This was an absolutely amazing trip. The slogan for our trip was “He sent them out in pairs and he gave them authority” Mark 6:7
He clearly did give us authority and he orchestrated our entire trip. Every event that we intended and planned came to fruition on this trip. I would have to consider that a clear indication that we were working completely within God’s will.
We traveled over 3000 km, spoke to over 1700 inmates, and witnessed over 5000 salvations.
Although we had several issues with travel, that happens every time. Our delayed flight out of Nairobi that caused us to stay overnight gave me the opportunity to witness to Wycliffe the taxi driver and his client. Although it took us 48 hours from the time we left Seattle until the time we arrived in Mzuzu we arrived in time to get plenty of rest and begin our ministry Monday morning as we had intended.
Our first service at Mzuzu prison, although it started late, was very welcome by all of the staff and inmates, and even though we arrived late we were still able to perform our entire service and still have time to tour the institution with the OC. We were permitted and welcomed at all 6 prisons even though, due to travel and other obstacles, we arrived late to several of them.
Having been accompanied by Chaplain Bright Nthala for the entire 7 days of ministry enabled us to take photographs and video inside the prisons where would otherwise would have been forbidden from doing so. He was also a blessing to have with us because he was known by all of the OCs and therefore was welcomed and permitted several privileges.
We formed lifelong relationships with many brothers and sisters in Christ and we will very likely be able to return there and continue this ministry in future years, Lord willing.
I praise God for all of the ministry and all of the opportunities that were open to us during our 12 day trip to Malawi, Africa. The Lord has blessed prisoners for Christ with an incredible outreach ministry and we are blessed to be able to witness lives change through the gospel of Jesus Christ all around the world. We bring hope to the hopeless. We are called to go to the least of the least, those who are forgotten, those who were shunned, those who are condemned by fellow man, those who many consider to be beyond redemption, but Jesus, our King and our Lord, the great Redeemer, the healer of souls, the foretold Messiah has called not the well but the sick unto himself. He has called the poor and the needy. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Ps 15:17.
Lord Jesus, to you be all the glory. May we, your humble servants, be ever seeking your face. Not our will, Lord, but your will be done.
I roomed with Dyghton last night and we arose this morning at 7 o’clock with plans of meeting for breakfast at 8:00 AM. We met the team for breakfast, Matt and I presented gifts to Dyghton, Sydon and his wife, Fyness. the night before way looked at the tires we found that the right rear tire also has a ply separation and that is what is causing the wobble so this morning we had to go to a used tire shop to get a tire. We found a tire and a haggled for the price and then waited for about an hour while the “mechanic” used to pry bar and a sledgehammer to change the tire on the wheel. He then had to go somewhere else to get air in the tire, although I don’t know where he went or how they filled it. Down the street I saw some other guys pumping up a vehicle tire with a bicycle pump. While we were there I handed out million-dollar gospel tracts to the people walking up and down the street but at one point when I went up to a group of mechanics that were working on a vehicle and handed them to them people started coming and they were pushing and shoving and grabbing for them so I quit handing them out and I returned to the vehicle were we waited for the guy to finish mounting the tire. From there we were hoping to stop at the parliament building and meet with the brother of the member of Parliament that we had met the night before since he had arranged for our meeting, but the timing did not work and we had to get to the airport. We arrived at the airport just in time to get through security after exchanging our cash and get to the airplane at the last minute. Actually, we waited upstairs thinking that that’s where we were supposed to be but then we realized that they were loading the plane and checking bags downstairs so by the time we got down there it was the last minute.
Our flight to Nairobi was uneventful and we had a 5 hour layover in Nairobi before departing for Amsterdam. Sitting in the holding area at the airport in Nairobi is the first time I had seen the television or news since we departed on the 15th. It appears there was a bombing in Mombasa while we were there. We both slept for about 5 hours on the plane to Amsterdam and we arrived at 5:30 AM. Since we had a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam we decided to take the train into the city to do some sightseeing. Although we’ve seen a lot of countryside during our trip to Malawi we have had no time for actual “sightseeing” time. We will also have a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam so we are looking forward to taking the train into town to do some sightseeing. Although we have seen a lot of countryside during our trip to Malawi we have had no time for actual “sightseeing” time.
After reaching Amsterdam we took the train into town and walked about 1/2 mile and as we looked around we realize we were right in the heart of the red light district. We kept walking, thinking that we would get out of the area, but we wound up just getting deeper into the red light district. Although the city is beautiful this area is dark and evil. As I walked I prayed for the city and after we left that area we found a bakery and coffee shop where I got the pastry and we each have a cup of coffee. We then walked through the town a little bit more and found a couple churches and then return to the train station and to the airport were we still had several hours before her plane departed.
I decided to check with KLM to see if I could use my silver medallion status to upgrade to 1st class. They said that I could for 25,000 SkyMiles plus $150. It was a no-brainer to me so I told them I would do that and when they checked they found that I had 24,879 miles in my account, 211 miles less than I needed. at boarding time Matt and I went through security and we were talking with the lady who was just returning from a one-month mission in Kenya when we heard our names called over the loudspeaker and we were asked to come to the front counter. We were afraid that they were going to bump us because the flight had been overbooked in coach but, instead, they informed us that they had upgraded both of us to business class. Thank you, Lord Jesus.
Business class for a 10 hour flight was quite comfortable. We had fully reclining seats with leg rests and lumbar supports and we were both able, after a very nice dinner and a movie, to sleep very soundly for over 5 hours. We awoke just in time for breakfast and then we arrived in Seattle.
Platwell arrived early this morning while I was still doing my final packing and brought with him the completed missionary application along with the other documents that are required to apply to be a ministry associate and later a missionary partner.
Platwell joined Matt and I for breakfast at the hotel and Rex was also with us but he had already eaten before he came.
After breakfast we continued and finished our packing while waiting for the entire team to arrive. Several of us fellowshipped for about an hour while we waited and when the rest of the team arrived we all sat down together and Grevins recapped the week and expressed his hopes for our return and partnership.
We all talked for about 30 min. and then we took some photographs before departing for Lilongwe. Platwell joined us for drive to Lilongwe as he had to go that way anyway to get to his home 300 km south. We also stopped to pay the van owner for the use of the vehicle. We paid him the agreed upon amount less the cost of the used tires and the starter repair. We should have paid him after the vehicle was returned. Read on to find out why…there is a prize at the end of the day if you keep reading.
We went into town to the trading centers to go shopping for gifts for our supporters. We haggled a while and then found some great Malawian gifts. We couldn’t leave Mzuzu without stopping one more time at Food Land to see if they actually had anything that was on their menu. The past two or three times we stopped they didn’t have any Nsima left (as they would say “Nsima is finished” meaning it’s all gone). This time they didn’t have the first several items Matt and I requested (why have them on the menu, then?) but they had Nsima, which is what they are known for. I had Nsima 3 other times on this trip and this definitely was the best of them all. The beef stew also was excellent. I will never eat beef stew with my fingers at home, I’m sure of that, but I probably won’t ever make Nsima at home, either.
Before leaving town we stopped one more time at Mzuzu Prison to say goodbye to Chaplain Bright and then we hit the road for Lilongwe. Dyghton had asked me to teach him about evangelism so as we drove I taught Way of the Master to Dyghton and Platwell. They sucked it up and were very inspired. I didn’t have any copies of the way of the master book but I assured them that I would send them links to the website so they could get learning if they are able to have a good enough connection, enough bandwidth, and enough time to be able to stay online (the biggest problems with the Internet in Malawi).
Along the way we stopped and distributed the toothbrushes that had been donated by David Miyatake at a village near Mzimba.
We passed Kasungu Prison (Central Region) and stopped at a pharmacy in Kasungu for pain meds and anti-inflammatories since my neck had been bothering me the past few days. We bought one last case of water and took photos of sunset for a good closing of the trip photo for photo album.
as we headed south we were within about 100 km over our destination and are left rear tire blew out, just after sunset. Praise the Lord we were able to install the spare before dark and continue “slowly”. I told Sydon that the spare that we put on is not designed to travel at full speed because it is a mini spare and it will overheat. I advised him not to go faster than 70 km/h, especially with the heavy load that we have in the van with 5 men and luggage. I sat in the back and was journaling in my iPad when I looked up to notice that we were going much faster than we should be. I also started to notice a wobbling in the vehicle so I asked Sydon to stop so we could check the spare. When we pull over the spare was quite warm so I advised him that we need to slow way down and go not more than about 40 km/h. We drove away and although I felt the wobble I did not feel that it was from that same tire. We drove about 5 km and the spare tire blew, leaving us with no other spare. It was 6:20 PM and it was dark. When I asked what the plan was, since this is their country and I know they have faced these issues before, they said we would just flag someone down and borrow their spare. I spoke with joyful surprise that someone will do that and they said “that’s what we do here, we help each other”.
Malawi truly is “The Warm Heart of Africa”. After 30 minutes (after stopping about a dozen vehicles) none of them had the right spare for our van so Dyghton and Platwell caught a ride with someone and took our wheel and blown tire to the last town to look for a tire. 10 minutes later one of the members of Parliament stopped to see how he could help. He made several phone calls, all of which were unavailable (nobody answered, I’m assuming because nobody has any minutes on their phones or they turn them off if they aren’t making outgoing calls). Then I mentioned to him that the other two had already gone into town, so he drove there to pick them up. In the meantime we had conversation with Sydon about the USA, North America, business, ministry, prisons, family, government, etc. The three returned at 8:40pm and I installed the used tire (remember, the tire that blew was the used tire that we had installed on Monday before driving to Mzimba prison). The battery was dead because the flashers had been on for over 2 hours and THE VAN HAS A MOTORCYCLE BATTERY IN IT. We jump started it by removing the battery from the MP’s car, bringing it over to our van and connecting the two together with 10 gauge wire. Surprisingly it worked. I didn’t have my phone out in time to capture it on video, you’ll have to trust me. We took the battery back to the MC’s car and installed it. He didn’t have a wrench to tighten the clamps but he produced an archaic tin smith hammer and pounded the clamp on until it was snug.
God got us safely from the airport in Lilongwe to Mzuzu, to 6 prisons and a conference in northern Malawi, traveling over 3,000km and we didn’t break down until we were 30 minutes from Lilongwe on the last night of our journey. We all praised God and saw clearly that He had intended for us to complete this work to His glory.
I fear, however, that Sydon and Dyghton will return home safely, the van is shaking and I don’t know if it will get them back.
We arrived at the Crown Lodge and restaurant at about 10 o’clock and got settled into our rooms and then had dinner. Matt went to his room without dinner as he wasn’t hungry for what they have there and decided that he would just eat his snacks.
We started the day today with her typical breakfast and then we had two churches scheduled for visit.
Our first stop was Sydon’s church – Victory Christian Temple (a launch church from USA) – where we first met with Pastor Mofat Phiri whom Sydon was sure to let us know was married to American woman. We took some photographs and then proceeded into the sanctuary where we were seated and waited for the service to start. Since we were limited on time the pastor was gracious and allowed us to have the 1st 10 to 15 min. of the service. I introduced Matt and myself and then I shared about the purpose of prisoners for Christ, the biblical precedent for prison ministry, I shared about the ministry that had been completed over the past week and I exhorted the congregation to become involved with the local prison ministry and with Sydon. Before we left the church several people had already told Sydon that they wanted to become involved and to support him.
