Monday, July 10, 2006

Greetings from Malawi

No, I'm not there, although I probably should have been. But the team that invited me is there, and I got this report from the leader. It really touched my heart, and I love his art metaphor, so I thought I'd share it with you. My friend's name is Don Thomas.

“Mary and I arrived in Malawi about 6 days and 17 hours ago. The number of old friends we have seen, the village projects we have visited, and the miles we have covered make it seem as if we have been here for several weeks.

If I tried to describe my internal feelings over this week’s time in the way a painter would leave pigments on a canvas, I would find the canvas covered with splashes and splatters of joy. Its spontaneous color would be interspersed with carefully laid down straight lines, orderly and controlled. Weeping blotches and large slashes, angry and ungainly, in the darkest of blacks and cloudy midnight blues would weigh the canvas down.

The canvas would have difficulty in containing the clashing of the euphoric splashings and the dreadful dark slashings all in the same art piece.

The bright-colored splashes and splatters of joy are the smiling and beautiful faces of the abandoned babies now so loved and cared for in the Ministry of Hope Crisis Nursery in Lilongwe. They are the toddlers stretching their arms out to us as they seduce us into holding them at Open Arms Nursery in Blantyre.

The controlled lines---? They are the linear organized part of my brain analyzing and admiring the organizational skills of project leaders like Catherine Mpesi and Rachel Fiedler. It is in awe of the elegant work of Mphatso and Annie and Precious and the village women as they work in community solving impossible problems as they deal with the devastation that the HIV virus has left behind in its death-cluttered path across Malawi.

The heavy blotches and slashes are the painful hopeless thoughts that darken my mind that keep trying to weigh me down. The painful realities of unbearable suffering seems to be everywhere. I see a smiling loveable 3 year old child Edward as he warms to Holly’s attention. Edward is HIV-positive. He lives hours away from the new facility where AIDS medicines have recently been made available for children. The cost of travel is prohibitive for the woman who is caring for him in her home. My heart sinks.

The problem-solving part of my brain tries to find reasonable straight line solutions for Edward’s impossibly sad condition. No solution comes.

I have to go back to a self-protecting defense. I find myself retreating into the joy of playing with the swarm of orphans and vulnerable children that surround me in the eating porch of the Salima AIDS Support Organization.”

A closing thought----
As always, we find ourselves in awe of the courageous and loving people of Malawi.
Their gratitude for the help that they receive is abundant.
Please pray for them.


Don and Mary

PS: If you want more information or want to help these people, go to

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