Two couples are serving in Malawi through in 2017 for a year. Lewis and Lena VanAusdle arrived the first part of the year and Brennan and Michala Hilgen in February. Lewis VanAusdle is pastor of the Lilongwe, Malawi congregation. Brennan and Michala are volunteer workers helping out with the congregation and with LifeNets projects.
Durban, South Africa
In the morning I did a video of Andre van Belkum talking about LifeNets. We want to make a promotional video about our African projects. We had a long breakfast then got our things together to go to the airport and fly back to the United States. It’s been a wonderful trip We feel that we have contributed positively to the Feast of Tabernacles in both Malawi and Zambia and deepened our relationships with so many people in both those countries. I spoke a total of 13 times starting with the Sabbath before the Day of Atonement. It was interesting to perform a wedding in Lilongwe and take part in a funeral in Mumbwa. Visiting our LifeNets projects was essential to ensure their continued success and continuation of the programs. Both Bev and I are ecstatic about this particular trip to Africa that will help us serve the people even better here. After flying back from Johannesburg, we met up with Bill and Cheryl Jahns and Bruce and Phyllis Anderson from Minnesota as well as Herb Teitgen from North Dakota. The Anderson’s and Herb T. are also flying back to the United States, but they are on a flight to New York while we go to Washington D.C. Well, that’s it for this trip. Thanks for following our journey..
Johannesburg, South Africa
Durban, South Africa
Today is our last full day in Africa on this trip and we just drove around. I tried to get my email downloaded and some sent from where Neville Smith works, but my laptop just couldn’t get connected to the wireless or the ADSL line. We then drove around Durban and just spent time at their home in afternoon. We had lunch at a garden supply store. Open restaurants in Garden shops are typical here. In the evening the van Belkum’s took us out to dinner at an Italian restaurant.
Durban, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kambani and Shirley Banda arrived at 5:45 am to take us to the Lusaka airport for our flight to Johannesburg and continuing down to Durban where Andre and Elize van Belkum live. We have gotten very close to the Banda’s and admire their service to the Church people as their minister and his exceptional skill as administrator of the LifeNets projects. He is tough and disciplined, but that is the what it takes to get RESULTS in this part of the world. He doesn’t take excuses and demands that people do their part and holds their feet to the fire. Now after doing this for five years in Mumbwa, we can see outcomes that are quantitative leaps economically from where they had been. In the process they are taught to be more disciplined and to work hard and see the correlation between hard work, good management and prosperity. I thought we were getting to the airport a bit too early, but it took all that time to first pay the airport departure tax of $25 a person, then stand in line for the first security check. Then you check in. Then you go through immigration which took more than half an hour. Then another security check before being put on a bus to go out to the waiting South African Airways Airbus to Joburg and then to Durban where the van Belkum’s live.. It was great to see Andre and Elize again. He has been a special friend of ours the past 15 years – to me if there is any human for being one who has no guile, he and Elize are it. He’s a great pastor and takes life as it comes whether he is exalted or abased. With them we just enjoy sitting around and talking whether it be Church or LifeNets. He is the LifeNets chairman for LifeNets Southern Africa. Their main contribution has been with the Developing Nations Scholarship Program. They sent a young lady of Indian origin to University in Cape Town for three years and she now has a high profile job with Shell Petroleum in Durban. LifeNets SA is also sending Zimbabwe students for their higher education. They also send teens from impoverished families to summer camp. In the evening local church elder Neville Smith came over for dinner and we just had a great time telling stories and enjoying each other’s company.
