Yesterday we had a puncture in the car we were in, thankfully we were only travelling slowly at the time. People stop and help you if you are in trouble, but it still took quite a few people to change the tyre for the spare, which was almost threadbare, and on which we then travelled for the rest of the day at quite fast speeds!
But having a puncture yesterday has meant that not a lot has happened today as it takes time to get tyres repaired, and added to that there is a fuel shortage in Malawi so very few petrol stations have petrol, and when they do, there can be a queue of hundreds of yards as people wait to fill up, some of then pushing their vehicles to get there as they have run out.
Waiting around can be frustrating, and one never knows what is going to happen. This afternoon we are meant to be going to a prison, but we are not sure if it will happen or not.
However, yesterday we drove to Zomba, where we had been a few days before. During that visit we had gone to see the Dean of the Anglican Theological College who we had been put in touch with through my sister and brother in law. A really interesting visit, and we have an invitation to go back and speak to the students about church back in the UK – he was particularly interested in the fact that I never robe for services, and wanted us to talk about cultural relevance. Not sure whether we will have time to go back, but hope we can.
On that visit, we saw eagles overhead, a snake slithered across the road in front of the car, and we caught site of our first monkey. Can I just add that the spiders are enormous!!
Our visit yesterday though was to a Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre and then to a Youth Offenders Institute. At both Miriam shared about us and then I preached.
The first was an amazing place where they have very little money, the government grants for the last 2 months not having materialised, but the staff just give the young people what they have as they try to educate them and equip them with life skills for the future. Some of their young people have gone on to university or into businesses. We had lunch with the principal and met her sons, who were on fire for God, wanting to give their time to the young people and to serving others. So many people here have very little, but give their time and what they have to helping others with no financial reward.
Eating though is an interesting exercise as most people use ground nut oil to cook with, so Miriam’s nut allergy then causes some problems. But people have been very good and thoughtful, and so far no problems. But when people give you food, they don’t sit down and eat with you, they leave you to eat alone.
The youth prison was very different as again they have no money and have not yet been able to set up education and skills training. Nedson is hoping that the Good News Revival Centre will be able to help with this shortly, but apart from some gardening in the morning, the prisoners are then shut away in the prison courtyard for the rest of the day. They sleep in cells of 40 or more, all on the concrete floor, and have very little. A few of them were allowed out after service to play football against a local village team, which we stayed and watched for a while. It was bright sunshine, but behind us Zomba Plateau which rises thousands of feet above the town was surrounded by dark cloud and thunder.