- In Zambia!
It was interesting stay overnight at the home of Mark Katsonga Phiri. He is quite a national leader. He has also been a long-time member of the Blantyre Chamber of CommerceHe was President of it for four years. Servants prepared a tasty breakfast for us before we packed up in the same vehicle we traveled in yesterday and Peter drove us to the Blantyre Airport. On to Lusaka! The flight first went to the capital Lilongwe and then the one hour 40 minute leg to Lusaka. Shirley and Kambani Banda were there to greet us. How good to see them again!! Kambani Banda has been an excellent minister in Zambia, an excellent manager and one who has made our LifeNets projects intending to change people’s lives for the better a phenomenal success. I have a great deal of trust in their capacity to make things happen…simply because they HAVE made things happen. Always, the strength of LifeNets has been our competent delivery at the beneficiary’s end. Other organizations such service clubs and churches have noted this about LifeNets. I tell them that we use our ministers and old-time acquaintances to deliver our programs. We are strict regarding accountability and if we make mistakes we correct them and determine not to make them again. We stopped at Manda Hill mall to change money. The Zambia Kwacha is 3850 to one US dollar. We got about two million Zambian Kwachas for $500. Bev was commenting to Kambani Banda who is a certified public accountant that you need an accounting degree in this country just to manage the money ... Read more about this post
- Tuesday, October 10 — leaving Mangochi
This is our last day at the Feast here in Malawi and saddens grips me. We love the Malawian people, they truly have the warm heart of Africa as the travel advertisements go. Bev and I have gotten into the personal lives of so many of the Malawi brethren and feel satisfaction in being providers of hope not only spiritually, but vocationally as well. We have taken at least ten application for livelihood development projects to consider and to fund before the beginning of the year. Most projects to this point, both in scholarships and livelihood development have been successful. We try to tell them about the LifeNets mission of providing practical aid that makes people self-sustaining and then helps them help others. Bill Jahns and I both gave sermons, Bill about the Resurrection and I spoke about marriage. Since we enjoyed the children’s choir so much earlier, I made a special request for them to sing again. They did. Then the church choir sang as well. It was beautiful. After the service was complete, Beverly addressed everyone about LifeNets and gave some important pointers about our programs Then the lunch. Today we invited everyone over to the Nkopola Lodge for a lunch. All 140 people came and enjoyed a delicious lunch, provided by brethren in Boston, Houston South and Central Illinois. Time to go. Our driver is “Peter” from the Customs and Excise Office of Malawi. He works for my Rotarian friend Agnes Katsonga Phiri who is the head of that division. Rotarians help one another and this was a BIG ... Read more about this post
- Monday, October 9, 2006
Today I borrowed a bicycle from one of the staff at the hotel to go some exercise. It’s not just a bike ride, it’s an eyeful of local Malawi life. The area is predominantly Muslim. I pass mosque and mosque and madressa. The people are very peaceful and gentle Muslims and very friendly. The Catholic Church and the Muslims compete for the hearts of the people in this region. I biked about 20 miles and enjoyed seeing the sights of fields being worked up to be planted in anticipation of the rainy season. Women carried incredible loads on their heads of water, wood and everything else. Trucks hauled a dozen or more men in the back to who knows where. It was just plain interesting to see all this activity. Children continually wave in friendly innocence. When coming back to the Nkopola Lodge, I saw officers in military dress and a prominent-looking woman with a dress saying “Fight Corruption.” We found out from brethren that she was Speaker of the Parliament who is often seen on television. Mililtary personnel in full colors were also present. We found out later that they were there for funeral of a Malawian official who was from this area of the country. On to Church services. Bill Jahns gave a good sermon about the education and how that knowledge is powerful and how it benefits our lives. After services we took group photos of extended families. The Salawilla family was the biggest with almost 20. The Chimbuzo family was probably second. They had about 15 of their family at ... Read more about this post
- Sunday, October 8
