First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles

First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles
Mangochi, Malawi

Mangochi, Malawi


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

To the Festival site in Mangochi on the Lake
Mangochi, Malawi

Mangochi, Malawi


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 to stay until Tuesday when have to get back to Blantyre and stay overnight. We have been invited to stay at the home of a Member of Parliament Mark Katsonga Phiri. As mentioned previously, his wife Agnes is the Assistant Rotary Governor for Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique and very kind and partial towards us. They will not think of us staying at any hotel and want us to stay with them. We are concerned about how we will get back from the Lake to Blantyre, because there are only four vehicles here at the Feast. Henry Khembo’s camper and our two ambulances and one more family with a car. Agnes has offered to drive us on occasion and I did help them quite a bit last summer when they stayed with us in Indianapolis. We called her and asked if she could send a driver from Blantyre to Mangochi to take us back to Blantyre She obliged and within an hour arranged for a “Peter” from her office at Excise and Customs to come and get the Jahns’ and us on Tuesday. Agnes herself flies to the United Kingdom tomorrow to see her daughter in London.


On to Balaka and the orphans

On to Balaka and the orphans
Balaka, Malawi

Balaka, Malawi


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 other guardians and the orphans. This time I was able to meet some of the managers of the program besides Dr. Chilopora. One was a competent young woman named Irina James that seemed to be the “traffic director” of all the activity. She is the chairman of the LifeNets Orphan Care Centre. There is a committee of four that includes a treasurer and secretary. The Centre provides food, medicine and education for the guardians. We have also provided clothing and blankets. We were able to see the 230 blankets that the ladies in the Portland and other Northwest United Churches of God provided. They are safely stored for distribution when the weather turns colder. Right now in Malawi it’s spring and time for the rainy season to begin. For this season mosquito nets are needed. Part of our visit with the orphans was to distribute mosquito nets. Christina Davis, and eighteen year old young lady from Portland, Oregon raised $5000 for mosquito nets mostly to be distributed from the Chizeni Clinic here in Balaka. We started that distribution here with Beverly handing out nets. The initial distribution is for 500 nets with more than 2000 to follow. We have also provided nets in Lilongwe, Blantyre and for the Zambians. Dr. Chilopora is able to get four poster nets as low as 80 cents apiece through a subsidized program, so Christina’s fundraising is going a LONG WAY! This the fifth year that LifeNets has sponsored the care of 200 orphans under age five. They come from an adjacent village to Balaka called Mpulula. This area is predominantly Muslim. The chief from Mpulula came to greet us this time. She had written to us before, but this is the first time I had met her. She is Muslim, very modest and very kind and very caring about the children. We were told that if this orphan program would not be in place, mortality of the children under age five would be as high as 50% in the five year period. Life is not easy here and it’s so difficult to get things turn our right. Animals get into things, people steal things, the government interferes and the weather is unpredictable. In the midst of all these obstacles we still are joyful that we can get SOME things right. From Balaka we drove on about 30 miles in the ambulance to Ntcheu where Dr. and Mrs. Chilopora live. Things do see a bit better than in former visits. We passed by the witch doctor on the way to their home in Ntcheu. Even she has spruced up her place. It was dark and the road very dangerous with many bikers and pedestrians. There are many bikers hit by vehicles and I can see why. At the Chilopora’s we had dinner. We gave their granddaughter Chiku an mp3 player and tried to help her with some computer problems on her laptop. What a full day! Bev and I are just happy to be here and visit.


WOW!! What a day of happy surprises!

