We were blessed this year by having 5 members who had never been to Malawi before and also 5 young people (2 of whom had been before). The team was:
Lisa and George Adams, Peter Aldis, Helen Dakers, Celia Gardner, Rob Giles, Matt Heywood, Sam Hodson, Roger Parker, Chris, Hannah and Beth Plumptre, Jeff Porter from Fernhill Heath Baptist Church. We all looked fantastic in our purple T-shirts courtesy of Steve and Anya Marshall.
A comprehensive risk assessment was prepared and read by all the team before departure.
The team left Worcester on Wednesday 8 July and returned on Thursday 23 July (except Peter who stayed on in Ethiopia for a planned visit).
The Malawi Government had announced two weeks before departure that they were imposing an entry fee of $75 per person from the UK. This was implemented on 1 July 2015. It caused so much confusion that they dropped it before the team arrived, announcing that it will now be introduced on 1 October 2015.
Peter and Lisa drove the 35 seater bus which was provided by Noah. However this vehicle had to go into the garage for adaptations so Noah hired a smaller vehicle with a driver (another Noah) for three of the days.
Once again we stayed at Longonot Guest House. This year we experienced a couple a power outages and we were told that these are becoming more common – going back to the old days.
Each evening the team gathered for feedback and encouragement and for Roger to lead inspirational thoughts for the day on the subject of love. Those with some energy left stayed to play various card and word games before retiring to bed most evenings before 10.00 pm. The Imam woke most of us up before 5.00 am and he had a profound effect on the dog population who did not appreciate it when he reached the high notes and joined in.
As usual most things on our programme were achieved, eventually, if not in the order that we had planned with many changes being made the night before or on the morning of the event. The final programme was as follows:
|Wednesday8 July||1.30 pm – Assemble at SPBC for final luggage check|
2.15 pm – Depart for Heathrow
5.00 pm – Book into Terminal 2 and meet up with Nailsea Baptist Church group
8.15 pm – Flight ET701 to Addis
|Thursday9 July||9.20 am – Flight ET877 to Lilongwe12.20 pm – Arrive Lilongwe|
Travel to Longonot Guest House
Afternoon to unpack and sort out resources
|Friday10 July||Confirm return flight at Ethiopian AirlinesWomen session|
Location at New Covenant
|Women – Lisa, Chris, CeliaMen – Rob, Roger, Peter, Jeff|
Children – Helen, Beth, Matt, George, Hannah, Sam
|Saturday11 July||Wedding at Chikondi with Jeff officiating and the team singing 2 English songsYouth and children’s work at Edene|
Brief visit to the wedding reception to experience the monetary gift throwing ceremony
|Youth – Beth, Sam, Matt Hannah, Rob, Roger, Peter, GeorgeChildren – Helen, Lisa, Chris, Jeff, Celia|
|Sunday12 July||Preaching in 6 village churches in the morning – Rob to Chikondi, Jeff to Mwanga, Peter to Thanthwe, Sam/Matt to Chisomo, Roger to Calvary and Celia to “A Stone”|
|Monday13 July||Secondary school visit – Mpando and MzumanziCelia to attend the Rotary presentation at Mbabzi Clinic with Noah|
Jeff to speak to Bible Students at Chikondi
Celia to interview the student selected for Higher Education
|Secondary School x four classes to be taught simultaneously with same lesson plan – therefore 3 team per class|
|Tuesday14 July||Visit to Ntchisi Microloan Project|
|Wednesday 15 July||Secondary school visit – Mikundi11.00 am – women, men, children at Thanthwe|
Hannah to Mbabzi Clinic for a couple of hours
|Secondary School x four classes to be taught simultaneously with same lesson plan – therefore 3 team per classWomen – Lisa, Chris, Celia|
Men – Rob, Roger, Peter, Jeff
Children – Helen, Beth, Matt, George, Sam
|Thursday16 July||Muzu Primary SchoolWomen, men, children at Calvary|
Hannah to Mbabzi Clinic all day
Celia to attend Rotary meeting 6.30 pm until 7.30 pm
|Primary School – 6 classes to be taught – simultaneously using the same lesson plan – teams of 2 with one of 3Women – Lisa, Chris, Celia|
Men – Rob, Roger, Peter, Jeff
Children – Helen, Beth, Matt, George, Sam
|Friday17 July||Visit to Livingstonia Hotel on Lake Malawi with Nailsea Baptist Church team and Hope Missions (Francis and Annie Mkandawire) – full day|
|Saturday18 July||Youth event at MugwataOther team members to carry out village evangelism in Jamu village area close to Mugwata||Youth – Beth, Sam, Hannah, George, MattVillage Evangelism – Helen, Celia, Lisa, Peter, Rob, Chris, Roger, Jeff|
|Sunday19 July||CCBC followed by service at Chikondi with Jeff speakingCelia and Chris to meet Microloan defaulters|
|Monday20 July||Most schools closed owing to Holy Day (Islamic holiday)Women, men, children at New Life church|
Jeff to meet leadership team of New Life
|Women – Lisa, Chris, CeliaMen – Rob, Roger, Peter, Jeff|
Children – Helen, Beth, Matt, George, Sam, Hannah
|Tuesday21 July||Visit to shopping mall and marketBaptisms in the afternoon|
Pizza with interpreters in the evening
|Wednesday 22 July||10.00 am – leave Longonot11.00 am – book in for return flight|
