Kay Day, Malawi, Central Africa

 

 

Kay Day, Malawi, Central Africa

 

January 5, 2011

 

Dear Family and Friends,

 

Happy New Year. I pray that 2011 has been good to you so far, that God has great things in store for you throughout this year and that you grow in your relationship with him. While we know that the future is uncertain, we certainly know who holds that future, regardless of what it holds, and that God will be working for our good and growth in all that happens. (Romans 8:28) That is my prayer for you and I am trusting it for myself.

 

We may have some idea of some of the things the year holds for us. I know one thing that it holds for me is a second hip replacement. I knew when I had the right hip done last March that I would need to have the left one done within the year. The doctor was clear about that. So the surgery is scheduled for January 17th, a little less than 2weeks. I will be in the hospital for about a week and then home, “under house arrest,” for about 5 weeks. There is a sense in which this is much easier than the first surgery. I know what to expect, since I have been through it once. I know the doctor and the staff of the hospital; I know the therapy that will need to be followed after the surgery and how much work I can do from home in the weeks of recovery. All of that is a blessing. But knowing all of this, there is a great temptation to think I can do it on my own. Since all went well the first time, I might presume that it will follow for the second time. That would be a grave mistake. The reason that recovery was so good the first time was because God answered your prayers. You stood with me and supported me in prayer. It would be foolish of me to think that I could do this on my own. I had nothing to do with the first recovery (except following instructions). God was the healer and God will be the healer this time as well. So I ask that you join me in prayer for God’s leading and God’s healing for this second hip.

 

While I am not excited about doing this again and I struggle a bit with the timing coming so close to the last surgery, just as things are beginning to move forward at Chigodi Center and just as I am beginning at a new church, I am trusting God that he knows best in all of this. None of these things depend on me, but on God’s grace and direction. I am trusting him for all that this means for me, for ministry here and for my relationships here and with you. I am trusting God to bringing good out of this for his glory, not just an ease of walking for me, but to use it to strengthen his kingdom. I ask you to join me in prayer for this.

 

I will keep you posted on progress throughout. I welcome emails as well as prayers, to know how you are doing and what is happening outside the confines of my home in the next 6 weeks. Thank you in advance for your caring and for your prayers.

 

Yours in Christ,

Kay

 

 

February 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

 

As I am recovering from surgery, upheld by your prayers and encouragement, I have experienced Christ’s presence in powerful ways. In church circles, we talk a lot about the Body of Christ, but often, we don’t expect to see much evidence of it in our live –  to see the hands and feet of Christ minister in our homes, to see the heart of Christ displayed in the actions of those who greet us, or to feel the warmth and comfort of Christ’s embrace through the arms of those who hold us. Yet, that is what I have experienced in the days since my surgery. The church here in Malawi and in US  has been the Body of Christ in the most tangible ways.

 

Monday, the day surgery, my son Charles and his wife were with me, but later in the day, as I was able to recovering from the effects of the spinal anesthetic, the senior pastor Limbe congregation, the church I am serving as associate pastor, and the session clerks came to pray with me. They said the church didn’t want to overwhelm me by all coming, but that they were representing the congregation. A bit later, the General Secretary of the Synod came to pray with me. What overwhelmed me is what began on Tuesday. The Church began to come, first the Women’s guild, only 9 of them representing the group of over 500, then two groups of 9 each of elders from the various “zones,” the divisions of the congregation for prayers and small group ministry. Each brought a gift of food – fruit juices, fruit, cookies. When they realized that Alinafe was staying with me all day and that I was served food but she had to go out of the hospital to get hers, they organized people to bring her lunch each day. She is not a member of the church, but she was caring for me on their behalf and they desire was to care for her. Group visitations like this continued the whole time I was in the hospital.

 

Once at home, the patterned changed. On Sunday, they brought worship to me, with first a group from the English service coming to conduct a mini service in English and then a group from the Chichewa service to do the same. Worship included singing and an offering. The difference was the offering was given to me – food and money to provide for my needs while at home. The generosity was overwhelming – everything from meat and rice to tooth paste and toilet paper. Each day at least one individual from the congregation comes to see what I might need. Please understand that “manse 2,” as they call my home, is about 7 miles from the church and at present we are experiencing a severe fuel shortage. Many people have abandoned driving until fuel is available again. The last group that came to visit hired a minibus to bring them, since none of them had fuel to drive. Each visit includes praise and prayers, as well as their presents of love. I am humbled by their caring and comfort. I am experiencing the functioning Body of Christ.

 

Yesterday, a package arrived that had been sent from the US weeks before my surgery, containing all sorts of American comfort goodies – chocolate, diet Pepsi, favorite cookies, a portable DVD player for convalescent movie watching, and a packet of cards of encouragement from longtime friends.  I have received over 60 emails from many of you encouraging me and reminding me of your prayers and caring. I know there are church groups that are praying as well as individuals. Thank you for being the body of Christ in this way.

 

I invite you to praise God with me for this incredible outpouring of God’s grace and care through the hands and feet of his people. Praise God with me for the healing he is doing. I am able to walk a short distance past my gate, with an escort. I am getting stronger each day and am able to work from my home. Pray, please for continued healing and strength and for the ability to follow the doctor’s instructions completely.