WOW!! What a day of happy surprises!
Blantyre, Malawi

Blantyre, Malawi


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 heart. Mrs. Salawilla and her daughter, daughter-in-law and niece prepared lunch that included chicken, nsima, rice and vegetables and always the bottle of soda pop. We all talked, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Myriads of children peered through the doorway at us white people visiting the Ndilande neighborhood. Off to see the LifeNets maize mill which was right next door. Three families manage the maize mill which is called the Chachisa (named after the three families who manage the mill – Chakaza, Chambuso and Salawilla). We were impressed! A steady stream of customers was streaming to the mill with women coming to get their maize milled. The humming and whirring electric motor in no time would grind up a whole pans of maize. The women would collect the finished product, put it on their head and head on down the street. The busiest hours of operation are from 10 to noon when there is a line of women waiting with their maize. Then they go home and prepare the evening meal. We were so excited to see all this activity – also knowing that it provide a GOOD living for three families. Mr. Fred Chimbuzo was unemployed for six years. He has 15 children. He used a paltry government pension to pay for support his family. Now he can support himself. LifeNets goal is to help people become self-sufficient where we do not have to continually support them. Our LifeNets maize mill project was one of our more expensive ones: $9,500, but it is very solid, profitable and serves a commodity interest of the community. From the maize mill we went on to Mr. Chipendo’s “homes” in an extremely poor part of the Ndilande neighborhood. LifeNets had helped him a year ago to put new sheet metal roofs on the tiny dwellings which still have dirt floors. He rents them out and some of the rent is only $2.25 a month. With the new roofs he can double the rent. If he were to put in a concrete floor, the value of the property would double again. What would a concrete floor cost? Amazingly, only about $25 per floor and the cost could be recovered in a year’s time. I often hear the expression that Africa is a “black hole.” That is not necessarily untrue, but I do find that a well-thought through project can help people be able to sustain themselves in their own economies and cultures. It helps change attitudes, makes them feel better about themselves and helps lift them out of a poverty mentality. We have seen this work over and over again. Yes, Africa needs a new infrastructure, but along with it, it needs a lifting of the spirit with spiritual values to give it dignity. From Chipendo’s neighborhood which I could never possibly find again in a the maze of twisted alleys we go on to another neighborhood called Chirenda where Lewis and his wife Kuda live. Henry Khembo does a masterfool job navigating the camper through the almost non-existant roads and steep climbs. I have NEVER been on anything so challenging, even the Lusaka – Mumbwa road in Zambia. Lewis and Kuda along with their children live in a more open and nicer area of Blantyre. They own a modest home around which they are building a security wall. LifeNets has helped Kuda with a “Freezes” shop. It is basically owning a freezer and selling frozen treats. Lewis works for the Sobo bottling company and is able to be a reseller of various sodas. They family is able to have a substantial income supplement with the Freezes shop. They plan to put it outside at the security wall and make it more convenient for passing customers. On the new LifeNets water well funded by my Rotary District in Central Indiana as well as my home Rotary Club also in the Chirinda neighborhood. There was road here that I thought was completely impassable, but Henry got us through. He used to be a truck driver and had a good sense of the terrain, but we would come to an obstacle and he would make the right maneuvers to get us through. There were at least two times that I said, “We can’t make this.” But, we did. We made it up to James and Mary Mapinda’s dwelling on the side of a hill. We knew immediately what house it was because there was a crowd of women and a long string of water buckets around the new Rotary-financed well. It was so exciting to see this! The water well has been operating for over a month and has provided over thousand people much more easily accessible water. The well before was nearly a mile away that included an up and down a steep incline. The Mapindas, for example, had their daughters make seven trips a day to bring 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads to provide for the family’s water needs. Now the well is in their backyard and provides water for all their neighbors. We took lots of pictures and video. What a buzz of activity. The hours are moving quickly towards sunset and we have two more stops to see a four acre vegetable farming project at Peter Kawinga’s that LifeNets is interested in helping become self-sufficient by providing treadmill pumps and fertilizer for the first round. We got there as the sun was beginning to set and saw the work that he done in preparation for November which is planting time. Being on the side of a mountain he was able to build a reservoir for collecting water that he can then pump up to the garden. The day ended with most of our group eating dinner at a close-by Indiana restaurant by where we are staying. The Salawilla’s and Mr. Chimbuso, Bill and Cheryl and Bev and me had a great finish to an exciting day!!!