About 7:00 am Kambani Banda came by to pick us for our trip to Mumbwa. Apren Moomba did not return until 10 pm from taking the first load of about 60 people to their homes in Mumbwa. The trailer carrying the luggage had a flat tire and ruined rim that had to be replaced. He barely made it back to Paray’s Game Park where the Feast of Tabernacles was held. The remaining second group of 60 people had to pitch tents again. Food had to be purchased for feeding them. The Paray’s Game Park is on the way to Mumwa and we stopped to see what’s going on. When we came out there they were all waiting to get on the road for home. It’s now two days after the Feast, but no one is disappointed or deterred. They take things in stride. Apren Moomba has left with the big “van” to Luska with the disassembled meeting building, the tabernacle, that is being stored at Kambani Banda’s home. He will return pick up the people. We load up our pickup trip with as many of their belonging as we can pack up. The van will then have to take all the people and belongings back without the benefit of the trailer. So Kambani Banda, Beverly, Jerrison Shachoongo and I continue on to Mumbwa. We are told that there is a better road that has been graded. It’s a total of about a 100 miles with only 40 miles on dirt road. But when we come to the dirt road, there is little evidence of any grading. It’s a long way out to Kasumpa where Jerrison lives and seems much more so when you are navigating on a dirt road through the ruts and craters. After a bumpy jostling trip of three hours we get to Kasumpa where we first go to Jerrison’s home. He has done the best of anyone with the LifeNets grants for cattle, a well and with the farm credits. He has produced nearly five tons of maize per hectare. Typical yields the year before were about one ton per hectare (2.4 acres). His LifeNets cattle has grown from two to seven. One of three recent LifeNets wells is on his property and his spread is impressive. His income has quadrupled because he is a hard worker and a great manager. Water is a lifesaver in this area. While there is no electricity in this area, he does have a television set powered by solar panels. And amazingly he also has cell phone service if he goes out and climbs a hill some distance away. Much of the LifeNets cattle was brought over to Jerrison’s corral so we could see it. The herd looked magnificent and Jerrison and the others thanked LifeNets donors profusely for making this possible. We did a bit of videoing and interviewing on the scene. We then went over to other families that received LifeNets help. One was Armstrong Maninga and the other Lloyd Chifwepa who has also done splendidly with maize production Armstrong has a well that’s working, but no pump yet. Buckets are dipped to draw water, but this brings contamination and we will be getting him a hand pump as well. Armstrong Maninga also wanted to thank donors who helped him with getting a large growth removed from the side of his face. Finally we went to the Nalubanda area about ten miles away and saw the home of Apren Moomba. His property was where the Feast of Tabernacles had been kept several years back. He now has a well and pump. Three years earlier we helped him with digging a well, but they came across a rock that they could not dislodge. Water was available only during the rainy season. Finally, it was decided to start over and now he has a gushing well with a handsome pump. Apren’s wife walked one and three quarters miles each way three times a day to bring home water on her head. Having a well on the property is a fantastic blessing. Australian brethren helped with the financing of these wells. We saw the church buildings that are being built out in this area by the United Church of God. Each building will cost $5,000. Two are well on the way to completion and will be a convenient place for the congregations to meet on the Sabbath. The third one has yet to be started. The people currently meet in very makeshift buildings. One which is a wood frame with straw for the walls and the other a wide open shelter. The last stop was at the funeral of Nice, Often and Mostly’s father. I had never experienced a funeral like this before. Hundreds of people came to the burial which was today. The entire funeral will carry on for a total of five days. People brought their mourning sticks. Men marched up and down with the canes with mournful wailing. Women sang emotionally and cried as a drum beat. The pastor officiating asked if I could do the last part of the service. The deceased man had had six wives of which two were still current ones. They both walked up together to the open grave, looked and went back. He had fathered more than 50 children. As I mentioned, one of his ex-wives was the woman I baptized two days previously. The burial was part of the service. The coffin was lowered. Then a carpet was on it followed by a piece of sheet metal. Then cement was mixed in front of us and poured over the sheet metal. The service continued. I started with Job’s question in Job 14:14, “If a man die, will he live again?” I explained that a man would lie in the ground until his “change came.” I then quoted I Thessalonians that we don’t sorrow in ignorance and ended with I Corinthians 15. We met with the chief of the area and made a customary monetary donation. Those present clapped. It was touching and interesting to experience all this. We then drove back to Jerrison’s spread again and lo and behold we see the remainder of the people from the Feast on the van being driven by Apren Moomba. It was nearly 4:00 pm. The entire process looks so aruduous. I cannot imagine what the ride was like with the van with 65 people on the rutted road, the 40 miles of unbelievable potholes and navigation challenges as you must careen from one side of the road to the other to negotiate the craters in the road. Kambani and I decided that we better get on back to Lusaka. Kambani is tired and glad that I volunteered to drive back. We decide to take the other road because the one that had taken out was not really any better since it had nearly 70 miles of craters. It was getting dark. More than an hour and a *********** before we saw an oncoming car. Bev gasped as I tried to get around or ride over the craters. I’ll have to say that I was a wreck myself after driving back four hours to Lusaka. Even getting on the tar road was little consolation in total darkness punctuated by trucks and other vehicles that would not dim their lights. On the shoulder lines of people would be walking or riding bikes. I silently prayed that I would not hit anyone or be hit by anyone. We went to one of our favorite haunts from our previous visit two years ago, an Indian restaurant. Shirley and her sons along with Bevin Moomba joined us and we really enjoyed ending the day together, but we are exhausted. Again, I’m thankful that I didn’t wreck the vehicle driving back to Lusaka nor injure anyone or get killed ourselves.