I’m at the airport in Blantyre. Business people are dressed for work, while all my stuff (including myself!) carries the smell of the village – smoke from the fire. I’ve spend my last week in Malawi, of which 4 days in the heart of the villages, and I just want to give a small glimpse into the life of these beautiful people.
Early Morning Rise
This morning Obingtone and mama Sara took me to the airport around 6am, but much activity happened before then. Around 4am the kitten had once again made its way into our bedroom, begging me to open the door. I took it as an opportunity to visit the toilet outside. Just as I got back to my bed, the rooster woke up, and the intercessor started in the church. The first day the intercessor had been praying inside our house (prayer is often loud in this culture), but he had kindly moved to the church. 04:30 an alarm went off and I was sure it was the other girl in my room. I woke her up only to realise that it was Obingtone’s alarm in the other room. The house has a roof but no ceiling, so the sound travels easily from room to room. I (slumrede) to the sound of their bathing and brushing of teeth. They had made themselves a “master bedroom”, where they could carry hot water from the fire, and shower with a cup. Not many people have that luxury, mostly bathing takes place under the stars. I was offered a bath and a cup of coffee before leaving – this little sentence includes a lot of work; preparing the fire, carry water from the well, heat water on the fire – all happened before 6am, but it did me well.
Grandma called me from her room, she wanted to say goodbye. She has difficulties walking, so I found her in her bed together with Grandpa. What a beautiful couple! They are the pillars of the ministry in that village, and serve people with a big heart. Grandpa attended all of our training sessions with great enthusiasm and when it was time for family service, Grandma would slowly walk to church and sit behind me on her mat. I had opportunity to pray with her several times, and it was as if she got brighter each day. On the last day I got her dancing with me, and I believe God will continue to strengthen her. I got a big mama-hug and blessing before I left.
On our first day we arrived to a choir of children and granny’s singing and dancing to the rhythms of drums. They surely know how to celebrate and welcome people! I went for a village walk with Obingtone, visiting a couple of grannies and praying with them. AIDS has taken a lot of the working generation, leaving old grannies with a bunch of orphaned grandchildren. We enjoyed the view of the mountains as the sun was about to settle down. The undisturbed sky in the village is absolutely beautiful, at day time as well as night time.
A New Rhythm
In my preparation I didn’t realise that we would be training in the village, so most of my preparations went out of the window, I needed a new approach to win the hearts of these people. The messages had to be clear and simple, well illustrated, repeated and demonstrated. I knew we would have a crowd of kids joining us whether we targeted the programme for them or not. In short, I decided to do 6 family services and devotions as part of our 3 day training. Old and young would be learning together, and God would work in generations together. I’m gonna write another blog about our actual ministry, but God was beautifully at work, and I am so grateful for what took place.
Time keeping is important to me, and we do our best to keep trainings on schedule, but in the village you have to live according to the rhythm. One morning breakfast was late and we ate in a hurry to start our session, only to realise that no-one was there, their breakfast was – of course – late too. So we stopped our time keeping, and decided to adjust to the rhythm of the villages, which in many ways are dictated by meals. 3 meals a day is cooked on fire, and you can never really tell when food is ready, before you see it served on the table. Mornings are slow, waking up, planning, coffee and around 8:30 breakfast is ready. Our training sessions ran until lunch time around 13:30. My personality would have wanted us to continue programme after an hour, but that does in no way happen. With a full tummy you need a proper rest and time in the shade. Children gathered in the afternoons. They were ready to play, and the adults would join them whenever they felt ready. Our celebrations would often continue until the moon appeared in the sky.
There could be much more to write. Village life is so different from what we define as “normal”. They surely have their challenges, but I love the beauty of spontaneity and living life as it unfolds.