Church Camp 2018

It’s hard to believe, but this year was our 7th annual church camp! These are treasured times of fun and fellowship within our church body, and this year was no exception.

We were able to hear the testimonies of the church elders and from each of them a devotional from a passage that has had an impact on their walk with the Lord.

During our free times, we piled into vehicles to go look for zebra, nyala, sable, and giraffe.

While some of us took a quieter walk through the woods looking for birds.

And just in case we missed the wildlife on our drives or hikes, it often came right into camp.

The kids had a whole week’s worth of VBS – Bible stories, games, memory verses, crafts! – in the three days of camp. The girls LOVED it! And, of course, in good camp tradition, they were completely dirty by the time camp was finished!

It was a fantastic 3 days of sharing life together with our precious church family. These opportunities for sharing meals together, having long talks, and playing together are priceless!

Waiting for Dad

I’m not sure who is more excited for Dad to get home today: Samson or Naomi. It doesn’t matter if he’s gone for three days or half an hour – these two take their watch duty very seriously!

Catching Dragonflies

I sent Abigail and Naomi out with a butterfly net to catch a butterfly that they could observe and draw. Five minutes later they came back inside quite proud of themselves: “We caught something!”

Yes they did! But not a butterfly! They caught a DRAGONFLY!

If you’ve ever tried to catch a dragonfly, you’ll know they’re fast! It’s no small feat to catch a butterfly, and even more impressive to catch a dragonfly!

So they grabbed some paper, colored pencils, and their friend Rejoice and started drawing their dragonfly, just as though it was the most ordinary thing in the world to catch a dragonfly. I love sharing life with these girls!

CAPA Graduation

On April 19th, CAPA graduated its first class of Masters of Divinity students. These students had studied hard for 3 years, and it was a joy to cheer for them as they crossed the stage to receive their hoods and officially finish this arduous course.

Matt has walked with these men, not just on the finances and IT side of things, but also as a prof, teaching their counseling courses and many discipleship labs and round tables over the years.

Many of these men are our friends, some we count as very dear friends, so for us this graduation carries with it not only the distinction of being the “first MDiv class,” but also of being a major milestone in the lives of our friends.

Years of friendship, discipleship, and growth are represented by these few pictures of men in black robes.

Years of partnership, preparation, and desire to see men trained to study, apply, and preach God’s word.

Please pray for these men as they pastor churches in and around Lilongwe, that they would remain faithful to the accurate handling of God’s Word. Pray also for the next classes as they rise through the ranks. Thank the Lord with us for his good work!

Blogathon!

It’s time to catch up! There has been a lot going on the last couple months, so much so that blogging has been the last thing on my mind. So hold on, dear reader, we’re about to fly through a couple months of life in Malawi!

Driving Lessons

Years ago when we were on furlough in the States, Abigail showed her first signs of being a backseat driver. She and I were headed to visit my grandmother, taking small backroads in rural Washington state. All of a sudden she yelled, “Mom! You passed that sign!!!!”

“Which sign?!?” I asked.

“The one that says DO NOT PASS! You passed it!”

While most American kids would have just ignored a road sign that they’d seen for their entire lives, for Abigail it was new and quite distressing! And so she got her first “American driving lesson” that day.

She got another such lesson yesterday. We were driving down what is arguably one of the nicest, widest roads in Lilongwe, if not in all of Malawi. “Mom?” she asked, “How is it possible that more than one car can go the same way we are going and that there are 2 lines of cars going the other direction too?”

I smiled, knowing that probably 95% of all her car travels have been on two and one lane roads, paved and unpaved, but very rarely marked. “Well, there are special lines on the road that tell us what we can do. The big bunch of lines in the middle of the road separates us from the cars going the other direction, and the white dotted lines here separate us from the other cars going the same direction. The idea is that more cars can be on the road, going both directions.”

“Wow, whoever thought of that was really smart! That’s a great idea!”

O child of Africa who is fascinated by 4 lanes, you’re going to love furlough road trips in America!

It’s Not Over

Yesterday morning I just about called it. Rainy season had to be over. It never rains this intensely in March; the last one had to have been the last one.

Oh, but that was not the case. I headed to the grocery store with Naomi about 3:30pm and found myself driving straight toward this:

Unphased, I held to my earlier conviction until we were in the store and I heard the rain start to hit the tin roof. It was a gentle sound at first, and made me wish they would play “I miss the rains down in Africa” on the speaker system. I only had 2 minutes for such thoughts before it began to rain harder. And then another 2 minutes later it was raining so hard that the noise in the large, tin-roofed grocery store was deafening. Naomi had to shout in my ear to be heard.

