A letter from Martha Sommers on home leave from Malawi
Late Fall 2013
Dear Friends and Family:
There is very big news for me to share with you. I will be on leave from the PC(USA) through June 2014. Then I will again be a PC(USA) mission co-worker. Instead of returning to Malawi to work, I will be preparing for a new role working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The position is as an education consultant with the Christian Medical Institute of the Kasai (IMCK). Much of my work will be assisting in the expansion of their family medicine residency, and in facilitating a new Masters in Public Health program that is jointly being developed between IMCK and Saint Louis University. Many details are yet to be worked out: in what country and how many months to study French before going to the DRC, when to make a closure visit to Malawi, how many months of mission interpretation to visit congregations to update many of you on this new role before leaving.
Many prayers and discussions went into this discernment process. Since the decision I was privileged to go to the Congo Mission Network and meet with many of my future colleagues; I am having phone meetings with my PC(USA) matrix in Louisville and the DRC; and I will be meeting more of the team at Saint Louis University when I visit there in February 2014. Through all of this process my confidence grows that God is in this new opportunity to use my skills and relationships to contribute to the wonderful work that has grown out of 50+ years of partnership between the IMCK and the PC(USA).
It is so very difficult to move from Malawi after 14+ years, and I am so thankful that I will be able to travel there to say so many “thank you”s. I recently was asked to write what I had learned through my experience as a mission co-worker in Malawi. Here is an excerpt of my answer:
“How do I do justice to all I have learned: To sit with sorrow. To accompany. To grab joy in the midst of sorrow. To accept my limitations and the limitations of others. To live in community. To forgive and be forgiven. To keep learning and relearning. I am not Presbyterian, and I guess through the Presbyterian community of northern Malawi I have embraced the beauty of the phrase, ‘reformed and always reforming.’ ”
I hope those of you who are involved in the wonderful work in Malawi will continue to be so, and I am very open to assisting you with strengthening your relationships with our friends in Malawi during this transition period. For those of you who financially support me as a mission co-worker, please continue to do so. There will be significant costs involved for me to undergo French language study, and to relocate to Kananga, DRC, which requires traveling by small planes, and not road, to reach there from the capital city of Kinshasa.
I will again be writing letters after my leave from the PC(USA) ends in July 2014. Know that this leave time when I am working and living in Chicago has been full of blessings: Wonderful colleagues at PCC and great opportunities to work with family medicine residents and students at West Suburban Medical Center. Extended time with family, including joyful celebrations and journeying through challenges.
I am also loving Chicago, despite this cold weather, and too frequent parking tickets!
Thank you for your friendship, prayers, and support.
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 143
Read more about Martha Sommers' ministry