1.10 pm – Flight ET877 to Addis
|Thursday 23 July||3.05 am – Flight ET700 to Heathrow9.45 am – Arrive Heathrow|
2.30 pm – arrival in Worcester
The Ministry Team
It was good to see everyone in good health. Noah and Dolla’s children are all well. Rebecca (their eldest) interpreted for some of the time and she and Chikondi came to the lake with us. Dolla also came out on many occasions to interpret. Noah’s businesses appear to be doing well. The three children Neil and I had seen when we visited in March have been taken to America by Noah and the American adopting parents just a few days before we arrived, hence the lack of communication from Noah just before we left.
We did not see much of Lawrence after the first few days as he was engaged with a team from the USA who were there on a short-term mission to renovate a secondary school classroom. Lawrence is no longer employed by the USA organisation that was running the orphanage although Lawrence said that he was still in contact with the children who were going to secondary school.
We also saw little of Chester. On the first Tuesday he was down in Dedza for 4 days accompanying another USA team who were planning to plant a church (they failed).
Winston and Mndewere are working hard as Missioners. Their remit is great and they find it difficult to visit all the churches they are responsible for owing to the great distances between them.
On the second Saturday there was a Women’s Rally at Chikondi and 100 women travelled from Ntcheu (southern church plant) with their pastor.
Fifteen of our supported Bible students, along with 20 from other churches, were staying at Chikondi church for 2 weeks as part of their studies. We presented them with Bibles (in the covers that had been made by the sewing group), note book, pens and pencils. They emphasised the need for bicycles to assist them with the long journeys they have to make to their churches and, owing to a personal donation from a SPBC member, we were able to provide sufficient money to purchase 8 bicycles. They accepted that those who had the furthest to travel would receive the bicycles and they hoped that further donations could be made in the future.
Roger and Celia visited the site where the combined Calvary and Living Waters church will be built. They have already crafted 950,000 bricks for the church and a new house for the missioner (Winston). They hope to purchase additional land to complete the corner triangle. There was the usual request for the provision of a metal roof. The team were asked to name this new church and it was decided to call it Unity (UImodzi).
There are now 47 churches (although this will reduce to 46 in September/October with the merger of Calvary and Living Waters).
The additional churches are Chimbalu and Hope (a new church out of “A Stone”)
The existing structure at Living Waters is only temporary but the substantial building at Calvary will become a school. It is unclear whether this will be a Bible School (as told to us in March) or a primary school.
On the Calvary site there is an orphanage with 12 residents from around the local church area. Celia met a number of them on the first Sunday.
Those preaching on the first Sunday reported good congregation attendance. At Thanthwe there were 9 choirs. Each person preaching took copies of Angela Newton’s book for the church leaders to use.
Calvary is interested in water conservation and Celia and Roger will explore this on their behalf.
Secondary School Sponsorship and Lessons in the Secondary Schools
Chris, Celia and Meryl Gwilliam had prepared a schedule of questions for the person responsible for the Secondary School Scheme. On the penultimate day Noah decided that in future he would be responsible for the scheme. Celia had already discussed some of the issues/concerns about the drop-out rate and further electronic communication that will take place with Noah before the September enrolment takes place.
Whilst visiting Mpando, Mzumanzi and Mikundi Secondary Schools where lessons were taken opportunity was taken to talk to the Head Teachers and to meet our students. Each student was presented with a pen/pencil roll (made by the sewing group and filled with donated pens (Damart) and pencils (Chambers).
The lessons were well received by all the groups – 4 classes taught in each school for years 1 and 3. Years 2 and 4 had already left as their State examinations had been completed. The lessons concentrated on climate change. Each lesson was divided into four sections. Firstly the students were shown the globe to orientate themselves to the northern and southern hemispheres. Some students found it difficult to accept that the earth was round. Pictures showing snow on the cathedral elicited questions about cold weather and the evidence of the difference climate change was going to have on Malawi reinforced what they already knew. The second and third sections concerned bible stories about the Sower and the Wise and Foolish Builders. The final section was a bible verse which many were able to memorise – Colossians 2 verse 6.
