The Mission Years-Part Three

It was stressful getting everything approved, supplies gathered together, supplies shipped, funds raised, waiting for the complications of the wife’s pregnancy and delivery of our third child to settle, and the securing of all the necessary shots, medications and paperwork to leave the States to enter into African countries. I had not stopped since the ‘call’ to the ministry fourteen years earlier. I had been through a lot of hurtful disappointing experiences, while being involved with three congregations and travelling in thirty-seven States raising funds for the mission work.

I was weary before I even arrived overseas. I had no idea as to what we were headed for as we would be the first missionaries for this organization to Malawi. There would be ‘jet-lag’, adjustment to the medications to ward off Malaria, and of course the ‘Culture-shock’. We would be going from Modern Twentieth Century America to a Third-World Country. The electric was 240, not the 120 and 220 of America. The climate was more Tropical, which meant that pipes for water would lay on top of the ground instead of underneath. Air conditioning wasn’t part of the culture, as it was only needed a few weeks out of the year. Propane came in portable tanks that sat beside the range, not 500 gallon metal units that sat outside. There was no furnace, as it never got below freezing. The water was unsafe to drink, so everything had to be boiled and or purified with tablets. The main staple of the African diet was ground corn meal, known as Ufa in Swahili and Nzima in Chichewa. This was served with rice, or beans, or with a soup with cut up chicken or beef or goat. They also liked termites and dried fish. There was an abundance of fruits and vegetables at the local markets. Tea and coffee were grown and exported as money crops. They had ‘Coca-Cola’ in the main cities and drank it warm. If you asked for ice at the hotels, they would bring you one or two ice cubes. They didn’t understand about ice-cold. I’m sure that there were other things that were part of their diet that we never knew about. They were very poor and made do with what little they had and not wasting anything.

Because of the polluted water, mosquitoes and disease were everywhere. The nationals bathed in the creeks, and the cattle and wildlife drank and emptied their waste into the same water. Outside the main cities there were few wells, and usually one well served several villages, with the people having to carry the water on their heads in large tins for several miles. Cholera, Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever in some areas, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid Fever, Rabies, AIDS, and Parasites are some of the health risks in African countries. Mosquito Nets were common around beds in hotels, and in some homes.

pam am 747 outside

We made the eighteen hour flight overseas in a Pam Am jumbo jet, with brief stops in London, Lagos, and Monrovia, before landing in Nairobi. T was 12, and G was 9, and N was 8 weeks old. N was the focal point and door-opener everywhere we went. The Africans loved a white baby and gave him a lot of attention.

pam am 747 interior

The Pam Am 747 Jumbo-jet was huge and the flight which we were on was only partially full, so we were able to move around after take-off, ending up in the middle section of the plane with a whole row to ourselves. Of course the flight attendants were fascinated with N and with T and G too, as they were so young and getting to travel overseas to Africa as missionary kids. They made sure we had everything needed to make us comfortable.

Here are some statistics on the Jumbo-jets.

-370 seats
-589 mph
-710,000 lb. max. gross take-off weight
-5500 mile range
-4 Pratt & Whitney JT9D Engines.
-(43,500 lb thrust)
-231ft Length
-65ft Height
-196ft Span

Created due to the 15% increase of airline traffic per year in an effort to bring cheap flights to the masses. In April 1966, Pan Am placed an order with Boeing for twenty-five 747s. Each cost $21,000,000. The complete order cost $525,000,000.

Years later another plane, like the one we flew on, was bombed. Below is brief description of that flight.

‘Young America Clipper’ On January 22, 1970 the first B747-100 departed JFK on route to London.
The Pam Am Flight 103, also commonly referred to as the Lockerbie bombing, was the bombing of a Pan Am transatlantic flight from London Heathrow Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday, 21 December 1988. A Boeing 747–121, named ‘Clipper Maid of the Seas’, was destroyed by an explosive device killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members.[2] Large sections of the plane crashed into Lockerbie, in southern Scotland, killing a further 11 people on the ground.

