After returning home I have had time to reflect on this year’s Mission trip to Malawi. As with all the trips that I have made to Malawi, this one was different than the others but filled with challenges and with God’s blessings that abounded. It is a great joy to see old friends and to meet new friends. It was a great joy to work with the volunteers, both the ones that were returning and to the new volunteers. One of the new volunteers that I was especially glad to see was Peter Vanderveen. Peter used to be my minister here in Quincy, Il, over 40 years ago. I had not seen him since he left Quincy and here we met again in Africa. We had a lot of catching up to do and remembering things of long ago. The world sure is a small place and God does move in mysterious ways.
I left for Malawi early to help prepare for the arrival of the teams. I spent most of my time at Embangweni and working with the men at the workshop where the shallow well pumps are manufactured. For the past few years I have been teaching the men at the workshop how to work the power pipe threader and how to use the metal lathes. They have been learning how to make the down-hole parts for the pumps. The men have not worked with power machinery before but were excited to learn how to operate the machinery and learning a skill. This year they were assigned the task of making the new foot valves and plungers. These new valves were to be installed in all of our shallow wells this year, a big step to take. When I arrived there had been less than 300 of the valves made and we needed 2,500 for this year’s program.
How were we to get this accomplished in just a week and a half. The electricity kept going off and the clock was ticking. What were we to do. We needed the parts for the wells. Prayers were lifted up both in Malawi and back home. The electricity stayed on and the parts were made. By the time the first team arrived we had 1,500 down-hole parts made which would be more than enough for the first team. The workmen would continue making the down hole parts while I left to help team one install the wells.
After 3 weeks I returned to Embangweni and found that nearly all the 2,500 down-hole parts had been made. I am so very, very proud of the men at the workshop. I could see great improvement in their quality of work and their skill and confidence in using the machinery. I reported back to them how well all the parts worked and that they all fit. It took less time to install the pumps and we were able to install more pumps each day. The men were very excited to hear this news and were very happy. The workmen are now coming up with new ideas and better ways of doing the parts. They are also experimenting with the parts and applying their ideas. They are experts in the manufacturing of the shallow well parts and I could not be more proud of them. God Bless them.