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A letter from Jim McGill in Malawi

August 2010

“Greetings from a chilly Mzuzu.” That is how I began a newsletter in June and the same weather continues now, although I should add that we are also having rain, which, although this is our dry season, is not unusual for Mzuzu. Our winter, though, is ebbing — we did have two lovely, dry, spring-like days this week, a hint of the approaching summer. 

Many of you are aware that the Synod of Livingstonia has actively expressed its displeasure regarding the Malawi government’s decisions that appear to disenfranchise the people of the Northern Region. This was brought to international attention when our General Secretary, the Rev. Levi Nyondo, was arrested after giving remarks that the government considered to be seditious at the funeral of a former government minister. Nyondo was held in jail for the weekend, then was released on bail for a trial at a later date.  Very large numbers of supporters remained at the jail during his incarceration and were outside the courthouse for the bail hearing. Your prayers for resolution to this situation are needed.

Photo of many boys riding on a pickup truck - in the bed and even on roof.

Boys traveling to school.

Our education dilemmas are ebbing, and we thank you all for your emails and prayers for peace and guidance during this time of school closures that affected Salome and Selina and school selection for Michael and Jason. The girls’ school has been allowed to reopen with the completion of one school block, which contains four classrooms for seven grades, and the boys have been selected to attend the newly constructed Mzuzu Academy, which follows the International Cambridge curriculum. The Academy is opening with only Year 7 and 8 and plans to add one class each year. Because it is just starting it has the benefit of small class sizes and gives parents a chance to have considerable input in the regulations of the school. It also means that the school has as yet little to offer besides a basic education, but still the option seems like a good choice at this time. The school is located outside of town, so the boys will board at a house that the school is renting, but they will not be as far away as Blantyre or Kenya. 

Jodi continues to be busy administering the Scholarship Fund for the synod, and since this academic year is now over the Scholarship Committee is starting to put out applications for the new academic year starting in September. Funding for students will be a challenge since historically many of the donations for the Fund from the United States and the United Kingdom come in January, after Christmas, but as we said in the previous email, “God is ahead” — so the committee is proceeding as usual. We were able to fund 125 students for secondary school with undesignated funds. One of the sponsored students wrote a letter when she completed her education: “What I always do is to pray to my heavenly father because I know that he is the only one who makes a way where it seems to be no way. Yes, through your programme of the Scholarship Fund, God answered by my prayer. Without your fund I never would have obtained my MSCE certificate.”

The government together with Medicin Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) has been holding mass measles vaccination campaigns for children 9 months to 15 years old. Malawi has reported on average less than 200 cases of measles per year; however, since January 2010 there have been approximately 77,000 cases with 195 associated deaths. The vaccinations were given at health centers, hospitals and churches. A few Sundays ago our church, Katawa Congregation, was one of the sites for the mass vaccination program. What was fascinating to observe was the number of children who were brought by other children for the vaccination. There were 8-year-olds coming with 3-year-olds and 12-year-olds with all of their younger siblings. We joined the queue together with a 4-year-old friend who was staying with us for a few days while his parents were away. The speed with which the vaccinations were given was remarkable, as was the quiet, accepting way of the children. Let us pray that the number of children vaccinated is adequate to promote a large enough community immunity to stop the further transmission of the virus and that those children affected will recover quickly and with few ramifications.

The coming months are the months of great activity for water provision in Malawi as this is supposed to be the end of the dry season, when the water table is lowest and remote areas are most accessible. Therefore there is much going on with hand-dug wells, hand-drilled wells and mechanically drilled wells and all of the support work that goes on to the communities and individuals that implement the work. There has also been a lot of activity for the implementation of the latrines and sanitation work, with several alliances forming partnerships with both the synod and the Centre of Excellence for Water and Sanitation, which is based at Mzuzu University and of which the synod is an implementing partner. 

We have been deeply saddened to learn this week of the death of Martin Logan, son of Tom and Jocelyn Logan of the Marion Medical Mission Shallow Wells program.  We ask that you join us in prayers of comfort and support to the Logan family.

Peace in His service,

Jim McGill

The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 59

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