A Contrast of Joy and Sadness

Posted on July 30, 2010. Filed under: Children, God, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , |

Here is my account of our first full day in Malawi.

7-12-2010 (Monday)

5AM and the Muslim Synagogue nearby loudly plays the morning “Call to Prayer”.  Voices echo throughout the surrounding neighborhood for miles.  Hearing the prayer call for those who believe in the Muslim faith gives me a stronger conviction of why we are here in the first place.  We are here to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world.  I pray for our mission, I pray for those we will encounter today, and I pray that God will use us in a mighty way for the fulfillment of His will and purpose.

Later birds sing through my bedroom window. The echo from the song of the birds on this crisp morning gives glorious evidence of God’s masterful creation.  The marvelous sounds coming from the birds become louder and more pleasing to my ear as I go outside to listen.  It is like a concert of creation as the birds fill many large trees in the compound with their song.

I notice a man who guards the gate of the compound where we stay.  I walk over to talk with him about how great it is for us to experience God’s creation.  He is not able to understand very much English, but can still comprehend some of what I say as I point to the birds in the trees above.  I establish through my conversation we have a mutual appreciation for the bird’s song.

As is typical in Malawi, the power goes off without any notice and for unknown reasons.  Today, the power turns off during the morning hours while many take showers, and the cooks prepare breakfast.  The facility has some backup generators and is able to make a wonderful meal of potatoes, Malawian sausage, bread, eggs, pineapple, bananas, papaya, and oranges.  This would be our last meal with this much fruit for a while.  It is a tasty way to start the day, although I do not have any eggs or sausage.

After breakfast we drive in vans to the office of Somebody Cares for prayer and orientation.  People are everywhere, walking and riding their bicycles up the hill and down, to the left and to the right they go, hurrying to begin their daily routines.  Most of the Malawian people do not have cars for transportation, so the alternative are either walking or riding bikes, and they do it constantly.

We arrive and the staff of Somebody Cares is engaging in an outcry of prayer to the Lord.  Scripture tells us in Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  In the world of darkness whereby the staff at Somebody Cares does God’s work, it is important they go to God almighty with all of their prayers and petitions, as only He will hear all our prayers.  The seriousness and conviction concerning the ability of God to hear our prayers is not something the staff takes lightly as they continue for a long periods.  After prayer a man leads us in song, giving glory to God in the highest.  Singing and dancing with faces smiling wide, sharing the love they have for the Lord with us.

Half of the team spends the rest of morning separating the medicine for distribution, which will happen sometime later this week, while the rest of us relax at the Somebody Cares offices.  We enjoy conversation and get to know each other a little better. We play guitar and sing worship songs. I slowly let the experience absorb into my soul, overwhelming though it may be. We are adjusting to the Malawian way of doing things, which is a little slower and not always in a hurry to get to the next task.  This is a little challenging for me, but I am adjusting.

Now is our first chance to venture out into the local villages.  First, we go to the village of Ngona, about 30 minutes outside of Lilongwe.  They call this area a slum, and for good reason, as the level of poverty among the villages was unlike any I have seen in my entire life.  But in poverty, there can still be joy.  We arrive in town, and about 40 women we singing, dancing, and praying to the Lord God Almighty.  It is exciting to experience their joy in the moment as they all bustle with excitement for the Lord.  We all disembark from our vans and the women dance in a circle, coming to each of us while they danced to shake our hands.  The sincerity of their joy is evident in their simultaneous singing, laughter, and love on display.  We participate with them in dance and song, as the sound echoes through the fields and into the village below.

Next, we divide into groups to venture out into the village to visit sick women and children.  We go to the homes of mothers and their children who had been struck with AIDS and TB.  Although it is difficult to see them in their suffering conditions, prayers for healing and the peace of Jesus is brought to them.  I ask one of the Somebody Cares staff members if those we encounter are believers in Jesus, and the answer is yes.

The devastation and suffering these women and families experience in their lives is overwhelming to see.   Their physical well-being and condition is so terrible due to illness and poverty, it is nearly unbearable to be witness to. Although my heart is tearing inside from seeing the devastation that disease and poverty create, I am blessed with the joy of watching the smiles on the young children’s faces.  When I compare this world to the living standards I have grown accustom to for nearly 50 years in America, it seems desolate and unbearable.  Even so, the children seem as happy as any I can recall seeing throughout my life.  Maybe they see hope in potential change, giving them a source of pleasure?  The children smile, laugh, and run around in and out of the village, playing with each other, caring for each other, and sharing their lives together.  For some, they have nothing else but the joy they have in their hearts.  For many today, there is a sense of unknown; a wonder whether or not they will have a next meal, or whether today will be their last.

We play with the children, teach them about things Jesus said, and raise them up into the air, optimistically giving them hope for a brighter tomorrow.  Although I am sure we bring joy to them amongst their sadness in life, these young beautiful creations of God give me something I will never ever forget; they share absolute genuine joy to us who encounter them.  They give me a gift I will never lose; they give me a glimpse of God, an understanding who God is in a little person of His creation.  God loves each and every one of us, including these little Malawian children.

What I see this first day in Malawi will change my perspective on life and the world forever, and I shall never be the same.

In the evening at night I cry.

May God bless your day,

Daryl Dho

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