One of the mysteries of life. Why do some die horrible deaths and others get to live. Solomon, the wisest man on earth, could not tell us. He said he saw the good die like the bad and the bad die like the good. Only eternity will explain the real reasons to the madness.

malawi map

If Malawi were your home instead of The United States you would…

be 19.8 times more likely to have HIV/AIDS
have 13.6 times higher chance of dying in infancy
have 3 times more babies
die 27.32 years sooner
use 99.18% less electricity
consume 99.18% less oil
make 98.06% less money
spend 99.08% less money on health care
experience 13.33% less of a class divide

Malawi is about the size of Pennsylvania. Malawi had a population of 6 million in the 1980s. Today it has a population of 15,447,500 people. Malawi is the 64th largest country in the world by population. It is the 99th largest country by area with 118,484 square kilometers. Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu Banda the country held multiparty elections in 1994, under a provisional constitution that came into full effect the following year. Current President Bingu wa Mutharika, elected in May 2004 after a failed attempt by the previous president to amend the constitution to permit another term, struggled to assert his authority against his predecessor and subsequently started his own party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2005. As president, Mutharika has overseen economic improvement but because of political deadlock in the legislature, his minority party has been unable to pass significant legislation, and anti-corruption measures have stalled. Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the spread of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi. Mutharika was reelected to a second term in May 2009.

Malawi is a country in Africa, bordered by Mozambique to the south and east, Tanzania to the north, and Zambia to the west. Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa, runs along most of its eastern border. It’s described as the “Warm Heart of Africa”, referring to the friendliness of the people.

Promoted as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, Malawi is a long, thin country renowned for the unequaled friendliness of its people, unspoiled national parks and wildlife reserves, and the beaches and tropical fish life of Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. The countries layout is dominated by the vast lake, as well as the Great Rift Valley that cuts through the country from north to south, creating fertile valleys, cool mountains and verdant plateaus. Lake Malawi is 365 miles long and averages 52 miles wide with an average depth of over 2000 feet.

Lake Malawi is an irresistible attraction for travelers, with its beaches, resorts, water sports and outstanding variety of fish life a magnet for divers and snorkelers. The lake is home to a bigger variety of fish (500 species) than any other freshwater lake on earth, most of them protected within the Lake Malawi National Park at its southern tip. Most visitors head for the small, restful village at Cape Maclear which, along with its offshore islands, is part of the park. Equally popular, Nkhata Bay to the north has bays, beaches and various water activities. Spread along the length of the lakeshore are numerous traditional fishing villages, and the fishermen in their dugout canoes form a quintessential postcard silhouette against the spectacular golden sunset.

Malawi is also blessed with numerous game reserves and national parks that are uncrowded, well stocked with animals and a renowned variety of birdlife, and offer a unique wilderness experience. The northern Nyika Plateau, at around 7,500 feet, is one of the world’s highest game reserves and is a remote area located in the most unspoiled and least visited part of the country, with beautiful grasslands and waterfalls, the highest concentration of leopard in Central Africa, and famous for its abundant orchid species. To the south, the best-known park is Liwonde National Park, with thousands of hippos and crocodiles on the banks of the Shire River, as well as large numbers of elephants, zebra and antelope.

The southern part of the country is the most developed and the most populated. Although Lilongwe is the capital, the region is home to Malawi’s largest city and main commercial center, Blantyre, which is a good base for visiting two of the area’s attractions – the vast massif of Mt. Mulunje, offering some of the finest hiking trails in the country, and Zomba Plateau.

Malawi has remained peaceful for over a century, unaffected by war and internal strife that has torn many other African countries apart, and although poor and densely populated, the country offers visitors a wealth of scenic highlights, culture and activities.

Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi on July 6, 1964. After three decades of one-party rule, the country held multiparty elections in 1994 under a provisional constitution, which took full effect the following year. National multiparty elections were held again in 1999 and 2004 electing Bingu wa Mutharika as president. President Bingu died in office on April 5, 2012 and was succeeded by Mrs Joyce Banda. The next elections are due in 2014.

