Joyce Heath, 2001 Volunteer

Joyce Heath, 2001 Volunteer

Today was a day of extremes, real highs and lows. Having arrived in Mzuzu yesterday morning and since I was not sure that Tom had gotten my messages that I needed to be picked up there, I decided to fly to Lilongwe to meet the rest of the team, who were driving there today from Embangweni. I had no trouble getting a seat, checked my bag, paid my 100kw airport tax and had about 20 minutes to wait, when I saw Tom rushing in through the door. He had just stopped by the synod office and Jodi has told him she had just dropped me at the airport. He quickly collected me and my bags and we were off with Mr. Khoso in the shallow-well truck. Perhaps I should have given it more thought – one hour by plane vs. five hours by truck. …….. Much of the day I felt great, at peace with the world, like I knew I was where I should be. The Flamboyant trees were finally in full bloom – a brilliant red. I was happy and enjoying the company of Mr. Khoso and Tom’s tales. I remember thinking what a great trip this had been. I had done almost everything I had hoped to do and more. I had not visited all the places I wanted, but I had succeeded in seeing all the people I had hoped to see. I would be going home in a much different frame of mind than my last trip; surely I wouldn’t have the problems with depression that I had after I got home last time……. We had been on the road for over 4 hours when we stopped at the Lilongwe Airport so I could get a refund on the plane ticket I had purchased and not used…..

As we left the airport and turned back onto the tarmac, I noticed that it suddenly became cloudy and looked like rain. As we drove, the clouds got heavier. Tom wanted to go by Kauma Village and see if the taps and water meters had been installed, which they had not. No words, no photos or even videotape could have prepared me for the impact Kauma Village had on me. I had seen very poor villages with much poverty, but they were relatively small and spread out. The mass of 17,000 squatters living in absolute poverty was totally indescribable. My heart broke for those people; I was fighting tears, somewhat unsuccessfully, most of the time we were there. The thing that touched me the most was the fantastic background that God had prepared for this visit. For nineteen days the sun had shown brightly, but the closer we got to Kauma Village the darker and cloudier it became. It seemed, while we were there, that there was a great cloud over this large village of poverty stricken people. Yet, around the edges of that cloud, the rays of the sun shown down appearing to surround this place. It was as if God was saying that this place was cloudy, lacking sunshine and hope; yet his love, like the surrounding sun’s rays, said “but I am here. These are my children; I love them; help them.” But how do I do that; how can I help all these people? To add even more effect to the scene, as we headed back through the village, it began to sprinkle. It almost felt like God’s tear drops touching my arm and hitting the windshield. As if he was crying for the condition of his children here. As we left the village, it began to rain harder, as if God was trying to show us how sad he was. I continued to struggle with my heart and tears while Tom struggled with his frustration and anger that the work was not done; Mr. Khoso sat in silence. The water main was within one kilometer of the village, but they have no access to it. I suspect that the “special effects” were lost on Tom and Mr. Khoso, but it seemed very obvious to me. It was as if God was saying, “No, Joyce, you will not go home feeling peaceful and happy. I am unhappy with the way my children are being treated here and I want you to know that!…..” After dinner and returning to the rest house, we sat in our lobby and talked about the work that had gone on during the past three weeks. ……. now it is late, but I felt it necessary to do my journaling tonight, before I forget how deeply my heart was touched today. I’ve no idea what I can do to help those 17,000 people, but I have to remember them and the heartbreak I was feeling. I cannot allow myself to forget how hard God must have worked and planned to get the “special effects” and our arrival there timed so perfectly to create the impact it did.

God is good and blesses our work, but we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent and feel we are doing enough, because as long as some of God’s children are living in such poverty and filth with lack of food, sanitation and safe drinking water, we have not done enough!