So, I put on a different hat- a hostess hat- in the last week or so, because we actually had company for dinner!
I can't say it enough so I will say it again - we are so thrilled with the new Blantyre district presidency: President Edward Matale, president; President Clement Chikapa, first counselor (and former president of the Zingwangwa branch; and President Gabriel Chinomwe, second counselor. We love all of these men!
We thought it would be a lovely event to invite them, along with the district clerk, Lyford Ngwira, and all of their wives, and the executive clerk, Kingsley Makunganya (no wife there - but lots of teasing!).
So we gathered at 5 PM on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving at our home. I was quite panicked about the power outages, but all worked out well. We lost power in the morning but it was on by 1:30 in the afternoon of that day, plenty of time to bake a cake and cook a caulifower Parmesan.
President Matale set the time for 5:00 even though several could not make it because of jobs until 6:00. "That's okay", he said. "They will miss the jokes and have take-away!" Maybe they did miss some jokes, but we all sat down together a little after 6 pm. President and Sister Matale brought little Flora, who always adds to the activity level!
President and Sister Matale
President and Sister Chikapa
President and Sister Chinomwe
There wasn't quite enough room at the table so George and I caught a bite to eat and headed up things in the kitchen.
It was a relaxed evening with many laughs and some more serious discussions about the things they hope to accomplish in the coming months.
I was a little worried though...one of the comments made at dinner was that no matter how much a Malawian ate at a meal, if he/she didn't have nsima, they would say "Oh, I'm so hungry. I haven't eaten all day!"
I'm not sure how they felt about a western meal, but there wasn't much left over. But just to be safe, next time I had better learn to make nsima....
Two days later, we were delighted to host Elder and Sister Stones and their son Nathan. They have served in Lilongwe for the last 18 months and were returning home to Vernal, Utah four days later. They are known for their hard, hard work and enthusiasm. We had not spent much time with them so we were thrilled when they said they would like to travel south and see more of Malawi - Mount Mulanje (also known as the Mulanje Massif) and the surrounding tea-growing plantations of the Mulanje district, and possibly drive through Liwonde National Park. They drove to Blantyre after church and had dinner with us and spent the night at our home. Then they left early the next morning with a map and itinerary in mind and would be back in Lilongwe that evening.
Elder Stones retired several years ago from being the head of an engineering department at Michigan Tech. They then moved to eastern Oregon where he worked in the private sector.
Their first mission was to New Zealand.
She said it was very exciting because Nate was called on a full-time mission for the same time and he received his call letter to New Zealand one day ahead of theirs!
Their second call (and they all three always go together!) was to the Zimbabwe Harare mission which at that time included Zambia - and that is where they served (in the Copperbelt). After that mission, they assumed they were home to stay, but a few years later, they felt compelled to serve once again. They never dreamed that they would be able to go back to Africa, but that is what made them most excited. Now Zambia had its own mission but they had never served in Malawi. And this is where they have been. Among us senior missionaries, they have a well-deserved reputation for proselyting (incredibly successful), and working tirelessly in getting new missionaries out from the four branches in Lilongwe. The church is so new in Lilongwe, but because of the Stones' efforts, those returning missionaries will be the strength of the work going forward.
I am sure their family of nine children are thrilled to have them home!.