Today we were able to visit William, Tony’s cousin. My first introduction with William happened after I got bumped off the flight in December. During the second 10 days, when we accomplished much, I was around William almost every day. We were able to go over to his house to meet his wife and beautiful little one-year-old daughter. This gave Heidi the opportunity to interact with Amy, William’s wife. Their little one year old, Kathryn, had never seen a white person before, so she was certainly skeptical and a bit afraid of these unfamiliar humans. Many times on this trip, I have watched Heidi gravitate to one-on-one conversations. This was no exception as she moved into the next room to have a more personal conversation with Amy.
They had the TV on in the house, and it was a bit distracting, so Heidi, in her kind way, requested, “I am having a hard time hearing you... could you turn it down?” Of course for me, I would have just asked if they would turn it off. This worked out well as the guys were able to talk, while Heidi spent time with the mother and daughter. Eventually, little Kathryn warmed up to Heidi and begin to interact with her. William called a street evangelist friend of his to come over and meet us. As always, the Chessmaster God was moving the appropriate pieces in place so connections could be made. Come to find out, the evangelist, Christopher, had a sincere heart for the Lord and had experienced a dramatic conversion in his life.
Christopher told us of the days he wore dreadlocks and participated in the party scene with no regards to the teachings of Jesus. So, when his conversion occurred, and he began to proclaim the Good News, those who knew him disregarded what he had to say. God is faithful and continued to work in his life, and encouraged him in evangelism opportunities. There is no question that our meeting was ordained by God. Now we would have the opportunity to have him become more familiar with Echo’s activities in Africa. Most likely, he will participate in one of our leadership training programs. We filled him in on the details of our Bible distribution program. The 10 verse memorization model is much more effective than our previous attempt of distribution. By someone giving the effort and time to memorize, they are much more likely to study the Bible.
When our visit with all of them was concluding, Amy wanted Heidi to take a picture with her. This was a strong indicator that a bond had been formed between them already. There is no question in my mind that continued involvement with William’s family and our new friend Christopher will continue. Race issues in Malawi seem to be nonexistent. A smile and warm countenance almost always result in a reciprocating action. I am not sure if I have ever been treated as a family member so quickly as I have been with Malawians.
After leaving William’s house, we continued on to Rhoda’s home. She is Tony’s mother. We enjoyed conversation with the family, and were able to learn a bit more about the children. They are all teenagers, and had a variety of career choices they wished to pursue. Some were a doctor, policeman, and a lawyer. When you throw Tony into that group as a preacher/teacher, you have a pretty diverse set of interests. I nearly fell asleep while I was there; not because I was bored, but because I was so relaxed and comfortable, feeling very much at home. Before our departure, I negotiated a trade with Rhoda.
I knew that she was in possession of many woodcarvings, so we asked if we could look at some of them and buy some from her. After reviewing several pieces, I came to light that the weight capacity of our suitcases could not contain the desires of my heart to take additional artwork back to America. Trimming down my expectations, we selected three medium-sized animal replicas, and a few additional pieces. When we had determined what we were going to take, I asked Rhoda if she would trade them for us putting new tires on her van. She has been so considerate to allow us to use her van whenever necessary. Being the businesswoman that she is, agreeing upon a barter trade fit her perfectly.
Tomorrow morning, we will be attending her church. Earlier in the week, Heidi made a connection with the pastor and his wife Mary. Mary is a quite reserved person, but somehow God used Heidi to break through her timidity for a deeper relationship. They have already exchanged several texts back and forth as their relationship is blossoming. It is hard to believe that our trip is beginning to wind down with just a few more days left. The fact that both of us are away from our daughter make us miss her even more. We pray that it will be the will of the Lord that we would be reunited on schedule. I must say, the feelings of knowing I will be leaving my African family are starting to become closer to reality. Tony and his whole team have been impeccable here, and they will continue their diligence in our absence. How do I know this you may ask? They seek FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD.