A letter from Kay Day in Malawi
February 29, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
Yes, you are receiving the February news in March. This is not only because the month was shot, but also because the days were full of meaningful events. I pray the same was so for you. The greatest part of the month was taken up in bidding farewell to the outgoing pastor and hello to the incoming pastor at Limbe, CCAP (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian). The procedure here is that the Synod assigns pastors. (With 600 congregations and fewer than 200 pastors, the call system cannot work.) The first half of the month was occupied in farewell. Rev. Bona had been at Limbe for six years. The average stay of a pastor is three, so he was, by Malawian standards, a long-term pastor, and he was dearly loved by the congregation. As they bid farewell, they wanted him to know that, so they hosted a number of small events over the first two weeks of the month to celebrate that, culminating in a farewell worship service on Feb. 12 attended by family and friends from across the Synod. Over 1,000 people gathered to praise God for the faithful service of Rev. Bona. Ten choirs sang, multiple speeches were made, lavish gifts were presented, and a meal was shared by all.
On Tuesday members of the congregations gathered to help him load the Synod truck that would take his possessions to the new church. As his truck was pulling out of the church lot, the new pastor’s belongings arrived. Immediately those who had been crying tears of farewell jumped into action to clean the manse and unload the truck. When Rev. Kamponda, the new pastor, arrived an hour later he was greeted with cheers and songs of hello. Immediately a program was set in motion for official and informal welcomes, for orientations and briefings on all the programs of the church. The focus was on making the new pastor and his family feel at home and a part of the community. As this was happening at Limbe, the same thing was happening at St. Michaels, where Rev. Kamponda had come from and at Kawiri, where Rev. Bona had gone.
This switch of focus is one of the things about Malawi that continues to amaze and challenge me. This ability to live in the moment and to respond to the situation at hand with full attention and appreciation is incredible. It happens in changes in all sorts of life situations—weddings, funerals, births, job losses, health issues. It is not to deny the feelings of past events or situations but rather to recognize that that event is only one in many that God has given and we need to receive each one as it comes and then be prepared to move to the next. It is the recognition that God invites us to live in the present and not focus on the past. It is a way of appreciating the diversity of emotions in life without dwelling on them. This is the way people here are coping with economic hardships, with fuel shortages and the like. They are living Paul’s commendation in Phil 4:11–13—“for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Paul had learned it. My Malawian friends live in it. I am learning and I praise God for that. I pray the same for you.
Yours in Christ,
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 106