Today we broke another record in Malawi UCG history. Yesterday the attendance was 137. Today it grew to 141. The meeting hall is filled to capacity and the four air conditioners are working at full capacity, but it’s still hard to give a sermon with a suit coat on. I gave the morning sermon entitled “What God Has Begun, He Will Finish.” I feel that the people need encouragement to know that God knows what He’s doing in working in a poor country like Malawi. He has a special plan for everyone He calls. After services as a minister I spent time talking to people about personal matters and LifeNets projects and grants. Overall the people have done wonderfully in the livelihood development area as well as the scholarships that we introduced here only two years ago. Afterwards we took the three principle people in the Maize Mill Project out to lunch to talk about how things were going. We are pleased as to how the maize mill project is working. It is working with a commodity, so there will always be an income generated. Eliphazi Salawilla, Fred Chimbuso and Mr. Chikaza have formed a three-part association. Our aim is to make this maize mill a model of good business practice and customer service. We found that the the daily bus transportation for Fred Chimbuso and Mr. Chakaza were exhorbitant, but a problem that could be resolved if they could get to work by bicycle. We will get them bicycles and cost them $100 each. In the evening we had the variety/fun show which was ... Read more about this post
- First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles
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Today is the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and we have two services scheduled. We had breakfast at the Nkopola Lodge with Bill and Cheryl Jahns. It’s quite windy on the lake, but absolutely beautiful. It’s about a quarter mile walk from where we stay to the meeting hall and you need to walk right along the lakeshore which is public access. It’s quite an experience seeing all the ladies and children doing their washing and laying the clothing out on the sandy beach. It’s amazing to see how nice the people do look dressed even with such primitive methods of washing and doing normal life chores. It was wonderful seeing everyone at the meeting hall before services. This is our third Feast of Tabernacles in Malawi in four years and we recognize most everyone and know many of the names. Because we work with so many people on livelihood and scholarship projects, we have become quite close to them and feel a bond of genuine friendship. Lewis Salawilla leads songs, elder Gladstone Chonde gives the sermonette and I gave the sermon that was translated into Chewa by Mr. Chierwa. All went well. The afternoon sermon was given by Bill Jahns. We talked a long time after the afternoon service before having dinner back at the lodge. We invited two families to join us. It was unbelievably enjoyable to have this time with them.
- To the Festival site in Mangochi on the Lake
We leave for the Lake Malawi today. It’s been pleasant staying with the Chilopora’s at their home. We have visited here several times and always enjoy coming here. We feel very comfortable with them. This morning I was able to get Chiku’s computer fixed. We pack up and head to the lake. The Chilopora’s bring all their food with them. They also bring plenty for others. They are very generous people and God has blessed them for it. Because there is so much, Dr. Chilopora asks his nephew to drive some of the items to Mangochi in his pickup truck. It is Friday and as we drive the 100 mile distance we see faithful Muslims walking to their place of worship at the mosque. This area has been Muslim since the Middle Ages when the Arabs invaded this area. It became a primary area for slave trade for several centuries where the inhumane practice of forcing thousands of people into slavery from the villages. Local chiefs were guilty of selling their own people for profit to Arabs who shipped them all over the world, including the United States. We got to Mangochi mid-afternoon and settled in. We are very happy with our accommodations at the Nkopola Lodge. We have a nice round home. We are familiar the setup here and look forward to our stay. We met Bill and Cheryl Jahns who came up the day before and went to dinner with them. We are so blessed to be with these people and in this land. Our plans are ... Read more about this post
- On to Balaka and the orphans
This is another WOW day as we see some tremendous progress in our Malawi projects. Bev and I are just so excited to see this first-hand and how people’s lives are changed for the better. Dr. Sam Chilopora drove from Blantyre to Balaka. He was to have a trailer connected to the ambulance so that the Chilopora’s, Bill and Cheryl Jahns and Bev and I could all go together to Lake Malawi for the Feast of Tabernacles. The trailer never got delivered and it was decided that Bill and Cheryl would go directly from Blantyre to the Lake with Henry and Cindy Khembo. Dr. Chilopora is 77 years old, but amazing in his energy level. He still sees 20-30 patients every day at the Chizeni fifth Health Centre along with his nurse wife Esther who is 74. He wanted me to drive the 100 miles back to Balaka which I really enjoyed doing. We passed by one of the biggest open air markets that is open on Friday. Hundreds of vendors were selling EVERYTHING. For fifteen miles past the open air market we saw people walking away from the markets carrying unbelievable loads on their heads. At points past the market they were already reselling the items they had bought at market. We drove directly to the Chizeni Clinic in Balaka where a portion of the 200 orphans of the LifeNets Orphan Care Centre were waiting to greet us. It’s always such an exciting event as they noisily greet us with singing. At first we were greeted by the grandmothers, then by ... Read more about this post
- WOW!! What a day of happy surprises!
