Our last two Sundays have been spent out in western Malawi at our plot of land for work parties. I didn’t expect the work to go so fast, but when you’re motivated, a lot can get done. In the two weeks, we’ve had more than 30 volunteers come out and work.
We meet at the church hall at 6:30 and pick up half of the group. The other half meets at Zebra Crossing and is picked up by our deacon, Haiton. On the way, we pick up a few more people who live along the road. Malawi has four seasons—hot and dry, hot and wet, cold and dry, and cold and wet. Right now we’re in the cold and dry season, and man is it cold in the mornings! Yes I’m from Colorado, but to quote my mom, “that doesn’t mean I can stand the cold, that just means I know what cold is” and I can’t say I’m a fan :). But once we’re on the road and the sun starts to heat up the van, the sweatshirts and winter coats start to come off.
We generally arrive at the Chapamba’s house around 7:30 or 8 and have a nice breakfast of tea, sweet potatoes, and bread. Then it’s a 15 minute drive to our land! The past owners are still harvesting their groundnuts, but they’re almost done, so we’re able to slash and flatten the majority of the property.
The first work party, I stayed at the Chapambas house with a few other women to help cook lunch, a long process when we’re serving over 20 people. It was great getting to learn how to cook Malawian style. I’ve yet to learn how to make Malawian beans, but I’m hoping to learn soon because they’re delicious. We made nsema, rice, beans, goat, and cabbage relish.
The second work party, we decided to hire some women to do our cooking for us so our women could be more involved. Thankfully it cost us only $8 to hire them, so the second work party we were all able to spend the day with the rest of the group (and it’s always nice to have your food cooked and dishes cleaned for you).
Our land isn’t directly connected to the dirt road, so we were having to cross through someone else’s farm to get to ours. Since we’re planning on keeping the Feast out there, we’ll need a place to park and a way for work trucks to get to our property. Thankfully the owner of the property that’s between our land and the road, was willing to sell us an 8 meter wide strip that we can use as an entryway. Once the large area was slashed, we measured out an 8 meter wide driveway and then slashed and flattened it. It was neat learning how to flatten and clear land with a hoe. Farming is done on mounded rows, so the slashers went in first and cut down all the weeds. Then with the hoes, we pulled the dirt from the mounds into the valleys between and raked the weeds to the center of the driveway so we could burn them. The 8mx80(ish)m driveway took us about two and a half hours to measure, mark the measurements, slash, level, and rake.
After that, we were pretty hot and tired so we took a short break. After the break, the men started digging gutters on either side of the road, and us women went groundnut foraging.
As I said before, the property used to belong to groundnut farmers. Once the groundnuts are ready to be harvested, they pull them up and let them dry in bunches for a few days. Once they’re dried, they pile them onto an ox cart and take them away. Some groundnuts get left behind because they fall off the plant. Farmers aren’t going to take the time to dig through the dirt and scoop up every last groundnut, so we got to do that. I was reminded of the story of Ruth who went behind the gleaners, picking up what was left over. It was a neat, and quite backbreaking, experience.
In response to our water need, LifeNets has generously decided to donate a borehole!! Boreholes can be expensive, so this is a huge blessing (I was not looking forward to hand drawing water with 100+ people for over a week). Thank you!!
I’d like to end this post with a sentence from You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes by Lisa McKay (on page 34 if you’re curious). I read it this morning and it jumped out at me, “It’s much easier to walk into the unknown if we can focus on being faithful with what is required of us today, trusting God for His faithfulness in all our tomorrows.” God is faithful and His promises are true. Matthew 6:34, Philippians 4:6-7, and Romans 8:28 have been huge stress releasers and have reminded me to trust in God. He’s in control.
I changed my mind, instead of ending with that quote (seriously though, You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes is an amazing and uplifting book) I’ll end with these verses 🙂
Matthew 6:34, “Therefore so not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”