Just a little update on our lives here in Africa! It’s been awhile since we have touched base with many of you. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the last few months. Our place here feels like home now. Many nights we can hear the African drums beating out in the villages, sometimes it’s close and other times just a distant drumming. The evening sky is beautiful here; we often watch the sun setting beyond the mountains and think how lucky we are to be here.
We had a meeting awhile back; it is called a brothers meeting. That’s when delegates from all of our outposts come together and discuss issues that arise through the year. Anyway to start the day off I had to get up around 3:30am and drive 5 to 6 hours to this meeting. At least half of that was on dirt roads. (real bumpy roads) Just for interest sake it was only about 62nm as the crow flies and would have taken only about 30 minutes by air. I did stop and pick up a few people on the way. It was way way out in the bush. We had about 51 members there and 3 were from Mozambique. There were 20 congregations represented. We tried to fit into a church building there but there just wasn’t room inside so the local brethren laid out large mats on the ground under a tree and set up a little rickety table in front for the secretaries and a little rickety bench for a few of the pastors to sit on. The rest of us just sat cross legged on the ground for the rest of the day. (it was hard on some of us white people’s knees to sit like that, we had to keep moving our legs; but it didn’t seem to bother the local ones, guess they’re used to that.)
I had brought 3 mosquito hammocks with me to Africa and so I had brought them to this meeting. These hammocks are made for the jungle and they have a mosquito netting that you zip close after you get in. That makes you feel a bit safer from all the critters that crawl around here. I was glad I had brought them because about half of the crowd slept in the little two room church on the floor and the rest just slept out on the ground under the stars. I shared my hammocks with some friends (James, Michael, and myself and Jed brought his own also) and we found a few trees to hang them in. We started hanging them and we quickly became the talk of the crowd. I guess those people had never seen or even heard of a hammock before. They would point and come up close to inspect them and then they would laugh and say we were like monkeys sleeping in the trees! Oh ya, of course they had no lights but one of the missionaries had brought some 12volt lights that used the vehicle battery to help out in the evening. Soon we were in our hammocks and trying to go to sleep; listening to the many night sounds that are made in Africa. All of you back there, your really are missing out on a lot of blessings! The trees we had used for our hammocks were about 10ft away from the little dirt road. Not much vehicle traffic there but a lot of foot traffic so at times I could see people stopping and peering at us throughout the night. I was a little worried that someone would come along and not knowing someone was sleeping inside would think this would be a good thing to take home and try to cut it off the tree. I didn’t know if my back would take a fall like that.
I had been told to expect to take a shower sometime in the night and sure enough, at exactly 3:30am someone came around and tried to wake me up, they said it was my turn to shower. Snuggled into my enclosed hammock I groggily said that I didn’t think I needed one this time. I was thinking that I could just skip one night and it probably wouldn’t kill me. But soon another person came around not knowing I had been asked already and asked me again, but this one was more persistent and I decided I should take one if only for the experience. Got my stuff around (we had to bring our own towels etc.) and followed the man through the darkness to a little grass enclosure. Only had the moon for light at that time of night and was kind of glad because any more light wouldn’t have been too good. Not much privacy. I think there were about 3 others taking their baths with only a little grass wall separating us. I was kind of wishing I was black about that time. I couldn’t see anyone else but they all could probably see me! Anyway they had a tub of hot water there that they had just heated up over a fire and so I proceeded to take a sponge bath. Not bad after it was all said and done.
After that I tried to go back to sleep and did after awhile, but I was once again awakened at 5:00am because they wanted to get an early start on the meeting. For breakfast we had hot tea and a bun. About mid-way though the morning we heard a chicken squawk, then another one, and someone whispered “that will be our lunch”, and sure enough, we had chicken to eat. I won’t get into the eating too much but you pretty much have to give up everything your mom taught you back home because you sit on the ground and share a bowl of this stuff with about two other people and did I mention that all two or three of you are eating out of the same dish with only your fingers from your right hand?
All in all it was a good meeting and I was impressed time and again how dedicated that the Christian brethren here are for the Lord. It seems like with Malawi being one of the poorest countries in Africa that the people here would have a lot to complain about but they are some of the happiest people around. Maybe that can be a lesson for some of us. Keep praying for the work here and for us also that we can know how to help and do what God wants us to do here.
Maybe next time I or my wife will describe a little about the many trips we have made to the hospitals here for Connor’s knee problem, or about the two snakes we have killed close to our house, one being a black mamba and the other one we think was a puff adder, and a few other things.