DO Diaries: Days One and Two

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May 25, 2021

We arrived at our lodge late afternoon in Malawi – exhausted from a long travel from Ohio. There is increased COVID awareness since our last visit in December. Now we needed to produce papers that we were tested within 72 hours of arrival and went through a tent outside to be questioned. Many more people are wearing masks as well – this is all encouraging. COVID has taken a toll on Malawi and many developing countries – tourism is down, and this affects so many people who depend on tourism income. Unfortunately, there are no stimulus checks and very few vaccines for Malawians – so thankful for our faithful partners who have helped DO reach thousands of people with COVID supplies and training. Even with this there is so much more to do.

Dickson Wandawanda, DO LifePump Technician, picked us up from the airport. It’s always so great to see him. He’s such a humble man and brother in Christ – he’s a hard worker, dedicated, and well respected. Men like Dickson are how Malawi is going to advance and help solve the water crisis. The lodge is in a remote area outside of Lilongwe and far from any city lights or sounds. We can hear cows mooing in the morning and all sort of animals at night (including bush babies and hyenas). It’s also winter here so it gets down to the 40s at night and feels chilly. We met the owner of the lodge who is a Zimbabwean who moved to South Africa as a child due to the unrest and then started this lodge with her husband several years ago. We had a nice conversation about DO and why we’re here as well as learned about their struggles as a lodge. They own several acres, and the workers are given land to farm and live. A year or two ago squatters started taking land and so they had to work with the courts to reclaim it. We could tell that it was a heavy burden on the owner’s heart as what to do. Poverty is a complicated issue as the lodge owners are helping with nearby communities with water wells, but sometimes desperate people still revert to illegal means. Another example of that is illegal hunting of animals like elephants in Malawi, which there are posters warning of that all over the airport, but out of desperateness people are still poaching.

An interesting fact about our unassuming lodge is that it’s the annual landing spot for the American musician Madonna – she has adopted some children from Malawi about 16 years ago and rents out the entire lodge for her family and security staff. We were asking the owner about this, and she was saying how well behaved the kids are when they stay.

May 26, 2021

This morning Ray (May 26th) and I enjoyed a good breakfast and coffee (along with our friendly roaming dog and lizards running up and down the walls) and are about to head to the Zambian border. We’ve been there before, and some people would describe it as the “bar scene from Star Wars” – a sort of chaotic place and no man’s land. In Zambia we’re excited to see Moonga, one of our LifePump technicians in Zambia, and he will guide us in Zambia. Moonga is a very intelligent soft-spoken man who is also well respected and represents LifePump well in Zambia. Another example of someone we’re helping to empower to solve the Zambian water and extreme poverty crisis. In Zambia we’re looking forward to providing our training of trainer program to new ministry partner Living Water International.

One thing I noticed when getting picked up at the airport was about our DO Land Cruiser – these are special off-road vehicles designed for the very rugged African roads. They are built like tanks and even a brand-new model feels like a truck that was sold in the US in the 1970s. By this I mean there are no power windows, the dashboard is very simple, and it’s built for work. Even though our Land Cruiser is less than 2 years old, it’s showing some signs of wear and tear. The vehicle is well taken care of but it’s being used to serve many people around Malawi and Zambia. Paint is worn off on the back bumper where supplies are loaded and unloaded for rural communities. With this truck we’ve reached over 60,000 people with much needed pumps, COVID supplies, training materials, and Bibles. It’s sort of like what they call in the antique world “patina” – a good thing indeed. So proud of our hard-working teams in Malawi and Zambia who are regularly out late, away from their families, and serving the Lord by tirelessly serving remote, often forgotten communities.

I’m so thankful to the Lord for our many supporters who help make this work possible – Ray and I are only ambassadors from the US representing so many people that have freely given their time, talent, and treasure for this so important mission. We know many people are praying for us and we appreciate it!

Please see attached photos…shown is a common light switch, Dickson and the Land Cruiser, Land Cruiser rear bumper, the lodge rooms, the roofing that’s the same color as my hair, Ray smiling nice, hood ornament warthogs, and morning coffee!

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