With Eliphaz Salawilla and Agnes Katsonga Phiri

With Eliphaz Salawilla and Agnes Katsonga Phiri
Blantyre, Malawi

Blantyre, Malawi


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. We just wanted to make sure that our programs were working and they are! Mr. Salawilla has been exceptional in distributing our funds and keeping track of the progress of the projects. About 1:30 pm we went to the Curry Corner restaurant at a nearby walled shopping center for lunch. I am saddened by the economic inequities. Our modest lunch for the three of us cost $27, not an unusual amount. However, this is the amount that Mr. Salawilla earns working in telecommunication at a modern western-type hotel in Blantyre that charges $100 a night for rooms. It just doesn’t make sense. Ultimately the world must work towards economic parity. After lunch Mr. Salawailla took the bus to the center of Blantyre to meet Henry Khembo and go to the airport to pick up Bill and Cheryl Jahns who were flying down from Lilongwe where they kept the Day of Atonement. Bev and I walked back to Chichiri Lodge. We are getting ready for Agnes Katsonga Phiri to take us to her home for dinner. She is the Deputy Commissioner of Excise and Customs for the nation of Malawi. She had been in charge of the all Inland Revenue for the southern half of Malawi. She is Rotary’s Assistant District Governor for the nations of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Her husband is a member of Parliament, but was up in Lilongwe. We had a wonderful dinner. They live in a very fine home on the south side of Blantyre. Another guest was a chicken producer from Holland. Mark Phiri, her husband, is also a major chicken producer along with other businesses. The walls have photos of their daughter who graduated from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. She now works for Goldman Sachs in London. On the way home Agnes took us to her imposing office, a clean government building just across the street from where we are staying. She is the Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Excise for the nation of Malawi. When we got back we met Bill and Cheryl Jahns. Their room at the Chichiri Lodge is really BAD. There is no other way to describe it. Our room is nothing to shout about, but it is so much nicer. Their ceiling fan is hazard….we called it a floppy fan that looks like it’s about to take off. We got a video of it. Bill and Cheryl couldn’t stay in that room and there was nowhere else, so we all stayed in our room in two small beds that were not quite a double, but larger than a single each. Each one had a mosquito net. The next day the Jahns were able to get a better room, but we determined that this is our LAST time at the Chichiri Lodge.


The Day of Atonement in Blantyre

The Day of Atonement in Blantyre
Blantyre, Malawi

Blantyre, Malawi


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 of Atonement. The Malawian nature is warm, quiet and meek. They area pleasure to talk to. This is the fifth Feast of Tabernacles we are keeping with them: two times in Zimbabwe and now the third time at Lake Malawi. I asked Dr. Sam Chilopora to translate into Chewa for me. While it slows the message and lengthens the service, it really helps the women who marginally understand English. While English is the public language in which business is conducted, Chewa is normally spoken by the people. School is taught in English and children don’t learn English until then. When we are not there, services are conducted exclusively in Chewa. After services we fellowshipped for about an hour and a half. I also called my Rotarian friend Agnes Katsonga Phiri. She is an active member of the Blantyre Rotary Club. Next Year she will be Rotary District Governor that includes the countries of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Last year she and her husband were our guest in Indianapolis and stayed at our home. We went together to Rotary’s 100th anniversary convention in Chicago. Her occupation is being in charge of excise and customs for the entire country of Malawi. Before that she was in charge of Inland Revenue for the southern half of Malawi. She met us in the evening and invited us to her home for dinner the next day. Her husband Mark is a member of Parliament and was in Lilongwe, the nation’s capital. They wanted us to stay at their home while in Blantyre, but we have so many items of Church business to take care of that we just couldn’t do that…..our time would get taken up with other things. We always appreciate their hospitality. Agnes met us in the evening after our dinner and it was good to see each other again. She is quite the capable lady! We had dinner with New York Malawians Henry and Cindy Khembo. He married Cindy, an American, after she came to the Feast in Malawi in the early 90’s. On business he travels to Malawi three or four times a year. He is quite the colorful character. We had dinner at a restaurant called the Hotel Training School in the center of Blantyre. It’s a place where waiters get training to serve Malawian style. It was a fun evening and very satisfying after the Day of Atonement. Tomorrow Bill and Cheryl Jahns arrive at 5:00 pm. Mr. Eliphazi Salawilla will come to meet us 10:00 am. Maybe I can find an Internet café to send these messages.


