Malawi Mission Study Trip 2001

by Jim Nussbaumer
My wife, Carol, and I led a group from northern Colorado on a mission/study trip to Malawi in June 2001.  Our main purpose was to introduce some friends to what is going on in Missions in Malawi and to expand their knowledge and interest in missions in general.  We had given many talks and presentations about our trips but decided it was time to go a step further in mission education.
Duane, Jim, Carol, Sarah, Kathryn, Jill at Livingstonia
Duane, Jim, Carol, Sarah, Kathryn, Jill

Duane, Jill, Carol with kids at Embangweni
Duane, Jill, Carol with friends
There were 6 people in our total group - deliberately limited in size to minimize the impact on the missions we visited and to work within reasonable constraints of available housing and transportation there.  We took two members from our home church, Mountain View Presbyterian in Loveland, Colorado, Kathryn Churchill and Duane Roosa; and two from Westminster Presbyterian in Ft. Collins, Colorado, Sarah Barrios and Jill Daughenbaugh. 

Jill, Duane, Kathryn, Sarah, Carol with their pen pals
Jill, Duane, Kathryn, Sarah, Carol with pen pals


We spent our first few days in Embangweni while everyone got acclimated and got an overview of the mission station there.  We were greeted on Sunday, our first full day there, with a welcome dinner in the newly opened Deaf School chapel.  It was a chance to introduce our team to representatives from most of the stations institutions.  As part of our itinerary included a dedication of the newly built hostel at the Deaf School, we could have expected a big welcome from them, but the rest was a bit of a surprise.  The headmaster of the Embangweni Primary School, Mr. Jere, was just back from a three month visit to the USA and he seemed anxious to repay some of the hospitality the Americans had shown him, although he never came to Colorado, so we had no direct part in his trip.

Mr. Jere at Embangweni Primary School
Mr. Jere

New chapel at the Deaf School
New Chapel at the Deaf School
Jill and a kid with buckets
Jill & Friend
On Monday, we took everyone on a quick tour of each of the major institutions - the Deaf School, the Hospital, the Primary School and Robert Laws Secondary School.  This would give the group a chance to decide how they wanted to spend more of their time when we returned to Embangweni the next week and it also gave them a basis for comparison as we continued our tour through the other mission stations.  All of our group members fell in love with the Malawian people and with the warm welcome they received everywhere.  They were constantly stopping to talk with the kids, who were everywhere.  We would often find them walking hand-in-hand with some of the kids or Jill would have one of them up on her shoulders. Jill was quite a sight for the Malawian kids - she is well over 6 feet tall and blonde.  When the kids were on her shoulders, they were really up in the air.

Jill and kid on her shoulders

On Tuesday, we drove (with Mr. Hara the hospital driver) to Ekwendeni to spend a day there.  While we were quite familiar with Embangweni, Carol and I had never spent much time at all at Ekwendeni so most of this was new to us also.  It took until mid-morning to get to Ekwendeni but we learned they had been expecting us to show up earlier in the morning.  We started with a tour of the hospital, then Secondary School for Girls, the Primary School, the Lay Training Center and ended with LISAP (the Livingstonia AIDS Program). At each place, we were greeted and shown around by the head of the institution or their representative. We were generally impressed with how much is going on there - it is a busy place. We had just never had an opportunity to see it all before. We had dinner at the home of Reverend Mughogho, the head of station.  We learned that the Primary School kids had prepared a short presentation for us and as we had not gotten there early enough for them to present it, we agreed to come back on Wednesday morning for their morning assembly.  They then put on a well disciplined series of songs and dances, and marching.
Ekwendeni Primary School kids
Ekwendeni Primary Kids
Mr. & Mrs. Chirambo & Carol Nussbaumer
Mr. & Mrs. Chirambo; Carol Nussbaumer
We had to get away quickly then as we planned to stop in Rumphi to visit Mr. Christopher Chirambo, a former teacher at the Embangweni Deaf School we had gotten acquainted with on previous trips. This also gave us an opportunity to see a different school that was not at a CCAP mission station. Mr. Chirambo is based at the St. Denis Primary School but does special education tutoring for a number of students at several scattered schools. As the weather was nice, several of the classes were meeting outside under the trees, since they really don’t have enough good buildings for everyone inside anyway.
Class under the trees at St. Denis Primary School
Classroom under the trees - St. Denis Primary School
We got to Livingstonia and met with the head of station, Rev. Binnie Mwakasungula.  Livingstonia is one of our favorite spots as it has such a wonderful history and its location overlooking Lake Malawi is spectacular.  We planned to spend two nights at Livingstonia as it is so far to drive to.  We checked into the Stone House and just relaxed a little - a rare opportunity for us. 
Stone House at Livingstonia
Stone House at Livingstonia

The next day, I got up early to see the sunrise over Lake Malawi - which was not very exciting, but we were rewarded instead with a spectacular rainbow over the station. Our schedule here was much too crowded as they had planned it, but we took our time and got everything in.  The David Gordon Memorial Hospital here is a bit smaller than Embangweni’s and less modern in many ways, as they have had less western aid. 

