St. Francis of Assisi

"Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words"
~ it is always necessary... but make sure you live what you preach now!

Friday, 30 May 2014


(written while en-route back to Vancouver)            

        What a week. I’ve been in Malawi for just a few days shy of six months. This is home…or is Vancouver? That’s going to be a fun one to figure out. You see in six months you make a lot of friends. People you never want to forget in a million years or leave behind, but you do have to leave them behind. And so the week of farewells began.

        From one outreach to another, from one group of mothers and children to the next, to the orphans I’ve spent hours with, to the youth group I've fallen in love with…one good bye after the next. But no tears! I am a MAN after all. We have no emotions and only half a soul. SO, NO WAY JOSE, AM I CRYING! And I didn’t, until Friday. Friday was my last day at COBT.
        Though told many times of my impending departure, the mothers forgot I was going. They now wanted to get me a gift to say ‘Thank you’, but didn’t have any more time.  One of them had just bought a large sack of beans. They asked if I ate beans, and I do. So they started the division: One after the other bought a scoop of beans from the one, and then placed that scoop into a bag for me. Smiling and thanking me they would point to their child and say "This is 'Thank you from Blessings', or 'Chisomo', or 'Manule', or 'Rose'." I wanted to run away…Niagara Falls was coming! I somehow kept it together.
        You can’t understand what a sacrificial gift that was! Food security is generally for the rich in Malawi. The time of year when food is scarce is now. These mothers did not in anyway have an excess of funds to be able to afford this, but they gave anyway. Like the widow and her two small coins. I broke, again watching them. I broke a lot on this trip. I haven’t shared most of those times, but this was one of them. Never have I seen such love.

        After this were the staff devotionals we have every Friday. It's how we encourage one another and unload all the heavy weights and burdens from that week. It was also a goodbye for me. Again, I could feel the water falls coming, but I damned those suckers up. However, then came my time to say a word of farewell. ‘Oh, God,’ I sighed. And then they came. A week's worth of tears in a moment. I read my piece. Thanking them. Thanking them for being my family. Then they started. What a mess. After many songs and food our last goodbyes came (after a few hundred group photos). I love them. I miss them. And I’m crying in the middle of Heathrow as I type this up for all the world to read, while half the traveling world wonders why the giant is crying into his Macbook.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


            Those American Doctorate of Physiotherapy students were just too much fun! So, my friend Tracy, and her friend Alana, and I went on safari with them. WHAT A TRIP IT WAS!
            We saw things that friends of mine who have been in Africa for over 19 years have never seen! So let's list a few:

- Twenty-two lions chilling in the shade across a river (we were only able to get about 200 yards from them)
- Over 100 different elephants in different family groups. The behaviors they showed us were priceless! From a mother kicking out an adult son who needed to grow up (and then he pitched a fit and she spanked him!), to the matriarch becoming angry with us for being too close and throwing a huge tree at us…then we drove like stink! You do that when two other elephants charge you!!!
- Puku foreplay initiation (a sort of impala looking creature), then "shut down" by the female: "Go sleep on the couch!" One of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life! Guys, don’t try that at home.
- a cape buffalo chilling in the river next to those twenty-two lions…he didn’t give a darn!
- Twenty plus zebras did a bit of a circle dance around us then galloped off into the sunrise, very ballet like.
- Two leopard cubs playing with a freshly killed mongoose, it could have been their first kill.
- Dung beetle rolling…DUNG! There were poop jokes, lots of poop jokes.
- Male leopards stalked, and KILLED (so much killing!) a PUKU! To see the whole affair start to finish is really very rare! BUT WE DID!
- Have you heard of African wild dogs? They are the second most endangered species in Africa next to the rhino. So we watched a pack of six go by. Totally acting like dogs. Dragging their wormy butts through the dirt, scratching their backs on the rough rocks…chasing their tails! They were such dogs!
- Three female hyenas scavenging a hippo carcass…then one of them jumped for my leg and aimed to bite my right foot off…AWESOME!

