Our weekend visit to Madisi Circuit was another amazing trip. The poverty is indescribable. But people find a way to keep going. They still greet us with song and praise God for small miracles and another day of life.
As we come to understand our role as missionaries in Malawi, we do some things a little better each visit. I actually had time this weekend to lead a children’s program on worship with paint and crayons and movement and delight. And this time Jeff told the pastor that we really wanted to have a discussion with the men and women in each local church we visited. We wanted to get to know them and them to know us. So after praise and worship and some formal introductions, we simply asked, “What are your struggles? What are your challenges? What are your successes? And what are your dreams?”
Men and women stood from the dirt floors to greet us and give thanks for our presence. They told us of hunger and lack of access to basic resources – water, health care and education. They gave thanks for a new well (from United Methodists in New Jersey) and for newly built churches. And men and women alike talked of the need for small business investment for the women.
As we visited each church, I was filled by their songs, loved by strangers, and touched by their honesty, need and ability to see options. Saturday night I was tired but thrilled to have seen more of the church, learned more and seen possibilities.
But Sunday morning as we prayed together (after praise songs everyone prays aloud simultaneously) I began to pray for a well in Madisi and suddenly I was crying and I was angry. I should not have to be praying for access to clean water. In this world of abundance and innovation and generosity and wonder, how is it possible that women are still walking 5 – 10 kilometers to get water?!
As I preached Sunday morning I was able to share my grief and my anger with the people of Madisi and I made it through a sermon. But on the car ride home, the stories I had heard, the people I had met, the prayer requests I carried with me began to weigh so heavily. The sadness covered me.
And driving in the dark on Malawi roads is no small feat in itself. So by the time we arrived home, the grief, the stress and the tension in my body made my back hurt so bad that I could barely walk. As I lay down last night I cried until I feel asleep. I don’t know which was worse, the sadness and inability to help or the physical pain in my back.
This morning I am still recovering, sitting or lying down and taking lots of Ibuprofen. My head is heavy and dull from faces and prayers of this past weekend. All I know to do is to tell the story and to ask you to pray with me.
Let us pray…
For the pastor’s wife and women of Madisi who rise at 3:00am to walk two hours for the rationed amount of one gallon of water per trip. O, Lord hear our prayer.
For the joy of crayons and paints and shakers made with recycled peanut butter jars and beans. O, Lord we give you thanks.
For the mother who took her child to the emergency room after she almost drowned during a bath. This is her third born and only remaining child. Pray that she has women and mentors to help her raise this child safely and well. O, Lord hear our prayer.
For the blessing and life that comes from the new borehole well that now supplies clean water for drinking, cooking and bathing. O, Lord we give you thanks.
For the men and women in the village of Katondo who walk three hours, when the roads are not washed out, to the nearest maize mill to make the flour needed for their “daily bread”, nsima. O, Lord hear our prayer.
For the newly elected Head Man in Katondo, who must advocate for the people of his village and their needs. O, Lord hear our prayer.
For the blessing of sharing simple greetings and questions in the same language. Our attempts at Chichewa are appreciated and celebrated, creating relationship and intimacy that is not possible with a translator. O, Lord we give you thanks.
For the women who find themselves as second and third wives with many children and little support, who want to start small businesses – bread baking, crocheting and knitting, and selling secondhand clothes. Give them vision and wisdom and resources to provide for their families. O, Lord hear our prayer.
For the 13-year-old girl who sees no way to put food in her stomach except to sell her body at the local bar. O, Lord hear our prayer.
For the church that has been built in Bethsaida with the money and contributions of the lay people there, who did not wait for donors but built the church that they needed. O, Lord we give you thanks.
For the pastor, Xaviour Chikwatu, who holds all these people and many more within his care. For his son, Xaviour, Jr., who says he will be lawyer so he doesn’t make his family suffer as a pastor’s family does. For the compassion and love and rent money to continue serving. O, Lord hear our prayer.
O, Lord hear our prayer. O, Lord hear our prayer. O, Lord hear our prayer. Amen.