A volunteer mission team of one has come and gone, we are in the midst of a staggered departure of the Belmont VIM team, two more teams arrive this week as well as the General Board of Global Ministries missionaries, Teddy and Sylvia Crum with their daughter Lily. In less than 3 weeks the conference will host a Round Table meeting with international partners and local leadership, followed by the 2011 Annual Conference meeting. Then three days later we will board a plane to come home.
The learning continues. Steve Riley helped us see how important it is to share and celebrate the great strides that are being made in Malawi alongside the challenges where we appreciate his medical knowledge and perspective.
Dr. Steve Riley greets the church at Tengani UMC
We used that learning to shape the Belmont VIM team itinerary, visiting the new full-day, English only nursery school at Galilea UMC, the mushroom project at the same church and a local social enterprise, The Beehive. The team got to see the success, hope and inspiration of different people and projects.
Belmont team visits the mushroom project at Galilea UMC
Then they spent three days working side-by-side with church members painting the new conference office. They could hear firsthand about the challenges and dreams of youth and adult members. Jeff helped me to learn that the beauty of a VIM team is that the work is slowly abandoned over the days as people become engrossed in conversations and get so caught up in questions and answers that the paint brushes are forgotten.
Lunch at the work site
The Belmont team continued on with the Oliver family and Moty Mhone to Lake Malawi. Time to relax, enjoy the beauty the lake and have extended conversations confirmed our heart learning that Belmont UMC is so much more than our church, but our brothers and sisters in Christ. I knew many of the team members by name only, but we laughed, prayed, sang and worked together quickly and easily because of the tie that binds us.
Weekend with good friends at Satemwa Tea Estate
As I type Jeff is posting pictures of a weekend with our friends at the tea estates. Another learning is the balance of work and play and letting go of guilt for enjoying time away. Our family has developed a rhythm of work and play that seems healthy. At first the time away and places to visit were spurred by necessity and exhaustion. Now we plan and look forward to time apart to recharge and sustain ourselves individually and as a family.
This week we will greet new teams, learn from their past experiences in Malawi and begin to dream together.
And we will try to share what we have learned with Teddy and Sylvia as they begin learning on their own.
And so much of what we have learned is still taking root, still growing. As the roots go deeper I pray they will break the hard places of my soul. And I wait anxiously for any fruits and flowers that blossom in the coming days.
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