Deep and wide.
Breadth and depth.
Those are good matrices for a number of human experiences, and partnership is surely one of them. The last couple of days have given us a chance to experience the deep reaches of partnership experiences, ranging from intensely personal to those instances where we simply do not know, and cannot guess what might occur.
Lauren Mack is a member of the Crafton Heights church who has been serving since August as a teacher at the St. Andrews Mission Secondary School in Mulanje. This gave us a perfect excuse to drive down to Mulanje for a day and a half so that we might be able to appreciate the mission and purpose of that institution, see where Lauren and her friend and colleague Brooke are staying, and connect with some of those involved in the Partnership in that area. Our initial stops included the historic Mulanje Mission Hospital, the St. Andrew’s manse, and dinner with the Presbytery partnership committee.
On Friday we awoke determined to climb, at least partially, up the side of Mount Mulanje with the notion of taking a quick dip in the icy waters of Nkhalambe Falls. This pool is both broad and deep… and icy! Nevertheless, Lauren and I took our chance to say we swam in the waters of an amazingly beautiful African stream.
After our morning hike, we headed back to Blantyre but first took a stopover in Mpemba, where Mrs. Sophie Mnensa lives. Sophie and her late husband, Ralph, were our colleagues on the Presbytery’s first pastor exchange program in 1998, when our families spent about 12 – 14 weeks together, half in each home. This was an example of the depth of the partnership in our lives – to see how fully we have been able to engage with and for one another over two decades…
We arrived in town to see that our friends from Blantyre Synod had set up a banquet honoring the arrival of team from the Evangelical Church of Christ in Mozambique. This church body, like Blantyre Synod, traces its roots back to the early Scottish missionaries. Several years ago, when we were beginning to envision a tripartite arrangement between South Sudan, America, and Malawi, members of the CCAP Blantyre Synod were exploring the reality of coming alongside this Presbyterian denomination in their closest neighbor. That work is culminating this weekend as well over a dozen congregations will become formally twinned with one another – Mozambican and Malawian. While this is not “our” partnership, it was a thrill to bear witness to the birth of a new reality in shared mission. In many ways, this is the “breadth” of the church – it’s more than Pittsburgh can do right now, but we sure loved sitting on the sidelines and cheering on our brothers and sisters.
This has been a day! But thanks be to God, we’ve had the resources to thrive throughout it. Thanks for your prayers!