Africa Progress Jun 08

From Brother Danny Abercrombie:

We are hopeful that the container will arrive in Blantyre on schedule on or around July 11th. Bro. Ron Scott and I plan on arriving there on the 4th. I would like to thank each and every one who has had a part in the sending of these items over to our brothers and sisters in Christ who will be grateful for this needed aid. Those of you who have given items and those who have given financially. It is certainly wonderful to know that there are those who care about others. At present we do not need any more financial aid.  We have enough funds to take care of all the cost that might be incurred with the container. Customs will charge 17.5% tax on the contents. Hopefully this will be on the truck, motorcycle and trailer only. There will be insurance and tags to purchase.  Keep us in your prayers. We will keep everyone updated on the progress of this shipment. Let us pray for Brother Harry’s safe return this week. He has been gone for almost 3 months.

 From Brother Keith Moore and Evin Yarbrough:

Evin Yarbrough and I are preparing to leave Malawi today and travel back home.  Three weeks have passed very swiftly here.

I wanted to send you one more update from here before we left that gives a more complete picture of what life is like here in Malawi for those who come over to help teach, preach and work.

The former updates were positive and truthfully so, but Joko (Satan or the Serpent in Chichewa, the language of Malawi) is at work here as he is throughout the world.  Sin and its consequences are evident here as well.  

So if you don’t care to read some discouraging observations, then you may want to skip to the end.

Africa is known as the dark continent.  I have heard that this is because of the dark skin of its inhabitants, because of its lack of civilization, and because it is simply not viewable from the sky at night when there is little electrification.  It is true that on the flight from Johannesburg to Blantaire, the view outside the window of the jet for four hours was unbroken blackness of night until our final approach at the landing field, and the power was off there until just before we arrived.

Power and water are available here but not reliable.   

We have talked to many locals and international residents who started out trying to help people and share their wealth with the poor.   They have intentions of feeding Africa only to become discouraged over vandalism, Government corruption, dishonesty, and theft.  Over time people tend to harden their hearts and start to ignore the poor.

Many times when driving through villages, very young children smile and wave and shout Ah-Soon-Goo!  (White Man! in Chechewa).  As they get older, many know some English and we hear “Give me money” or “Give me my money”.   Even the kids from churches know this phrase very well in English.  They are never angry or spiteful when refused or given something other than money, but the repetitive hearing of this phrase is disheartening.  Handing out gifts or treats for the children is a challenge.  They will not form a clean line, or wait and make sure everyone gets one.  They know that if there are a hundred kids standing there and we try to be fair that they can get back in line and look really sad.  There will be eager hungry hands no matter how much of something is given out.

One of the brothers offered to go look at prices in the market for us, stating that when most Malawians see a white man coming, they don’t see the man, but just see money, as if the bank itself were coming to visit them.

Even among brethren that we believe are trustworthy, requests for money are frequent.  Harry accounts much of this to lack of planning.  They are asked about the cost for digging a well and they give the price of hiring diggers.  A week later, they ask for more money to line the well with bricks.  A week later money is asked for cement to cap the well.  A week later more money is asked for something else.  It is difficult to get a full accounting of the cost of a project until it is complete.

People talk about race differently.  In the states people would be shunned or attacked by the media for talking about “whites” and “blacks” or “Indians” and “Arabs” comparatively.  In the places we visited this dialogue is common.  People are not as afraid to look at real problems.

Most women here dress very modestly.  However, we had been told on the way to churches as we passed through certain areas, that there were many women that would take money for sex in these places.  After dinner a few nights ago, while getting in the car to go home, a woman in a mini skirt (the first such dressed woman we had seen) approached us looking for clients.  They are out in the open at night, and very aggressive.  We said no and drove away, only to be approached by another woman similarly dressed at another street corner while waiting to turn.

Jealousy and envy are present here and difficult to judge.  Desire for pre-eminence has been ever in our minds to guard against while we are here.  Everywhere, we are asked to sit in the best seats and eat the best food.  It is very kind, but we try our best to receive no special treatment.  Often, we fear we are offending when we say no thank you repeatedly.

In one place, a brother kept asking Evin and I to sit up front in nice chairs while Harry was teaching.  We declined and sat with the congregation in the pews.  At lunch time, we went out under shade trees to visit with the women and eat with the men.  This same brother came out and told Evin and I each separately that Harry had asked for us to come see him.  We went in and Harry was taking a nap, waiting for lunch and upon waking him, said that he did not ask for us.  Later, when spoken to regarding this, the brother admitted that he told us that because he thought it would be the easiest way to get us to come inside and eat the better food.  He asked for forgiveness and we agreed and encouraged him to always be truthful and not take the easy path.

Another area had fourteen churches that sent representatives to meet and give testimony against another brother who desired pre-eminence among the churches and oversight of many churches.  Over several hours of discussion, the brothers gave their testimony and stated that their individual churches were autonomous and would no longer work with this brother because he was desirous of personal influence over others.  The offending brother seemed to take it in stride, but continually refused to admit any wrong doing.

Moslems are very present here, though Islamic terrorism is not present here.  An educated guess would be that the population here is possibly 30-40% Moslem and 60-70% from Christendom.  Many denominations are present here, and they seem to be competing with each other.  You will see advertising painted on buildings and busses for each religion.

We experienced government corruption and inefficiency first hand this week as we wasted much time trying to chase down a shipping container that was ordered over a year ago.  We are told everywhere that bribes and tips are what the process is held up for.  The amounts are exorbitant.  An imported used vehicle may cost ten thousand plus five thousand for shipping, then have an additional fifteen thousand demanded by customs for clearance into the country, with additional demands at each step of the process and each new face.  I personally did not become involved in this, but let others do so.  The frustration was enough for me just in waiting.  I fear that tempers may have been difficult to keep in check if I would have been conducting the transactions personally.

This past Sunday we met brothers at the Berue church.  We had reports that the garden was doing well there, and Evin and I wanted to get our hands in the dirt and show them that Americans are not afraid of hard work.  We popped down there unannounced for a surprise visit!  The brothers have done an outstanding job with this garden.  They have a large variety of almost every type of seed, seeing which grow best and how hardy certain strains are.  Some of the guests we brought purchased a few tomatoes and eggplants.  The brothers tried to give them the produce, but they insisted that the brothers had worked and earned the money.

When the church came together, over sixty people were baptized.  I asked afterward if these had ever been baptized before and they said no.  The brothers told me that they get new people every week that want to convert from various churches.  The congregation was well over 300.  I asked if they came because of the wells and the gardens and they said no, that they come for the teaching.  I also asked the individuals if they were willing to commit to Jesus and willing to tell others about His name.  They seemed very sincere in their conversions.

Malawi just as Arizona, needs a redeemer.  May God grant that he saves many in both places.

In His Love,

Evin and Keith

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