Malawi-Day Five

August 2

What a busy day!  This morning we went to Mgwayi to learn about their womens’ program.  There, the women take care of three pigs that they are hoping to breed and sell, as well as learn some other skills.  They have a male pig named Pike {after the COTN staffer responsible for the village} as well as two females.  They sang and danced for us while we were there, which is always fun, and the kids just loved being held and talked to.  It’s so funny how much they love it when the Azungus come to the village.

Pike the pig

After Mgwayi we went back to Mtsilitza and spent some time learning about their widow’s program.  That was one of the most poignant points of the trip for me.  At one point, the leader {Digress} was answering a question about whether or not women need to be believers in order to join the program, she said no, but that their hope and prayer is that any unbelievers would see the way that the women love each other and so come to know Christ as a result.  Wow!  Straight out of  Scripture and I had a difficult time maintaining my composure.  If I lived my faith in this way–if our local church lived in this way–we would transform our city!  So what’s stopping me?  Selfishness, plain and simple.

Oh, Lord!  That You would break me of myself, empty me of my own desires and fill me with Yours!  What a scary thing to ask, but so desperately needed.

The program at Mtsilitza lasts one year and they have had three classes graduate, a total of over 100 women!  The women learn skills like sewing and how to run a business, and while they are in the program, they sell their creations.  There is also a men’s program in the works, because widowers struggle just as much as widows.

What struck me as odd, though, was that the women only take home 20% of the proceeds of their sales while they are still in the program.  The rest is put in a corporate account to buy supplies and to give loans.  I know COTN is honorable and that 20% is actually a lot in the Malawian economy, it’s just not what I expected.

While we were at Mtsilitza we also participated in feeding the children their afternoon meal.  I helped serve the rice with a few others with a group from California and Cheez {one of our group members}.  Some of the kids just break your heart.  Once everyone was served and we discovered that there was a little extra, some of the kids came back for seconds and tried to pile their plates as high as they would go; then they wouldn’t eat it, but take it home to feed their families.  So sad.  COTN is so great {I can’t emphasize that enough}, but they are only able to serve two meals per day {which is more than the kids would ordinarily get} and are not necessarily able to feed the whole family.

About halfway through the feeding, one group told us they were the last ones so that they could get extra.  It was funny but sad at the same time.  Also, the kids just loved the burned bits!  Weird.

This man is the house father. He and his wife are amazing!

After all of this we went to one of COTN’s group homes which has over 30 children, a mom and dad and several “aunties” who help share the parenting duties.  When we arrived they put on an amazing show for us.  Oh, those children can sing like you wouldn’t believe and they do it with such heart!  I began to cry listening to them sing songs of praise to the Savior with such tremendous faith.  Oh, that I had the faith of a child–the faith of those children.  One of the boys {Abel} had whole chapters of Scripture memorized; it was unbelievable to hear.  What a gift!

The group home functions like any other family but that it is so large.  The kids are all well loved, and though they have been through some terrible things, they are so joyful.  They have a very detailed schedule to give them structure, as well as a farm on the property that offers supplemental food, though the family doesn’t actually run it.  The house parents are such amazing people.

This was one of the most emotional days for me.  Watching widows and orphans who are quite poor by our standards live with such joy and faith was overwhelming.  They put me to shame.

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