I’m very happy to be writing to you from Malawi and our home in Mzuzu. The uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic meant we returned to Scotland at the end of March. We had hoped to return to Malawi sooner, but we’re grateful to be here now.
We’re currently self-isolating at home. This isn’t obligatory in Malawi, however, with new variants ofthe virus spreading widely, it is the right thing to do. With temperatures around 25 degrees and a garden to enjoy, it isn’t really a hardship. It is also giving us time to adjust to being back and recover from the last-minute preparations and taxing journey.
When we arrived back in Scotland lockdown had just been implemented. Raising kids between cultures meant we wondered if the girls would be overwhelmed by the comforts of home. The gradual easing of restrictions meant the pace of our return to the familiar things of home was being decided by the government. That probably made the cultural adjustment easier on all of us. We were able to safely see many of our friends and family during our time in the UK and we’re grateful for that. Sadly, with the last-minute changes to Christmas travel rules, we were unable to see Jacqueline’s parents before we returned to Malawi.
Eilidh attended school in Edinburgh after the summer and Morven stayed home with us. As furlough ended, I began to do whatever remote work was possible. We enjoyed some virtual deputation activities during this time also but look forward to being able to see people face to face at some point in the future. Jacqueline and I both appreciated being able to keep our hand in with activities back in Malawi.
Jacqueline had been working with a friend here on the publication of a training programme to prevent lower back injury in rural communities. The manual is now finished and is being used by a number of organisations to help their local communities. Now that we’re back, Jacqueline is looking forward to seeing what comes next for this and other ministries in which she has been involved.
The journey home was fraught with potential hurdles. Flights were cancelled and rescheduled twice in the week running up to our departure. With the UK re-entering lockdown on the morning we left we weren’t fully convinced that we’d make it all the way here. We did and we truly see God’s hand of protection throughout for us and our luggage! Flights and airports were busy, despite the restrictions, with many fraught-looking travelers. While the news has focused on holiday travel, I expect there were many people in a similar situation to us – trying to get back to wherever they were before the pandemic made travel so difficult.
After a drop in recorded COVID-19 cases in Malawi for a number of months, the country is now experiencing a higher rate of transmission than it has at any other point in the pandemic. This is most likely linked to the South African variant. People have been very relaxed about the virus, it is not the greatest threat to many people’s wellbeing when employment is low, food is expensive and other diseases present a more imminent threat. With numbers rising, the government are bringing in stricter controls though most activities, including schools, will continue.
Malawians are sadly all too used to hardships in life. It may be that they are better prepared for the long-journey out of this pandemic than many of us are.
We pray for you also and the churches and communities we represent. As it’s often been said, we’re all in the same storm but we’re not in the same boat. We’re grateful for your interest, prayer and support amid the challenges we all face just now.
- Give thanks for a peaceful time in Malawi following the presidential election rerun. Pray for the new government as it seeks to meet the high expectations of Malawians.
- For Malawi’s protection from COVID-19 and in particular an end to it.
- We give thanks that we are back in Malawi and that the children are adjusting well so far.
- For our return to work and school.
- For the adjustment between the restrictions of life in the UK and the freedoms in Malawi.
- For awareness of the concerns of others when we are so used to COVID-19 being the ruling issue.
Gary, Jacqueline, Eilidh and Morven
+265 (0) 99 355 3929 (WhatsApp)