South African layover

Posted November 2, 2013 by bradmoffatt
Categories: Uncategorized

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Tonight I’m staying at the home of some missionary friends, Brent and Suzanne Meyers in Johannesburg South Africa. They graciously have taken me in for the night as I have a 24 hour layover here (I have another 24 hour layover in London … which makes life difficult when I miss Karen and the kids so much).  It has been nice to get back to paved roads, clean water and food that I can trust won’t give me the runs for the next decade.

This evening I was able to join their family at a worship night put on by their church which encouraged me immensely. It was 5 bands, very much like our bands at MTC and they sang the same songs we would sing. Here’s the difference; every family has a crazy story about crime. The pastors wife has been shot, the worship leaders car has been car-jacked, the family sitting beside us has had their house robbed by gunpoint. You might think “Brad must be visiting a rough part of town” but the truth is I’m staying in a middle-class compound where there are bars on each window, a panic alarm, armed guards and watch dogs that are supposedly friendly (I’m not taking the chance to find out).  We drove by an Audi R8 and a Rolls Royce on the way in … The place is nice.

Why do I tell you this? I share this first of all because I value living in Canada more because of this trip. It’s my home and I’m very proud to be a Canadian.

Secondly (and more important) is that I value the relationship I have with God.  When I asked the Meyers “why and how do you deal with this?” Their response is something I value ; “God has called us here and we rest in Him. He brings us peace. It doesn’t mean we don’t take every procaution necessary to ensure our safety but  at the end of the day we sleep well and enjoy life knowing that God is much bigger than our fear and therefore we rest in Him no matter what the outcome”

I am encouraged today and will sleep well knowing the same thing.

All I need is a rooster

Posted November 2, 2013 by bradmoffatt
Categories: Uncategorized

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To remind me of Malawi I am going to bring home a rooster and let it wake me up at 4 every morning.  Who needs my iphone alarm clock when these winged animals can tell better time than a Swiss watch maker.  Every morning … 4 am!  Since Lifeline Malawi is on the banks of Lake Malawi and there are rooster that knew a Canadian was around,  I thought I would walk the beach of Lake Malawi at sunrise.   What I expected was a chance to spend some alone time reading my bible and taking pictures but what I experienced was a village heading to work and coming back from work.

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When most of us are having sweet dreams on our pillow top mattresses the villagers gather on the banks of the lake.  One group return from a night of fishing and the rest are huddling around the anchored wooden boats bartering for a chance to buy for their family or collect their stock to sell in the neighboring towns or cities.  The children are playing, the woman are washing and the men are doing their thing.

I had to remind myself that all of this action was at 5am.

The rest of my morning was spent touring and observing Lifeline Malawi; a medical mission helping the men and woman of Malawi. What I saw and experienced is a joy for me to share;

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Lifeline Malawi starts their day off with a staff meeting that consists of a short talk about their faith in Jesus, a prayer time for the day and announcements.  Each staff member has a specific role to play and they embrace it with seriousness and compassion.   They see hundreds of people a day that are dealing with problems such as HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, and much more.  They see hundreds of patients a day and keep meticulous records of each one.  I saw newborn babies, mothers educated for prenatal, a waiting room full of sick families and a well run, well guarded pharmacy.  This is an organization that not only has brought clean water, electricity, and a corn mill to this area, it has brought hope.

Tomorrow will be my last day in Malawi and then I have a long trek home.  Thank-you for praying.

A slight diversion

Posted November 1, 2013 by bradmoffatt
Categories: Uncategorized

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We were heading on the highway over to Lifeline Malawi and Billy asked me “do you want to see the Elephants?”.   You would think that I would say “yes” in a heartbeat but it took me a little longer to respond because he followed his question with “we’ll first have to find a warden that has a gun”.   I tend to shy away from any activity that requires shotgun protection but when in Rome ….

The experience to drive in an African forest where wild animals were in their natural habitat was definitely a highlight of the trip.  Hippo’s were playing in the water,  Warthogs were speeding in the fields and Elephants were eating 10 feet from the car.  There is safety at the zoo when there is an 8 foot high fence between me and the animals but in the forest when a large male Elephant steps out in front of the car and waves his ears in our direction, I was a little terrified.  Despite the fact that I’m a pretty terrifying figure out here according to some of the small children who have never seen a “white man” the Elephants didn’t seem to be afraid.  I think the Elephants have seen a “white man” before.