 

Yours in Christ,

Kay

 

March 2011

 

Dear Family and Friends,

 

Greetings from the Warm Heart of Africa.

 

Each day I learn more of the differences between the culture I grew up in and the one I am living in. Sometimes these differences are subtle, but they have great significance. The use of titles is one of those seemingly small differences, but it carries great weight. Titles are not all that important in the States. In fact, when someone uses his title, we tend to think he is “putting on airs” to impress. Many times he is. But not so here. Titles mean everything. When one has a title, one is addressed by that title in most situations. For instance, the session clerk of the congregation is always addressed as “alembi.” The session clerk at Limbe CCAP is Mr. Mulanje, but everyone addresses him as alembi, not using his last name, just his title. When the women’s coordinator is spoken of, it is always as “mayi oyendera”.  This is not done to impress, but rather to show respect, to honor the position that the individual holds. I am greeted, addressed and referred to as “abusa”, pastor. Rarely is my last name used. The title is enough. This is true for all pastors and this is not just in church circles. When I am at the market and someone recognized me, the greeting is always “Abusa.” I was in town with my son Thomas the other day. Neither of us was wearing a clerical collar. We met someone from his old neighborhood and the greeting was “Abusa.” At official functions, people are recognized by their titles, not by their names. This is respect for what they have accomplished, where they have gotten. If one has a title, one is succeeding and this is recognized by all by using that title. The position, the function, is important.

 

I have thought a great deal about this, because it seems so strange, so artificial to me, given my background. Titles describe what one does, the function, not who the person is, from our Western perspective, and yet from a Malawian perspective, that title is more significant than the person’s name. The function, the role, places them in the culture. I began to think about this in relations to Jesus in our lives when my Malawian friends referred to him simply as Healer, in relation to my healing. This Lenten season, I have continued thinking about this in respect to the titles that Jesus bears during this season. They are so significant for the role that has in our lives as Christians – suffering servant, redeemer, messiah. Yes, Jesus is more than one s ingle title, but these titles are significant in his function in our lives. There are so many titles by which we could address Jesus, to show our recognition and respect for what he has done for us. The titles of Jesus honor the position that he holds in our lives; they respect and recognize what he has done for us. The position, the function, is important. I’ve begun using some of those titles in prayer as I address him. It helps me focus on that function that means the most at that moment, which deserve my attention at that time.

 

I invite you to pray with me in this “cross-cultural” way this Lent, to focus on titles of Jesus and the role those titles represent. I think it will broaden our understanding of who Jesus is in many of the situations of our lives. It is a least a challenging Lenten discipline to explore the various titles of Jesus at this season. I pray this Lent we all grow in our understanding of who Jesus is in our lives.

 

Yours in the redeemer’s love,

Kay

 

Dear Family and Friends,

 

Greetings from the Malawi portion of the body of Christ. We are at the beginning of Visitors’ Season in Malawi. This is the time of year when folks from all over the world come to Malawi on mission trips. The list this year includes groups and individuals from US, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, and Scotland. It is Scotland that stands out, for the church in Scotland founded Blantyre Synod and much of the work that is happening today in the southern region of Malawi was begun by those from Scotland. St Michaels and All Angels Cathedral, which stands at the center of Blantyre Synod property, is a testimony to that mission involvement. This month we celebrated that fact with the 120 year anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral. Those of you who have visited Blantyre will remember the imposing structure. At the celebration, as some of the facts of the construction were highlighted, I was struck by the powerful lessons they present for ministry in any location.

At the time of the dedication, there were only 30 African communicants, but the structure was built as a witness to the future. The designer, and contractor, Dr. David Clement Scott, who had no formal architectural training, had great support from the people here, but faced opposition from folks in Scotland, who thought he would be wasting valuable resources. So he determined to construct the project using all African materials and resources. He took nothing from Scotland to build the cathedral. It proved to be a great boost to the confidence of the church here, to realize they had the resources they needed to do the job. God provided then and I believe God can provide for us now. He is able to supply all the resources we need to do the ministry at hand. Dr. Scott designed 81 different shapes and sizes of bricks to erect the cathedral. They are all needed to give the design and the strength to the building, just as we need the different shapes and sizes of people within the church, with their individual strengths and talents. One style is not enough for the body of Christ. That is Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 12. When the building was completed, it drew great criticism from many people who insisted that it would collapse under its own weight. Dr. Scott, a man of prayer, insisted that the name of this cathedral be St. Michael’s and All Angles, in the trust that the angels of God would hold up the structure. The angles have done that for 120 years. His trust was well placed. In the same way, we need to trust God for the protection and strengthening of the projects to which he has called us.

            These lessons are important of all of life, but especially for Blantyre Synod at this time as nominations will be made in June for those who will seek leadership positions within the Synod. Please pray for God’s resources, strength and protection for the Synod and for those God would choose to lead us into the future. I pray that God’s resources, strength and protection may be abundant in your lives too.

            Yours in Christ,     

                                  Kay

 

 

 

 

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