• Nora

Active Sunday

Another week has passed. Hard to believe it's the middle of March already! Spring must be upon you lucky North Americans! In the meantime, the rain seems to be tapering off a bit here. We still get rain, but not every day anymore. We have been told it will last a bit into April yet, so we'll see as time passes what the weather is like.

Last Sunday started with Steve and I going to Matamando CCAP, the church where our friendly guard, Prince, is the third session clerk. We were greeted royally, seated on the platform and asked to introduce ourselves during the service, along with other visitors. It was a good service with lots of great music. I do enjoy all the choirs and music groups they have in any random church service. A real treat.

After church, Prince showed us around the property. They have plans for expansion and fundraising and general improvement of the church physical plant.

Sunday afternoon, we went to the home of our friend and Steve's colleague, Hamilton. Hamilton is in charge of the Ndirandi Social Club, an organization for supporting handicapped people and their families. Steve is consulting with him about their building project. On Sunday, however, it was a social visit with the purpose of getting Steve and me hiking up Ndirandi Mountain.

We started with a walk along the road to where the trail up the mountain starts. I did pretty well on that stretch. Then the real fun began. We veered off the road onto a narrow path through the maize fields that seemed to go straight up! I started to pant. But I was determined and kept on hiking, thankful for my good walking shoes and capri pants. Then it got to the point where the "steps" were steep and longer than I could comfortably stretch. I paused, and suddenly a strong brown hand reached down from above and helped me up to where I could manage on my own again. I gasped a quick thank you to Violet, Hamilton's wife, and she responded thank you. There is no "you're welcome"in Malawi, it seems.

We continued on to the point where I had to stop. My heart was pounding, and I was breathing hard. I figured I was done. I declared that I would just wait there for them to get back. But it turns out we weren't coming back the same path. Hamilton was very encouraging, assuring me that I could do it and that I was doing very well. (I never would have pegged him as a liar, but it was nice of him to say it!). So I summoned up all my strength and courage, and with Steve giving me the occasional boost from behind and Violet (and once, Hamilton) pulling from above, and frequent rest stops, I actually made it to the top! Who would have thought it could happen!

The view from the top was spectacular, with the whole city of Blantyre spread out below us and the vast blue sky above us. Bless our good friends for making this possible.

They have more ambitious plans for our next outing, but I think we'll put that off for a week or two. My legs complained for three days after this hike. But it was a good kind of pain.

So that was our main excitement for this week.

In other news, we had the privilege of meeting Gilbert, an artist that our friends the Bertrands know. He is Malawian, and works in fabric and paint and in handmade paper. He had his backpack stuffed with his work and spread it out on the cement for us to see. We ended up buying a picture, some cards, and some lovely handmade paper books, one of which will be my diary. We will likely buy more things next time he comes. We'll see.

The rest of the week went as usual, with us working at the prison on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We were supposed to meet the Officer in Charge of the prison, but that hasn't happened yet. He must be a busy man! He is, after all, responsible for the whole operation and no doubt has more important calls on his time than talking to a couple of foreigners. It will happen, I am sure, but in its own time.

Meanwhile, we continue to teach our classes. Mine, at least, will be writing a test of some kind in April. I was asked to make up questions for it, so I have hopes they will do okay. Some of them will, I am sure, and others will struggle. So that's nothing new to me! Thus it was, is now, and likely ever shall be, as long as humans are human.

I hope all of you are staying well. Don't get too nutty about COVID-19. We are thankful not to be affected yet. We'll see how long that lasts. We pray for sane leadership around the world. More from Malawi next week!

Violet and Hamilton looking fresh at the top of the mountain

Blantyre from the top of Ndirandi Mountain

The trail down.

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