October 2016 Sarah Masson Update
Most people ask, “How’s it going there Sarah?” I find this question to be a bit overwhelming! I have several things flash through my mind but not many that I feel I can share due to their graphic nature. Many stories and visuals that leave us a bit squeamish at the details provided. I find myself wondering do people really want to know the truth of 'the third world' or is it better left unsaid and only reported on when there's mass casualties. How do we truly love 'the one' in front of us and try to help on a larger scale to change and move deep seeded poverty? It seems that so many have plans and systems, yet they haven't fully learned with and from the people that they are trying to 'help'. It is hard to know what will work after several years later and looking back. It is not a nation of numbers and statistics but living, breathing and thriving fellow brothers and sisters who teach me so much. As I continue to join and come under my friends here in Malawi, God continues to teach and show that it matters to an entire family when you take her to the hospital, and it matters when you give of your time to teach English to that one because he will return to Secondary as a 40 year man and finish his education in the evenings. It matters when put in the time and invest the time.
A few grandparents of different Iris children died this year, so many have lost their last connection to any family. We hear of worker’s family members dying in minibus accidents, young babies dying of fevers or malaria, small children being bitten by snakes in the fields, robberies of local shops and banks, and seemingly misplaced beatings of mentally unstable people. The events and traumas go on and on. When I write them all out it sounds a bit wild, but it becomes part of daily life. Not many people are really shaken; people must get up and tend their gardens on the same day or the day after a funeral. However, that is my generalization of a population that from my viewpoint seems to be able to survive through all these horrific circumstances. Surviving past the age of 40 seems to be a great accomplishment! The people have all of these tragedies flowing in and around their lives, yet they find time for friends, family, work, and God at church on Sundays.
It just seems like there’s so much going on that you can sit around all day asking God where to go and where to start! It can be overwhelming, but when you get going God shows me where to go and who to talk to, and in no time at all, I arrive at the evening hours and wonder where did the day go?
If I share of all the bad things that happened in the last months, it could really make a conversation depressing or lively, depending on who is taking it in. I feel that if I explain some of the ‘once in a while crazy things’ that happen in rural Africa, then people also don’t really get to know what the daily life is like; it is quite regular. Our kids go to school, I do admin, host visitors, teach English or provide a youth program for teenagers, and life rolls on. It’s every couple of weeks that it seems like it rains and then pours with tragedies. It’s not all glamourous stories of crocodiles, treacherous floods or horrible situations, there isn’t always a flashy news story to tell, but that’s what we as humans seem to really respond to. A man recently stabbed and popped my truck tire with the pedal of his bicycle while yelling racial comments, but then we had two amazing men stop to help us after we had to drive a kilometer out of the busy market area.
July: I Preached on “having faith for Miracles”. I challenged our Iris Malawi church family to bring non-Christian friends to the conference. A few thousand people showed up to the conference seeking for food for their bellies as well as spiritual encouragements. So many deliverances happened at the conference this year. Hundreds of people were prayed for and delivered from much. Two of the speakers spoke about giving up witchcraft and how if they are trying to mix God with other gods it will cause confusion. God’s power proved to be the strongest. People’s bodies were contorted with demons and they were prayed for and their bodies completely relaxed into the peace of Jesus. Many were healed and repented for their lack of faith and in desperate times going to the witch doctors.
August: I feel like I’m seeing a harvest in our youth now for the first time after planting over the last 6 years. There was a powerful week with a guest from Australia sharing her testimony of being an orphan and feeling rejected by her parents, and how that effects our identity. Amazing! Then she taught us about words of knowledge for healings, and the youth prayed for each other for healing. One deaf ear opened and one leg grew out to its proper length. God is good and faithful to us; he never leaves us. He’s working even when you are spending time with people not ‘doing’ anything. Stop for your friends and family this season and see how much it means to spend that quality time going deep.
One of the sweetest moments that I saw during our yearly conference was the hunger and desperateness of one elderly man who always attends our church on Sundays. To give you an idea of his frailty, his body structure looks similar to a toothpick that anyone could snap in half. The conference ground is about 6 or 7 kms from his home. One morning as I drove a group of western visitors to the conference ground at Ali’s house, my heart sank so deep because I saw him in his barely functioning wheelchair, and a young 6 year old boy was pushing him to the conference with no shoes on. You could see the hunger they had to be part of what was happening. I’ve never seen that level of eagerness to get to church. I already thought ‘how does he manage to get to our church every Sunday when he lives much closer?’ Now, he was making his way to the conference to get filled up and restored by God himself! What a sight!!! I wished with all my heart to let out all the visitors from my truck and load him in!!! As soon as he arrived at the conference in thousands of people, God highlighted him to me and I went to greet him specially. We sat in the sun for a few minutes and I asked him in my broken Chichewa if he would like to sit under the tree. He said ‘yes please’, so I pushed him into the crowd, who did not see him or recognize him, and asked a few boys to move on his behalf. Later (in the ministry time) I found him and prayed for him, as he couldn’t make it to the front). Please join me and continue to pray for him that he receives life and sees God move before the end of his life. Honestly, what a blessed man that he hungers after Jesus with such desperation. He reminded me to keep hungering after our Lord.
I continue to spend time with the youth to build solid relationships. Every Friday night we play indoor and outdoor games together, listen to worship music and pray, dance to their favourite songs or watch an educational or inspirational movie. During the week I spend quality time with a few of the kids. I also make an effort to visit the girl’s homes in the evenings to relieve the house mothers in part, but more so to connect with the girls by doing homework or answering their questions about life and God. They usually ask me to read them a book, sing them to sleep and pray for them. These are the most special times for me. I often say that I do a job on the base just so I can be where God has asked me to be, and that’s with the youth and children at Iris Malawi.
One of our youth girls has problems with her right ear and for a long time now has had to turn to hear me out of her left ear. At the conference I told her that we needed to take her to an ear specialist. Her response to me was, "no Aunty, let's get it fixed for free." I said "how will we do that?" and she excited me by saying, "I’m going to wait for the speakers at the conference to pray for it to be healed." Well this didn't happen at the conference but it happened a few days after the conference at our youth worship and bible study night. It was amazing! We prayed for her ear with a few visitors and she started to cry and I said what's happening, then she said “Aunty!”... and more crying. Then i started to cry and finally we figured out that she could hear by closing off her other ear! Incredible. Amazing faith from a young girl, and she is now able to hear and she now knows how much her heavenly Father knows her and never forgets her. And,it was free!