A letter from Kay Day in Malawi
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from chilly Malawi. As some of you are struggling with high heat indexes, we are in the midst of our winter. I am clad in a woolen sweater as I write. This contrast of climate is reflective of the contrasts we have lived with this past month. We have had great church celebrations against the backdrop of civil struggle. We have experienced eager praise followed by earnest petition. It has been a month of ironic contrasts.
As a church, we have celebrated partnerships around the world. On Sunday, July 3, a group from Pittsburgh, Pa., joined in worship with a delegation from Australia for the covenant renewal of Australia’s five-year partnership with Blantyre Synod. The celebration was wonderfully international, representing three continents and three bodies of the Presbyterian Church. On Sunday, July 10, the Pittsburgh group and Blantyre Synod renewed their partnership covenant of 20 years at a large celebration in St. Michaels and All Angels multipurpose hall. This was complete with commemorative cloth, Holy Communion, and gift exchanges. Between the two celebrations were retreats, trips together to an animal park, and church-to-church visits with hosting in members’ homes. On Sunday, July 17, I was formally introduced to the Limbe congregation, amid music and excellent preaching (my son Thomas gave the charge to his mother, as the new associate pastor), elaborate gift-giving, and great fellowship. There were five representatives from the United States who participated in the service, one from Pittsburgh, who remained after the group left, and four from Illinois, so the partnership connection continued. In addition to the groups from Pittsburgh and Australia, we have had friends from Virginia, Illinois, Canada and Westminster Church in Pittsburgh come to work and worship with us. There have been many reasons and occasions for praise and celebration.
Against this has been the backdrop of civil struggle. Fuel is in short supply, so transporting the groups has presented a challenge. Behind the scenes, Malawian hosts have sat in long lines to wait for fuel. Foreign currency exchange (forex) has been a challenge. Costs on all purchases have gone up due to the fuel and forex shortages. All of this came to a head on Wednesday, July 20, when civil organizations called for peaceful marches to express concern over the situation. Things turned violent when a court injunction was filed to stop the marches. Businesses were closed and people were urged to stay home. Tempers flared and violence ensued. Eighteen were killed and 44 injured in two days of civil unrest. Calm has returned, but tensions continue. This is a time for intense prayer for wisdom and reason to address the situation within the country. Ironically, this is the first time in 20 years there has been any disturbance to the peace of Malawi. As we have marked 20 years of partnership with Pittsburgh, we have renewed civil struggle over issues of governance after 20 years of peace. Please keep us in your prayers. The tension and struggles are not over. There is no resolution at this point and rhetoric is sharp on both sides. We need God’s direction. We covet your prayers.
On a personal note, please be assured that I am safe and not concerned for my safety. My only concern is for my Malawian friends and colleagues and the impact of this on them. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement, especially now.
Yours in love,
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 67
I'm delighted that Beaver-Butler Presbytery's Congregational Mission Unit has added you to its list of recipients of our mission money this year. We are looking forward, too, to hearing from Mark Plumb about his visit (with the Pittsburgh group) on our behalf to Zomba Presbytery. Little by little, step by step, our partnership is developing. A belated happy birthday! Agnes