It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote. Things have been rather busy. We had 3 of our missionaries in Malawi return home as their 2 years are finished and we also had several transferred to Zambia. In fact, we lost all but one of our Elders in Blantyre and we kept our 3 sisters. It was a big transfer. We took two trucks and drove the Elders to Lilongwe and they flew to Zambia from there. We were to pick up 8 Elders at the airport who were coming from Zambia that same night BUT the flight was cancelled. We ended up waiting an extra day for them to arrive via a different route. So instead of flying from Lusaka, Zambia straight over to Lilongwe ( flight of 1 hr. 10 min.) they took a flight from Lusaka to Harare, Zimbabwe to Nairobi, Kenya (with a 2 hr. layover) and then to Lilongwe. Then we drove them 4 hours to Blantyre. They were tired! They have settled in though and are doing well. We get another sister (new from the MTC) on Tuesday and she will fly into Lilongwe and we will meet Prete's half way and drive her here to Blantyre. Also on Tuesday we have a missionary returning home from his mission in Zimbabwe and will need to pick him up at the airport.
This past Wednesday we had to take a quick (overnight) trip to Lilongwe again to take care of an issue with one of the Elders (since Jim is in the mission presidency). Things should settle down now for a little while with transfers etc.
Yesterday we went to Liwonde and took the Zone Leaders with us. We changed plans when we got there and decided to go to Sitima Village. It was dry and the sky was blue so we decided to chance it and hope that we didn't get trapped on the other side of the stream that turns into a raging river when the rain comes. We met Bro. McFarlane Phiri who was the Branch President at the Village before that Branch was disbanded. We had a nice chat with him in the shade under a tree. We invited him to come back to church and attend the group in Liwonde. He said he would talk to his people today and see what they say. He still meets with about 150 (mostly baptized members) in the Village each Sunday but they do not call themselves by our church name anymore. We saw the building they meet in. If they all decide to come back we would need to find a bigger meeting place and buy more chairs!! We just want to be sure that they would come back for the right reasons. Still a big problem in the Liwonde group (which mostly consists of members from Sitima Village) and with the other inactive members at the Village is the lack of the English language. A man has been called to teach some English classes and we want to have someone teach at the Sitima Village too. We did have 71 at Church in Liwonde today -- the school room was full and we could have used more chairs.
Anyway - after our visit with Bro. Phiri we went to the Benjamin family home. They were thrilled to have us visit and they even wanted to feed us. We each had a cob of maize that had been boiled. It tasted okay but was very chewy. They also served us some cucumbers from their garden. As we pulled in to their place a mother was just leaving to take her very sick baby (6 or 8 months old) to the hospital (a walk of 7 km. back to Liwonde). We told her to wait for a bit and we would drive her and the baby. After we ate and visited for a bit the missionaries gave the baby a blessing. The baby was pretty lethargic. We took them into the hospital and dropped them off. We heard today that the baby had collapsed several times at the hospital and was still there but doing better. Not sure what the problem was but the family felt like it was not 'by chance' that we happened to visit and help with a blessing and transport. They were very grateful. We don't always know why we do what we do but the Lord does direct our paths!!
The road to Sitima Village was mostly just a pathway and we did cross 3 waterways (they call them rivers, which I guess they are at times). They were different than we expected. They were narrow and fairly sharp path down and back up. There was a bit of water in them. The way back was worse due to the incline up from the streams. We almost got stuck but Elder Bullock was able to back up a couple of times and get a better run at it. A bit of mud was flying but at least we didn't have to get people to push us out. Always an adventure!
We returned to Liwonde and went to teach the Gomani family. They had been waiting for us. We had the family of 8 this time plus gogo (grandma) and the man from the CCAP Church. He doesn't say much but we give him pamphlets and etc. He did say that he will attend when the family gets baptized because he wants to see how we do it. :) He hasn't disagreed with anything we have taught so far. We did move their baptism date to April 7th though as we feel like we need a bit more time with them. (We missed last Saturday due to getting held up in Lilongwe). After their lesson we dropped the Zone Leaders off to teach one family and we taught another the new member lessons. By then it was 5:30 and we went to stay at the Hippo Lodge and had supper. We attended Church this morning and then taught the Gomani family about the Word of Wisdom after the meetings. We had a couple of full, good days.
Good news! Another Canadian couple has been called to serve in our mission. They are from Langley, British Columbia. That makes 4 couples from Western Canada now!! They come at the end of May and will serve in Zambia.
All is well and the work moves forward.............
Love, Elder & Sister Bullock