Our next stop was at Dyghton’s church, Katawa Assemblies of God, where the service was already well underway and there was a large women’s choir singing in the native language. We were then invited forward and I was given 5 min. to speak about our visit and about our ministry. It is difficult to share that much information in that short of a time so I believe I actually wound up taking about 10 min. The pastor and the congregation prayed for us and we departed for Nkhata Bay prison. before leaving for the prison we stopped to purchase humanitarian aid before driving up over the mountains and back down to Nkhata Bay.
Before leaving we picked up Tiyezge, Bright and Ivy. We were also expecting to be joined by Rex and Michael but Rex’ wife’s cousin died and he attended funeral – Pastor Michael officiated so he also did not join us. It was a beautiful drive and it is a lovely town. It is a tourist town and there were many people vacationing there. The prison is right in the middle of the town, directly across from the soccer field where there were many people playing soccer.
As we arrived near the prison we stopped to prepare for our service and to pray before proceeding to the prison. This was a fairly small prison and as we arrived the officer in charge was not on-site so we were welcomed through the first gate and into the administration area which was very small, typical of a small impoverished country prison. We waited about 20 min. for the officer in charge to arrive during which time, of course, we prayed and prepared for our service individually. Matt took time to form a relationship with the officer and to share the gospel with her as we waited.
As we waited in this corridor we recorded the information on the sign posted on the wall with the inmate count and their crimes:
4 reman murder.
When the officer in charge arrived he welcomed us into his office where we were all seated and he proceeded to welcome us to his prison and to thank us for coming. After he finished speaking I shared with him our purpose for being there, I spoke of our ministry and the many places we have been, and I thanked him for inviting us to come and share with him, his staff and his inmates. He was very pleased to receive the gift bag that we offered him which, similar to the gift bags that we offered to the other superintendence, included a large portfolio with a pad of paper and a calculator, a couple pieces of jewelry for his wife, a necktie, some pens, some toys for his children and some candy. At each prison it almost seems that the superintendent is most happy about the fact that we leave the bag (a reusable Fred Meyer or other local store shopping bag).
We were then walked into the prison where, as we entered the gate, there was an inmate with a foot operated sewing machine making uniforms for the other inmates. As we enter the main courtyard all of the inmates were there waiting for us and they were all lined up and seated against the wall. We were escorted over to the side of the courtyard where there was shade which was very nice as this was the hottest day of the week and Matt and I would’ve undoubtedly been burnt had we remained in the sun.
I opened the service with the IGL presentation and I also served as the Emcee. I introduced Platwell who then gave his testimony which was well-received by the inmates. I transitioned the service to the short sermon which was given by Tyiezge and was translated by Dyghton. Tiyezge spoke from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 22. He shared that greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world, to be submissive and obedient as Abraham had, and that with faith everything is possible.
Dyghton then provided a very powerful long sermon from Romans 3:23, Isaiah 1:18 and John 10:10 (if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. His sermon was followed by Matt who gave the altar call in which 75 of the 144 men came forward to confess Christ as their Savior. Chaplain Bright then offered the healing prayer to the inmates and then I called the inmate church leaders forward and prayed for them and presented them with the new Testaments and the complete Bible for the library. I entrusted the care of the Bibles with them and exhorted them to care for the many men who had come forward to commit their lives to Christ. This prison is not very far from Mzuzu so Sydon and his team can disciple these men much more easily than several of the other prisons that we visited this week. However, it is important that the inmate church leaders discipled these men and provide them with spiritual milk and food and encourage them in their walk with Christ.
Matt and I then offered the gifts to the inmates including 2 bags of sugar (the equivalent of 40 kg), a bar of soap for each inmate, 2 tracts for each inmate and the soccer ball for the entire prison.
We then asked the officer in charge to come forward at which time he thanked us for coming and spoke to the inmates. I then offered a prayer for the officer in charge and we closed our service. The OC was gracious and he walked us through the prism. We found this to be the case at most of the prisons because the OCs are bound by the provisions that they are given by the state which is very minimal. Although the OCs are embarrassed by the conditions of the prison they recognize that it is outside of their power to do anything about it so they welcome us to see the conditions. Although we are not allowed to take photographs, as I said before, Chaplin Bright was with us and was able to take many photographs. The conditions in this prison were terrible, as with most of the others. There were 2 cells in this prison that are only 6′ x 15′ and they are sleeping 6 men each (cells that are built to sleep two).
There was one more sell the exact same size which is used as a library with a very outdated books. There were textbooks, including science books, from the 1980s, and some of them were probably much older than that.
We did not tour through the rest of the cells in this prison but we did go through the kitchen in which they were cooking on a very old and worn-out pots. One of the greatest needs they had in this prison was new cookware. The smoke was so bad in the kitchen that I could not keep my eyes open. They are hoping for electric pot but they don’t see much hope of getting one. The old fire pit is collapsed so they are now cooking over a new makeshift fire pit. They cook their Nsima with cooking sticks that look like canoe paddles.
There is a small classroom in this prison, approximately 12′ x 20′ with one doorway and half a dozen “Windows” that are approximately 3″ x 3″, the classroom is so dark that you can hardly see the chalkboard which is a handmade chalkboard on the wall. There are no outside teachers for the inmates so they teach themselves. There was a drawing on the wall of human anatomy which was actually quite impressive, clearly drawn by one of the inmates.
As we left the prison the inmates were playing with their new soccer ball and many of them were reading the tracts that we have left with them. They all expressed their thanks for our visit and waved as we left.
After leaving the prison we took time to drive down to Lake Malawi and Nkhata Bay. There were many people playing at the beach and there are many rental units on the beach for vacations. There was loud music playing and outdoor bar on the beachfront and many people playing volleyball on the beach. It was an incredibly beautiful day and as we walked along the bay we took many photos of each other. As we reached the end of the beach there was a stone building where we stopped and took some team photos and we walked up the hill which was beautifully landscaped with cobblestone steps proceeding up the hill and many “cabins” along the way. When we reached the top of the hill we stopped to take more photographs and we proceeded back down the hill. Matt had not come up the hill with us and it turned out that it was because he had dropped his iPod nano on the beach and it fell between some enormous boulders. He had spent the time looking for the nano between the boulders and amongst the many leaves that were in the way. We tried to help him for a few minutes and, after about 30 min. Matt gave up and we began to leave. Just as we started to walk away some little boys that had been looking with him found it. Matt was very grateful and he gave the boys 500 Kwacha, they were so excited.
All 7 of us drove back to Mzuzu and had our final closing dinner. We ate at a delicious restaurant and had some wonderful fellowship, took photos of each other, reflected on the past week, anticipated many coming years of ministry, and then we all headed home for final night in Mzuzu.
The national team (Sydon and Dyghton) arrived EXACTLY on time, but the American team was not yet ready. We left the hotel at 9:15 rather than 9:00 which made us late arriving at the conference. We still needed to exchange dollars for Kwacha in order to pay for food, beverage and conference attendee return transportation. We exchanged money from a friend of Dyghton and then went to the bank to get smaller denominations. The grocery store was right next door to the bank.
Matt was exhausted Today because he didn’t sleep well last night. When we arrived at the conference center we all met outside for prayer and instructions and to clarify a few duties and protocol before we got started with the conference. The national team had some musicians and also a couple people that wanted to share their testimonies and we certainly welcomed that. As we entered the church it was a full house. We were hoping to have 75 attendees but we wound up with over 80. Most of the attendees were local but there were a few from out of the city and one from as far away as Zambia.
I began the conference by introducing us and our team and providing an overview of PFC. I then taught the 1st topic “Why Do We Do Prison Ministry”. Matt then taught about “How to start a prison ministry” I taught about “the 4 divisions of Prisoners for Christ” and Matt talked about “how to grow a prison ministry”. the choirs sang between each segment of her teaching and we broke for lunch after this last segment. everyone lined up outside and had fellowship while they ate Nsima, Rice, chips and either beef stew or chicken. Because we had more people than we anticipated there was not enough food for everyone to helpful portions so I snacked on some of my own snacks. Matt was not feeling well today so she did not eat lunch. We returned from lunch I began teaching about “what is it to be a volunteer” and Matt was clearly becoming more ill so I asked a couple of the men on her national team to take him outside for fresh air and keep an eye on him for me. Matt took the remainder of the afternoon to recover so I taught the rest of the conference teaching about “working with staff at the institutions”, and “code of conduct”. I incorporated the portion of “the importance of the PFC network” into the closing and setting apart portion of the conference and then we closed with prayer. We then, as we always do, asked everyone who would like to make a commitment to become involved in prison ministry to come forward to the front of the room. There were approximately 30 to 40 people that came forward as we exhorted them and prayed for them. Overall it was a very successful conference.
We left the church at about 6:30 PM and, after dropping off several of the team members at home, 4 of us went out to dinner before returning to our hotel for rest. Matt seem to recover after dinner and he got a good nights sleep and was well prepared for our Sunday events.
Chitipa is a border town, 3km from Zambia and 21km from Tanzania. The small prison is housing 136 inmates (131 males and 5 females). Upon entering the gate of the prison we were greeted by the OC and we parked inside the gate, right next to where we would be ministering. The inmates were working around the prison yard. Some were pumping water from the well and carrying it to the kitchen and others were splitting wood for the fire.
We were greeted very warmly (as has been the custom the entire time in every prison) by the officers. One of them is a childhood friend of Bright. We almost immediately were greeted by the OC and he invited us to his office. He began welcoming us immediately as we entered his office. He told us we were most welcome here and he was very pleased that we came to share the word of God in with his prisoners.
32 Salvations, 3 inmate church leaders
Awesome sermon by Michael on the Samaritan woman – Jesus needed to pass through Samaria on his way to Galilee. When he asked the woman for a drink from Jacob’s well she asked him “How is it that you, a Jew, ask me for a drink of water”. She was denying him that drink, that is why He said that if she knew who it was that was asking her for a drink she would have asked him for a drink. At times we need to pass through Samaria. Many of these men may be asking why they are in prison. How often does God use us to share his grace given through Jesus Christ but the hearer denies to take the drink of living water that is being offered.
As we arrived at the prison at 9:10am we drove through the gate of the small prison and we were able to park in the same area where we would be holding our service.
The OC was extremely grateful to receive his gifts and took a lot of time to share his prison with us. He was a believer, as well, and welcomed our message. Bright was able to photograph much of the service and we took many photos in the prison, including the “kitchen”. He walked us through the room the inmates use as a classroom although they have no teacher from outside. They must educate themselves. He then walked us to the washroom with the showers. As we approached the smell of urine was very strong. I asked if we could go in to look and he told us that would but he didn’t come in with us because, as he said, they don’t have any disinfectant so the smell is very strong. It was very difficult to stand inside the room because the smell was so strong – it practically made my eyes water and I felt I might gag. This is the only place these men have to bathe themselves. He then walked us to the kitchen where the men were cooking in very tattered pots over an open flame. As with the other prisons, Mzuzu in particular, this is a semi enclosed area wih a roof and partial walls so the smoke can escape. The smoke is extreme and the OC himself was barely able to stand inside as he was showing us where the inmates cook their own meals – he was squinting as he spoke. He allowed us to take photos so I shot some video with my phone.
We then walked across the courtyard, past a couple men that were cooking vegetables outside, to the cell. It was approximately 20′ x 20′ and was designed to hold 40 men (not by US standards) but is currently housing 54. The bed mats were rolled up along the wall so there was room for the men to sit on the floor (I didn’t see a single chair in the entire inmate area, by the way).
As we walked through the courtyard to exit we passed inmates “cleaning” dishes in a concrete trough that directed the wast water away from the courtyard. Many inmates were reading the tracts that we had distributed and there was a group of men with a grade school or middle school-level English textbook about health.
AOC escorted us to the rare of the prison where the women are housed. There were a total of 5 women in the prison, 4 of them convicted and one of them accused of adultery. She is married but has been known to have slept with a few of the men in the town, one of them being one of the local policeman. She is scheduled for trial next week. One of the ladies has been incarcerated for the past 18 months and is being released tomorrow. She accepted Christ today so I asked Grevins to translate for me while I prayed for her, encouraged her to get connected with a local church and to be aware that she will face many challenges and that the enemy will work very hard to keep her from walking in her faith. I encouraged her that as she faces trials and as her life changes dramatically not only because she is being released but primarily because she has placed her faith in Christ that she is going to need the strength of the Holy Spirit to overcome the many challenges that are facing her in the days, weeks, and months to come.
After the OC Had walked us through the prison he continued talking to us for several minutes, sharing with us how much he hopes we will return to be with them again and he looks forward to us seeing the great change in the inmates since we came.
Afterward we ate lunch at the same place as last night’s dinner and I sat with Grevins, Michael, Sydon and Dyghton to discuss our relationship with each other.
We passed road construction crews who were carrying a pot of tar hanging from a stick. They were spreading tar and other men were placing stones in the road on the tar so the “steamroller” could pack them down.
We stopped in Karonga for fuel and soft drinks. Grevins stopped at a roadside market to buy rice before we hit the highway again. Karonga is one of the areas of Malawi where rice is grown. There we vendors with enormous bags of rice – everybody with the same product. I asked Grevins how he decides who he will buy from since everyone is selling the same thing. He said “It’s difficult”. He said when we pull up in the car everybody comes running saying “I have, I have” so he goes to talk to one of them and another says that she hasn’t sold anything all day. When you try to buy from one she may suggest that you go buy from someone else since she hasn’t sold anything yet today. Everyone’s goal each day is to take a coin home and they all work together to be sure that nobody goes home empty handed. That is the Malawian way – nobody takes advantage of another – everyone must survive.
I was asking about average wages for workers in Malawi. Teachers would be considered an average income at about 50,000 Kwacha per month (about $186). A 4kg bag of rice (about 9 pounds) costs KM 1,500. A tin of corn flour to make Nsima costs 1,200, a 1kg bag of sugar is KM300. Matt had a conversation at lunch today with Bright (the prison chaplain that has been serving with us) and discovered that he makes KM23,000 per month working 6 days/week.
The sunrises are stunningly beautiful every evening. We try to avoid driving at night whenever possible but it is often unavoidable so we have seen sunrises each evening from another area of the country. Yesterday or today is the first day of winter here but there is little difference between the seasons regarding length of days as we are so close to the equator.
At about 5:15pm we stopped at a fishing village (Ngara Trading Center) to take photos of the lake, lined with raised drying racks and mud huts. Dozens of women were standing alongside the highway selling sun-dried fish and as we pulled up to park they all came running to us and hanging inside the windows to sell us their fish. We walked past stick and mud constructed huts but didn’t get far before all the children flooded us yelling “Mzungu” (the white man) and wanting to have their photos taken. They were most excited when the camera flash went off. They all started yelling as soon as the flash lit and they started jumping around and laughing. We walked down to the beach and took photos with the children and they surrounded us. All of the adults were laughing and enjoying watching the children play. Grevins took photos of me with the children, I took some of him, and Grevins also took a couple of Sydon and me. As we returned to the van the gentlemen were buying some of the dried fish and the van smelled like the sea the whole way home. We arrived home at approximately 10 o’clock and I spent a couple hours preparing for tomorrow’s conference.
We rose at 5:00am to prepare for our trip to Karonga for our fourth prison visit. We have a 240km drive to get there, through the mountains and past Lake Malawi. Rex stopped by the hotel to visit while we waited for Sydon and Dyghton to arrive. We had conversation about the relationship with Lotsha and the formation of Lotsha Malawi. He downloaded the Lotsha constitution onto GVT’s flash drive. Sydon and Dyghton arrived about 10 minutes after the hour and we left the hotel at 7:20, picked up Grevins and Pastor Michael Kampolota in Chibvi location in Mzimba district of Mzuzu and we drove through the mountains (beautiful) through farmland and pat many villages. As everywhere, very few people have vehicles. Most of the traffic on the roads is pedestrians. They are installing streetlights in Mzuzu and as we were driving out of town we saw men digging the post holes by hand – they were standing in holes about three feet wide and over six feet deep. As we drove by we could just see the tops of their heads.
During the drive north we passed Rumphi (yesterday’s prison location) again and continued through the mountains. I can’t adequately express how beautiful the scenery was. In many ways it reminded me of Montana, with wide open “big” skies and grand mountains surrounding us from every side. The difference was the type of vegetation, of course.
We passed a private school that we were told was very expensive (about KM 60,000 per quarter) that teaches skilled crafts, and then past the longest river in the north of Malawi (The South Rukuru). Malawi is considered to be three regions – north, central and south. When people here speak of areas of the country they always refer to the region.
We stopped along the way to walk across a bamboo bridge, made by one man in 1904 to cross the south Rukuru River. We took many photos and video while we were there. As everyone was carefully walking across I decided to see how fast I could get across so I ran. I’m sure I looked like one of the local primates as I bounced around and tried to keep my balance while stepping only on Bamboo poles rather than holes in the floor of the bridge. As we continued about 10km further down the road we came to a new bridge that is being funded and built by the Chinese. It is a very large concrete bridge. This was the beginning of our very long journey over the very rough M1 Highway which is under construction all the way to Karunga.
We drove along Chiweta Road as we descended to Lake Malawi. It was absolutely breathtaking. What a beautiful creation -God has created a true masterpiece in Malawi.
As we descended the very steep and windy road we stopped for some photos at first sight of the lake and saw a Baboon on the hill above us. I took some photos with the telephoto lens but later found it unnecessary because 2km further down the hill there was a group of them on the roadway. We stopped and through some trail mix out for them and they surrounded the car so we were able to get several great close-up photos.
Further down the road we came across an oil tanker that had apparently lost it’s brakes and plummeted down the hill and burned. In looking at the wreckage I’m certain the driver must have perished in the crash.
The remainder of the trip to Karonga after reaching the bottom of the hill at the town of Chiweta was along the shoreline. It is deep, lush forest all along the hillside with wild bananas along the “Table Mountains”, named for their flat tops above the shear rock cliffs.
These mountains are the home of Livingstonia, the missionary town established by David Livingstone. The mission can only be accessed by 4 wheel drive vehicle (I have no idea how he got there in the 19th century).
15km before we reached Karonga I asked Sydon to pull over because I wanted to get into my suitcase and treat everyone to a Zipfizz. Everyone got out of the van to stretch their legs and as I finished handing out the Zipfizz I noted about 5 or 6 kids seated on the side of the road with a couple of women. Matt was handing out dried Mango treats to our team and I suggested that we give a few to the kids. I grabbed my camera while he gave them to the kids and before we knew it the entire town (a couple homes and a school on the other side of the road) came running over. Immediately we had a few dozen people all surrounding Matt. Kids and young adults were running across the fields and across the road from all directions. Dyghton took the opportunity to hand out tracts that he had been given by his pastor to hand out at the prisons. It wound up being a great opportunity to witness through tracts. I’m sure if we had stayed there we would have had dozens more in a very short time.
We arrived at Karonga at 11:15am.
We had lunch at a restaurant in town but Matt wasn’t hungry, he said his stomach wasn’t doing very well. The food was really good and we had a great time of fellowship. We had plenty of time before going to the prison so we drove down to the lake and took many photos of our entire team. I’m sure the photos will be some great keepsakes.
We almost drove passed the prison as we headed back into town. We had already passed it on the way to the ocean earlier. When we looked to our left on the way back to town we saw a bunch of prisoners doing hard labor and realized we were at the prison grounds. We haddn’t noticed it was the prison as it was situated right on the side of the highway with no security wall or fencing, only barbed wire up to waist height. This prison was damaged by an earthquake on October 10, 2010 so they are in the process of rebuilding it. Chaplain Bright told us that he was working here after the earthquake to relocate prisoners. I’m not sure, but I suspect the prisoners may not be living in this compound as there is literally no physical security, only that of the officers on the premises.
The OC was not there when we arrived so the officer that was in attendance escorted us right up to the area where the service was to be held and we got started right away. The men were already all seated and waiting for us as we walked up. There was some confusion at first as to whether we were to get started immediately but we decided that since it felt awkward to sit there and do nothing it was best that we get started with our service. Dyghton began by singing some songs and having the inmates join in with us. We all danced and sang together – it was a great time to bond and prepare everyone to listen. About the time we finished the OC arrived, we greeted him and then began the remainder of our service. I delivered the IGL message and served as the MC again. We had Dyghton, Sydon, Michael, Grevins and Bright with us today. Dyghton gave the testimony and spoke of John 3:16, Matt gave the short sermonand I gave the long sermon and the altar call. Matt then prayed for the inmates and offered the healing prayer. I then announced that we had brought gifts and we distributed their gifts. We gave a New Testament to every inmate, sugar for the prison and the soccer ball.We also distributed tracts to each of the inmates which is accepted graciously and openly and proudly.
There are 46 inmates in this prison and 44 were in attendance. 32 came forward to receive Jesus Christ today.
We then walked to the other side of the campus where we entered an old barn which was serving as the temporary quarters for of the OC, the station officer, and any other officials. I’m sure this is because the prison was destroyed by the earth quake a year and a half ago so they are currently using the barn as their office. We presented gifts to the officer in charge which he was very excited to receive and he welcomed us back and asked that we please be sure to return. We took photographs with the officer in charge and then left the barn to return to the car. We still have another 100 mile kilometer drive to get to the next town of Chitipa were we having another service tomorrow morning and then we will be driving the entire 350 km back home tomorrow afternoon.
As we left the barn and headed to the car we saw several inmates sitting on stumps and reading their tracts.
We got in the car and drove 2 1/2 hours from Karonga to Chitipa, the location of our next scheduled prison visit. The road was very rough, unpaved and under construction the entire way. When we arrived in Chitipa we had a difficult time finding a hotel at a reasonable price but after checking 3 hotels we found a very reasonably priced hotel that was comfortable enough to be able to sleep for the night. Although there was no water in the morning that’s just the way it is. As we would say on the PFC mission field “TIA” (this is Africa). there also was no electrical outlet for me to be able to charge my camera or my phone so I was not able to get many more photographs at Chitipa Prison, but I was able to get enough to remember it and to share it. I was also able to get some video for my presentations.
For breakfast in the morning we were served one fried egg, chips, and a slice of white bread, a typical Malawian “English breakfast”.
This morning we were supposed to leave the hotel by 9:00. Sydon and Dyghton took the van to the shop this morning to get the starter fixed (it has a sticking solenoid). They wanted to get it fixed before we leave for Kalonga tomorrow. I should have insisted that we make an appointment to get it fixed this afternoon, after the prison visit in Rhumpi, rather than this morning, since I knew it would take much longer than they thought it would. It is now 11:24 and we are still waiting for them to arrive. Rhumpi is about an hour away. I suppose it’s better to be stuck now than tomorrow morning, though, since our drive tomorrow is about 250km and we will be staying the night up north and visiting another prison (Chitipa) in the same area on Friday. I am confident we will get into Rumphi today, although it is much later than we intended. It has allowed us an opportunity to fellowship with Tiyezge, Michael and Platwell, however.
The starter repair wound up costing twice as much as Sydon had expected (KM6,000 Kwacha – about $21.62) for parts and labor. The mechanic came to the house with Sydon and Dyghton to be sure he got paid.
Sydon also pointed out that one of the rear tires had a bulge/gash in it. We had to replace a tire. When we got to the tire store I noticed that the other rear tire had cords showing on the inside (I should have caught this when we arrived). Note to self and all team members – take time to walk around the rental vehicle for safety concerns upon arrival. We paid KM24,000 for two used tires (about $80). We will be deducting the cost of repairs from the rental bill. The total rental cost for the 11 days of ground transportation was negotiated at KM 214,000 – about $780.
We left town finally at 12:45pm and arrived at the prison shortly after 2:15pm. In attendance with us today were Sydon, Dyghton, Bright, Michael and Tiyegze. When we arrived late open the gate and allowed us to drive inside the campus. The OC was not yet there so they brought us inside the inmate area where we began setting up our sound equipment. The OC then arrived and escorted us to his office on the other side of the campus, about 50 or 60 yards away. Who presented him with the gifts and he was extremely excited and allowed us to take photos and videotape as we presented him with the gifts and explained who we are and why we are here. We were also able to get video inside the prison as we conducted our service with the inmates. There were 265 inmates and we had 164 salvations. as we enter the inmate area we were told that there was a staff member that had collapsed so while we worshipped Matt attended to the staff member whom he claimed appears to have had a seizure.
I served as the Emcee, Matt gave his testimony and I presented the sermon and the altar call. Matt and I both prayed for the inmates and we handed out soap to every inmate. At this prison it was a very organized process, everyone was seated in rows and as we handed out soap they would move forward in their rows so that we can hand the soap out to the next rows. every inmate got a bar of soap, we distributed a 20 kg bag of sugar and a soccer ball. There were no women in the prison today.
The service went very well, we were very well received by all of the inmates, they were all very involved in our worship and dancing, they were very attentive to the message and the testimony, and the Lord blessed us with an incredible harvest of souls. It is truly amazing to see how God will work through the hearts of men who have been so humble and who have so little hope. This is such a blessed ministry and I know that God is greatly honored and glorified.
After the service we heard testimony from one of the inmates and then he explained to us how thankful they are that we are there and he gave a discourse of the things that they need in hopes that we would be able to return and help him with these things. I have tried to translate this from the video as well as possible but I couldn’t get it all: are is is is is
“Hallelujah! My name is (I can’t say it or spell it). Welcome brothers from the United States of America and greetings from Malawi. I want to thank because your visit. Not only for your gifts but also for sharing the word of God. And for the gifts that you brought to us we thank you. all of this time I am speaking on behalf of my inmates. We have got a few, but of course they are major problems, but even with God’s power we know anything is minor. we have a problem of the academic school compared to the education in the cities so we want education. Not only academic education but also that of training where we can learn things such as carpentry, tailoring, brick laying, and so forth. We are very happy because (something) is much much need is needed. Point number 3: is nutrition. If you compare outside and inside the prison they are different, quite a lot. Of course internally for all inmates but especially for those inmates that are HIV-positive. Point number 4: (He spoke about not having their families close and they need to be able to reach their families and be trained when they go out). when number 5: the lack of qualified medical personnel. we should be able to get medical care inside not have to take the time to go out to the hospital. And if we cannot get medical personnel here we need to have a vehicle to get out to the hospital. Point number 6, the last one of course, lack of a chaplain. Similar to that, of course we thank you for bringing us Bibles but you can see there are not enough Bibles for each of us to have one so there are not enough, and we want books with hymn songs. Oh brothers for America and friends from Malawi, without taking much of your time, Thanks. Hallelujah”
We have videotape of his testimony and I will be dictating it more accurately and I look forward to sharing it with many. After he shared I assured him that the one thing that I could promise him that I would do would be to return home and share his testimony with many people. I told him I could be certain that as many people hear the stories that we have to share, see the tears in our eyes as we share them, and learn of the many needs of the prisons of Malawi that many people would be moved to want to help them.
After his testimony the OC addressed the inmates and each of us and encouraged us and pleaded with us to return again. We returned home and on the way stopped at an open air market along the side of the road. Matt wanted to purchase a gift for Kristen so while he shopped I browsed around the market. There were, of course, many different things for sale, but one thing that really caught me was large piles of fish stacked up on tarps that were being sold. The smell was horrific and the appearance of the fish wasn’t much better.
We returned to town, had dinner at the same restaurant where we ate last night, and returned to our hotel to retire early because tomorrow we have a very long drive and a very long day ahead of us.
Matt and I slept very well last night, except Matt didn’t get to sleep until about 2:00am. We were scheduled to leave for Mzimba at 9:30 this morning but when I came to the front lobby Grevins and Michael were there but the rest of the team was not. After everyone had arrived we had lengthy discussion about trip logistics and purchases of distribution of food and expense at the conference this coming Saturday. I learned a big lesson from this – I am in charge of our schedule, we should have done this in the evening because we didn’t leave the hotel until about 11:00am and we still had to go into town to pick up Bright Nthala and drive to Mzimba. We didn’t arrive there until 1:00pm and we still had to purchase humanitarian aid. After dropping off Dyghton with Bright so he could set up the sound equipment we drove back into town to purchase soap, sugar, feminine supplies and diapers for the babies.
Although we were late arriving the Station Officer was very gracious, welcomed us warmly and allowed us to conduct our full service which started at 2:00pm and ended at about 4:00pm. The OC was in Zambia for a conference this week so she did not attend.
Mzimba Prison is a very nice, new campus. We didn’t actually tour the facility or see inside the prison cells today. The campus was large, clean, well-kept and comfortable (that which we saw). When we entered the main gate we were in a nice, enclosed hallway that extended the length of the building in both directions. There was a stairwell up to the administrative offices. This was a modern building. The inmates were better clothed than they were in Mzuzu.
We exceeded our budget for humanitarian aid at this prison as well as the prison in Mzuzu because they are larger with a much larger inmate population whereas several of the other prisons have a much lower population so we will be under our designated budget on a couple of those prisons. We want to be sure that we use our entire humanitarian aid budget as there is great need in these prisons and we want to be sure to meet their immediate needs.
The Station Officer invited us upstairs to his office where we presented his gifts to him. He thanked us, welcomed us and escorted us to the courtyard, which was quite nice. The men were all seated, waiting for us as we entered. Dyghton introduced us and then two of the prison choirs each performed a song and danced. One was a Christian choir and one appeared to be Muslim, over whom I was praying as they sang. I quickly decided to changed my message to speak of the law of Moses, upon which both Christians and Muslims can agree. After the men danced and sang we continued the service with Dyghton playing a couple songs with the men dancing up front. Matt got into it and started dancing in the courtyard with Dyghton and Bright. The inmates loved this and were laughing hard and the big white man dancing in the front of the courtyard. I was really pleased to see Matt having so much fun with them. Matt is a real encourager, very friendly and talkative with everyone.
I began the service as the Emcee, Matt gave his testimony and then I gave the main sermon, speaking of the law of Moses and our universal failure to keep it and our need for a savior who not only died, but rose again. The entire crowd was silenced during the sermon – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. (Romans 3:19 ESV).
I moved the service directly into the altar call at this point and Matt counted 181 men raising their hands to give their lives to Christ. Due to the size of the crowd and the small amount of space in front I elected not to call the men forward but, rather, we prayed for them where they were. I believe I will make it a point to call them forward every time in the future as it is more of a statement of their public confession before men.
Matt then offered the healing prayer and then distributed the gifts, lining them up in a very orderly way with the help of the Station Officer and his staff. This prison is much more orderly and clearly seems to be run more efficiently than Mzuzu. After they were lined up we gave each man a bar of soap, we shared with them that we had brought bags of sugar for their porridge, we presented 25 New Testaments and 1 complete bible for their library.
After presenting the gifts to the man we were escorted to the female cell where we distributed feminine napkins and cloths and baby powder for the babies.
There were 538 inmates in attendance:
MHL 408 (Male Hard Labor)
M REM 25 (Male Reman)
M/REM Murder 25 (Male Reman for Murder)
FHL 2 (Female Hard Labor)
F REM 1 (Female Reman)
F REM Murder 5 – These ladies were being sold for sex and eventually joined together and killed the man who was selling them. The OC told the story to Matt and said that the sad thing is that they were the victims yet they are being held for the crime, but it’s out of his hands.
Juvenile Convicts = 1
Hospital inmates = 1
Children = 1
Y/Off/Conv 64 (convicted youth)
Y/Off/Rem 4 (reman youth)
Y/Off/Rem/Murder 1 (youth reman for Murder)
We were told there were 2 cells for youth and 2 cells for men. However, we were unable to view the cells during our visit today. the OC told us that each man has his own bed in this prison, something that we did not find in any other prison during this week.
After leaving the area the OC took us outside and walk this past the education area. There were several people standing outside that our local town residents that come to the prison for education. There were several shops where the inmates can learn trades such as carpentry, metalwork, and tailoring. As we continued around to the back of the building we came across an area where they are raising a dozen or so pigs, there was an elevated cage with several goats, and they were also raising chicken. There was also a nice garden behind this area where the inmates are growing their own vegetables. As we continued around the campus we came to the area where the prison workers and their families live, outside the gate. We then took some photographs with the OC and the station officer before departing for Mzuzu.
As we were driving to town we passed many townsfolk’s, many kids that chased our car and waved at us while we took photographs and video, and a large group of locals that were standing outside one of the homes gathered together to sing praise and worship.
When we came into the town of Mzimba we stopped at a restaurant where we all decided it would be best if the nationals ate there and Matt and I would eat when we got back home. Matt and I walked around the town for about 30 min. while everybody else ate their dinner. We walked through the local trade market and enjoyed a little bit of free time. It took an hour and a half to get home where we dropped off many of our companions and then Matt and I went out to dinner with Sydon and Dyghton, who had already eaten.