Each school was left with a gift of 5 footballs and a number of tennis balls and a copy of the teaching materials and visual aids.
Muzu Primary School
Celia met with Mr Kapinder (Head Teacher) on the first Saturday and handed to him the fees for the 3 former Muzu students who are doing very well in their secondary schools.
Six classes were taught – some in classrooms and some under trees. Huge numbers of students were assembled ranging from 120 to possibly 300. Although chaos occurred in some instances the sound preparation by the team ensured that a Biblical message was given. The theme was Joshua and the Jericho walls and about the attributes of a good leader. The memory verse was Joshua 24 verse 24.
Before leaving the school Mr Kapinder was presented with exercise books, pens and pencils, footballs and tennis balls.
Activities for Men, Women, Youth and Children
The team working with the men covered going deeper in the Christian faith, discipleship, living the Christian life and the work of the Holy Spirit. Practical activities involved bicycles maintenance and first aid. Numbers attending varied from 20 to 60.
The women focussed on great women in the bible – Esther, Ruth and Naomi, Miriam and Mary and Elizabeth. Apart from telling the story opportunity was taken to encourage the women to act out the story (Esther) and to watch the team and interpreter act out the story (Ruth and Naomi). This was entertaining for all. Chris led a session on basic first aid with Lisa being a very enthusiastic patient. To complete the session Lisa had prepared a series of 100 pictures with script telling the story of Jesus from birth to resurrection. Again between 20 and 60 women attended.
The young people’s work was extremely well received. The theme of never being separated from the love of God was enhanced with a drama depicting the life of Paul. Each session was completed with very intense questions from the young Malawians.
On the final Saturday the young people from the local churches organised a youth weekend to which they invited the SPBC young people. Our team did an amazing job of running the whole day, thus proving that with sufficient preparation they can tackle anything that is placed in their way.
Most of the team helped out with the children’s programme at one time or another. However the team of Helen, Beth, Matt, George, Hannah and Sam had a baptism of fire on their first day when we were at New Covenant. Whilst the men and women’s work was underway in the village the remainder went into the main village to the school where approximately 500 children gathered. They did an incredible job and this didn’t put them off.
At other times more manageable sized groups of children were taught bible stories (with fantastic acting from the team) and plenty of varied games (the parachutes were a great success).
Helen took every opportunity to talk to children and by the end of the visit she was “word perfect” for the stories and literally threw herself into the acting.
Peter had mentioned to Lawrence when we visited the first village to undertake our men/women/children’s work that he would like the opportunity to see more of village life. Whilst the young people were at their event the older members went to Jamu village and an adjoining area to undertake village evangelism. This is a Catholic stronghold where there is also a Presbyterian church and an Emmanuel Church (aligns itself with the Abraham Church where you can have as many spouses as you wish and where, allegedly anything goes). We divided into 4 groups of 2 and quartered the area. Many opportunities were given to speak to small and large groups – Jeff and Roger spoke to at least 80 people where Mndewere addressed them about attending the local church and of the opportunity for their village to have their own Baptist Church. One small boy (James) of about 5 was seen by Celia and Helen. He was obviously ill and the grandmother (Lucy) asked for prayer for his healing. On close examination it appeared that his scalp was a mass of open sores, there was evidence of insect infestation and the grandmother had applied toothpaste to the holes in his scalp. Lisa, Peter and an interpreter took the young boy to the nearest Catholic private hospital where he was treated for Impetigo. Other parents spoke of similar problems with their children so when the party returned with medication etc they were able to tell others what needed to be done. Before leaving the village Helen entertained the children with stories and songs, even learning the Chichewa for “if you are happy and you know it”.
Before we left Chief Henry Jamu asked us to consider enquiring about a village water pump as they draw their water from open wells. In the village where Rob and Chris spent their time they were asked about adult literacy classes.
On the final day Mugwata and Thanthwe churches met together for a baptism in the river near to Thanthwe. There had been difficulty in finding sufficient water as the rains had finished early. The river was lower than it usually is in September. Jeff baptised 59 men, women and young people. It was a joyous occasion and Rob preached before the procession to the river.
Microloan Project at Nsankhani
Following the monitoring visit in March 2015 it had been agreed that all outstanding debts would be paid by the end of June 2015. Most had not complied.
Celia met with 9 of the defaulters and each person agreed that they had received the loan and various repayment dates were offered. Celia set the repayment date for end of December 2015 and explained that they needed to set an example to their churches.