Much of Malawi is plateau, often reaching to 3,000 ft, and the temperature in these highlands is moderate, with the hottest period occurring during the autumn rainy season and the coolest and chilliest in winter. The hottest region in the country is the lower Shire River Valley well south of Blantyre. Temperatures along scenic Lake Malawi are generally warm, but with a cooling breeze, especially in the evenings. Winters (May ’til July) are dry. The rainy season begins in mid-October to early November and generally runs until March.

Malawi’s people are its greatest asset – friendly, welcoming, colorful and vibrant. It is impossible to visit and not become engaged with the people, but there are now opportunities to spend time in real villages (including staying overnight) for a first-hand experience of the cultures, traditions and daily life. This is an option pretty much everywhere in Malawi, and one well worth taking.

There’s also much to see of Malawi’s history, beginning with the pre-historic remains of the Karonga district and the Stone Age rock paintings near Dedza. The Cultural & Museum Centre at Karonga is well worth a visit. Elsewhere, the colonial period is preserved in buildings dating from the David Livingstone era; and the defeat of the Arab slave trade is well documented in the museums of Blantyre. Among other museums around the country are a Lake Museum at Mangochi, a mission museum at Livingstonia and a postal services museum near Zomba. The country is divided into three regions:
Northern Malawi, Central Malawi, and the Southern Malawi.

Lilongwe – the political capital of the country and the seat of government. Blantyre – the economic capital and largest city of the country. Blantyre is a large and thriving city with an interesting downtown, decent nightlife and music, a range of hotels from the elegant to resthouses, and a vibrant street and market culture. Limbe – a largely commercial town next to Blantyre, with some of the best Indian restaurants in Malawi. Mzuzu – the largest town in the Northern Region, and a staging-post for transport to Tanzania. Karonga – the first and last stop from/to Tanzania at the very top of Malawi. Karonga is quickly growing, spurred on by the recent development of a uranium mine. Though it is tempting to swing through quickly, Karonga is a charming town, not far from the intriguing Misuku Hills and a short distance from Lake Malawi.

Mangochi, formerly known as Fort Johnston, is found at the southern end of Lake Malawi where it empties into the Shire River on its way to join the Zambezi River as it heads towards the Indian Ocean. A medium-sized town, it has all the usual conveniences for low-budget travelers, including resthouses, restaurants, and groceries. By private vehicle, a drive to Mangochi from Blanytre will take about 3 to 4 hours. Mangochi is a jumping-off point for the resorts and hostels up the coast of Lake Malawi, on the way to peninsular Cape Maclear. Monkey Bay is a popular large village as you head up the Lake Road from Mangochi toward Cape Maclear. Nkhata Bay – a rocky bay towards the north of the lake – check into one of the lodges and you could be here for a while. Nkhotakota on the shores of Lake Malawi in the Central Region, is where the explorer David Livingstone sat down with the Swahili Arab slave traders to attempt to negotiate an end to the slave trade. Nkhotakota was a slave entrepot, from which slaves were ferried across Lake Malawi to the eastern shore to resume their travel overland to what is now the Tanzanian coast. Nkhotakota is a compact and fascinating town, old in its way and true to the ethnic diversity of this region of Malawi. Zomba is the old colonial capital of Malawi and is noted for its British colonial architecture, the University of Malawi, and the remarkable Zomba Plateau which rises immediately west of the city. While in Zomba, visit the extensive market, purchase fabric and handicrafts, and enjoy some of Malawi’s best Indian food.

Here are some pictures of Malawi:

lake malawi boat

malawian on lake in boat

malawian dried fish

malawi village

malawi firewood

malawi village

lake malawi fish

malawi food

malawi market

malawi tea

malawi traditional

malawi toy

malawi shop

malawi pots on heads

Click here to go to The Mission Years-Part Four

Leave a Reply