Livingstonia Primary School
Livingstonia Primary School

We walked over and toured the Livingstonia Primary School.  We just had a brief stop in each classroom.  Like in many of our tours, they were quick to point out where they needed assistance.  Even though they are at a CCAP mission station, the school has not had as much outside help as some at Embangweni or Ekwendeni.  We also toured the Livingstonia Secondary School.  This has a very nice facility but one in need of money for maintenance. They also are suffering from a lack of teachers.  Everywhere we saw conflicts in schools where the government does not provide enough support for adequate staffing.

Land Rover for training at Livingstonia
"The Land Rover" at Livingstonia

The Livingstonia Technical College has just finished some new classroom blocks and is trying to expand into some more modern subjects. They have traditionally been just in auto-mechanics, bricklaying and woodworking but are now adding secretarial and computing classes.  They still don’t have enough equipment or instructors to do these properly but they are trying.  Their auto mechanics class is typical where they teach based on having only one ancient Land Rover for the students to work on.
We visited the Public Health Department and went out to see some of the shallow wells they have worked on.  This was the first opportunity for most of our group to see shallow wells or to get into a village.It was fun seeing Jill and Sarah try their hand (or head) at carrying buckets of water on their heads.

Duane Roosa pumping water 
Duane trying the pump.

Jill balancing bucket on head
Jill trying the balancing act.

Manchwe Falls
We also got to see the famous Manchwe Falls which is an unexpectedly spectacular water falls only a short distance from the road on the Livingstonia Plateau.
Sunrise over Lake Malawi
Sunrise over Lake Malawi

We drove to Lake Malawi and a one-night break for a stay at Sambani Lodge and a little relaxation.  Everyone was ready for this but thought it was still too short. The sunrise over the lake was beautiful.  Again, most of our group was most attracted to the kids - finding them all over us at every opportunity.
We spent some time roaming the lakeshore and then drove back to Mzuzu and on to Embangweni.  On Sunday, we drove out Engalaweni, with which our home church has established a sister-church relationship.  They were expecting us and had a grand welcome prepared.  They met us out in the road with songs and flowers and we marched behind them into the village.  Rev. Mwazembe led us to his home, where we had a bit of tea.  Then we had a quick tour of the school and then on to the new manse that we had been giving them some assistance with.  It is not completed yet, but they are making good progress.  They had already made all of the bricks and put up most of the walls and with our help they were now able to put a roof on it and add doors and windows.  On my next visit,  I expect it will be done.
Welcoming crowd at Engalaweni
Welcome at Engalawni

Outdoor worship service at Engalaweni
Worship under the trees at Engalaweni
Then we joined them for a Sunday Worship Service under the trees.  There were several choirs and hundreds of people joyously sitting there with us. We exchanged gifts with them - we brought seeds and banners and they gave us “a warriors kit” of a bow and arrows, spear and shield to “fight against Satan”.  The day was full of lots of picture taking - on both sides - and a slow leave taking.

Warriors Kit being presented at Engalaweni
"Warriors Kit" being presented

The rest of the week at Embangweni was supposed to be a bit more “normal” with each of the group making their own choice on how to spend their time.  Some spent more at the Deaf School and some at the Primary School or at Robert Laws - but Robert Laws was on break this week so not much was going on there.  Kathryn, being a long time teacher herself, spent much of the week teaching at the primary school.  Jill and Sarah spent some time at the Deaf School and some at the Primary School.

Kathryn teaching at Embangweni Primary
Kathryn teaching at Embangweni Primary School

 Carol spent her whole time at the Deaf School of course and Duane spent some at the Deaf School and some following me around, meeting on shallow wells and maintenance issues.  On Wednesday, there was a dedication ceremony for the new hostel at the Deaf School.  This was one that our family had supported through some memorial money and so were very interested in the completion of it.  The hostel was essentially finished - just some minor painting and electrical work remained to be done.  It will house up to 64 boys while the girls will remain in the older existing hostel.

New boys hostel at the Deaf School
New Boys Hostel at the Deaf School
Playday at the Deaf School
Playday at the Deaf School
Thursday was a school holiday so we had arranged a “play day” at the Deaf School with games and books we had brought for the hostels.  They spread out throughout the new chapel and both the kids and the staff had a great time.  In the afternoon, they gathered at the chapel again to view the video I had assembled on the Deaf School.  The kids had a great time seeing themselves and their teachers.

