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A letter from Timothy and Rachel Stone in Malawi

February 2013

Dear Friends,

We have now been in Malawi for about three months. The first three months of transitioning to life in a new place can be difficult no matter where one is moving—especially when one is moving with children!—and even more so when one is moving to a new country. Still, we are beginning to feel at home.

When we first arrived, Malawians everywhere told us of their concern that the yearly rains were so late. Days were unremittingly sunny and bright, and the soil remained dry. As most Malawians are subsistence farmers, the lack of rain was cause for concern. We asked some of our partners in U.S. churches to pray.

Now, three months later, the rains have come in abundance, and the corn (maize), which is the cornerstone of all Malawians’ diet, is growing well. In some places, though, the rains have been so heavy that they are causing erosion, and even some houses to collapse. We are reminded that caring for God’s creation is important not least because unnatural weather patterns can mean the difference between life and death for people who live on the edge of hunger and at the mercy of the harvest. As our friend James says, “without nsima [the staple food of Malawians], there can be no life.”

Tim began teaching nearly as soon as we arrived here, and it was a joy and a challenge to enter the classroom as a teacher after so many years as a student! While communicating cross-culturally can be challenging, we are already encouraged about the responses he’s received. What a privilege it is for him to be able to share the rich education he’s been blessed to receive, and what a gift to be able to teach students eager to “leave to serve,” as the banner in the school chapel has it.

Our children, Aidan and Graeme, have adjusted quite well to the move. They enjoy being able to play outside whether in sunshine or in puddles of mud, and love kicking the soccer ball around or playing hide-and-seek with friends in the yard. Most of the children around where we live don’t speak English, but most of the time that doesn’t seem to matter much. The universal language of children is play, and we are grateful for their smooth transition.

Rachel spends much of the time learning to shop and cook Malawian-style, but has also recently begun volunteering regularly in the various obstetrical and gynecological departments at the Zomba Central Hospital, where, on any given day, 9 or 10 babies are delivered and dozens of mothers come for prenatal care and family planning services. For all the challenges the women of Malawi face as they become mothers, they are brave and graceful, and Rachel is continually encouraged by seeing the joy shared by mothers and caregivers alike at the promise and hope of new life.

That, finally, is the hope that brings us here: the promise that Jesus has come to give us life, and that to the fullest.

As always, we are grateful for your partnership in prayer and support.

Grace and Peace,

The Stones

The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 117
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