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Archive for the ‘Mission’ Category
Well I reckon this is it. Right now, it’s 5:30AM. I’m in the sitting room warming up next to a blazing fire with my cup of Mzuzu coffee. The jeans I hope to wear to Nashville are laid out in front of the fire drying. In the distance I can hear the morning rooster roll call. It’s probably 40 degrees outside which means its damn cold inside with no heating. It’s been really cold lately and dreary — good weather to match the mood of departure.
What words do I have at this moment? None. A few moments ago, I just started crying. Tears feel like unexpressed words that have concentrated and condensed. So I cried. I cried to God for protection and safe travel home. I cried for the friends and family in whose lives we now leave a gap. They are so grateful for our presence and touched deeply by our leaving. I cried for the kids who are the best example of how to let an experience like this wash over and permeate life. I can only hope now that the seeds planted will grow and be harvested for years to come. I cried for our friends and family back home who are so excited to see us. Their love, support, and anticipation is what gives me strength to put one foot in front of another. I cried for Wilson who thinks of me as a father but in reality is more a brother. It was easy not to worry about him when he was on our payroll. I cried for my Malawian mother, Lucy Kandioni, who wailed at our departure last week. It was the kind of wailing you only hear at funerals here, and I wonder if there is a reason for that. The increased frequency of her illnesses and general weakness worry me that she may be close to her final journey home. I cried for Daniel who serves tirelessly a church institution that gives little back. I would have cherished a few final moments together yesterday and today, but it wasn’t to be. I cried for my marriage which has been tested, stretched, deepened, and strengthened by and through these past two years. If you want to get to know your spouse, live and work with them daily for two years. Not many marriages are designed for this type of dynamic but ours is. And I am very fortunate to have that gift.
Most of all, I cried for Malawi – for all the things known and unknown that I will miss; for the people who can always smile “no matter no what”; for the intensity of the light, sounds, and smells; and most of all for the people who are not poor except that we label them so.
over the past six months I have written fewer and fewer blogs. the time and experiences have touched me in such deep places, troubling me in ways that I can only hope is the Holy Spirit stirring within me but I can’t sort out the rhyme or reason. sometimes interactions make me so angry. sometimes so sad. sometimes the joy is greater than anything I could have imagined. sometimes the experiences make me want to book a flight home immediately. sometimes I never want to leave this place. and sometimes the things that I want to write about reveal too much about confidences and relationships and emotions of those I love.
and tonite there are depths of emotion that I cannot give voice to. there are relationships that cannot be defined. there is growth and change that has been so painful and important for me and my family.
there are not enough words to describe what this call to Malawi means to me. and yet all words are inadequate.
Yesterday morning as church ended, Pastor Kaunda told the congregation that next Sunday will be our family’s last Sunday at Galilea UMC. He invited me up to say a few words.
When I got to the front and turned around to face the congregation no words would come. My eyes filled with tears and I just stood there staring at the faces I love. After what felt like a couple minutes, I turned to Kaunda and said, “I can’t.” He put his hand on my shoulder and said I could sit down.
That’s all I can say about that.
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.
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.
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.
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.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.