As I walk around Annie’s Lodge, I find myself a bit torn. The relationships that God has manifested through His will have been outstanding. What had thought to be the main mission was used more as a lure to get us here. God’s glory is revealed far greater by Him orchestrating all of the events that He did. He brought into view those that we are intended to form eternal relationships with. That does not mean we will let Felix and his churches slip by the wayside. The reality is that we are better equipped now to help all of Malawi and beyond. The preparation I am talking about is not something that man can take glory in. This spiritual equipping is trusting in the Lord and walking close enough that He will continually reveal the path. Then the outcome is that we can marvel in His plan and be thankful to be able to participate.
Tony and I got to hang out a few more hours. We drove to the airport together to see if I could get my tickets straightened out and drop my bags off for a later departure. On the way back, he saw a dilapidated structure on the edge of a hillside. It looked like at one point, it had been quite stunning. Sections of the roof were caved inward, and all of the plumbing was missing, and overall it needed a great deal of work. However, it looked pretty solid structurally. There was a family living in it even though it was pretty run down. We asked the gentleman if we could look around, and he agreed. It easily could be converted into a church/conference center. There was enough room in the lower level to have dorms set up for visiting pastors or youth mission trips. There were Mace fields out front that could be a great setting for a farm. Tony and I have been talking about having a facility that could be self-sustaining, where we would raise our own vegetables, livestock, chickens, and even a spice garden for Tony.
We were actually able to get the phone number of the owner. Tony called him and told him what our plans were. He asked the owner if he was a Christian, and he said he was. Tony asked him if he would pray about it, and see if the Holy Spirit wanted him to sell it to us at a very reasonable price. Tony is not only a deeply spiritual man, but he is also a wise negotiator. I told him I thought he would be president of Malawi someday! That may sound like a casual comment, but when I told him that, something deeper resonated. The gentleman said he would call us back in two days. Either way, our mission in Malawi will not change.
As the plane ascended over the landscape, I felt a deep sense of remorse. I could almost hear a whisper “Do not be gone long.” The reality that I had developed a deep love for many of the people here was sinking in. With open arms and huge smiles, I was welcomed into a culture that I knew nothing about. Nearly every time I would wave and greet someone, they would respond in a friendly fashion. Over the next 12 months, I believe a significant transition is going to occur in our lives. With my daughter Maria being off to college in nine months, we will be free to transition to Africa; maybe not full-time, but a significant portion of each year. However, if the Holy Spirit says full-time, then full-time it will be.
I am in the lounge at the airport waiting for my next flight. I was able to get a business class upgrade for no charge. Getting bumped from a flight does have its advantages. A four-year-old girl named Sahaar came up and talked to me, sat on my lap, took a picture of me, ate peanuts with me, drank my pineapple juice, put on my reading glasses, and whatever else she could do the span of a three-hour flight. I could have put her in my suitcase and taken her home. She had probably been up front with me for an hour before the mother came up.
Those of you that know me realize that it is no small miracle that I was able to endure 32 hours of flight each direction. Of course, there were a couple of four to five- hour layovers. I prayed going both directions that I would have peace and just dwell in God’s presence in my thoughts, and it happened much easier than I anticipated.
I have been using WhatsApp a lot more because it is the primary mode of communication in Malawi. Several people have been in communication with me since I have left and there is no question in my mind that God’s will is moving in Malawi. The need seems insurmountable, but God’s glory can be revealed the most in situations that seem impossible.
I am so thankful to have experienced the doorway of God’s will being open to me. This journey was just a teaser of what is to come. God is continually revealing to me that my time is best spent being present while watching Him make situations happen. That does not mean that I sit back and do nothing. On the contrary, I diligently do things that He has already pointed toward. The main piece is to be keenly aware of the Holy Spirit’s guiding. The recovery time from mistakes shrinks to minutes, where it could have been hours to weeks. My heart’s desire now is to speedily learn and recover from my mistakes.
We will have a team meeting to determine the best course of action based on what God has revealed so far. Meanwhile, back in Malawi, Tony is looking at furniture for the rental house that is soon to become EchoAfrica. In early March, my wife and I will be returning, I greatly desire for her to experience what I have. I believe God will call her heart as completely as He has called mine. Our presence in Africa will grow in permanency. My friend Pastor Rick will also be joining us for some pastors’ conferences and speaking engagements. There is much to be done while I am back in the states. With God’s grace and mercy, I will continue to be obedient to the calling of a diligent servant on his behalf.
It is a wonderful gift to return back to my loving wife Heidi, and daughter Maria. I am thankful that Maria has been doing the first round of edits. This has given her the opportunity to share my adventures more personally. She also makes my writing ability look much better than it is. She is always trying to give me lessons on syntax, grammar, spelling and anything else she thinks will help me. I tell her I am not too much interested in those things, because my primary interest is to tell the story of what God is revealing.