U.S. congregation members visit people, projects in Malawi
November 3, 2018
As we entered each village, people (especially the women) greeted us with singing, dancing, clapping and broad smiles.
During our weeklong mission trip, we visited people and projects in remote villages of the Zomba district in southeastern Malawi assisted by Villages in Partnership (VIP, a nonprofit organization established in 2008 by Presbyterians in New Jersey).
My husband, John, and I brought with us 182 children’s books, seven beach balls, one Frisbee and some dental supplies donated by members of First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and its preschool, as well as four other area Lutheran and United Church of Christ congregations. These five congregations also raised $3,575, which was sent to VIP for education and development projects in its partner villages in Malawi. The rest of our 13-member mission team was from congregations in New Jersey and Texas, and some brought with them clothing and hygiene supplies that we were able to share during home visits with poor and vulnerable families.
On our first full day in Malawi, we participated in a moving, two-hour-long Sunday morning service, during which several groups sang a cappella musical pieces in beautiful harmony. One of our mission team members preached the sermon, which someone translated into Chichewa since most people did not know English. During his sermon, he invited our whole mission team to offer our own a cappella rendition of “Here I Am, Lord” in harmony.
The Malawian staff of VIP assists people in the villages of Zomba to identify their greatest needs (such as water, food security, education, health care, infrastructure and economic development) and to organize so they can address those needs. In addition, VIP helps provide technical and financial support as necessary.
While we were in Malawi, we had the opportunity to visit some of the VIP-supported projects, including several schools and wells, a dairy farm, and a maize mill. We also had the privilege of working alongside several of our Malawian friends. John worked with a young woman preparing for university studies, helping her learn to use a computer for the first time. Later, he assisted in preparing tree seedlings for a reforestation project since deforestation and soil erosion is such a huge issue.
Dianne helped make a clay stove that reduces burn risks and uses less than half the amount of firewood that a traditional “three-stone” cooking fire requires. Later, she assisted with a goat deworming project. The next morning, she joined some villagers in preparing a field as part of a conservation agriculture project.
We found deep inspiration as we worshiped, ate, worked, danced, sang and conversed with our Malawian friends.
Rev. Dianne Kareha Deisinger, Retired Presbyterian Pastor, Mission Worker of First Presbyterian Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Today’s Focus: Projects in Malawi
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Thank you, O God, for helping us to see ministry, not as “doing for” but as “doing and being with” our neighbors. Thank you for the compassion, knowledge and skill of the Villages in Partnership staff. And thank you for the warm hospitality and inspiring faith of our friends in Malawi. Amen.