We left Blantyre to come to Lilongwe on Saturday morning. We stopped at Liwonde (about 2 1/2 hrs.) and met the Group Leader there at his home. We had to call for directions but we did find him. That is the group that I wrote about earlier where there used to be a branch at Satima or Satina?? Village that was officially closed by the church. When we arrived at Raymond's home they were having institute/seminary. There were 14 there for the class and all but one had walked 2 hours from Satima Village to come to the class. They would walk home afterwards and walk back again for church on Sunday. That is dedication! We did discover that they REALLY need some leadership help there and some basic gospel teaching. The group is under the mission direction and so we will try and get out there more -- if we can find a place suitable to stay we will go on a Saturday and help teach the class and give some training and then be there for Sunday as well and attend their meetings. As a group they hold sacrament meeting and Sunday school only. There is a park not far from Liwonde, so we need to look into lodging there and see what is available and see how far away it is. They meet in Raymond's home but it is tooooo small so something needs to be found for them soon.
Sunday we went to part of the meetings in both branches here in Lilongwe. They meet at the same time so we go to Sacrament meeting at one and the other meetings at the other. We got lost on our way there but finally found it and since they started late we did get there just as they were starting at 9:15. We were surprised to see another white couple about our age at church. They are from Lloydminster, Alberta and brought us greetings from the Angevines, our good friends who used to live in Airdrie. The Harpers are here with Habitat for Humanity - have been here for about 3 weeks and left today. We met with them in the afternoon and had dinner with them and a nice visit.
We attended the Kuama Branch for their last two hours. They ask me to teach the primary kids as they have no one called to primary yet (new branch). I ask if the kids could speak English and they said, No. I agreed to do it, knowing that it was going to be a huge challenge when we can't even understand each other. There were 6 children of different ages. They gave me the lesson book for nursery age kids but actually that was okay! I also grabbed 4 Friend magazines from their closet. It turned out that they know the words to sing "I am a Child of God" and we sang that several times and I taught them "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes". They liked that and I figured I was perhaps teaching them a little English. Sister Duma came in for a little while (she knows some English) and we attempted to teach a bit of a lesson but it really didn't go all that well. I found a whole bunch of pictures that go with the lesson book that were thrown in the cupboard and I straightened them up and went through several of those and ask the kids, by pointing, what different items were. One boy seemed to know several English words. We also went through the Friend and looked at pictures. Sister Duma's son was in the class and I ask her if she talked English to him at home so that he could learn and she said No. I suggested that it would be a good idea to do that. If people here know English it really helps them. If the women know English they can get a job as domestics.
There are a lot of men in this branch and few women because the women do not know English. They are teaching an English class for the women during Sunday school time and I would have liked to attend that to see how they are coming along. They haven't called a Primary or YW President because there is not a woman who can speak English, except for Sis. Duma who has been called as the Relief Society President. All the manuals etc. are in English. Today when we met with the Br. President he told us that a lady was baptized last week and she knows English so he plans to call her to be the Primary President in 3 weeks. I told him to tell her that next time I come I will sit down and teach her how primary is suppose to be run (a very basic primary).
After the meetings there was some training for the Branch Presidencies. Bro. Collins, the one who is here with USAID, taught them about LUBA (Local unit budget allowance) and how they need to budget the money etc. etc. We hope they understand. We also talked about taking care of the building.
I wish I could make you understand how DESPERATELY we need another couple here to help. These are such new members and they need constant direction to know how to run things. It is just the basic of basics that they need and any of us can do that. They were asking if we could find a place and live in Lilongwe so we can be here full time to help them but we can't. We are needed in Blantyre too and are spread too thin. We do hope that when the mission is split in July that we can get another couple called to Malawi to serve in Lilongwe. We have been told we can recruit as well so......... anybody want to join us here in this beautiful country?? Malawi means "the warm heart of Africa". You don't know what you are missing if you don't at least try it!!!
When we came to Lilongwe we didn't realize, that today, Monday, is a holiday and things are closed. We need to go to the Water Board and pay some bills and do a couple of other things so we are here another night. It has worked out well though as we spent some time this morning discussing issues with Bro. & Sister Collins and then we met with a branch President and answered some of his questions and made a list of requests that he needs for his new branch. We also gave the four missionaries their allotments this morning so they could buy groceries etc. They get an allotment every two weeks. Two of our Elders go home in two weeks at transfer time. The transfers in May will determine which mission the Elders will be in after the split so they are anxious to know, but don't seem to be worried about it. We have some good missionaries.
There are about 90 U.S. army and airforce personnel here at the hotel where we are staying. They are here working with some medical people. They are doing some eye surgeries (cataract surgeries etc.) as well as other things. They just arrived and will be here for about 2 1/2 weeks. One is a member of the church and approached us since we are wearing our missionary tags. We will get together with him later and visit. He is from northern California. He said someone from his stake was talking about doing some charity work here and wanted a contact person so he felt like he was fortunate to run into us! We will see if anything comes of it.
We have had a busy but a good weekend. We will finish off what we need to do here in the morning and then head back to Blantyre. I need to get my financial reports for April finished off and sent in.
We love being here building up the Lord's kingdom! Life is good!
Love, Elder & Sister Bullock