The torrential rain lasted for more than an hour! It was so bad that they closed the big metal/security sliding doors of the store. In the picture below, the exit is about where you see the sign for #4 checkout stand. The big metal doors were closed for more than 45 minutes while shoppers who had finished filled the exit area, just waiting for a chance to get out!

Once we had found everything we needed, we roamed the store restlessly. At one point the power went off for 3-4 minutes. 😳 Naomi was getting tired and a little frightened by the whole experience. But eventually I saw that people were starting to leave and the metal doors were partway open.

I began to check out, at a cash register far from the exit. All of a sudden a man with an armload of groceries bolted from the furthest cash register and ran toward the exit. By the time he reached the exit, he was walking normally and the ladies at that furthest cash register were yelling and waving their arms. But there was nothing they could do. The man had stolen the groceries and the rain had drown all their cries to stop the thief. Even two lanes away from them, I couldn’t hear their cries of “thief!” But I had seen it and like those ladies the realization of what had happened came too late.

Naomi and I made our way quickly to the car in the heavy rain, and by the time I had loaded the groceries in the back I was soaked. The heat and humidity steamed up the car, and it was a while before I could see through the fogged up windows! As we headed through town, evidence of the storm was all around us. Traffic was terribly slow, signs were ripped and destroyed, branches lay on the road, and water rushed through the culverts.

Everyone was picking up the pieces and getting back to normal life.

As I neared our house, there were fewer and fewer signs of the storm. Matt’s report when we got home: just a few sprinkles but lots of thunder.

And so, I’m not going to call it today. Or tomorrow. Maybe my weather forecasting confidence will have returned by next week. But for the moment, I can honestly say that I have no idea when the rainy season will end this year! We’ll just enjoy the lush green tropics for as long as we can!

Around the Kitchen

A good portion of my day is spent in the kitchen. Here are some of the things happening around the kitchen these days…

Don’t be jealous, but wow isn’t that beautiful?!? Our avocado tree produced some fantastic fruit this year. We had bucket-loads of guacamole!

Yep, still hauling water! But thankfully only from one side of the kitchen to the other. Some friends of mine have had their city water off for weeks at a time and must haul their water from the local well. It makes me thankful for our water tower!

Pork meatballs with sweet and sour sauce in lettuce wraps… yum! I’ve been cooking my way through a fantastic “better than take-out” Chinese e-cookbook, and we are loving it!

Our friends Chris and Ashley brought us wild raspberries after their recent trip to the Zomba plateau – the only place in Malawi that grows them! Naomi in particular loves the raspberries from Zomba (especially the yellow ones that are in season around her birthday!).

We made quick work of the raspberries and enjoyed every bite!

I loved hanging noodles as a kid. We can buy pasta here, but we can’t get egg noodles, so when we made chicken noodle soup the other night, the girls helped me make and hang noodles. And they loved it! 💕

And since mom hangs out in the kitchen, so do mom’s little friends. All kinds of new skills are learned here, including this current favorite. She’s actually pretty good. She just needs a little more height!

How to MacGyver a Pedal

As we waited our turn to practice before the service yesterday, I saw something under the keyboard that caught my attention. It took a few seconds for my mind to grasp what I was seeing:

Yep, that’s a sustain pedal made from an old stapler! The chapel we rent for church services has a BYOP policy: Bring Your Own Pedal. However, since the last time I played, someone has come up with this back-up plan! I have to admit I was a little afraid of getting shocked by it, so I used the more traditional pedal. But really, this is genius! As Moses, the worship leader, said with a shrug: “TIA!” Yes, This Is Africa. And I love it!

A Joyful Noise

Yesterday I had the tremendous opportunity to make some beautiful music with my friends Bryanne and Brianne. We played during offertory, so they sang By Faith (by Getty and Townend) and played guitar, and I accompanied on the piano. Bryanne Jones has been learning guitar, and I’m newly back to piano, so we started pursuing this opportunity because we want to use any skills we have developed as a means of drawing others to worship the Lord. Brianne Kopp is very familiar with singing and playing in a church setting (though she has been lying low and this was her first time at IBF!) so she got roped in to help us figure out how to do this! And because I don’t sing. At least not well!

These ladies have amazing voices. Let’s be honest, I just got to come along for the ride! But anytime they sing, I want to be there! And they make me want to become a better accompanist, a better pianist. I love playing classical music. Playing improv, music directed by chords, as part of a band – that’s really hard for me. But I loved it! And I want to get better at it. I’m looking forward to our next opportunity to draw attention and worship to our Lord and Savior with a joyful and beautiful noise!