Following God’s Leading—to Malawi!

11/15/07

Moving to Malawi has continued to be one of the most exciting and challenging experiences of our life together. We are continually forced to let go of our wants, our expectations, our hopes and our “western standards” to accept the culture of this country. We’ve been preparing for this time since October of last year and the journey has been one of remarkable answers to prayer in unimaginable ways and also a fair share of bumps and bruises.

When we felt God calling us to Malawi, we began researching Africa, Malawi, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, extreme poverty, cross-cultural ministry, and the many intricacies of living in a new culture. We mentally prepared ourselves for some of the things we knew would be challenges, but left many expectations undefined. We did this intentionally to lessen the blow of having almost everything we thought we knew shattered by reality. This turned out to be a good decision. Most of our advice and preparation information has come from people who have either been here for only two weeks or a few months at a time. We quickly realized that the experience of being in Malawi for just a few weeks or months is worlds different from our commitment of two years.

We stepped off of the plane in Lilongwe on September 27 after nearly two solid days of traveling. We arrived, not for a short visit, but in the country of our new home and our new jobs. We are now settled into our home at the Njewa Mission Center, where we share a duplex with the new Country Director, Mr. Yobbe Lungu. Our half is a two-bedroom/two-bath house that is fully furnished with everything we need. The past five weeks have been a rough orientation to the country, the staff, COTN’s ministry sites and, of course, the children. To see the kids at the homes and in the villages that have been rescued by COTN is an experience like none other. When we feel challenged by the work ahead of us, a quick visit to the village of Mtsiliza or Chitipi Farm help us remember why we quit our jobs, left our condo and moved 10,000 miles around the world. We’re here to help enhance the ministry to raise these children up into leaders. Seeing the places where they live makes us realize that this is quite a challenge.

For now, we’ve been simply observing the ministry, the culture, the staff and their roles, the routines, the way in which specific things are accomplished here, and how we can best fit into the big picture. All of this so that we avoid the trap of becoming the authoritative foreigner that does everything but empower. We have to carefully navigate our entry to our respective positions so that we come alongside and empower the National Staff. God is teaching us patience like we’ve never had before. Patience is the tool for a westerner to survive here in a relational culture.

Our current plans are to continue learning Chichewa (the local tribal language) with our tutor, to continue to become part of the family here, and to continue taking notes on the culture, learning from the staff. When we dream about the possibilities of the ministry in two years, we cannot express our excitement. We know God is going to help us bring this ministry to a new level, but we also know the bigger change will take place inside of us. We already know this will always be our home in a sense, and we’re excited to experience each moment of living here. It feels pretty good to be right in the middle of where God wants us to be and where He’s hard at work. It’s the beginning of something great.

Mike & Courtney’s Personal Website