Report on 2014 trip to Malawi by Pam Thwaites

As a child I listened to many overseas missions reports at our church conventions and other huge church conferences. I never imagined that one day I would travel to Africa and be able to witness some of the scenes that missionaries, including my uncle and aunt would have seen. Scenes that brought to life those stories of the churches, schools and medical centres that they had talked about launching, although much of their missions work had been carried out “in the bush”.

At the beginning of 2013 our pastor at Grace Community Church encouraged us to “do something new”. At the time I wondered whatever that would mean to me at the age of 65. When Maggie came to visit us in January and started talking about Starfish both Malcolm and I expressed that now we were both retired we would like to get a bit more involved with Starfish Malawi....God was listening! Since then my life has changed dramatically and I am developing new and unexpected skills and experiences which are snow balling.

Following Malcolm’s trip to Malawi last year I enjoyed hearing about his experiences and looking at all his photographs. I wasn’t sure whether I would ever see these places or meet some of these people. Then Maggie asked for some help with the Student Sponsorship work and in fear and trembling I said “yes” never dreaming I would be on a crash course in Internet Technology. The old brain cells are reviving! Consequently my first trip to Malawi has been a fulfilment of the work that I have been introduced to and visiting the schools, meeting the teaching staff and many of the students has been a real blessing and I count it a privilege to feel involved in Starfish, where together we can make such a difference to people’s lives and at the same time develop our individual God given abilities, all for the sake of the extension of the Kingdom of God.

This week I am working on a photograph illustrated report for my church home group tomorrow evening, a different one for my church on Sunday morning and yet another one for a forthcoming report to Staplehurst WI. I have never done this before either. I will be promoting student sponsorship big time!

We really appreciated the use of the Toyota Land Cruiser and Maggie’s driving skills. If the driver’s seat adjustment mechanism had worked I would have been delighted to share the task but as I could not reach the pedals and did not feel the use of a cushion would give me enough confidence to navigate the unfamiliar roads this was not possible.

Sewing has always been one of my hobbies and to think that teaching the ladies at Jeleman Shonga how to make washable sanitary wear, which will make their lives so much more comfortable and hopefully they will be able to develop their skills enough to earn some money by selling the kits has been yet another unimaginable privilege.