At 7:30am cst, I got a short phone call from Roy. It was a blessing to hear his voice. He sounded tired and alittle homesick, but well none worse for ware. He wanted to make sure to at least tell me hello in case he didn't get a turn on the computer (very limited access time) and I guess the line was long. Many of the wives got emails, I have one that was forwarded from a friend of a friend. Jonathan is one of the seminarians traveling with the group:
Greetings from Malawi. :-) We have just had dinner at the home of the Bishop of Northern Malawi (where we've eaten several meals and four members of our team are staying -- the Happening was in the same compound, just around the corner), and I'm using his computer for few minutes. Travel went well once we finally got off; although the drive here to Mzuzu from Lilongwe was fairly grueling (five or so hours in a packed van -- more difficult because most passengers couldn't really see out).
Ah! I just heard there's cake. :-) Briefly....
The other seven of us are staying at the convent's guest house. Yesterday morning we attended a service inducting a woman as a "junior sister," at the parish just up the road. The service was between three and four hours long (and I confess they lost me during the nine speeches near the end!)... but it was also AMAZING. When the Mothers' Union women started singing outside, and the young in the transept began singing in response -- a kind of antiphony-through-the-walls --I thought maybe I was in heaven rather than Malawi. (Well, maybe I was.) The singing style is quite different than ours, but it's simply beautiful. And the harmonies, and... yeah. In spite of not understanding most of what was said -- the sermon was given in English with a translation, for our benefit, but the liturgy was all in Chichewa -- I loved the service, and I think everyone else on our team did too. (Although Patrick was immensely sleep-deprived and may not have been fully alert through all of it....)
The Happening seemed to go well. It started crazily, since we had to hit the ground running. But we assigned talks in DC the morning before we left, so there was actually some time to prepare, or at least think about what to say. We had... perhaps forty or fifty young people (14-24 or thereabouts), and pretty nearly all nine of us gave short talks. Mine was the last, on the "Apostolate" (bringing Christ to the world). The final two talks were this morning, so the two of us giving them stayed here at St. Mark's for the service. In Chichewa, of course; the English service was happening while we were next door at the Happening. But it was another beautiful service --and since it included our introduction, and giving all the "Happenists" (their word; I'm not making this up) wooden crosses -- we got them too -- that was also about three hours long. Fr. Culpepper,
our leader, celebrated the first English-language service and preached at both. Six members of the team went out to... I guess four other parishes, so our team gave five sermons this morning total, plus the two of us who gave talks at Happening. (I'll probably be preaching down south next week; we'll see.)
I said, and I saw in one of Natalie's updates -- which are splendid, by the way -- that Malawians are quiet and reserved. I'm not sure that's quite right. They're mostly very humble people. But they're also very generous, and loving. We've all felt wholly welcomed, and the young folks (the Happenists) seemed sorry to say goodbye, and flocked around for contact info. (I don't know how we're going to answer all those letters and e-mails.)
Tomorrow's schedule is getting fuller -- we're going to try to do the Nkhata bay trip, AND see the gardens, AND attend vespers at the convent (where we also had lunch yesterday). This is so -- top secret, don't tell -- we MIGHT be able to squeeze in a trip to the island on Tuesday, to see, inter alia, one of the largest cathedrals in the Anglican Communion.... I'll let you know if that happens. :-)
Thank you for your prayers. A skeeter got me pretty good on the elbow this morning -- at least I think that's what it was, I didn't see it-- so we'll pray I don't come down with Malaria when I get back. But so far, other than a few minor digestive bumps and some temporary sleep deprivation (getting better), we're doing pretty well. Answered prayer. And others are after the computer. Gotta go. :-)