A Malawi Wedding

A Malawi Wedding
Blantyre, Malawi

Blantyre, Malawi


We are all set for the wedding in which I’m to officiate from which go on to the airport. I hope that Mr. Chonde has the ceremony book and without a rehearsal I hope that nothing we do in our English weddings is taboo here, but we’ll see. We have appreciated the accommodations at the Baptist Missionary Apartments that amounted to $18 per night. We have tried to stay as economically as possible when traveling and in that way we have more money available to help the people we visit. We were to be picked up at 8:00 for the 8:30 am wedding. Meshech Chonde didn’t come with the ambulance until past 8:30, but things are flexible here and we have lots of time before we have to fly at 1:30 pm for Blantyre. In the meantime we had a wonderful conversation with two young ladies who were doing mission work with orphans. One was Monica from Michigan and the other was Elizabeth from Oahu, Hawaii. Both worked for an organization called Children of the Nations out of Seattle, Washington. They work with orphans and we learned of their work as they helped with feeding and lodging orphans in nearby villages. I was struck by their focus and desire to alleviate suffering. Also, I was impressed by how some organizations are organized and funded to help in this way. We arrived at the Malakia Clinic and at first there were just a few people waiting for the not only for the wedding party, by for the guests as well. I was wondering what this was going to be like. The guests trickled in. Finally, about 10 am the wedding entourage arrives in two cars all decorated with ribbons and balloons. I thought the bride and groom looked stunning. There were ring bearers and attendants. It was beautiful. The music started as they rhythmically sauntered up to the front. I couldn’t help as the only white person in the area to witness and officiate over this happy event. The bride and groom sat down in the front row. I asked them to stand up and come up front. I started reading the ceremony and Mr. Chonde translated into Chewa. Part way through the ceremony Edwin Chonde showed up and took over translation. Edwin has a powerful voice and I appreciated his translation at church services the day before. We came to the part of the vows After each one of them said “I do” the assembled guests yelped with delight. Bev videoed much of the wedding. The exchange of rings and kiss were acceptable in the African culture and I presented the young Mr. and Mrs. James Luwanja to the happy crowd which started yelping. People got up and started swaying to the music and congratulating. I started swaying myself and Mrs. Chonde laughed as she saw me. We slowly walked out to the music. The couple and wedding party got into the two cars and drove off. An interesting experience. Meshech showed me his little shop that he calls Computer Heights where he has a business teaching basic computer skills. Here he has a copy machine and a few printers that we had earlier provided. On the airport. We had a little free time and stopped by Blessings Hospital just outside the airport at Lumbadze. Blessings Hospital was built by people from Indianapolis, Indiana…they have done a marvelous job building a cooperative venture with the Malawians. They have sent over many containers of equipment, many things from St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis. St. Vincent’s had helped LifeNets with a grant to build the Chizeni Clinic in Balaka. We also saw the Children’s Village adjacent to the hospital where this same group cares for scores of orphans. We then flew a short 45 minute route to Blantyre. We were picked up by Dr. Sam Chilopora, his granddaughter Chiku who is very special to Bev and me and deacon Mr. Eliphaz Salawilla. They took us to the Chichiri Lodge. They had prepared a dinner for us and we rested the rest of day as the Day of Atonement approached. Sunset is early: 5:30 pm.


Sabbath in Lilongwe, Malawi

Sabbath in Lilongwe, Malawi
Lilongwe, Malawi

Lilongwe, Malawi


This morning we had a respite from the extra full days of travel and moving about. It is Sabbath morning and we rested well. I had a chance to do some studying for my sermon today plus do some journal writing. Services are scheduled for 11:00 but we were told that people from the country are sometimes an hour late and services can start as late as noon. It is about fifteen minutes from the Baptist Missionary apartments where we stay to the Malakia Clinic where we hold services. We agreed for our drivers in the ambulance to come and get us at 10:45 am. They were there, but the traffic back to Area 21 of Lilongwe where the clinic is located was fierce and in gridlock. It was almost completely stopped and we had to find an alternate route along a dusty road to get to services. We were a half hour late and most of the people were already in their seats waiting for the services to start. It as wonderful to see everyone again. We recognized most of the people. There were a few new people as well. We definitely have a bond after five trips to this area in six years. Also, from New York City were Henry and Cindy Khembo. Henry used to live in Malawi, but has married Cindy and now works in New York. He travels three to four times a year to Malawi and is an aggressive business person. Edwin Chonde was the song-leader and I accompanied him on the electric keyboard on the table next to the podium. Then the elder Gladstone Chonde gave the sermonette, the Cephas Chafumbo from Jumpha gave the announcements and I followed with a sermon about the New Testaments meaning of the Day of Atonement. After services we fellowshipped and slowly worked our back on foot to the Chonde’s home where we had dinner and talked a lot more. Henry Khembo is an intense person who had lots of ideas about improving Malawi. Alice Chonde and her daughter-in-law Edda prepared dinner of rice, beef, sweet potato and greens accompanied by a bottle of soda pop. We just really enjoy being with these people! The Khembo’s took us back to the Baptist Missionary Apartments in their travel trailer. They keep this vehicle in Malawi for travel within the country on their often trips. Tomorrow morning I do the wedding for Lovenace and James Luwanja before Bev and I head for the airport and on to Blantyre. The wedding was to be done by Gladstone Chonde, but when visiting ministers come, a task like this is quickly passed on. So, we’ll see how that goes. Malawi marriage customs are difficult to explain. The couple is really married when they become “engaged.” There is usually quite a celebration at that time with all the families involved. The Luwanja’s have been engaged for almost two years. Usually the marriage follows shortly, but they waited for this time for the formalities of the marriage ceremony. Bev and I ate some bread with jam and an orange where we stayed. You cannot go out safely once you’re in a compound and we have no vehicular transportation.


