Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"This is the beginning of a beautiful day!" - Carole's Post

One of the real delights for us when working with the Blantyre members is getting to know the Young Single Adults (YSA). After being here for a few months, we realized that there was no formal organization and no scheduled YSA activities, at least on the district level.  When we brought it up with our young friends in Zingwangwa, there was a real enthusiasm (and a real hope) that we could get something going.  Some recalled that there had been some activities a few years ago, but as frequently happens with a change in leadership or a change in senior couples, something got lost in the shuffle, in this case YSA.  So we put it on our list!
However, just about the time we were going to jump in, we moved to the Reynold's house and began to divide our time between the Zingwangwa and Blantyre 2nd branches.  There was too much to do.  
In about July, we requested a YSA committee and a budget. We were on our way!  As it turns out, we had to be out of town for the first announced activity and they went ahead without us.  This was a powerful group!

The committee was selected by having a representative from each branch and Jonathan Banda was called to be the chairman.  The members were:

  • Nancy Masoo from Zingwangwa
  • Future Chinomwe from Blantyre 1st
  • Fiskani Ngulube from Blantyre 2nd
  • Weekly Msase from Ndirande (We teased him that his name should be "Monthly" since that was how often the activities would be!)

Jonathan, Future, and Weekly at one of our planning meetings.

We met together on a Saturday for organizing and brainstorming, coming up with a long list of ideas of things we could do.  It isn't easy for the committee to meet together because of distances and transport, but these YSA are committed!

It was decided that at each activity, we would offer some nourishment when people first arrived.  Many were coming from seminary and institute meetings at their own buildings and would be hot, tired, and hungry when they arrived for the early afternoon activity at the Blantyre building.  So (with a limited budget), the committee decided to have bread, margarine, and water for the arrivals.  
Now, this might seem relatively easy, but there is not good drinking water at the church and no one has a car for picking up the goods.  We were happy to assist.

For the first activity, we filled the car with drinking water, tablecloths, cups, and napkins along with the bread and margarine.

We also had to bring trash cans, serving trays, soap and towels, and inside those storage containers, chocolate chip cookies!
Unloading the car at the church.  The IndeBank building is in the background so you can see why the church is always described as being behind IndeBank.

At the first meeting (where we were in attendance), we started with a game of scripture charades.  Some really got in the mood!
Then there was a panel discussion on "How to maintain standards".  Sister Chinyumba started by sharing some thoughts on this.  She was the first missionary to be sent from Malawi and is now the wife of our district president.  She recounted their courtship and how she never compromised on what she wanted in a marriage partner.
Following the talk, there was a panel made up of some married adults and some YSA representatives.  Following the theme, everyone was encouraged to write a question and put it in a box.  Then the individual questions were read out loud and the panel responded.  The activity ended with cookies and Sobo.

For October, the activity was a bit lighter.
Weekly had been concerned that we didn't have a theme, but we called it "Just for Fun" and that theme was good enough for him.

Our attendance jumped to 60 YSA and we had a very successful activity.  While some of us set up the Relief Society room for the movie (soft seats!) by hanging a sheet for the screen and hanging blankets at the windows to darken the room, George and Jonathan went off to pick up the "popcorn lady" (with her popper) who was going to provide the treats.  However, they had their own adventure. She was ill and not able to come, but in the process of driving out of the market, George ran over a basket of tomatoes (in the road) and it took awhile to negotiate a fair compensation. George thinks he made her day!

So what were we going to do without the popcorns (as Malawians call it).  I panicked but I needn't have!  Malawians never panic, as least not at a simple problem like that.  We had the "popcorns" and we had the oil and we had the small bags to distribute it.  Jonathan recruited some of the sisters to pop it in the kitchen in the big pots on top of the stove.  Not a problem at all!  

The movie was a hit - action, beautiful scenery, adventure, romance - something for everyone.  And after the movie, came the part everyone was waiting for - the dance!

Definitely, this was what everyone was waiting for!

Lyford Ngwira generously took the afternoon to help with the projector, and then the sound system for the dance.
His wife Faith came along to keep him company.  Lyford said they used to be young and single once!  The "young" part is still true and boy, can they dance!

At first, I think there were more guys than girls.

It was always interesting to see who would walk in the door!

More and more girls trickled in and
gravitated to the opposite side of the room as the guys.  

I was standing with the young men and when an attractive group of girls walked in the door, I head one say,  "Ooooh, this is the beginning of a beautiful day!"


The Tchongwe sisters, Lilian and Faith.

There were some very lively moments.  At one point, we had entertainment on the stage - a surprise.

Some people were really prepared for the dancing - completely choreographed!

And some people weren't prepared at all - and really need to work on their dance moves before the next scheduled dance!
(Yes, we did dance...)

And this is just a warm-up for the all-night New Year's Eve party!