MISSIONARY LIFE IN MALAWI: THROUGH THE EYES OF A WIFE! - Jacqueline Brough

I have ventured into the unknown. After working for the past 12 years as a pensions consultant, I’ve given up the security of a good career and a steady income, and switched life in Lenzie, Scotland for a new adventure in Mzuzu, Malawi. A new house, a new daily routine, new relationships, a new job for Gary, a new school for Eilidh, new food, new shops, new creepy crawlies (!), all while adapting to a new culture. To say it’s a change in direction feels like an understatement!

When Gary and I decided that he should take up this new role, naturally we were nervous at the prospect of uprooting the family and leaving behind our comfortable life. But, at the same time, it felt like we were going in the right direction, and so we didn’t let it phase us. As Christians, we are striving to follow where we believe God is taking us, even if we don’t know what it will look like in the end. For me, the path is still unclear. But I am fine with the not knowing. For now I am taking each day at a time, getting the girls settled in and figuring out this new way of life.

There are lots of things to get used to in Mzuzu – driving for one thing is an adventure! With not many pavements to speak of and more pedestrians and bikes than there are cars, it’s a bit of a free for all on the roads. It’s even more fun when it’s dark – we had our first real experience of this a few nights ago when we arrived into Mzuzu at night after being down in the capital. We could barely see the people walking along the road and cars were blinding each other with their headlights, trying to keep to the middle of the road. I think Gary was glad when we eventually made it back to the house having not hit anything (or anyone!).

I’m also finding I’m becoming a bit obsessive with cleaning up in the house after we eat anything, and having multiple clips and plastic tubs for any food items, to avoid trails of ants or tiny flies turning up to enjoy anything that has been left out. Having a 14 month old crawling around dropping crumbs all over the place makes this a pretty impossible task however, and so the ants always seem to find their way in.

Added to this there is coping with the random power outages, learning to haggle at the market (I’ve still to attempt this), and knowing how to respond to people who are trying to sell you things left right and centre, or are asking for help. But Mzuzu is growing on me. It has a laid back feel to it (those who know me will know that this suits me quite well!), the people are very friendly and I like the hustle and bustle of town. There are lots of places still to explore and I am looking forward to getting to know the city and the people better.

Before we left for Malawi, Gary bought me a bracelet with a verse written on it from Jeremiah, when God’s people were living in a foreign city that was very different to what they were used to: “Seek the peace of the city…for in its peace shall you have peace”. Mzuzu is where we have come to live, and so we want to make it our home and play our part in making it a better place.

Jacqueline Brough
 

 

CHURCH WALKING GROUP

Thank you to everyone who has expressed an interest in the new walking group, thanks too for the extremely helpful feedback.

We’ll give it a go!! The group will probably evolve over time and we’ll continue to chat about the sort of walks folk would like once we get started.

Sunday 9th June. 12.15pm:
Screel Hill – 3.5 miles – strenuous (if you’re happy to provide a lift please bring your car)

Sunday 7th July. 12.15pm
St Mary’s Isle – 3 miles – easy

Sunday 4th August. 11.30am
Kippford/Rockcliffe circular – 3 miles – easy with some uneven paths (if you’re happy to provide a lift please bring your car)

Some general information.
Meet outside Kirkcudbright Parish Church – Don’t forget your sandwiches!
All timings are approximate, depending on the length of the morning’s service!
The walks are ‘self-supporting’ in that participants are responsible for themselves. We’re not a club that folk join, simply like-minded people getting together for a walk.

Further reminders about forthcoming walks will be posted on the Church notice boards.

Sue McMinn
 

NEWS FROM KIRK SESSION

At the meeting on 17th April the Kirk Session discussed ways of providing better support for our members and we are aiming to have every person on our Membership Roll allocated to an Elder’s District. This is the traditional situation in Church of Scotland congregations but has slipped in recent years.

In order to put this in place Elders will be contacting every member in the next few weeks, either by phone or by a visit to find out what kind of contact you would like to have. Members will be asked if you currently get a Church Magazine, and whether you would like to have a visit in person, by phone, or if you would prefer to contact the Elder yourself. We hope this information gathering exercise will help us to organise better and tailor what we offer to what our members would like. It also provides an opportunity to say if you would prefer not to be contacted and taken off the Membership Roll or placed on a Supplementary Roll.

The Kirk Session discussed the issue of Ministers in Civil Partnerships and Same Sex Marriages and voted not to depart from the traditional view in respect of the current vacancy.

