Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dzaleka Refugee Camp and the Mabishwa brothers

This entry is written by Sister Renee Query, a senior sister in our mission.

Our adventure today,  August 2014 Monday  09:00 hours, was to visit two towns north of Lilongwe, Malawi.
In our van were President and Sister Erickson, Elder & Sister Orien, Elder & Sister Stones and their son,  Nathan, Sister Lowe, my companion, and myself. We headed north out of Lilongwe to the Dzaleka Refugee Camp where two young men,  Mabishwa Kiza, 22, and Kasiriba Mabishwa,17, members of the church, were awaiting us.  Years earlier their father, a branch president in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had  sent his sons to Malawi to escape the compulsory military obligations of the Congo.  The poverty here is the worst we have seen.  The younger brother, Kasiriba Mabishwa, immaculately dressed, met us at the gate,  accompanied us to his home, a small hovel at first glance (red mud bricks about 6 feet square w/a tinier room at the back - no electricity, water, bathroom, etc.) yet very tidy and clean with a picture of the Saviour on the wall, a Zion in the midst of slums.  There was a small, low table covered with a clean cloth, neatly arranged with church literature and scriptures.   2 tiny wooden benches were on either side.  We were invited to leave as President Erickson would be interviewing each brother for their Priesthood advancement.  Kasiriba Mabishwa would receive the office of Priest and Mabishwa Kiza would receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and begin his mission preparation.
The rest of us climbed into the van with Elder Stones driving, Sister Stones said, “We’d better pray, Elder Stones is driving.”  And she was right, he was a fast driver and Sister Lowe and I were both exclaiming vocally about his daring.  We were driven to the home of Innocent  (I don’t have his surname), 35, a former pastor, a handsome, Denzel Washington reminder, in another part of the refugee camp.  He was converted by the two brothers and baptised by the missionaries a few weeks ago.  He is a widower w/2 young sons.  He always wore a beautiful smile, in spite of difficulties, he said that he was a happy man because he had found the Gospel.  We visited for about 15 minutes then returned to the humble, sacred hovel of our dear young brothers. 

Their interview over,  they were waiting for us.  We formed a circle in their tiny, well-swept courtyard for prayer.  Then we crowded again in their holy hovel for their ordinations. The older brother would be given his priesthood and then he would assist President Erickson, Elders Orien, Stones, Stones, the younger, and the new Elder Mabishwa Kiza in ordaining Kasiriba Mabishwa to the office of a priest.  It was so moving, with the strong presence of the Holy Spirit we all wept through the ordinations. Elder Kiza was particularly joyful because now they could get on w/their lives. 

After the ordination President Erickson explained, “Now you can bless and pass the sacrament to each other and instruct each other in the Gospel. “  In closing we sang hymns.  Elder Mabishwa Kiza chose “Rock of Ages”, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again” and “ Count Your Many Blessings”.  

One would think this would be the highlight of our day but another incredibly Moving Spiritual Feast was just up the road in Kusungu, Malawi.  But more about that later.  

For me,  the sweetest part of this visit was the overwhelming humility of Mabishwa. While Leif was interviewing  Kasiriba, Mabishwa and I walked to a vantage point overlooking the camp...what a sight of poverty, 20,000 people in red mud brick homes on a hillside of dirt; yet he was grateful beyond words that we had come to visit and fellowship with he and his brother. 

They came back! Emma and Trenton spent a terrific 3 months in Beira Mozambique interning for Young Africa. We met them at the border of Mozambique and Malawi on a hot Sunday afternoon and they drove home with us to Lusaka.

                                            So nice that someone can enjoy this pool of ours!
Trenton got in and lasted less than a minute. It is cold! It is the middle of winter here ya know?
                                                                  Emma and Emma
Trenton and Emma taught me how to make tortillas. We made about 75 and froze 60 for the Copperbelt's Zone Conference lunch. They were yummy! 
 Dutch Reform Church Craft Fair (every 4th Saturday) Emma bought a dress and an african animal mobile for future little McCulloughs.

In one week we received 4 new missionaries who are visa waiters for Uganda AND 9 new (to us) missionaries from the Sierra Leone and the Liberia missions. They all trickled in on various flights, late night and early morning. Thank goodness for the Skidmores and our AP's to help keep it all straight. Everyone arrived healthy and safe, albeit there were some lost bags and tired travelers. We are so grateful to have them and be able to put them to work!

                                 Our own Sister Mudenda...sent her her back in 12 days!
                                                      Elder Chinunda from Tanzania
                                                      Elder Ruell from Utah
Elder Bakari from Tanzania
From the MTC /waiting for VISA's to Uganda

 Elder Nakale from Namimbia
 Sister Povahnu from SA
 Sister Nxele from SA (her name has a click)
 Sister P. Dlamini from SA
 Sister Rametsi from SA
 Elder Mojaje from SA
 Sister N. Dlamini from SA

 Our own Elder Andrew Chola...we sent him out...we got him back!
Our own Elder Andrew Kampelya...we sent him out...we got him back!

Comings and Goings! Every missionary is special! Every elder and sister that we welcome and send home no matter how long they are with us leave a mark on us that we treasure!!

 Elder Maaka arrived and only stayed a few days due to health related challenges. When he gets well and returns to serve his mission we know he will be a fantastic missionary.
 Sister Chasinda, strong and hardworking to the END!! Love this sister! Great attitude and love that skirt!
Sister Mbonyana got her VISA to Uganda and left us after just 5 weeks. She is a terrific person with a great future!
 Sister Proctor from Alpine Utah!
 Elder Mwaba from Ndola Zambia! We sent him off 5 months ago to SA and lucky for us he is back to finish his mission in the GZLM.
 Elder Tayembi comes to us from the DRC speaking mostly French but his English is improving every day.
 Elder Ngendabanka is from Burundi and has been serving in Kenya but his VISA was not renewed.
 Elder Collins from Utah.
 Elder Sagers from Utah.
 Elder Cunningham from Arizona.
 Elder Owor from Uganda.
 Impressive group of elders! Happy, eager to work and all very likable. Leadership material in every one!