Lilongwe!!

Lilongwe!!
Lilongwe, Malawi

Lilongwe, Malawi


On our international travels what I enjoy most is interacting with people of different cultures and races. As a minister of Jesus Christ, I find it nothing short of miraculous that the values or behaviors of Christianity are universal and were intended to work with all people, no matter how diverse they may be. I’m not sure why I even started my thoughts today with these words except to say that our mission wherever we travel is promote, preach a way of life that gives application to the maxim in the last paragraph. As we head for poor Malawi which is so different from my culture, background and citizenship, these thoughts flood my brain. I got up at 3:30 am. … we left at 6:15 am for Johannesburg airport, but before that I wanted to get another entry on my TravelPod blog which I did. Bill Jahns fortunately has DSL and wireless and it was easy to do. It may be a little while before more postings are made, but I’ll keep writing the blog and upload as I’m able. The traffic in the Johannesburg area is like any major city in the world. The Joburg area has over five million people in a society that has extreme wealth coexisting side by side with poverty. We were concerned that our luggage was far too much for the internal traffic within Africa. In fact, we were braced to pay upwards of $200 in additional overweight charges. I silently prayed that we wouldn’t have to. All that overage was in humanitarian items that we brought over. As we walked through the scales and had our luggage weighed, the airline representative just looked at us and waved us by. We asked no questions. As we checked in were not charged anything at all! Whew!! We had an uneventful 2 hour ten minute flight on South African Airways to Lilongwe. On the flight there were 28 peace corps volunteers who were headed to Malawi to teach in the villages. Stuart from Rockford, Illinois sat next to us and excitedly related his anticipation of his upcoming two year assignment. When we arrived at the airport in Lilongwe, a huge banner along with cheers welcomed the Peace Corps. Of all times we’ve entered Malawi, we had more than the usual number of questions from customs officials. We were asked to open our case holding the eyeglasses for inspection. We were told that we had to have any accompanying letter from ourselves to customs stating that these were for humanitarian purposes. Edwin and Mesheck Chonde picked us up at the airport in the Malakia Clinic ambulance. It was great seeing them again. We first met them when they came with their parents to the Feast of Tabernacles in Mutare, Zimbabwe in ten years ago in 1996. The last time Bev and I were in Malawi was two years ago and we worked with the Rotary Club to help the Lilongwe Boys School with financing to build a 400 plus meter wall around the campus of buildings. The school had gone into terrible disrepair being vandalized by the thousands of people who walked through it daily on the way to work or market. Along with my Northeast Indianapolis Rotary Club and the Lilongwe Club we wrote a $30,000 proposal for builiding the new wall. The wall was just recently finished and we went to see it. It was built in five weeks by 50 workers. What a difference it has made! The school was now shielded from the masses who walked through it daily. Now there was peace on the campus. We spoke with the head mistress Hilda Kuhndi who thanked us and showed us through some of the classrooms. There were desks now for the first time. On our visit last time there none. They were all stolen and cut up for firewood. There is still a lot to be done with the school with sanitation and broken windows, but the wall was a vital start. From the Lilongwe Boys School we stopped by Emily Chifamuka who we helped three years ago with a livelihood development project to start a sewing business. She is the woman who had a stroke when giving birth to her last child and became incapacitated in speech. She is a gifted seamstress. She has really applied herself and is building a shop in the Salima area on Lake Malawi where there are many foreign tourists. We want to help her complete the shop. She has financed most of the construction herself and needs another $1000 to finish the shop that will feature a storefront featuring her hand sewn creations. She proudly displayed a man’s suit coat she tailored along with other items. From Emily’s we went to the Malakia Clinic in area 21 of Lilongwe where Gladstone and Alice Chonde live. It was wonderful to see Alice and Gladstone again. It was getting close to closing time for the clinic and we saw Gladstone consulting the last patients of the day, a mother bringing in her young son to the clinic. We walked to the Chonde’s home about a quarter mile away. Children were running in the streets playing. A man was loudly chanting the beatitudes of Christ as the children responded to each of them. It was interesting to see this interplay. Alice served us a dinner of rice, beef and vegetables. We have known them now for ten years and what an exciting ride it’s been. This is our fifth visit with them in this period. They have been able to build a clinic. Her husband Gladstone was ordained an elder in June of last year. After a while Gladstone came home from work and we spent the next three hours just talking and catching up from the past two years. Their son Mark had been our source of communications, but he has moved to the United Kingdom near Manchester with his new wife to finish school. He will be returning to Malawi in November. Since his leaving communication has been sporadic and unreliable. Email is always the best because you can be clear about what you’re talking about. We have supplied the Malakia Clinic that LifeNets built with medicine the last eight years and communication is vital for ordering the medicine properly. We talked about LifeNets support for the various projects and discussed the various ones that have been very successful in bringing about self-sufficiency and others that have been marginal. We talked about ways to improve our program in both livelihood development and educational scholarships. We were glad to have this discussion face to face. Chonde’s son Edwin along with his wife Edda and daughter Beverly are staying with their parents. They joined us in the evening’s conversation. They showed us the mosquito nets that were provided by LifeNets as part of the “Nets Save Lives” project by Christina Davis in Portland, Oregon who raised $5000 for mosquito nets. These nets cost about $5 each. It was good to see the entire chain come to its end with the project conceived, money raised for, nets purchased and now used by the intended beneficiaries in Malawi! Eighty nets were distributed in Lilongwe, 100 in Zambia with the remainder in Blantyre and Balaka. Then Edwin and Mesheck took us back to the Baptist Missionary Apartments where we are staying. We stayed her two years ago. The Baptists allow people on religious or humanitarian missions to stay here at very nominal cost: $16 a night. They room is very comfortable and sufficient for us and saves lots of money. We stopped at a shop called 7-Eleven…just like in the United States for some breakfast items. We were very tired and collapsed for a good night’s rest.


