October 2021 Sarah Mkandawire (Masson) Update
As shared in my previous updates, you know that due to circumstances in the world, I took a temporary leave from Iris Ministries Canada from March 2021 to August 2021. I have now returned to Iris Malawi to serve our friends here in ministry. I have been back in Malawi since the beginning of September 2021 with all three members of our new family, Chenela, myself, and our son, Buve. We are slowly getting our 16-month-old baby used to the weather, however, he is taking a lot longer with people as he was born in May 2020, during the early Covid lockdowns. He has only known 10 people in Canada - all members of my family! He is still observing and learning how to be around people in general. I think this is the new norm for all covid babies. As you can imagine, with social distancing, he is not used to people approaching him or being in his space. He will get used to it soon enough, as babies do adapt quickly.
Now that we are back on base, we have hit the ground running! It is a bittersweet return to our place here in Malawi, as I arrive home to feel the bitterness of the empty places that our good friends used to fill. While in Canada, we lost our great friend Peter who managed the base for over 15 years, and Ruth, who also worked at Iris as a house mom. These are two very big losses for the Kingdom here on earth, but we know that they are with Jesus now. I’m saddened that we did not receive a huge laugh and smile from Peter upon our return, and a loving embrace and smile from Mama Ruth.
The sweetness we felt is from all our friends here on the base, being so excited to see us and to play with our baby! The cheers when we rolled into the gate on the property brought tears to my eyes. In some ways, it feels like I’ve been gone for 1 1/2 years but in other ways, it feels like I never left. I left 7 when I was months pregnant, and came back with a 16-month-old baby! I know I’ve talked about ‘in the waiting’ before because God has taught me so many times about waiting - haha! Truly, God knows the timing and plans for our lives. We need to continually surrender to Him our plans, and give Him the steering wheel because honestly, he knows what’s right. Always be open to listening to him, even when in the natural it doesn’t seem possible. I can tell you, I was scared to go on leave and be unpaid with a newborn, but God took care of us through family and friends who understood how difficult it was for us to be separated from Chenela again. Through the pain, we kept on hearing God’s promises to be fulfilled for the future of our baby. We hope and pray that all missed time with our friends and family all around the world will be restored in a greater way. We also know that many around the world value time with family now more than ever before. I will continue to lay down my life for Jesus because His ways are better than our ways. He knows what is best for us when we surrender all to him.
There have been many losses in the past few years, and it is terrible to not be able to grieve with friends and family. As time goes on, the need for support continues, so I am praying for ways to come alongside our family and friends here. I pray that all who have had losses will be able to find peace - as our friends and family rest in peace. Since the arrival of our baby to Malawi brings great joy to everyone’s face here, we know that this will be part of the healing process. Please do continue to pray for our children who have lost so much in their lives. As I settle into my new role as a mom while continuing to serve the ministry, my previous roles will necessarily change somewhat. I will keep you informed on what that looks like as time goes on!
[Four of the Iris children in front, with Buve close behind, learning the ropes from the big kids!]
[Chenela and Buve hanging out with some of our Iris family.]
[Little boys and dirt go together, so all will be well...considering how much dirt there is in Malawi!]