Malawi Update by Penny Hanson - November 2011
Phil and I have just returned from a week working alongside Julian and Caroline Lott who live and work near Dedza.
The first thing we noticed as we drove through the capital city Lilongwe was the long queues for petrol. When word gets out that a petrol station has fuel, people queue for hours to reach the pumps. Diesel is now being rationed. Julian managed to get 20 litres last week and that was after none at all the previous week. Without fuel there is almost nothing in the shops.
This meant that for most of our time with them we walked everywhere. “Well done,” I hear you saying, but for someone who hops in the car all the time this was very hard work! It was unseasonably hot even for October, with temperatures around 40 degrees C.
Since we returned home, Julian and Caroline have moved into the newly built bungalow on the farm. The move was accelerated by a forest fire that came within 30 metres of their previous rented house. The farm project has been constantly fraught with debilitating set-backs. In particular the solar power system shipped from UK had never worked properly. Julian has had to develop many new practical skills - not something taught at missionary college!
The highlight of our visit was a four-day conference for leaders of the churches they have planted in and around Lilongwe, Dedza and Mozambique. There must have been nearly 150 people attending if you counted the children. The message was powerful – God’s Kingdom and Living a Kingdom life. This is so important if things are to change in Malawi. Witchcraft has had such a powerful hold on peoples’ lives and is brushed off by the government as being cultural, but it is dangerous and holds people back by fear. We heard testimonies of how people who were freed from witchcraft found a new life with Jesus at the centre of it. Jesus changes people totally, he gives them new purpose, teaches them how to love one another, be better parents and work together to make a better life.
The conference demonstrated Julian at his best. Each day he and Phil set off to do the 5 mile round trip in the searing heat. By 5 o’clock they were home, tired but radiating something very special. Caroline and I went along on Sunday. It was like a clip from the film ‘Out of Africa’. Two white ladies setting off with sun parasols, but having to carry our own Bibles and water. The worship was amazing and was led by Patrick from Mozambique who is a really charismatic man. The teaching was led by Julian and Phil with John and Cameron translating for them. It was electrifying. Imagine being plugged into God! But then, when people have so little there is much more space in them for God to work.
Caroline and I set off home in the heat of the midday sun - silly or what? It took us over an hour but the good Lord brought us home tired but happy. John and Cameron had worked so hard to organize the conference and it is something they will continue to do. The time went so quickly.
I helped seal floors in the new house, cook, wash, iron and shop. All these things I do at home but with Caroline it is like an offering and it was wonderful to be able to offer her some companionship.
Since returning home to Claverdon we have learned that the solar controller that Phil managed to get working has been struck by lightning and no longer works! What a blessing that Brian and Linda Donner have followed us out there to help. Julian and Caroline are amazingly selfless people, slightly ground down by the problems that have beset them this year, but trusting in the Lord with all their heart.
Their new bungalow looks out towards the hills. When Livingstone first saw Malawi he quoted Psalm 121:
"I will lift mine eyes unto the hills - From whence cometh my strength? My strength cometh from the Lord God who made heaven and earth."
Please keep them and the people of Malawi in your prayers.