Celebrating Two Years in Malawi
Ellie wasn't the only one to hit the ground running upon arrival back in Malawi. Both Saint Andrews and Hillview International Schools welcomed me back on campus to spend time with students and we were able to establish a weekly Bible study with students who stay in boarding dorms at Saints where we walked through a section of the book of Mark each week asking the question, "How is this Jesus different from the one you have heard about before?" These conversations have been a clear window into the world these kids grew up in. Comments like:
"Mom used to tell me God wouldn't like me if I showed up to church with a hole in my trousers."
"I've never actually had a conversation about Jesus."
"My parents didn't let me ask questions about religious stuff."
"I thought God hated bad people."
"I've never read the Bible before - can we do that here?"
It was an awesome term - great conversations - great fun - lots of laughter, and pictured below is the school wide sports day at Hillview I got to help run, and our year end socially distanced pool party.
One final highlight to 2020 was our big move! We loved our Namiwawa house, but with Ellie needing a change in schools, and the increased access to the high schools across town, we relocated to the neighborhood called Nyambadwe (Nyam-bod-way) and now it's a 3 minute drive from my front door to Saint Andrews High School!
As we roll into 2021, we are unsure what the next day, month, or even year looks like.
Yesterday, Malawi posted a 24% positive COVID testing rate.
Schools have closed campuses to outsiders and are wrestling with how to move forward in wisdom.
Many schools already have bubbles closed due to positive tests within their students body
Our church, Flood Church - Blantyre has moved online for the foreseeable future.
One Church we've partnered with here in the area has closed permanently leaving families feeling even more isolated.
Domestic violence, rape, teen pregnancy, and suicide are at all time highs here in Malawi.
Pray with us...this is not a season anyone is prepared for.
Despite the chaos going around the world, Carly and I have made a commitment to one another to hike one mountain per month in 2021. These pictures below are of us on our way up and at the summit of Mount Michiru during the Christmas holidays. It was a great way to spend time together away from everybody else. We'll keep you posted!
Keep us up to date on your situation/circumstances/goals for 2021 and how we can join you in prayer. 🤜🤛
Oh....and for Thanksgiving, I roasted a DUCK! MalawianTurkeys are definitely not the chunky birds we're used to in the US. I actually saw a guy carrying 8 turkeys on the back of his motorcycle with a "for sale" sign on them....so we compromised with an imported South African Duck and did my own version of duck a'la orange, and then we also showed the kids the 2019 Thanksgiving Day Parade on Youtube. It was awesome.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
What a beautiful passage. I remember each time I heard this message preached my heart would stir for “the nations.” I would desire so greatly to go, baptize, teach…. I wanted to share my God with this world and one thing I knew for sure, was that “going" was the first step.
So I went. We came to Malawi. Beautiful broken Malawi. And here we have been living for the last two years. Two hard, wonderful, confusing years.
The other day Zack mentioned that we might do a sermon series on the Great Commission with our church here in Malawi. “Wow that’s interesting” I thought. I’ve never really thought about the Great Commission while here in Malawi. Every time I heard “nations” I thought of far away countries, and yet now here I am in one of these countries. “Does the Great Commission change?” “What does the Great Commission mean now that I no longer live in America?”
Later that week I was out at DAPP, a second-hand shop here in Blantyre, looking for a bathing suit for Ellie and a song came on. “You said, pray and I’ll hear from heaven, and I’ll heal your land….ask and I’ll give the nations to you, oh Lord that’s the cry of my heart.” For me this song carried so much weight when I was in college. Every time I was in charge of worship I would choose this song, singing my heart out and dreaming of God “healing the land” of nations far away. It was in this moment as I heard this song in DAPP that I asked again. “What does this mean? Malawians sing the same song as me… does the Great Commission change based off my location?”
“Then what changed?”
When we moved, many people understandably expressed their concern for our safety and promised to be praying. The last few months have been such a strange reversal. Though life has changed because of the precautionary measures, COVID has thus far remained a relatively minor issue here in Malawi while it has been wreaking havoc on the United States. Adding to this, the divisive nature of the political climate, the United States feels like a country that is almost unrecognizable to me. My heart has ached for my friends, family and all of those affected by the recent events that have turned our American dream into an American nightmare. For the last twelve months I have asked for the nations, asked that God would heal our land, especially America. Beautiful, broken America.
However, even as I write this the COVID numbers are rising here in Malawi. We are on the brink of experiencing our first real surge and as a mother and medical provider it is terrifying. I am now finding myself praying the same prayers for Malawi that I prayed for the United States through the long ordeal that was 2020.
Suddenly it hit me…My prayers haven’t changed. Only my perspective. The Great Commission never had anything to do with America except that America is one of the nations we are praying for. Jesus absolutely without a doubt did not give the Great Commission standing in Washington, DC. The nations are “the world.” A global pandemic really helped to enhance that realization.
So what do I do with this? If the Great Commission isn’t talking about just going to other countries, then what is it talking about? What do I do with the fact that there are already believers in these countries?
After spending some time prayerfully considering this God, has helped me see an answer that has been helpful in guiding me.
Working here clinically has been such a humbling experience. Even after two years here I often find myself asking my interns how things are normally done or where to find something in the hospital etc. I know what I know, and I know that I don’t know everything. I understand that the people I work with have an enormous amount of information to offer me, if only I will listen. I’m here to teach, but I am also here to learn.
I know that I can’t understand everything in Medicine. But I know that I am called to teach everything that I have learned. In addition, I also know that I am to learn as much as I can from those around me.
Similarly. I know that I can’t understand everything about God. But I know that I am to teach everything that He has shown me. In addition, I also know that I am to learn as much as I can about who He is from those who around me.
I knew how to see God in the abundance, I know how to thank him for blessings.
In Malawi I have been taught to see God when there isn’t enough, how to thank him for his goodness when times are challenging.
I knew how to follow God when he is calling me somewhere new. In Malawi I have been taught to stop looking for another place to go and to love those he puts in my life.
I knew how to thank God when his answer to my prayer is “yes.” In Malawi I have been taught to see God when his answer to my prayer is “no.”
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, Netherlands, Malawi, Togo, America. This is just a sampling of the countries represented at our church each Sunday. Each nation has believers in it. Each believer was called to go. We were all called from different countries. We are all a part of the nations, the world, that God has promised. The Great Commission remains unchanged no matter where we are or where we are from.
Go. Going doesn’t mean another country. Going doesn’t indicate a distance. Going is an action. You go where God calls. It may be Malawi, it may be your neighbor.
Baptize new believers. Wherever you are, there are people who need to know Jesus, Blantyre, Malawi or Barboursville, WV.
Teach. Teach what God has taught you of his love.
And learn. Learn what He has revealed to those around you. May we remember that Jesus gave us this commission with a promise that He would be with us always...the very end of the age. - Carly
Friends, thanks for sticking with us. Thanks for sticking to Jesus. Thank you for your patience with our slow communication as we raise two wild girls. Thank you for your passion in prayer as we seek to bring light into dark places. Thank you for your faithfulness to go where the Father leads, to teach, to learn, to listen, and trust Jesus every step of the way.
Happy New Year,
Zack, Carly, Ellie Jo, and Miriam Rose :-)