Kids at Deaf School watching a video
Deaf School watching a video

On Friday, we accepted an invitation to visit the Embangweni Community Secondary Day School.  This is outside of the mission boundaries and is often overlooked by visitors. It is quite a step down from the facilities at the other schools at Embangweni. 
Embangweni Community Secondary Day School
Embangweni Community Secondary Day School
Windmill at Kalikumbi

Saturday, we went out to Kalikumbi to see the health center and the windmill which I had helped with back in 1997.  The windmill was not pumping and the men pulled the pump out to see what was wrong. It turns out the leathers on the pump are shot so I brought the parts home with me to get replacements for my next trip out.  On the way  back, we stopped to see some more shallow wells.

Sunday, we had one more service at Embangweni and then left early to drive to Lilongwe. On the way, we had promised to stop and visit the congregation at Elangeni, where Rev. Issac Gondwe is now serving.  We had met him on a previous trip when he was stationed closer to Embangweni, at Kamsolo. Elangeni was just a half hour off of the main road and we told them we only had a couple of hours to stay.  When we got there, they had prepared a truly grand welcome for us - even more than at Englaweni. When they saw us coming, they came pouring out into the road with Sunday School kids leading the charge.  It was like an army on the move as they filled the road and surrounded us.

Welcoming crowd at Elangeni
Welcoming crowd at Elangeni

 Duane greeted by Rev Gondwe at Elangeni 
Duane greeted by Rev. Gondwe

They said we were the first white people to ever visit their congregation so they were doubly excited to have us there.  They showed us their school buildings which need help and their partially completed church which is stopped for lack of funds.  Again they were trolling for assistance but were genuinely glad to welcome us.

On Monday, we got some business stuff done in Lilongwe and then headed for Nkhoma.  This was a new experience for all of us as we had never been there at all.  Nkhoma is actually even in a different Synod - as everything else we had seen so far was in the Synod of Livingstonia - CCAP.  Now we were in the Synod of Nkhoma.    .
Dr. Reynier TerHaar
Dr. Reynier TerHaar

At Nkhoma, we met Dr. Reynier TerHaar, the chief medical officer.  Nkhoma is literally on a mountaintop - everything seems to be going up or down on the slopes.  This is a larger hospital, 220 beds, and surprisingly a specialization in eye care.  They have an ophthalmology section and even have a lens grinding operation.
Orphans at Nkhoma 
Orphans at Nkhoma

In addition to showing us the hospital, he sent us on a tour of their Orphan Care Project. This is a community based orphan project currently caring for over 3500 orphans with more than 800 guardians.  The project helps the families with extra fertilizer, blankets, school fees and such.  We met with several hundred of these orphans in one community and were truly touched by the problems they face.  This is the very human side of the AIDS problem in Africa

Crocodile at Liwonde Park
Crocodile on the Shire River.
Hippo at Liwonde Park
Hippo on the Shire River

The next day, we took off for our real ‘break’ - a visit to a game park.  It was almost a 4 hour drive to get to Liwonde Park - and Mvuu camp.  We drove up to the Shire River and then took a small boat across to the Mvuu camp where we would spend two wonderful days.  At the park, we had game drives and river trips.  We saw elephants, hippos, crocs, lots of Impala and waterbucks and even a couple of lions - who stalked us after we had stalked them.  We almost felt guilty by how luxurious the conditions were at Mvuu.   We still had our hospital driver, Mr. Hara, with us and we all enjoyed his reaction to the things he saw and did at Mvuu.  He had never ridden a boat before and had certainly never seen most of the animals we saw.  Most Africans really do not get to see the wild animals we think of as common to Africa.

On Thursday, we had to leave reluctantly and drive back to Lilongwe and the real world.  On the way, we stopped at the pottery factory at Dedza for some serious shopping.  While there, we also got to watch the solar eclipse - not quite total in Malawi - but it was over 90% total here.  We used some dark lenses and pin-hole projectors to safely watch the eclipse.  At the peak, the light was visibly diminished and the color was really strange and it got suddenly cold.
The last full day, we went out to Kauma, a slum on the edge of Lilongwe, where we visited another Orphan Project, run by the Capital City Baptist Church.  I was especially interested in their participation in a water project in conjunction with Marion Medical Mission - bringing clean, piped water to people who normally could not afford it.   
It is available at water kiosks run by local churches who collect small charges for the water.  The project is also providing other support for the local orphans via community gardens and now a housing project.

Water Kiosk at Kauma
Water Kiosk at Kauma

Wood Market at Lilongwe
The rest of the day was consumed with some high powered shopping and final packing, getting ready to come home.