With Bill and Cheryl Jahns in Johannesburg

With Bill and Cheryl Jahns in Johannesburg
Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa


We left Washington D.C. for the long flight over both the North Atlantic and South Atlantic oceans. Halfway across there was a fuel stop in Dakar, Senegal located on the west coast of Africa. After 17 hours of flying including the one hour stop, we landed at noon Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa. Bill Jahns was waiting for us. How wonderful to see him! Bill and Cheryl are special friends in the ministry. Bill, Cheryl and I attended Ambasssador College in Pasadena together in 1966….we’ve been friends 40 years. We have gone through many experiences and adventures in the Church. Who would think that we would meeting in South Africa….and this is the third time in the past few years. Bill and Cheryl took an assignment in South Africa to serve here for five years starting in 2002. They will be returning to the United States to serve in a pastoral position. Morgen and Joleen Kriedemann who are native South Africa will replace Bill and Cheryl Jahns. Bill has done a valiant job here serving not only South Africa, but in Malawi and some in Zambia as well. The Church in Johannesburg has grown from 40 when the Jahns arrived to well over a 100 now. Because of our friendship and the Jahns’ love for the impoverished areas to the north of here, we have been able to get a lot done effectively with the people in both Malawi and Zambia through LifeNets. Morgen and Joleen came over for dinner Thursday evening and we had a great time talking about South Africa and the future of the Church here. This is early Friday morning and Bill will take us to the airport as we continue on to Malawi. Not sure what our Internet connectivity will be, but keep checking back with the blog. We will be logging our daily experiences and will upload them as we get to the Internet locations. We are excited about being with the Churches in Africa again.