WOW!!! What a day!! Today was our day to see several of our LifeNets success stories for the Malawi people. We want to give special commendation to Henry Khembo who has driven us around all day long today. It was a hard journey. I had NEVER been on roads as bad as the one we traveled on and we stayed all within Blantyre today. We were in the within the Ndilande and the Chirinda sections of town. Ndilande is densely populated compacted into a neighborhood, some of which has no electricity or running water. We walked through sections of it. We were an hour late getting going, but that is Africa. With all the things that go wrong, it is a miracle sometimes that we get done what we do. At 11:00 Henry and Cindy Khembo with their young son Jordan came to get us in their travel trailer. Off we go to Eliphaz and Celia Salawilla’s home. We were here two years ago and what a pleasant difference with the improvements we have seen. Mr. Salawilla keeps the UCG office in a separate room in his home. Two years ago there were gaping holes in the sheet metal roof. There was only a basic bench where he stuffed envelopes with literature and Good News magazines. Since that time LifeNets helped him with a new sheet metal roof which will keep water out during the rainy season. Also there are various sorting bins for various literature and a nice desk. It really looks great. Mr. Salawilla has such a warm ... Read more about this post
- With Eliphaz Salawilla and Agnes Katsonga Phiri
Today spent much of the day with United Church of God deacon Eliphaz Salawilla. He is a man of amazing spiritual strength coupled with humility. He has been faithful for years and has set the pace for the church in Blantyre. He lives in a poor township in Blantyre. A number of other UCG families, including his children, live close by. He came by at 11:00 am and we discussed the LifeNets projects in greater detail. He is our manager for the various livelihood projects here. The last one was the drilling of a borehole on the property of James Mapinda who lives about a mile from him. This project was financed by my Rotary District of Central Indiana. The well was drilled on his property and provides fresh water for his family and for those around which is many. We are looking forward to seeing the well tomorrow. We were given photos showing people lined up with buckets drawing water. . Another successful project has been the maize mill LifeNets financed right next to Mr. Salawilla’s home. It provides a decent living for three families and a service to the community. We discussed more details about that operation. We also have scholarships, sewing, knitting, food production and more. One person has a freezer shop. We discussed the various level of success of the other livelihood and scholarship projects. Bev and I have developed a set of policies for the consideration of the various grants and how they will be managed. Overall, we are very pleased for how they are working. ... Read more about this post
- The Day of Atonement in Blantyre
Today is the Day of Atonement. Mr. Eliphazi Salawilla will be coming for us at noon for a 1:00 pm service at a hall within walking distance. The Chichiri Lodge where we stay is just barely adequate. It is secure, but not exactly five-star. But, $28 a night is not bad either. We enjoy taking in of the sights and sounds of Africa. Mr. Salawilla came about 12:15 pm with his son Bilton, the musician who carries the electric keyboard with him. LifeNets has helped Bilton expand a private music school that has provide a service for people in Blantyre as there is only one other private music school that is pricey. It also provides him with a living. He is a talented musician. He has been able to teach more than 20 students. The latest achievement has been to write new music with students and record it. Some of the new music has been played on the local radio station in Blantyre. Altogether we walked to the meeting hall which is right past the property of the Worldwide Church of God which included the church building and where the pastor lived and perhaps still does. The property is now a school called the “Young Ambassadors” and was quite busy with children entering the gates. The gate into the property has an imposing “Worldwide Church of God” sign. United Church of God members filed into the hall for services. Beverly and I knew almost everyone. It was a warm and wonderful reunion. We had more than 60 in attendance for the Day ... Read more about this post