As we headed out of the park we stopped  and watched a monkey steal a Wardens lunch.  This curious little monkey waited for a distraction and then opened up his lunch pale and took the contents out.  If I didn’t know better it was rehearsed but the reaction of the Warden told us that this monkey was probably smarter than he was.

Today was a good day.

Walk this way

Posted October 31, 2013 by bradmoffatt
Categories: Uncategorized

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It was visitation day today.  Billy and myself travelled to local homes to encourage, to pray and to hear the stories of what living in Malawi is actually like.  We would drive into these neighbourhoods , passing by the water wells charities have donated, Unicef trucks, rows and rows of mud box homes and thousands of people and children.  Once the terrain becomes too rocky and bumpy we parked and walk the rest of the way.  The children would yell “white man, white man” , the men would say “Hello” and the woman would just stare.  After walking for km’s (it’s more like hiking b/c of the dirty, rocky, uneven terrain) we would walk through a small door into a very small, very dark, very empty room.

The picture above is of Eveyln and she and her family  are HIV positive.  We spent and hour with her and her family in their meager living room.  They shared with me the struggles of seeing their beautiful family fall apart from this terrible disease.  Mom and dad talked of their fear of what will happen to the family when they will die.  Evelyn sat there with no expression, with no words, with no emotion.  When she is having problems related to her sickness, Dad picks her up in his arms and walks 1 1/2 hours to the hospital (don’t worry, that’s the same amount of distance he walks everyday for work … and Sunday for church).  The love of a father.

When I would ask “what is your favorite part of living in Malawi?” each family would tell me they love their community.  When asked “what is the hardest part of living in Malawi” each family spoke of great poverty.  A good paying job is $40 a month, a typical job is half of that.  Water is sparse, food is even more difficult, the children have no shoes and garbage lines the city yet these are the most friendly people I have had the opportunity to meet.  I was in neighbourhoods that I was the only foreigner for miles yet I felt no fear.  The people greeted me with open arms and beautiful smiles.

Tommorrow I am heading to Ngodzi to spend two days with Lifeline Malawi.  Two days to observe an organization that didn’t allow the immensity of the problems in this country to stop them from doing nothing.  I’m looking forward to seeing what God is doing through their medical clinic.   I won’t be able to blog but I’ll keep you updated when I get back.

 

 

 

The middle of nowhere

Posted October 30, 2013 by bradmoffatt
Categories: Uncategorized

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I was given a chicken for a gift today … a live chicken!  This is something I can’t put in my  pocket and show the kids when I get home but I wish I could.  I would tell them that this gift is a gift of sacrifice from a poor family in the middle of nowhere.

A benefit of working with a local Pastor is that he is just that … a local.  Billy grew up in a remote village three hours from Blantyre and when I say remote, I mean it!  We travelled today to his parents home on remote dirt roads and river beds.  We spent the day touring a 75 acre farm that harvests corn in the spring and rice in the rainy season all by hand.  We sat under trees much similar to the one above and ate fresh Mango’s until I was told to stop (they were concerned I would have “the runs” if I ate any more:-) ) We talked of the faithfulness of God in a families life who literally has nothing but the clothes on their back.

My heart was broken today as Billy’s father (who happens to be the chief of the village) showed us their water source.

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This is a hole twenty feet deep where the woman of the village sit for hours to fill a 10 liter bucket.  There is no tap, no stream … it is a very slow trickle from a hole the size of a baseball.  In order to get water they put their cup in a puddle full of bugs and frogs who are competing for the same liquid.   Each year the hole needs to be dug deeper in order to keep the village alive.  Yet there is no complaining in their voice, no anger in their attitude.  This is their life.  This is the Africa that they know.

Today has been an incredible day and one that I am very thankful for.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend time in the middle of nowhere with a family who showed me what faith in God looks like.  A faith that relies on His providence.  Each day they wake up and ask themselves “how am I going to keep alive today?”

The gift of a chicken probably meant they would not eat the next day.  What a beautiful gift.