The decision was made to appoint Mr Geoff Monk as Locum in the vacancy, beginning at the start of July 2019. Geoff is a Reader in the Church of Scotland, he lives in Laurieston where he is a member of Crossmichael, Parton and Balmaghie church. He did some of his training for the Readership with Rev Douglas Irving at Kirkcudbright Parish Church, so he already knows us a little. He will be appointed on the basis of Sunday plus one day in the week Pastoral work. His Sunday duties will be either at the 11am service (3 out of 4 Sundays) or at the 9.30am service (1 out of 4 Sundays).
 

A MESSAGE FROM YOUR PASTORAL CARE TEAM: "WE CARE ABOUT HERE"!!

At last week’s meeting of the Pastoral Care Team, we were very pleased to welcome Val Ellwood as another member of our team. We are thrilled to have Val on board.

We are delighted that our locked box at the back of the Church seems to be working well. This box is emptied weekly and we are always here if you or someone you know needs a helping hand. On the subject of “helping hands”, we wondered if there was a need for us to help each other with, for instance, a spot of gardening or shopping, or whatever. If you think this sounds like something that would be useful to you, please let Irene or Alison know.

We are thrilled to announce that the Church Friendship Club (formerly the Wednesday Club) will re-start on Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019 and will run until March, from 2.00pm to 4.00pm, with a break from mid-December until mid-January. The format will be similar to before, transport being provided, as well as entertainment and a cup of tea. If you have any ideas of what kind of entertainment you would like, please let us know before our next meeting on 30th May – this is your group!!
 

NAZARETH TO CAPERNAUM - MORE THAN JUST A JOURNEY!

Our Church secretary, Ann, tells of her personal pilgrimage : Following in the Footsteps of Jesus

After all my training for weeks up-hill and down-hill over the Galloway countryside with lost toenails, blisters and aches and pains I managed the walk from Nazareth to Capernaum on the “Jesus Trail “without any problems. An unforgettable emotional experience which I wanted to go on and on. As some of you may have realized, I was a bit apprehensive about the Trek as I had a couple of niggly on-going injuries which were bothering me and I had not been sleeping very well for the first few days after arriving in Israel and felt very weary and a bit down hearted.

So I am going to start my story the Saturday before the walk. We went up to Nahariya in the north of Israel near the Lebanese border to attend a Messianic Jewish Shabbat where we were warmly welcomed, being with a well-loved member of the congregation. There was singing first in Hebrew, then Arabic, then after the sermon we had a song in English. Not your usual hymn but a song made popular by the band West Life & Jos Groben. Some of you may remember it was sung by Hilary at Douglas’s last service and it goes like this: 

“When I am down and oh my soul so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit a while with me

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up, to more than I can be”

What can I say but this was everything I needed to know, and I was going to be O.K! I walked with 24 others aged from mid-20’s to early 70’s, up to 12 miles each day, up all the hills, without any pain, without blisters and with joy because I knew I was not alone and was being raised up to “more than I could be”.

After an early morning service in the hospital chapel, our first day saw us walk up from Nazareth through a hillside of wild flowers, (finding en route a small tortoise on a rock!) to Zippori National Park. We visited the archaeological ruins of the main administrative city in Galilee at the time of Jesus, which has Byzantine mosaics and an ancient cistern sytem. Following lunch, we walked through the small Arab village of Mashad to Cana the site of Jesus’s first miracle, tracing a route by paths and countryside filled with wild flowers. We stayed in the Cana Guest House an Arabic household and shared our evening meal in the family’s home along with a wee drop of Cana wine to accompany it.

Next morning time did not allow us to go into the church building in Cana, which commemorates where Jesus changed the water into wine. We were, however, taken underneath the Church to a room which had been excavated and where coins had been found dating back to the time of Jesus. We then climbed the road out of Cana to walk along a forest ridge overlooking peaceful valley views, visiting an ancient Roman road, part of the Via Maris which connects the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee. We picked and ate wild asparagus and fennel fronds as we walked through the colourful wild flowers of red, yellow and white enjoying the peace, warm sunshine and fellowship. We sometimes came across rows of the cactus prickly pear and were reminded by our guide that this was a sign that an Arab village had once been situated there as the cactus was used as fencing to keep livestock in. Walking up a hill to arrive at Kibbutz Lavi, one of the very few religious Kibbutzim in the country, we were able to enjoy the swimming pool, peaceful grounds and a wonderful kosher buffet for supper.

