Though my visiting teaching partner could not go with me, I made an appointment to go visit teach Sister Mkandawire toward the end of last month. George drove me and on the way to her home, I received a text from her husband saying that she had gone to the Nancholi market to sell some things. I thought I could just go find her there.
The small market sits behind a Total filling station and close to the Manase police station.
We walked through the market looking at each booth or mat, not knowing where she might be or what she might be selling.
Just as we were about to give up, her son Elliot came running up to us, looking very happy to see someone he knew.
Elliot is about eight years old and speaks English quite well. When we asked where his mother was, he said she had gone home. "Okay", we said, "we will drive to your house (or close to it). Do you want a ride?"
That was definitely what he wanted to do, so he rolled up his mat with a few things in it and headed off with us to the car. Elliot even took my hand for a minute or so.
This is Elliot in his home
and here he is with us at church.
When we got to the car, I held the back seat door open for him and he climbed in, with George and I in the front. As George turned on the car, a couple of people came up to the car and I rolled down my window to see what they were trying to tell us. They got right up to the window and were yelling, questioning who we were and telling Elliot to get out of the car. We kept trying to tell them that we knew his parents well, that we went to the same church, and we were driving him to his house. The couple of people at the car quickly grew in number to about twelve people. I turned around to tell Elliot to tell them who we were, but I could tell Elliot was just loving the spectacle of it all! He sat quietly as the center of attention, didn't say a word, and took it all in!
Every time they would yell for Elliot to get out of the car, George would tell Elliot NOT to get out of the car. Finally, they unblocked our way. I guess they decided we did look legitimate.
When we got to Elliot's house and I told his mom what happened, she just laughed and thought it was amusing. Then she said there were people who did come around and steal children!
About ten days later, we were passing by the market on our way back from visiting some other members and someone came running up from behind. It was Wisdom, Elliot's younger brother, and he was just beaming.
This is Wisdom at church.
I didn't dare show him too much attention knowing that all eyes were upon us! We chatted a couple of minutes, I gave him a hug and off we went, leaving him to walk home. I wasn't sure we could convince the group that we were not child snatchers the second time around!