 

 

 

 

A brand new sight for sore eyes

Posted October 29, 2013 by bradmoffatt
Categories: Uncategorized

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Today there were many Malawi men and woman, boys and girls who now know what a “white man” looks like.  I think it’s comedy because their impression of a “white man” is that they are all called Brad 🙂 .  We travelled to very remote villages where, we were told, many of them have never seen someone who’s skin colour was not black.

Today was a very, very, very long day.  At 6 am we were picked up by Billy, picked up some local pastors and travelled to the ends of the earth on the most pot hole laden roads imaginable (even worse than Regina’s :-)).  The goal for today was to visit with churches that have been impacted by some of the financial support MTC has sent in the past couple of years.  On paper these funds went towards roofing and bibles – two words that our North America culture don’t think anything about.  Most of us, even if we don’t have a faith of any kind,  can probably pull a bible off the shelf in our homes (that have a roof).  What we take for granted are two of the biggest gifts we could have given.

There were eight churches in total we visited.  Each visit consists of a greeting committee; introductions, a message from Billy, a message from their pastor, stories from the locals who recieved the gifts, a message from myself and Brad (guests of honor)  and then a prayer. Very formal but incredibly eye opening.  We heard story after story of men and woman who’s lives have been literally changed because there is a roof on their church (churches in the rural areas of Malawi act as community centers and places of hope in an incredibly hopeless situation) or a bible in their hand.  What we take for granted they are incredibly grateful for.

What rocked my world today is that most of the people we talked to had no shoes, had nothing of “worth” in their lives yet they sang, they smiled and they loved the fact they were able to have another day to live.  We had children who were wearing the clothes that Value Village would not sell yet they were proud to dress in their best for a special occasion.  It is a different world around here.

Like I said, i’m tired so i want to go to bed.  Good news – the hotel is allowing me to stay!! Thank you for praying.  I’ll update you tommorrow.  Give my family a hug for me … someone please 🙂

Brad

Dancing and singing

Posted October 27, 2013 by bradmoffatt
Categories: Uncategorized

 

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Today was a little different than any worship service I’ve ever been to. There was dancing, singing, jumping, sound making … and that was even before the service started. Living stones Baptist church showed us what singing was all about in worship (as well as rythym … I tried to clap alongside their songs but stopped ten second in) . The energy in the room was exhillerating as the sound of their voices reached to the depths of my heart. it was truly beautiful … until I got up and preached for 25 minutes. I’m sure the sermon was O.K. but I don’t think that African’s get my humour … maybe no one gets my humour? 🙂

After the service we drove an hour and a half to the ordination of Billy’s mentor. Picture a room that is meant for 200 packed with 400 singing church goers that are all sweating because the temperature was 33 C.!! (Most of the men had suit on). We then prayed for a dying man in his very small home.

We ended the day back at the church to meet with the leadership of the church. It was a great time of sharing and eating. They asked Brad (not me) if we had a song to sing for them? Fortunately he took the high road and talked ourselves out of having to show them that not only do i not have rythym but I’m also tone deaf as well. If I were to be asked I would have thrown him under the bus and would have said “I don’t have a song but my friend Brad has been singing his favorite song in preperation for this … “El Shadai” by Amy Grant. Again … i would have thought that would have been the best part of the trip … but they asked him instead.

After losing 5 pounds through sweating, getting yelled at by ladies in the local market as I tried to take their picture, saying jokes in a sermon that were responded by with blank stares and realizing our day starts at 5 in the morning tommorrow … it was a good day.

Tommorrow we are heading to a village that the local church has been helping out. I’ve been told that most, if not all the villagers, don’t have shoes. It should be an eye opening experience.

If you’re praying could you pray that I can figure out some accomodations for Wednesday and Thursday night (I have plans for the remaining nights of my trip) For some reason I have been bumped from my hotel and they won’t give me any reason other than they are “full”. I think it’s because someone from the church told them I have no rythym 🙂 If i can’t find a place then I can bunk in with the pastor … which is what I wanted to do in the firstplace but his home is small and he doesn’t feel comfortable. It’s not a big deal but it’s a wrinkle I wasn’t expecting.

Later