April 2015 Sarah Masson Update
In Malawi there is a road system that is too well known. It requires you to slow down to a speed that feels like crawling, and if you been in Malawi for some time you will know that this is a sign of respect for a funeral. The grieving family will place tree branches on the road as a sign to slow down. I’m telling you this because nearly every time I’ve driven outside the base since the floods in January, I’ve needed to slow down because someone has died here around Nsanje District. It seems like death is so normal that local people don’t necessarily find it odd that there are funerals all the time. I don’t have any fancy statistics to share that this is true, so it is only my observation, and perhaps God is highlighting it more to me as an intercessor for this place we live in. I drove past a funeral two weeks ago for a small 4-year-old boy who was with his mother in the garden. His mother put him on the ground to chase the birds that are eating the already suffering crops this year, only to turn around to a dying child who had been bitten by a snake. As if there isn’t enough suffering for a family who has lost everything this season. This is a harsh life.
The flooding in Malawi this year has killed a few hundred people, ruined thousands of homes that were washed away forever, gardens (food crops) ripped to shreds. These are all big categories, but when you look at each individual story it becomes more overwhelming. This is the story of one family who was desperate in the floods. This family was standing on an anthill with their dog hoping for someone to rescue them when a crocodile jumped up and ate their dog right in front of them. How terrifying that must have been. Death is in your face in Bangula, yet it is part of daily life. There’s no time for grieving. There are no steps and no time to get through tragedy. From what I can see, life must go on to literally survive another day. In my opinion, if you live past 20 years old, you are pretty much a rock star! You really have to look for hope and the beauty in the broken living in rural Africa. So many people are suffering but it’s almost as if they don’t know it. It’s incredible.
[After the floods - you can see the high water mark on the wall of this building.]
Last week I met with a woman who is incredible. She is raising a child with cerebral palsy in the village with 5 other mouths to feed, 2 of which are her dead sister’s children, on zero salary and a very basic somewhat dying garden of millet. They are hoping to harvest this millet crop this year to eat more but the prospects look grim. I met her because she is on our feeding program at Iris, so they will have a small amount of assistance during the month. I looked into the eyes of this baby that has survived almost 2 years now, despite the odds and she looked back at me. She looked me in the face and seemingly told me she was fighting for her life. This mother has no support and no one else to rely on but her neighbours and a little bit of food from donors in the west.
In the midst of all these overwhelming life stories God is so faithful. A few nights ago I was studying with a precious 13-year-old girl who has been praying that God makes her smarter, so she can succeed and pass her exams. Her heart’s desire is to be able to earn for herself in the future. After the session, I was turning out the light and getting ready to do night time prayers when she said, “Aunty, how does that song go that you sing to us…, the one about Jesus, and soul?” I replied, “is it the one that goes like this… Jesus, lover of my soul, Jesus, I will never let you go… I love you, I need you?” She said, “yes, that one, can you write the words for me on this paper?” I was interested in knowing why she wanted it, so I asked, “how come you want the words?” She said, “I want to sing it too.” Deeply moved that God had been using this song to impact her and she didn’t even know all the words, I quickly wrote it down and then went to turn out the light again. This cute voice from her bunk bed said, “what is miry clay and why does he put us on a rock?” So I explained that miry clay is like getting stuck in the deepest, thickest mud you can imagine and you can’t get out yourself, but Jesus pulls you out, God puts you on the Rock and saves us from all the dirt in our lives. “Ok, thank you Aunty, have good dreams, goodnight.”
After a difficult year personally, this sweet, sweet voice of a young girl reminds me of God’s gentleness and love for us, not only that, but how He moves and works in the most incredible ways. Ways that can’t be orchestrated by us... We are called to follow Him and love His children. He doesn’t leave us and amazingly, He uses us, when we don’t even know it!!! After singing that song to His girls for the last 4.5 years at bedtimes, the sweetest question is asked, like music to my ears, and Jesus blows my mind away, yet again. She wanted the words to a song, so she can sing it to her Jesus.
I learned “Jesus, lover of my soul” from a camp leader when I was little. She used to sing us to bed with it, and I carried it over to here. It is the most requested bedtime song from the girls; it’s a love song to our Jesus. His aroma is sweet and lovely to our girls. Please keep praying that they will continue their love song with Jesus.
“Jesus, Lover of my soul, Jesus, I will never let you go. You’ve taken me from the miry clay, You’ve set my feet upon the Rock, and now I know. I love you, I need you, Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go. My Saviour, my closest friend, I will worship you until the very end.”
In other great news, our girls netball team has not lost a game in their last 15 matches. They are on fire and they even allow me, their ol’ aunty to play along.
This is all for Jesus, my life is His. My hope is in Christ to rescue all these hurting people.