Saturday, 29 March 2014

Homeward Bound

Thursday 27 March

We're all up early to finish packing and prepare for what is going to be a very long day (and night). We gather at the manse and following prayers for our safe travel we start to say our goodbyes and board the bus to the airport. More goodbyes here.....this time they seem the last....until we see our good friends (many dressed in their distinctive guild uniforms) waving from the airport balcony as we board our jet......what a send off!

Our first flight is south to Blantyre......the landing doesn't seem too bumpy....apparently they closed it last week because there were too many pot-holes in it. It is then on to Addis Ababa. Those with window seats on the 'starboard' enjoy wonderful views of Lake Malawi, the Rift Valley, Mount Kenya and Lake Victoria before the sun goes down.

Our stop-over in Addis is around six hours so there is time to explore the terminal......Janet is the most adventurous, buying an outfit for a wedding later in the year. But more so when in the restaurant, which struggled to provide coffee, but did provide 'National dishes'.......Janet plumps for Injir Firfir and finds that it is a grey 'pancake' filled with jar of gherkins! As we wait we find our flight  has been combined with a flight to Rome, so the queues are long and the plane rather full, including members of the Italian rugby league team on their return from a tie with Kenya.

We settle down, with a few hours sleep being enjoyed by some.....we are woken for our in flight meal, as day breaks and we look down on the lights of Corinth......thinking of the advice to the Corinthians....'Love is patient....'. The light brightens as we see the snow capped Apenines before we start our descent to Rome, where more seats become available to stretch out on.......but what is the large aircraft parked in the corner of the is Airforce One.......President Obama has apparently also dropped into Rome to visit Pope Francis.

The Alps are plastered in snow and bathed in sunshine as we fly over them and Lake Geneva.....we think about putting on jackets for the firs time in two weeks as we move forward in the plane to help us disembark quickly - the combined flight means that our 'transit' time at Heathrow is squeezed. All goes well, however, and we make a slick exit from terminal three and are soon in the long queues at security in terminal five, arriving at the gate in time to enjoy a cup of coffee before we go.

It's not long before we are at Abbotsinch collecting our luggage; unfortunately three bags have not been as slick as we have been at Heathrow and are still in London (but they do make it home the following day). We say some hurried goodbyes as we split up before travelling safely back to Mid-Argyll.......just managing to stay awake!

What a trip, with so many fond memories of a wonderful country with beautiful people with a strong Christian we left Glasgow, a taxi-driver asked what escapade were we going on.....this escapade has filled our hearts and minds, with much to do and tell on to others on our return.

Last day

Wednesday 26 March

More to be added......

Mua Museum and return to Lilongwe

Tuesday 25 March

More to be added .....

Monday, 24 March 2014

Nkopola Lodge & monkeys on the roof

Monday 24 March

More to be added

William Black CCAP Cape Maclear Prayer House

Sunday 23 March

More to be added.....

Down to the Lake

Saturday 22 March

On one of our school visits we had discovered that Lilongwe was at an altitude of 1076m, which surprised us, but also helped explain why we should expect much warmer temperatures when we went down to Lake Malawi, Africa's third largest lake situated in the Rift Valley. Today we are back on the bus, this time with our luggage, William and Wessi, Joel and Moses for our long journey to Monkey Bay and Cape Maclear on the shores of Lake Malawi, where the early Scot's missionaries set up their first base.

We stopped at Dedza Pottery in the late morning where we were able to see, and buy, some lovely African pottery with lovely glazed scenes of Malawian life. Then to the sample the cheesecake which Desiree had promised us four week' ago during a Skype call. And what a cheesecake! Eaten in a garden filled with roses amongst pine clad mountains.

Just before we left, Janet came excitedly from the restroom for the camera.....she had just discovered where the painted wash-hand basin in our chalet in Kilmartin showing canoeists had had been made at Dedza pottery as there was one in a similar is a small world. (The basin had been purchased there by the previous owner, Margaret Rayner, who had worked as a mid-wife in Malawi).

Before leaving Dedza we visit the local Prayer House, part of the Kasamba congregation, viewing their plans for their building (which as yet does not have a roof), and also saw the difficulties caused when the local pump stopped working. Lunch is taken at the roadside, 5 km from the Mozambique border, then it is down the hill into the Rift Valley. What a descent......hairpin after hairpin, with remarkable views out onto the plain.

As we come down we start to see Baobab trees, Stanley's favourite tree, one that is well adapted to withstand droughts. Sadly, we also see all too easily the effects of droughts as we travel for over 30 km through withered, browned maize crops with few signs of ears that can be harvested. Some have even been cleared and new crops planted. All is not lost, as the damper areas have rice crops which are growing well and the there is much more livestock in this area with green grasslands with cattle and goats. With Lake Malawi nearby, as we cross a number of rivers, we are left wondering whether there is scope for irrigation which would improve agricultural out-turns......but is there enough power to feed the pumps which would be required?

As we approach Cape Maclear we leave the Tarmac road and travel through the granite hills, clothed in trees of the Lake Malawi National Park. Our first stop is on the edge of Cape Maclear, right at the edge of the National Park, where we are joined by a recently established group of Christians who have been meeting since December. They take us up a footpath, past the local school to a tiny graveyard. It has five graves each marked with a wooden marker - Dr William Black, Ngunana, Captain G Benzie, Dr W Mackey, and a Mr Shadreck. A poignant place where we quietly remember those who were early missionaries in Malawi - William Black was from Fife and died at the age of thirty within a year of arriving there.

As the sun falls close to the horizon we make our way down to the lakeshore to watch the sunset, before going along to the Cape Mac Lodge, where we enjoy the cool of air-conditioning in our rooms......a luxury, along with the modern anti-malarial tablets which the early missionaries certainly did not have.

Pictures to be added!

Out of Town

Friday 21 March

This morning we were all on a bus for our first visit outside Lilongwe. Before we leave, prayers are said for out journey.....this is the Malawian way.....quite different from Scotland.

After heading north through the city centre we headed east on the road towards Selima. This took us through agricultural land,  mainly with maize crops, but also with small areas of a crop with yellowing leaves. Soon we were seeing small open sided sheds with rush roofs and realise the crop is tobacco and the sheds are drying sheds. Tobacco is one of the few cash crops of Malawi.....this seemed strange to us as we had seen very few smokers, of evidence of advertising.

The road wound through low hills, but at one steep brae we find two large lorries jack-knifed across the road (following what appears to have been heavy rain); maybe now we start to understand the 'Malawian' way, and find that our prayers are answered as the driver gently eases our bus round the arctics on the hard road verge carefully avoiding the storm drain culvert.

In just over an hour we reach Chezi orphanage, established in 1986 by the Sisters of St Mary Mediatrix (a Spanish based organisation). Stanley and Mollie Hood had visited previously when in Malawi, and we were given an update and tour of the site.


More to be added.....