As with my first trip last year, I cannot express adequately the impact these three weeks in Malawi have had upon my life, both spiritually and physically. This experience has influenced every aspect of my life. At each of the 72 shallow wells in which my partner, Richard Bittle, and I participated, a villager spoke and sometimes several spoke. As our interpreter translated from Chitumbuka into English the words spoken by each of these wonderful people living in different villages in remote Africa, I became aware that there was a common content in what they were saying to us:
- They were glad we had come from America to their village.
- They wished God’s protection for our return home.
- Because of their bad drinking water, they had experienced their children’s dying from having to drink it while they could only watch helplessly
- They rejoiced and thanked God that now they have safe drinking water.
- They asked us to thank the American donors who had given money for their well
- But, even in their rejoicing, they were concerned that a neighboring village did not have safe drinking water.
- They asked that someone come next year to install a well in the neighboring village.
As they spoke in their language I could understand only two words, “Christo” and “Amerika,”yet in that setting by watching their gestures, hearing the inflection of their voices, and by listening intensely I could almost guess what the interpreter would translate. Over the years I have heard over and over that I should listen, yet at those well dedications, with the help of the Holy Spirit I was blessed with hearing.
In the week after I returned home, my daily devotion was entitled, “The Intense Work of Listening” with the message that in our world today listening is in short supply and it used the following Scripture:
“Answering before listening
is both stupid and rude.”
How often I have failed to listen. I hope to learn to listen to others as I did to those wonderful villagers expressing their joys and concerns in those remote African villages in 2008.