Celia and Chris met with the bible students who explained their need for bicycles and Celia confirmed that Noah would purchase 8 bicycles and that he would allocate them according to need. The Bible students were also told that Noah would be left with some money to purchase Sunday School materials, hymn books and Bibles although each church would only receive a few of each. Noah will determine how many of each is purchased and how they are allocated.
Celia, Chris and Neil Davis will undertake a reconciliation of the fund.
Celia met with Francis Mkandawire and explained that the fund would not be transferred until the monitoring visit in March 2016.
Microloan Project at Ntchisi
Once again we had an amazing visit to Ntchisi, being accompanied by Alpheus and meeting up with Matthias and the NECCOSS (Ntchisi Evangelical Churches Consortium for Social Services) team of local pastors.
We were introduced to the annual report which again emphasised the amazing work that is being carried out (full report on file). Currently there are 566 beneficiaries (125 male and 441 female) divided into 32 Village Savings and Loans groups (VSL). These groups now have substantial savings and social fund monies. The beneficiaries include young people who are running successful small scale businesses such as hawkers of groceries, second hand clothes, fish, vegetables, tomatoes, wrappers, kitchen utensils, chair weaving, carpentry, butchery, hair dressing and many others.
The number of pastors involved has risen from 10 in 2010 to 25 in 2015. These pastors establish VSL groups in their churches and from this their stipends are being paid.
VSL groups are also supporting community based child care centres by buying sugar and maize for the children.
Five young people (3 men and 2 women) have been supported with school fees from the social funds. The team met Simeon last year and this year met Tiwonge Banda an 18 year old girl who was orphaned at 5 years.
After the formal meeting we went to see some of the projects. Once again we visited Mr Anderson Mbulanda’s garden. Mr Mbulanda was one of the first recipients of a loan and it is amazing to see how he has grown his business. He now works 1.75 hectares of irrigated land, growing thousands of cabbages, beans, onions, maize (two crops per year), rapeseed, tomatoes and other produce in season. He has 10 children and all are or have been through secondary education. One of his older daughters is an engineer. Our final visit was to Mtengowambalame where we were greeted by many chiefs from the different villages served by this Saving and Loans scheme. We were entertained with dancing and song from the local primary school, the traditional welcome dance by the young men and the women singing their rousing welcome songs. Before we left we were presented with gifts of tomatoes, cabbages and onions. These gifts were shared with EAM and on our return to Longonot we made a donation to the owners who took the produce along to CCBC as they were having some form of celebration.
Hannah was able to spend a short time at the clinic assisting Andrew and Joseph with their tasks of caring for this large community. A number of items had been donated by Haresfield House Surgery and these were presented to the clinic along with items obtained by the Bwalia Rotary Club. This presentation was televised as the local MP was present and publicity was high on the agenda. A maternity bed was also purchased from a donation made by a former member of SPBC. The curtains are still looking good and are being well cared for. One pole has come away from the wall owing to poor plaster but the initial contractor has agreed to return and make good. The garage for the motorbike ambulance commissioned in March is now functional although work still has to be completed on the motorbike ambulance, which is in use, but needs more support from the local Chiefs (petrol provision).
The team invited the Nailsea Baptist Team, Francis and Annie Mkandawire and some of the Hope Ministries team to join them on their day at the lake. The weather was fine and many were drawn to swim in the lake. We went to the camp site next to the Sunbird Hotel which had great facilities, although chairs for the less enthusiastic athletes would have been appreciated. A fantastic bbq was provided by Nailsea and everyone mixed well and enjoyed a time of relaxation.
It was great to have Mrs Christine Phiri with us one of the days, along with Edrena. Most days either Dolla or Rebecca interpreted. The core interpreters were Kelvin, Prince, Isaac, Griven, Wilfred, Staffield, and at the beginning of the visit Lawrence.
Opportunities for further education
Celia met with Kennedy who is being sponsored independently for a 4 year course at Bunda to study agricultural economics and food and nutrition.
Rob, Jeff and Celia interviewed three potential candidates for a privately sponsored place at the seminary starting in September. Staffield was selected and was being interviewed by the Baptist Seminary as we were leaving for home.
