Report of Brian and Linda’s visit to Julian and Caroline November 2013


I am writing this just a few days since Linda and I returned from spending 3 weeks with Julian and Caroline through the month of November. So this introduction is also a first-hand report of current progress with the work. I deliberately use the word ‘progress’, because one of the benefits of having travelled out to be with them every couple of years since 2006, is how marked the differences are over a time frame lapse of two years. For example, when we visited in October/November 2011, they had just moved onto the farm a week earlier and the land was pretty bare and almost tree-less. On 8th November this year, as we drove up to the farm (now called ‘The Village of Light’ in agreement with Chiphazi village Chiefs), what hit me most was the number of trees and greenery now lining the long access road (see photo) so much so that we could hardly see any buildings or crops.

  greenery

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Brenda, Matthews, Lunia, Gift, Joseph, Briani, Femos, Betha and John
        

 

 

But I get ahead of myself, as I’m sure the first question everyone wants to know the answer to is: ‘How is Caroline really doing after her accident’? So, without minimising what she has been through, I’m pleased to say that we were pleasantly surprised to see how well she looked when they greeted us at Lilongwe Airport. It was obvious in them both that the time they had spent through October with Tom and Nicky, celebrating Caroline’s 60th, had been a real time of R&R in every sense of the words. As Julian mentioned in the last newsletter, the prayer cover of everyone had also played a huge part – and continues to do so.

Back to our visit! What a joy it was to meet up with John and Betha and the children again (wow, how they have grown – the children that is!). I don’t know how they fit all 8 orphans into their home – plus their own children. But they are like one big happy family and those children who have been with them for several years (Lunia, Brenda, Paul, Gift, Femos and Matthews) are delightful, well balanced kids!



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Victoria, Elisa, Chisanso, Cameron, Stephen and Kosimos
 

When we left Cameron and Victoria 2 years ago, they were still living in Tete, an hour’s rough drive away. Now here they were greeting us, having settled in a nice new home, with their family extended by the addition of 4 orphans – Chisanso, Steve, Kosimos and Elisa.

And there’s more! Two years ago, a new church member from the village brought Linda and me a gift of some potatoes she had grown. They were delicious! This was Rachel - and now here she was too, living in a new house with her 12 year old daughter, Charity, and caring for two well settled orphans – 2-year-old Myamiko and 5-year-old Chimwemwe (his neck problems now less troublesome than when he was first rescued) – what a lovely lady she is.

The photos show the three families in front of their homes – it truly is a Village of Light – and what a brilliant job Julian has done in getting the additional houses built. Caroline has also done amazing things with their garden – a building site just 2 years ago! The photo on the right shows the whole farm population.

 
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Charity, Chimwemwe, Mya and Rachel

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While Linda spent every day catching up and sharing with Caroline, Julian and I enjoyed a two day teaching conference with the church leaders from the Dedza area, using the church building at Mphalale – another leap forward. On our last visit, I had accompanied Julian to the first open-air meeting in that village where we met the chief, who seemed a little suspicious of our motives, but later donated the church building that we were now holding our leaders’ conference in! The following weekend, we spent 3 days at Makosana village (over 3 hours drive from the farm and one of the very earliest church plants) for the Lilongwe area leaders’ conference.

Meeting up with Biliat and his team of leaders again was another very special time. The work in that area seems so well established, but they want to do more. Part of their vision is to see their own leadership capabilities built up and strengthened. A real opportunity exists for any gifted leaders from the UK to come and help them realise this ambition. Please pray for this.

  lilongweleaders
Brian meets Nefan, Biliat, Williams and Tomas

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As others have before, we brought stuff that had been donated for the orphans – John had said a key need this time was for shoes – so there was real excitement when it came to allocating the shoes and clothes to the different children. John and Cameron were brilliant. We all gathered in Cameron’s house, the children sitting in groups, waiting patiently. Then John or Cameron would pick up a garment or pair of shoes, hold them up, look around the room and say, “These will be fine for you”, looking at Brenda, Kosimos, Joseph or whoever and, as the kids excitedly tried them on, they always seemed to be a perfect fit! And, if you think the children were excited, you needed to see the faces of Rachel, John and Cameron during this process – sheer delight!

 
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We were also able to arrange a visit to the local school, just half a mile away from the Village of Light, Chiphazi Full Primary School. Victoria teaches there and three of the orphans also attend. Back in October, after I had taken an assembly at a school near Lincoln and shared a bit about Malawi, the children wanted me to try to make a link with school-kids out there and they produced a beautiful introductory folder. The head teacher is already grateful for the proximity of the Village of Light to his school and when we explained the reason for our visit to him and presented the folder from the Lincoln school, you would have thought we were offering the Crown Jewels!

  headmaster
assembly  

He told us a little about his school – 940 ‘learners’ with an age range 5 to 17 years, 8 classes, 3 of which have over 150 learners in each! The 10 teachers and 4 assistants sharing the load certainly have their hands full – especially as they are limited to 1 textbook between 4 learners and very few exercise books! The head invited us back later in the week to talk to the whole school. They assembled, sat on the grass on the field behind the school with a row of chairs at the front for guests and staff. A representative ‘learner’ from each class came to the front and recited a passage of Scripture and a small group then entertained us with a song. The head interpreted as I shared the reason for our visit (to huge applause!) and then brought them a lesson from Scripture (story of Zacchaeus). After visiting all the classes, the head presented us with a letter and a gift (examples of their classwork) for the school back home in Lincoln. Hopefully both schools will benefit from the link.

 

I must just tell you about the day Julian and I went in to Dedza to try to get an appointment with a magistrate. Julian needed some important papers signed by a magistrate. These forms required formal endorsement before taking them to the government office in Lilongwe. So he and I went in to Dedza to do a few jobs and to try and see the local magistrate at some point. On the way we prayed that a magistrate would be available to give us an appointment some time that day otherwise another week might be lost. We found the magistrate’s clerk’s office and made the request for an appointment. Unfortunately the magistrate was unavailable, hearing a case in court. Julian explained his errand and asked if there was a time that day when we might return. The clerk thought for a moment, called his No.2 and whispered in his ear then told us to follow him. No.2 took us outside down the road to the court building, beckoned us to follow him into the court room crammed full of people, which was in full session with a severe looking gowned magistrate presiding at the bench. We could only sit on a narrow bench at the side due to the crowd. A lawyer was in full flow cross examining a witness with everyone listening intently - including His Honour!

People started to look across to see who had come in – we stood out as the only whites in the building. No 2 clerk walked right across the floor past the still speaking lawyer and straight up to the bench, with a brief nod, upon which the severe looking beak leant forward to hear the clerk whisper in his ear. He looked over his glasses at us and said (as the lawyer finally dried up), “What can I do for you gentlemen?” As we stood, Julian apologised for the interruption and explained that we had hoped for an appointment that day. The magistrate immediately stood (followed by the rest of the court with a bow) and announced a 10 minute recession and instructed the clerk to conduct us to his chambers. He could not have been nicer or more helpful. He listened keenly, signed and stamped every page of the 6 page form, asked about the work and was even interested to comment on Julian’s UK law qualifications. If there was nothing else he could do for us, he ought to get back to his case!! Was that an answer to prayer or what??

 

Brian