A very special person made this trip possible. I had brought money from home to do this trip, but expenses in Malawi are high, especially when your beater of a car breaks down from all the 4x4 driving needed to do village outreach. For me, there was no expectation to go; yet, this someone out of the generosity of her heart gave me $500.00. This was such a gift!

Before the trip was done we made friends with some German and British travelers on safari with us. There was even a chance to share my testimony with a devout Buddhist. I love talking about God with strangers. It was a very special trip!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


            Dehydrated, sodium soaked meat…YUM! Well, at least when it comes to beef jerky. Now, any South African reading this will say otherwise, so, in no way do I intend to offend, but…man, was 'biltong' a let down. Mind you the only biltong I had was in Malawi…it was either so dry it took four hours to chew off a nickle sized piece, or so fatty and wet you gagged on it.

            While on a hiking adventure with friends, we became lost in a mix of cloud, fog and monsoon like rains. As part of my supplies, I had part of a care package sent from home. In the package was jerky. Proper, delicious jerky!!! Without that epic Alberta beef of a pick me up, we would have lost heart and hope. If, God forbid, we had had biltong from Kipani…we would have willingly given up and waited for the hyenas to finish us off come nightfall.

             BILTONG vs BEEF JERKY…the winner is, Jerky!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


        Someone once told me that about 60% of all accidents in Malawi are caused by minibus drivers.  To that I must say, “Only 60?”  Driving in Malawi, like anywhere, is an "at your own risk" venture.  Signal lights aren’t used, about half of the brake lights do not work (nor the tail lights...nor the head lights...).   Driving at night is not a "life extending" idea in any form.

        The life blood of the minibus is, of course, the passenger.  Without him, no money!  The passenger holds so much value that the driver will often stop in the middle of the road to pick up another patron.  However, this is done without pulling over or giving anyone around him sufficient time to stop.  Now, there are countless things that could be said in a less than positive way of mini buses, not just in Malawi but in Africa as a whole. Instead, let's talk about the brilliance of the minibus!

        Minibus drivers can make a 120 km trip with an over loaded bus on 5L of petrol!!! HOW? Let me explain. The gas tank is often not used in a minibus, rather a small jerry can between the driver and passenger seats.  A fuel line goes from the jerry can to the engine.  That line has a large clamp on it to limit the fuel flow, starving the engine of most of the 'would be' consumed petrol...enough, but just, to get from point A to HALF way to point B.  Often times they only have enough cash on hand to pay for half the fuel needed to complete their trip.  A friend will meet them part way with the other 2.5L.  Then the minibus is back on its way, having been able to pay with the money received from passengers.

        You could see how the fuel limiting clamps would effect the bus' responsiveness should a problem arrive, yes?  So, though they serve a great purpose and are a necessity of travel in the African context…if you are walking, on a bike, or driving along, and you see a minibus…RUN!


          Though most of my time in Malawi was spent at COBT, I did make friends with some of the youth leaders at ABC (African Bible College).  I helped out with a youth group there for 5 months or so.  One Saturday morning some of the leaders and I were heading out to a nearby village to play some games with kids and lead a quick Bible lesson.  After we got back…we were famished!  Running around an open field in 37 degree plus heat without cover or sunscreen really takes it outa you.

          Once home at the ‘bro-tell’ (boys' house) what to have for lunch was the first thing to sort out, then what YouTube videos to share.  Being a ‘bro-tell’, food was scarce.  A can of beans, tomatoes, an onion and four eggs were at our disposal.  After some dicing, frying, spicing and frying again, we had an omelette, well almost.  You see now it was time for the crucial ‘flip’.  Grasping the panhandle with great respect for the critical coordination needed to safely transfer our well earned lunch to the plate, I flipped it! BANG!  CRASH!  SLAM!  The omelette made its entrance with intense speed onto the plate, while the pan flew into the sink.  Handle still in my hand, the pan had busted mid flip. Our lunch was fine, but at a cost…of that poor pan, dead before its time.

"May it be a light to you in dark places" - Galadrial, Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien