Encouragement in a Dry Season: Miller July 2023 Update
It’s dry season in Malawi. Normally, this is the time that classes are out, the harvest is in, and Greg and I start working with community partners to plan trainings. This year has been a bit different than we expected. After the pastor in Mphewa died, it has been hard to follow up with trainings and projects in that area. Greg worked with TWT and the Nazarene College Extension program to plan a training for leaders and planning for the future, but when the training day came, nobody from our groups showed up. We did hold a village training for girls in June, and we started working with a nurse to go out into Mngwangwa area to help young women with sewing and embroidery groups to help create a sense of identity and give them something to do between sports days and Bible club. We have ideas for the future, projects planned with our partners, and check-ins about Community Health Evangelism trainings, but overall, this has felt like an unusually dry season in terms of community health.
I took the past 2 weeks off from my work at ABC, and my sister Karese and her daughters Marie (14) and Ellie (12) came to visit us. They sipped tea with us in a village tea shop, in our neighborhood café, and at the tea fields of Mngwangwa. We shopped in markets, dropped off books to help start a library, gave study Bibles to some women leaders, and traveled a bit. Overall, it was just so encouraging to have them here, and not just because they brought us two suitcases filled with snacks, toiletries, and some new clothes.
During this time of potential developments and unrealized expectations, it was nice to have something to do besides waiting, and to see our ministries through fresh pairs of eyes. My niece concluded the time, saying, “Visiting Malawi changed me because it made me realize how much I have and it made me thankful... In Malawi there are things I wish were also here in the United States, including…the hard work people do, everyone looking out for each other, the community working together and sooo much more!!!” I think my sister summarized things incredibly well: “The biggest thing I learned was it is very difficult to help a community to grow and improve sustainably when you are an outsider… I saw how a community of people with very limited resources can work together well and support each other. And now I want to be more supportive of others and be more community minded to create a more happy and giving environment and culture with those I interact with.”
I think that’s where Greg and I are, too, as we sit here in our now-empty house during this cold, dry season. We think about the opportunities to come, the new partnerships we can pursue. We think about how hard to push and pull when things are not progressing organically in the communities. We think about our future here. We don’t have all the answers, and sometimes seasons like this, with lulls in activity and uncertain next steps, can be even more difficult than the busy and productive seasons. We thank God for the encouraging gift of Karese and our nieces visiting, for the fresh perspective and the new ideas on ministry partnerships that their time inspired.
During this season, please continue praying for wisdom for us as we consider our long-term strategies here in Malawi and any new directions in ministry goals. Please also pray for Greg as he plans to travel to Hawaii for a family reunion and retirement party for his father at the end of this month.
Thank you for your prayers and partnership,
Christina and Greg