills like construction (the youths built the church hall with instruction from him), farming, marketing, and providing ways for girls to learn how to sew. Every Sabbath they have a potluck and work together to tear down the hall. Before the church had a van, members who couldn’t afford transport would either walk or ride their bikes over 15 miles to get to services. The youth work together to set up the stage, perform demonstrations (I say “demonstrations” because they don’t always perform special music but sometimes Biblical skits, and this time they choreographed a routine and rapped Ecclesiastes 3:2-8), and serve the congregation with love and diligence. You can’t help but see members’ love and devotion in the way they serve, carry themselves, gently correct their brethren, and humbly accept correction. This isn’t a man’s church, this isn’t an organization’s meeting, but this is God’s church. You can’t help but glorify our God when you see the devotion and agape flowing through the veins of the congregation. How great is our God that living His lifestyle produces such amazingly sweet fruit? His way works. His way is that of unconditional love, and man is it amazing to see.
Near evening we left the congregation with full hearts and stomachs. The potluck was delicious, but the inspiring service and God’s spirit of unity filled our hearts. After dropping everybody off, we got home a bit after 9:00 and promptly passed out.
This year, our pre-Passover trials have been very tough, but God is always faithful and all things really do work out for good when you are striving to love God and do His will. Brennan and I are being stretched farther than we thought possible, but God’s grace and love are being poured out of un daily.
Right now we’re working in the LifeNets centre, getting the hymnal done, doing the finishing edits on the Fundamental Beliefs booklet, getting things ready for when the Kubiks arrive, and preparing for the upcoming Passover season (which includes eating so much yeasty leavened bread to get rid of the yeast we have sitting in our fridge haha).
If there’s anything you’d like me to write about, please let me know. Any questions or just anything you’re curious about regarding life in Malawi.
Until next time, take care and I hope you’re having a good preparation before the holy days.