Day 8 – Friday
We left Blantyre on time and got a good start to the journey. We had discussed taking a different route back in order to go by Lake Malawi but decided against it as we were unsure of how long it would take and also were still not confident about the car. We were about two hours into the trip when the car started to act up again slowing to a stop. We continued after it started up however it continued to get progressively worse until we were stopping every five minutes as we got closer to Lilongwe. We called Avis and they were getting another car ready but we weren’t even sure if we would be able to make it to the Hotel to change it. We stopped and started for another half hour through Lilongwe and eventually made coasting into the entrance of the hotel. Avis were apologetic about it and had another car, a newer version ready for us shortly after we got there so we did not lose too much time and continued on to Nhkamenya.
We arrived back at the Parish at about 2pm and were welcomed with lunch and smiling faces. We relaxed a little and then went to help with the preparations for the Big Sunday Mass to follow the Ordination that was to take place the next day. We assisted in the painting of the bases of all the trees surrounding where the Mass would be held and lacking any real paint brushes we used a fibrous branch of a tree that had been shredded into a brush like end – I have to say it was even better than some new brushes I have bought at home. I painted and Rick took the pictures.
Following this we took Father Angelo back down to the town and bought him a few cases of Green Beer to replace some of the ones we had tasted for him. We had to hold many tastings as it was difficult to gauge the true flavor on just one or two sips – Father Angelo was happy to receive them.
We returned for dinner and ate together at the Parish house where another guest had joined on his way to Mzuzu for the Ordination. I was resting after dinner and we were chatting, when Father Mkandawire, the Pastor formally thanked us sincerely for our visit and what our Club had done already for the Parish and the community here. He expressed extreme gratitude for all of the kindness that had been shown to their community as a result of the growing relationship that had begun with Father Alphie and had now solidified itself with this new relationship with Father Angelo. The members of the community were overjoyed at the visit by the two of the Americans (Irish) and it was hard to explain just how much it meant to them to have a “Mzungu” (white man) visit out that far in the villages – just to shake our hands was a treat and a rare occasion. I expressed our thanks for their generous hospitality and appreciation for having moved them around in order to accommodate each of us with a room while we stayed there. It had been a great visit with some very productive meetings and enlightening tours of the various communities within the parish – I had a lot to share when I returned home.
Following our conversation Father Angelo asked me to join him for a meeting with the Youth (young teenagers). I said sure – It was about 8.45pm and we walked over to the hall where there were about 30 young girls and boys and they were holding a meeting to discuss issues and various topics. Father Angelo is head of the youth organization for the Parish which includes over 5,000 youths. There are a number of different youth clubs throughout the parish which are made up of a committee and have an elected President that runs their meetings. The youth meet at each club on a bi monthly basis and the President meets with Father Angelo at the headquarters in Mzuzu on a Bi monthly basis also.
Father Angelo always seems to have something going on that connects with them – he introduced me and spoke a little to the group in their language and then they all laughed – he had made a comment on my shorts as it was quite cool and nobody was wearing shorts – just the” Irishman from America of course”.
Father put me on the spot a little and asked me to say a few words of introduction and reasons for our visit and then I answered a few questions from the group that were all on issues that they were experiencing – Getting married rather than finishing school, looking for jobs, learning a trade. I found it difficult to give them good answers as all of the political and economic reasons for their futures were so much in evidence but what do you say! I commended them on their respect for education, each other and their community and encouraged them to make sure and vote when they become old enough to do so. We talked a little about the internet and the changes it is bringing to other countries around the world – cell phones are only getting started here so there is a bit of a ways to go. It was an interesting meeting and just another glimpse of what Father Angelo had scheduled for me to witness while I was here. We said our goodbyes so they could continue with their meeting and I thanked the President of the Club for allowing me to join them.
We retired after this to bed at 10pm – 5am start the next morning to travel to Mzuzu for the Ordination