Next morning we headed out across agricultural fields, (avoiding a poisonous snake!), and there was pointed out to us tares amongst the wheat, which reminded us of the parable in Matthews Gospel. Next, we ascended the Horns of Hattin, a volcanic structure, once again passing through areas of the most beautiful wild flowers, where a famous Crusader battle took place in 1188 between Saladin and the Crusader States of the Levant. Here we got our first glimpse of the Sea of Galilee, and lovely valley below. We descended the rocky hill-side to visit Nebu Shu’eib, the holiest shrine of the Druze religion, and the tomb of Jethro, father in law of Moses. After lunch, we proceeded through olive groves and the ruins of Hattin village, rising out of the valley to Moshav Arbel, where we stayed for the night in wooden holiday cabins. There was a large appealing lemon tree in the garden and thankfully we had a very tall gentleman with us who was able to pick for us the best lemons from the tree (with permission of the owner, of course!)

Because of the rain and thunder throughout the night we were unable to go up to the Arbel Cliffs, which would have given us magnificent views of the Sea of Galilea and surrounding countryside, these being closed due to the slippery surfaces. Nevertheless we were given another treat as we descended with care a very rocky and slippery flower filled hillside into the most beautiful Arbel Valley, where we crossed over 11 small burns, whilst being watched some of the time from the cliffs by Rock Hydrax, (a type of badger). I occasionally looked up at the Arbel Cliffs, with its ancient cliff dwellings and caves, to wonder if I would have had the courage to climb down these using metal rings and ropes, as this was one of the optional routes down from the cliffs. After a lovely walk along the shore of the Sea of Galilee we arrived at another Kibbutz at Karei Deshe, where we spent the night.

After another good breakfast we knew this was to be our last day of walking -- only 7 miles today! After walking beside the Sea of Galilee we visited Magdal , a prosperous fishing village in the time of Jesus, to view the excavations of the ancient town, indicating the presence of an observant Jewish community where it was likely that Jesus taught the multitudes and healed the afflicted women, including a woman who made her home town famous, Mary Magdalene. The Magdal synagogue is the oldest excavated in Galilee. Coins excavated date between 5 and 63AD. A coin printed in 29AD leaves the impression of Jesus teaching in the synagogues during his public life. The Magdal stone which has been found is believed to be the holder for the Torah and Prophet scrolls. To me this was a most beautiful place, which touched me with its chapels of mosaics depicting Biblical events from the Galilee. Most striking was the women's Atrium, featuring eight pillars, seven of which represent women of the Bible who followed Jesus, while the eighth honoured all women of faith across all time.

We then headed to Ginosar and had a lovely peaceful contemplative sail on the Sea of Galilee. We were transported for lunch to Mount Precipice, above Nazareth, where tradition has it an angry mob attempted to throw Jesus off the cliff. While we were there, we stopped at a small shop to get a coffee, and when the owner asked us who we were, he gave us all a free coffee as a thank you for what we were doing for his town! This gesture was a lovely example of many kindnesses we had encountered from people throughout our walk.

After taking in the view of Mount Tabor and the Yizrael Valley, we travelled back to the hospital where we were welcomed by the hospital staff and a Scout Band of drums and bagpipes which was really special. A little bit of Scotland to greet us!
Our last morning in Nazareth was taken up with a visit to the hospital and especially the maternity unit. We met the nurses and they thanked us for our efforts to raise money for the refurbishment of the unit. We then visited the Nazareth village which is an historically accurate and truly authentic site of what Nazareth would have been like in Jesus time. Then it was time to leave, I was sad, I wanted to stay and carry on walking.

Before and after the walk I did some travelling with my friend Miriam, touring Israel from snowy capped Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights to the Red Sea and the Egyptian Border. One of my lasting memories is in Jerusalem and the peace on the Mount of Olives with its magnificent view of the city and then walking down to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we chatted to the gardener. He asked us to pray for his sick mum and then cut off a small branch from the oldest olive tree in the garden and gave it to us.

Your donations, your prayers and encouragement meant such a lot to me and now you can know that in a hospital in Nazareth on a hill so far away your help will be a lasting contribution to the maternity unit and to the new babies being born there. With God’s grace, they will grow up in peace in this beautiful country I had the privilege to walk through.

Thank You.

Shalom

Ann Morgan (Church Secretary)