We met up with Esther and Jonas and with Charity. Francis visited the team just before we left. He was able to explain some of the issues the team had identified in relation to the political position within Malawi. He later called in to say that he was unable to get his visa for his planned visit to Worcester in August. He had to wait for his ticket for his speaking engagement in Germany to arrive before he could apply for the UK visa and there had been insufficient time to complete the online application which is now very complicated. Francis hoped to visit the UK, with Annie, in November and asked for assistance towards their airfare. Francis’ final request was that SPBC consider formally partnering with Nailsea Baptist Church and Hope Missions. Annie is now moving further afield than Bunda doing similar work to that which we do with Pastor Noah. Annie’s school in Area 49 is also doing well. Francis had been asked by Lilongwe Baptist Church to become their interim Pastor. He had accepted this position but now the church wish him to stay permanently. I think he will agree to this.
On the second Sunday we attended the first service at Capital City Baptist Church and received a very warm welcome.
We were able to give all the secondary schools footballs and tennis balls and Muzu Primary School received exercise books, pens and pencils, footballs and tennis balls. Our sponsored children at the three secondary schools received the pen/pencil rolls. A further 150 rolls were left with Noah for distribution to the sponsored students starting in September. These rolls were filled with 6 pens and 6 pencils which had been donated by Damart (pens) and Chambers (pencils). Further pens and pencils had been donated by SPBC and these were given to the Bible students and to Muzu Primary School.
24 Bible covers had been prepared by the ladies sewing group. Bibles were purchased to go inside these and 15 went to the Bible Students, one to the receptionist at Longonot who had asked for a Bible the previous visit and the remainder left with Noah for distribution.
Thanks to the generosity of SPBC and friends a small mountain of clothing was handed to Noah for distribution to the villages. We witnessed some of this clothing being given out whilst we were at New Life church. In addition hundreds of pink T-shirts and caps were donated with the English Cricket Board and Lady Taveners emblems on them. These were well received.
Thanks to Rachel Browning a number of hymn books were given to Emmanuel College (along with copies of Angela Newton’s book) and to Falls Baptist School.
Roger was bitten on the leg early on in the visit. Fortunately there was a retired American doctor staying at Longonot and he gave Roger some antibiotics which did the trick. We did not see or hear mosquitoes but Martin Elford from Nailsea was bitten on his arm and a local business man, who had worked in Malawi for 15 years, had been hospitalised following his first bout of Malaria.
The roads don’t get much better although there was evidence of road repairs in places. The road to Four Ways is being improved. At the moment it is a dust bowl and made interesting driving for Peter who did an impressive job. On the way to the market on the last day a number of people on our bus saw a pedestrian struck by a car – right outside the Police headquarters. It was interesting to see the offending passengers in the vehicle bundle the injured person into the back of the car – unfortunately for them a number of police were on duty and saw everything.
On the day of the visit to the lake we were parked in the garage at Crossroads waiting for Rebecca and Chikondi when we saw a young man running away from a security guard, alongside the bus. The guard released the muzzle on the dog and the dog grabbed the young man on the top of his leg. This was a very disturbing incident for the team to witness. Eventually the dog was called off and the young man was able to stand but the back of his leg was badly bitten. This was justice in the raw. We had no idea what was behind the incident but summary justice appeared to have been meted out. Eventually the young man went back into the garage shop and we drove away, obviously upset at what we had seen and heard.
The forthcoming food shortages made the papers every day. On 10 July it was reported that 2.8 million will face hunger from October – this is 3 times more than anticipated. The government has taken out a loan to purchase supplies from Tanzania and Zambia as they anticipate that local maize will become too expensive. They were pleading for the more well off not to hoard and push the prices up.
With electricity now reaching further into the rural areas there are two problems. Firstly the supply is still sporadic and secondly once dvd shops are opening the children are skipping school to go and watch films.
And interesting advertisement appeared by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. Mr Issa Njauju, Director of Corporate Affairs at the Anti-Corruption Bureau has been murdered and they were demanding action by the Police, Government, Citizens and communities, courts, Donor communities and the media.
Finally the other items to draw our attention were the move to abolish child marriages. The traditional chiefs and schools are identified as potential partners in stopping this practise. At a meeting commemorating Day of the African Child, a Senior Chief said “We, the Chiefs, have formulated by-laws whereby anyone involved in forcing the girl child into marriage must pay two goats and any man who marries an under-age girl will be taken to court and let the law take its course.” Several organisations including Starfish Malawi and EAM were mentioned as supporting this. The courts are getting very severe in their sentences. It was reported that one man of 24 who married a girl of 14 against her parents’ consent was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with hard labour.
Without the extensive preliminary work that was undertaken by all the team before we left the UK this visit would not have been such a success. Everything happened as we had hoped, if not in the order or at the time we had anticipated. An amazing combination of talent and skill that was used mightily by God to achieve that which He had planned for us to do. Thank you everyone for being obedient to His will.
On behalf of the 2015 Malawi Team
2 August 2015