This entry is written by Sister Renee Query, a senior sister in our mission.
Our adventure today, 4 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.
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.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.