I’ve been missing in action for a little over a week, due to the fact that we have been away from home. We are currently in Lilongwe, Malawi, where we are visiting and working with Ed and Lina Crookshank for a couple of weeks. August 12 we pulled out of our drive just after 3 a.m. and made the long, long drive to Lilongwe – all in one day. It was about a 15 1/2 hour trip. Malawi is experiencing a fuel crisis, which adds extra challenges when the work here involves much driving. In spite of that (sitting in long queues for a couple of hours) we’ve managed to keep on going according to schedule here.
This past weekend Lindsey and I, along with Lina Crookshank, went to the village of Salima for a women’s “retreat”. If the word “retreat” conjures up in your mind a place for rest and relaxation, then think again. There were about 800 women who came from as far as four hours away. Most of them slept on the ground, along with their babies, on a layer of dried straw, in a semi-enclosed area. Cooking was done over open fires and the softest seating available was the ground.
For most of the women, it was a retreat, since they had a break from their responsibilities at home and were served three meals a day. Lindsey, Lina and I were able to stay in the house of one of the local church members there, for which we were very thankful. They were very good to us.
On Friday morning Shupie, the young woman who does most of the translating for Lina, began the early stages of labor. She really did not want to miss the ladies retreat in spite of the fact that her due date was about 10 days away. By noontime, Lina decided that she ought to take Shupie back to Lilongwe, so that she could go to the hospital there. We weren’t sure how far along Shupie was in her labor, and Lina certainly didn’t want to get caught driving after dark. Neither did we want to have to deliver a baby out in the village, if we could help it. So, after lunch Lina and Shupie headed back to Lilongwe (about a 2 hour drive), and Linz and I stayed. That night Linz and I could do nothing but laugh at ourselves – out in the village, no vehicle, can’t speak the local language, and I almost ran out of phone minutes! George was nice enough to transfer some to me, so at least I could get in touch with him if the need arose. Anyway, Linz and I made it just fine, although we do have a few stories to tell, such as….
I spoke three times. My lessons were on the topics of 1) How Women Can Serve, 2) The Role of Mothers and 3) Loving Your Husband. Honestly, if I had known previously what some of the issues that are problems for the ladies here I would have chosen differently. You might think that the problems the Tanzanians have are similar to those of Malawians, and to some degree, that is the case. However, the Malawi women, especially those that come from the more remote villages, are so mixed up in their thinking concerning marital and family relations that one hardly knows where to begin. We also had some extra challenges because a number of the women were, to put it kindly, uncooperative. Food supplies disappeared, some went down to the lakeside beach (just a few hundred yards away) and publicly bathed topless or more (which, by the way, is not done by the people of this village, and the local church members were quite upset by it), in addition to other problems. The positive side is that there were definitely some who were kind and obviously had come with a genuine desire to learn the Word of God. We hope that we were of some encouragement to them.
Lindsey spoke twice to a class of young women, once on Works of the Flesh vs. Fruits of the Spirit, and the other on issues that challenge young women, such as commitment, jealousy, purity and modesty. She did a great job!
George, Jacob and Luke, as well as Ed Crookshank and Isaac (whose home Linz and I stayed in) drove to Salima Sunday morning for worship. Jacob taught Bible class and George taught preached. Both of my guys did a great job, of course.
Besides Lindsey’s and my adventure to the village, days have been filled with going to a different teaching point each day, where George teaches a four hour class on Personal Evangelism. However, Linz and I decided to stay at the house today to recoup from our weekend, which is why I’ve been able to catch up with online stuff.
Hope you all have a great week!