There are some interesting things about Malawian culture I have not mentioned yet. Men hold hands with each other on occasion. I witnessed several people do it, including Tony. We have talked with them, that in our culture, that usually means a homosexual relationship, however that does not apply here. When men hold hands here, it is more of an act of friendship or respect. I told Josh when he was here, if we really liked each other as friends, we should hold hands, jokingly of course. I do not believe either one of us were willing to go that far, but I have noticed something interesting. The longer I stay here, the longer men familiar with me hold my hand after we shake. I must admit it is a bit odd, and I find myself looking around to see who is watching. There was one security guard that would probably hold my hand for 10 minutes or so. Much more than 60 seconds gets a bit uncomfortable for me. I must admit it is touching to be considered one with them and to be included in cultural traditions.
We were able to take a closer look at the truck, and we drove it a considerable distance on some of the roughest roads. Everything seemed to function as intended. The suspension is a bit stiff, but considering how bad many of the roads are, it probably does not matter much. Joel, the owner of the truck, was a Christian. He had worked several years for an organization with similar goals that EchoAfrica has, but his is no longer in operation. He was quite knowledgeable about the registration of a nonprofit group. He said that we needed an attorney, and three copies of our documents with an attorney seal on each one. Joel was very willing to help us in any way he could. In fact, he indicated he would like to work with the organization. Again, we had exactly the right person at the right time. Not only were we able to purchase a dependable used vehicle, but we were also able to get legal assistance filing our documents. We are rejoicing and thanking God for making many provisions for us.
We received notification that the funds that were transferred had arrived at the bank. After arriving at the bank, we discovered that they had not shown up in our account. Apparently, it was not posted to our account yet. Not having the funds available was going to cramp our already tight schedule. We went back to the hotel, and I called the bank several times. For whatever reason, we had a poor connection and I could not get through. Finally, after walking outside, I was able to get a better connection. The man that had helped us get the account set up picked up the phone at customer service and recognized my voice. Quickly, he was able to get things situated so we could retrieve some of the funds. This was a brand-new bank that was very much in line with what you would see in America, but they did still use carbon paper to make duplicates.
A trip to this bank was normally a two to three-hour affair. Because of Wilford’s help, the time was cut considerably. We were able to transfer funds to the Bible Society, and we now are the proud caretakers of 5,000 new Bibles. What an unbelievable blessing God has provided. The director of the Bible Society took me into his office and expressed great interest in collaborating together. I told him that we would want to get the Bibles at their cost, but the benefit they would receive was a substantially larger order. By doing this, the overall price would be reduced. Also, I was surprised when we picked them up that they looked like a better quality than the others we had already distributed.
I asked my EchoAfrica teammates what they wanted for lunch. Without hesitation KFC was blurted out. Apparently, the first experience was not enough. Rhoda, Marvelous, and Bonface were once again enjoying extra crispy chicken. Watching the trio thoroughly enjoy their food triggered a thought. I remember the old Tom and Jerry show, they were always fighting about something. One would get to a drumstick quicker than the other, and cram the whole thing in their mouth followed by a buzz saw sound and out popped a bare bone. All kidding aside, these wonderful people were experiencing a luxury they never had. You would be hard-pressed to find one in America that would consider it a luxury, but they did.
We returned to the hotel with the first 480 Bibles. Almost everyone at the hotel took a Bible. We praise God together for the blessing. I am really going to miss these people. On my upcoming trips, I will make sure I come and see them. Here is the best part of the day…
This was our final day using the Van/minibus and the services of Bonface. I enjoy this guy; meek and mild-mannered describes him well. His actions and statements made it quite obvious that the Holy Spirit was drawing him in. I shared a few moments with him under a tree, and Rhoda and Marvelous joined us. I asked him if he really wanted to have Jesus in his heart, and not just his head. He enthusiastically smiled and said yes, so I took him through a fairly long explanation of what that meant. The salvation prayer that is often used in America no longer works for me. I want the full-on truth of God directly from the Bible, or it is not sufficient. I am already going to be accountable for the many times I shortchanged people with incomplete truth. Before we prayed, I asked if he had any questions. He put his hand over his heart and said “I want Jesus here.”
Something interesting happened about halfway through: Rhoda and Marvelous joined in. I am not sure why, but I believe it was in support of Bonface. It was a wonderful of experience to end the day. I told Bonface he was now in God’s Army and he is called to duty. I stated, “With a name like Bonface, you could even be a big-time wrestler!” I am not sure if they were laughing at me laughing at my joke, or they actually got it. Either way, it seemed like genuine laughter.
Before he left for the evening, he told me how much he wanted to work with EchoAfrica. I asked him how things were in his home life, and he indicated there were many struggles. I then asked how much he got paid a month, 70,000 kwacha he said. That is $96 a month, but the cost for his two children to be in school was over $100. In my heart, I believe God will make a way for him to work with us. Bonface would be a wonderful asset.