Ian and Jan Furlong in Malawi May 8 – 22, 2013

 

Firstly Jan and I would like to place on record our thanks to Julian and Caroline for housing us, feeding us, fetching and carrying us, and generally putting up with us for the two weeks. They were perfect hosts and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit, especially the chance to sleep for ten hours every night!

We also have really appreciated the opportunity to enter the Lott’s world and see and feel the joys and sorrows, ups and downs, frustrations and privileges of the work that Julian and Caroline are engaged in and which we support from our armchairs in the UK. It was a great experience, and one we’d recommend to anyone. A visit is guaranteed to stimulate your interest in and passion for the work.

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After a day or two to settle in and acclimatise, we worshipped at the church in Mpalale on our first Sunday. The building has recently been extended due to growing congregations and making it the venue for the Leaders’ Conference planned for while we were there.

Worship was lively, Ian preached in English and Cameron translated it into Chichewen on the hoof. Everyone was very kind and welcoming and even tried not to laugh as we tried out the four words of Chichewen greeting we’d learned. We’d just achieved proficiency when it was time to come home!

Monday to Thursday of the following week saw Julian and Ian sharing the teaching at the Leaders’ Conference, with Caroline and Jan leading a session for the women on the last afternoon.

 

Julian had prepared some material as a basic catechism. There were 50 points in the booklet, and we only got through half in the four days.

Every evening, John and Cameron led a discussion with the delegates over the things that had been taught during the day. The aim is for the leaders to use the material back in their churches.

Over 100 men, wives and children gathered for the conference, many travelling a considerable distance on the back of a lorry, in mini-buses, on bicycles and walking. I think it is fair to say that a great time was had by all!

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On our second Sunday, Julian, Ian, Cameron and John journeyed north to Njonja, about 50km away. On the way we picked up folk from churches at Lifou and Biskit, and then enjoyed a day’s shared ministry with this new branch of the church. The work has been started by Patrick, an evangelist who travels the villages, starts bible studies and then brings people together as church.

As you can see from the photograph, the setting was idyllic, and about 50 men, women and children enjoyed two two-hour sessions of worship and teaching with lunch in between, before the long and bumpy journey home.

 

On the Monday before heading for home, we had the privilege of participating in the giving out of the blankets that had been purchased following the Christmas appeal. There were 130+ recipients from the Mphalale district, and a further 20 or so at Chapazi.

The local village chiefs had selected the elderly and vulnerable from their villages who would benefit from receiving a blanket now that the cold season is kicking in. After about half an hour of greetings, welcomes and responses, the ceremony began, with us presenting a blanket to the chief who then presented the blanket to his village member. The women bowed as they received, the men just received, then passed the blanket to the women to carry home for them! When the ceremony was over, spontaneous singing began. It was all very moving.

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Finally, we also had the chance to hand over the clothes that had been collected for the orphans now living on the farm. The picture shows just a few of them. They were very pleased, and so were we.

So all in all we really enjoyed the trip, though we found it tough emotionally being face to face with crashing poverty. Yet at the same time we fell in love with the beautiful countryside, and the warm and friendly people who were so thrilled to have visitors to their villages.

 

SaltMalawi trustee meetings will never be the same again now that we have sampled the life of Julian and Caroline Lott, and the incredible work they do.