A letter from Rochelle Holm serving in Malawi
Individuals: Give to E074868 for Rochelle and Tyler Holm’s sending and support
Congregations: Give toD507572 for Rochelle and Tyler Holm’s sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).
We recently celebrated three years in our home here in Mzuzu, and it seems time has flown. But we also took a step back and have realized how much we still learn daily within our own community.
With all of the concern and prayer for the dire situation of food security due to the drought and floods in 2015 we wanted to share a positive message of how a small group from our partner church here in Malawi are making a real difference in their own community. We recently shared a minibus taxi with a group of eight women (and men) making their way out to the field to work in the neighborhood garden. This community garden was news to us, and we were excited to learn more.
Last week our family had the privilege of visiting the community garden together with our friends Mr. and Mrs. Makwakwa. The community garden was started two years ago when the Women’s Guild of the Viyele congregation of the Church of Central Africa—Presbyterian (CCAP), Synod of Livingstonia, recognized a need to share maize (corn) flour and beans with the bereaved and those in need. Last year 32 bags of maize were harvested! The Women’s Guild asks each member to make a small contribution at planting time, and joint work days for volunteers are scheduled periodically during planting and harvest seasons.
When we visited we heard from two members of the Women’s Guild that manages the community garden. The Women’s Guild chair said one of the reasons they started the garden was that many of their members could not contribute cash but wanted to help widows, orphans and those in need. The solution they came up with was a community garden. As happens so often in our churches in the U.S., women’s groups are the backbone for responding to social needs in the community for many CCAP congregations in Malawi.
Learning about the community garden also links well with my personal reading over the Christmas holiday as I enjoyed the book Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist. In Mzuzu many evenings are spent sharing life around our dining table with friends, colleagues, students, and family. Our dining table was handmade by a local carpenter with hard wood, and stained dark. The table has character, and a few scuff marks. There are two benches, one on each side, and we easily seat eight people, though we frequently squeeze in more.
When we lived in Washington State before joining Presbyterian World Mission, I am embarrassed to admit we hardly ever had friends, neighbors, or family into our home for a meal. I remember the first time we had friends into our house in Mzuzu for dinner almost three years ago, and the electricity cut out just as guests were arriving. Electricity cuts are common in Malawi, and typically there is no schedule or estimate as to when electricity will be restored. But on this first occasion I was mortified that the electricity failed just as I was welcoming new friends to a nice dinner party! But the seven guests, who were all neighbors, promptly let me know that obviously there was no electricity at their houses either that evening and that sharing dinner by candlelight together was the very best way to adapt to the unforeseen situation. It was an early lesson reminding us that here in Malawi we share in community in so many ways on a daily basis.
If you have not already, maybe you will soon join us around the table here in Mzuzu, sharing with us in our home and our community. We are able to serve here because of your prayers, encouragement, and generosity. We invite you to consider supporting our work financially in 2016. For more information, please visit https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/E200532/.
In this New Year we give thanks to God in prayer for all the different ways that God has called different people to be a part of this work in Malawi, and also for each of these diverse but complementary ministries. God uses all our different gifts and we pray that you too will be open to understanding how God is calling you to serve. Please pray for us, and let us know how we can pray for you.
Rochelle & Tyler Holm
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 156
You may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.