A letter from Jim & Jodi McGill in Malawi
Hello from a cold and dreary Mzuzu. We know that some of you are living in areas that are experiencing extreme heat, floods, tornados, and serious forest fires. Any time we hear of tragic news on the radio or from emails from you, we add those concerns to our family prayers and are grateful for a God who provides comfort during hardship. We are in the middle of winter and the early part of the dry season. However, the sensation of cold is relative and a young Welsh woman currently staying with us is not overly impressed with what we consider an impressive low of 44° F.
The next couple of months mark milestones for our children and us. On Friday, July 5, Michael and Jason completed their first year in boarding school. Thank you all for praying us all through this year. To get home they took the evening bus, which left from Blantyre at about 5 p.m. and arrived in Mzuzu about 5 a.m. They and a few others on the bus had to stand for nearly eight hours of the trip because the company overbooked the bus, as usual. They took it all in stride and are now beginning to accumulate their own personal travel stories. On July 15 the boys turned 16 years old! Jim will take them and two friends for a two-night camping trip to the Bua River for fishing and crocodile watching. We are always so grateful to be living here doing the work we love, for a God we love, with people with whom can share our lives, and in a country where the minimum driving age is 18.
The other four children just finished the school year, signaling a beginning in a chapter of Salome and Selina’s lives as they complete Standard 7, the last year of primary school education and begin secondary school in September. Please pray for them as they transition to this next level of independence and academic expectations. John and Joseph will continue at the same primary school. For all of us some of our friends will be leaving, so there is some sadness at the end of this year as well as rejoicing that school holidays are starting.
This month also marks a transition for Jodi as she hands over the Fund Administrator position for the Scholarship Fund that supports secondary school students. Although she remains a member on the Scholarship Fund Committee, Mary Mhango, Administrative Assistant to the Synod’s Education Secretary, will become the Fund Administrator. Jodi will be working closely with Mrs. Mhango and should for now still be contacted regarding the scholarship fund while the communication channel gets worked out, but by the end of July the primary responsibility will rest with Mrs. Mhango. Please pray for Mary as she takes on more duties to her already full workload.
Naomi, a student sponsored through the Fund, wrote this after being able to complete four years of secondary school due to the Scholarship Fund: “My father died when I was a year old, and our property was taken from us by relatives from my father’s side. I started primary school, but took school for granted. When I realized that school was the only way to help my family out of our impoverished condition, I started working very hard and was selected for secondary school. I knew it was hard for mom to pay school fees with her business of selling fish. In looking for school fees she started selling things from our house. We started seeking help. Luckily enough, the Synod of Livingstonia offered to help. I will forever be grateful to the Synod of Livingstonia for their support. If not for them who would I have been?”
At the end of May Jodi attended a meeting in Zomba, near Blantyre, which overlapped with a mid-term break for the kids. The six of us drove the nine hours there and while Jodi attended the meeting, Jim and the others collected Michael and Jason from school. We had a few days in beautiful Zomba, which included a grand visit with Rachel and Tim Stone and their two boys, PC(USA) mission co-workers in Zomba, and an evening at Lake Malawi. For Jim the piece de resistance was stopping at a couple of well sites on the way north to Mzuzu.
At one well site we saw a couple of homes decorated with locally made paint, and since Jodi was in charge of the camera, we have a picture of the house but not the well.
We have had a couple of visitors during the last few months in support of both the Smart Centre for low-cost options in water and sanitation and the Livingstonia Gravity-Fed Piped Water Scheme. Henk Holtslag and Robert Vuik from the Netherlands came on a project in which we compared different hand-drilling methods to improve our toolbox of options for drilling. Henk also taught one of our local fabricators to produce a very beautiful and inexpensive ($400) wind pump, which uses the simple rope pump technology for irrigation. Greg Bucove, from one of the Olympia, Washington, Rotary Clubs, spent six weeks assisting in tweaking and tuning the Livingstonia Community Water management systems that are running the very large and complex water system that has recently been completed. The programmes have gained greatly from our visitors’ experience and through these partnerships, our local Water Users Associations, and our low-cost safe water and sanitation, artisans are constantly improving their skills and improving their small businesses to function independently of direct external donations.
We thank you for all that you do in His service through us in Malawi, and through the church in the U.S.A. and throughout the world. We truly are only able to be here because of your prayers and financial support.
The McGill Family