The weekend in the middle of our trip was a “home visit” weekend. This meant that each member of the group was paired with a member of one of the CCAP churches in the City of Blantyre Presbytery. Most of the team were extremely nervous about this experience – but the anxiety had very little to do with being Malawi. Most just didn’t feel comfortable staying with strangers.
After being picked up by our host families on Friday evening, the group gathered together again on Saturday morning to participate in an orphan-feeding program at one of the churches. Most of the host families joined us as we prepared nsima and “all the fixins” for about 165 children.
Saturday afternoon was spent with our host families and/or churches. Arminta and I were lucky enough to be staying together with a host family from Michiru CCAP. Stephen and Annie Kamwendo were great hosts and we had lots to talk about and share with one another. The most shocking moment came when we realized that while my grandfather was teaching at Blantyre Secondary School (BSS) from 1965 to 1967, Stephen was a student attending nearby HHI (H. Henderson Institute). Due to Stephen’s involvement on the football team, he was at BSS quite often – and knew my grandfather. Let me say that one more time. The husband of our host family knew my grandfather 45 years ago. Amazing.
Back to Saturday afternoon – after a very nice lunch a local Italian restaurant, we were taken on a tour of the neighbourhood around Michiru CCAP by the Session clerk. We saw the primary school that the church is building and then the church itself.
In the evening, several couples from the church join us, the Kamwendos, the Session Clerk, and the Minister for a great dinner out at a local Chinese restaurant called, simply, Hong Kong. We all joked about Malawians and Canadians going to Hong Kong together.
Sunday morning came early! The English service at Michiru starts at 6am, which apparently means you don’t even have breakfast first – coffee and some bread and we were out the door. During the service we were very generously presented with “outfits” made from the official Michiru CCAP fabric. It really was an honour to wear them for the rest of the day. The English service went a little overtime due to the formalities related to our presence so it ended around 8:30am. The second service (in the Chichewa language) was supposed to start at 8am – but no-one seemed to mind. We had breakfast in the minister’s office and then came into the Chichewa service a little after 9am — and they hadn’t even got to the announcements yet. We went through the introductions and presentations routine again and the service ended almost an hour after the next service was scheduled to begin! Yet, I didn’t see a single person check their watch, or seem at all put out or surprised that things were behind schedule.
Following a quick lunch, our time with the Kamwendos and Michiru CCAP was suddenly over and we returned to Canada House (where Mike and Debbie Burns live at the Blantyre Mission) to re-pack for our week away from Blantyre. We were on our way to Mulanje for two nights, then Zomba for two night and, finally, one night at Liwonde National Park before returning to Blantyre.
Mount Mulanje, or Mulanje Massif, as it is properly called, is difficult to miss. It rises quickly out of the eastern horizon not long after you leave Blantyre and is a spectactular sight to see. We arrived at Likhubula House, at the base of the mountain, in the late afternoon and Arminta remarked to me, “Finally, we’re seeing TVO Africa.” (those from outside Ontario won’t get that, but replace TVO with PBS and you get the idea.)
One further thing to note. We discovered that Malawian oranges are actually green – at least on the outside. This led to a rather philosophical discussion about whether they were still, in fact, oranges. Was the essence of an orange, that which gives rise to its name, derived from the pigment its superficial exterior or does the orangeness of an orange go deeper than that? This led, of course, to more questions than answers…
Once again, if you want to see the captions and comments for these sets of photos, don’t bother with the slideshows below, just click these links:
Day Eight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carmichaels/sets/72157629807500754/detail/
Day Nine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carmichaels/sets/72157629823617148/detail/