Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday in Southern Malawi

On Friday morning we got up and made our way quickly to the Diocesan Center where I met with the clergy. We began our time together with Bishop Tengatenga speaking about his work and some of the socio/political events in Malawi. Then I was introduced to the clergy of the diocese and learned where they were stationed. I am still geographically challenged here in Southern Malawi but had gotten enough bearings where I knew where they are serving.

The topic of my conversation was leadership - a big surprise. I talked about our Diocesan vision and how we are trying to drive that through the organization. I talked about the key elements of our work: leadership, connection/networking, and formation. Then I Bishop James asked that I talk with them about how the clergy in the Diocese of Texas work together and some of our successes in common ministry.

They found out that I am like many bishops and can talk quite a bit. So, I kept them busy and then we had a nice tea break on the lawn. I was able to visit with some of them. As I mentioned in the photo journal I saw Charles who studied at General for a while and was present when Bishop Harrison was consecrated bishop. I also got to meet Martin who is a VTS grad and who knows a number of our good priests.

When we returned we had a time of conversation where in they shared with me some of their challenges and asked some questions. I think one of the most interesting take-aways was how much we have in common. These were good men who are working hard for the Lord and trying to do their best. They have challenges regarding time, prayer, study, and rest not unlike our own clergy; not unlike me...

They asked me the following questions: what is our diocese like (stewardship, number of congregations, size)? They were interested in the demographics and our particular mission challenge in the U.S. They wanted me to speak about the nature of our youth and young adult mission work. They asked me who was responsible for the mission; and I explained that we all were. It was a very good give and take.

Then I asked them what would you like me to take home? What would you like me to share with the people of my diocese? This is what they said. Tell them they have two homes now; Texas and in Malawi and we would welcome them to come home. Tell them that we are hoping that more parishes will link with our parishes so that we can learn from one another. Tell them we are grateful for allowing the Bishop to come and be with us as it reminds us of our connection to a global communion/church. Tell them we are interested in possible "distance learning." Is it possible for us to connect electronically with one another, between our seminaries, so that we can share and learn together? And, finally I am to bring back with me to Texas their deepest love, and regards.

When we were finished I was presented with a beautiful embroideried table cloth sewn by the HIV/AIDs community in Thyolo. It is wonderful and a very kind gift. This is where I visited my first day on the ground.

I then had another radio interview on my trip and what I was seeing in the church and mission field here in Malawi.

As my luggage has still not yet arrived I went shopping after a brief lunch with Bishop James. Best food of the day was: sweet potato leaves, surprisingly excellent; a little like spinach.

On Friday afternoon I had a bit of time to myself. I caught up on some preparations for Sunday's sermon.

Then I joined Bishop James and the Development Board for a meeting and dinner. This group is something like a combination between the Diocese of Texas Executive Board and Church Corporation. They gave a great presentation. I will be bringing it back with me and using it to inform our own diocese about the work being done here. The highlight was seeing the tremendous amount they are doing!Thanks to the generosity of the Diocese of Texas we have helped with their strategic planning, to support an orphanage, to help students stay at Trinity school (I will visit there next week), and Boreholes. The boreholes are wells. Many of the people who uses these boreholes must walk some 4 km and then wait in line for 6 hours in order to get fresh water - one bucket full. Each well is serving some 300 families which is about 1500 to 1800 people!

Here is a link to my photo journal or you can click the title of this article and be taken directly there:

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  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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