“In him was Life and that Life was the light of all the world”—John 1:4
“Whenever you have given (shared Life with), to one of the least of these, you’ve done for me”—Matt. 25:40
Being here just a month today, normal surface things of life as well as deeper more grace-filled Life have become both more dynamic and fraught.
- Young children calling-out through school windows & along streets/paths, “Hi, hi;” and Fridays, on their way home from school, 20-40 children throwing the frisbee with me; elementary-aged goat- & cow-keepers yelling out to one another across the steep sides of Nkhoma Mt.
- Being shown such humble, hard-working service by the 5 Malawian women and men who work here at the Guest House who are paid the going rate–about $2.00 a day.
- The serendipitous moment: jogging past a middle-aged man singing a spiritual song at the top of his lungs at the top of nearby Nkhoma Mt.
- The Nkhoma Synod Hospital–doctors, nurses and staff–providing surgeries and medical care to hundreds of sick people who have a family member with them to provide food for them while they are at the hospital, because the hospital can’t afford to provide meals except to the youngest children.
- Waking up at 4:15am each day to the smell of smoke wafting from fires people use to cook their meals; and roosters with their famously loud warbles right outside our window!
- Monkeys scampering across our metal roof and stealing maize from the little Guest House garden.
- Meeting young nurses- & doctors-to-be living here at the Guest House for 2-4 months while on internships from Netherlands & Germany, often connected to religious outreach organizations; other doctors & teachers from Switz., Germany, Netherlands, Canada, and the U.S., volunteering at the Hospital and Seminary, also being funded by rel. orgs.
- Constantly boiling water for when the electricity goes off each day; using an enormous gas bunsen burner multiple days each week to cook our meals, including one night this past week when Deb cooked spaghetti, a very tasty meatless sauce & carrots for a Malawian friend we had to dinner.
(You might want to take a break and finish the 2nd half later.)
The fraught nature of things:
- The hospital putting up Red Cross tents in order to provide cover for the unprecedented number of people with Cholera here in Malawi due to last year’s cyclones & floods that destroyed sanitation & water facilities (the electricity just went off; it’s 9:50am but I already boiled water at 7:30am.)
- Deb making house calls with hospital team of a chaplain & nurses, visiting outlying villages with no electricity, running water, never enough feed and often plastic beneath stick-thatched roofs.
- You can imagine how it might feel seeing such incredible universal poverty everywhere you look and with everyone you meet (knowing all the while how much money is in our bank account back home—yikes! What to do?)
- What to do when so many children and adults of all ages ask us for “ndalama” (money) every single day as we pass by them (and they really need it)…
- What to do when the help-staff here at the Guest House, who we have come to know, knock on our door and tell us they need various amounts of money in order to buy fertilizer for their crops back home or for their children’s school fees…
- What to do when Malawians we know (from the School of Nursing, the University, the Seminary) are charged the equivalent of $700 a year to attend school (sounds like a bargain compared to college costs back in the US, but their parents are farmers & have barely enough money & food for themselves just to get by & and $700 is what most Malawians make in an entire year…
- What to Do?
Here’s what we are going to do. Our wise Malawian friend who came to dinner this past week said, “Take time to learn where your money can help the most people—perhaps students living on campus who, if they can pay their tuition, can’t afford much to eat; perhaps an outlying village that has so few resources and needs so much help; perhaps the hospital that serves so many desperate people, offering social services & performing vitally necessary surgeries while charging the people just $20 for procedures that cost at least 5X that much, even though surgeons from other countries are donating their services. (Torrential rainfall & wind outside as I write this while Deb has left to make home-visits to outlying village on terrible muddy “roads.”)
So, friends & acquaintances from the United States, so many of you have already been so generous with us, donating over $23,000 to our yearlong service in Malawi: THANK YOU! We think these donations will carry us through more than adequately). So, from this point on, monies donated will go exclusively to Malawians. For instance, the 20-yaer-old university student, Izekisiya, teaching us Chichewa, is going to need $350 to pay her tuition fee; two staffers here at the Guest House are being laid-off in May–their only source of income–so we are going to cover the costs of their services at least 2-3 days a week for Frederick, who makes food & the best bread for the staff and House-guests, and Sim, who raises vegetables for the House guests & his family.
Due to your generosity, we have already been able to contribute $3000 to various needs within the Synod, the hospital & the seminary; while these initial donations from us do not amount to much life/Life-giving, it’s a start, while we follow our Malawian friend’s advice: to assess projects that will serve the greatest needs of the most people for the long-term. (We will alert you to these projects as they become more apparent to us.)
Please know that we are not trying to “double-dip” from those who have already made generous donations to our service in Malawi; this appeal is especially for those who may be following our stories and posts, who are very supportive of and prayerful about of our service in Malawi, but have not yet donated via our website: montsmalawimission.org or by sending a check to First Presbyterian Church of Stroudsburg, 575 Main St., Stroudsburg, PA, 18360. ($10/$25/$50/$100 goes incredibly far!)
“That They May Have Life More Abundantly,” (John 10:10)