Welcome to the CitiHope Mission Center in Mzuzu–the major city in northern Malawi, population 186,000. Sinece 2003, we have provided medical and nutritional assistance to community based organizations serving the needs of AIDS orphans in Malawi. Then, in the summer of 2006, we established our permanent presence in Malawi by hiring a full-time staff and leasing a mission center and guest quarters–thanks to major funding from World Children’s Fund (the photos of our grand opening in September 06)

We arrived after a long, 5-6 hour drive, and were welcomed by our core staff:

Gabriel Msongole, Acting Country Director (pictured above), met us at the aiport. Former employed by Campus Crusade and assigned on the Jesus Film Team, Gabriel welcomed us to Malawi with a big grin on his face and with a lay of flowers for each of us. He knew and called every team by name! First impressions are everything, and we all agreed that Malawi was indeed the “warm heart of Africa” and Citihope Malawi a warm-hearted NGO.

Dennis Singini, another Citihope staffer, met us at the Lodge and with an equally warm reception. Dennis, formerly employed by the Malawi Dept of Tourism, is completing his sixth month with us as Food Security Coordinator and Monitor.

Taxkson Kasambala, our staff cook, Stephen, our night watchman, and Kwondowe, our day watchman and gardener, were waiting for us as the Mission Center. Siso and Mickey, our guard dogs, barked as we entered the compound in our rainbow minibus.

Conspiscuously absent from the staff is our beloved Ya-mei Huang, former Country Representative, who returned with her husband to Taiwan at the end of February. They will move to Malaysia later this year to start a medical mission there.

Most of the mission team stayed at the Ilala Lodge, and all agreed that the food and accomodations were so much better than expected (except for no hot waterand no internet access), and all agreed was a very nice place to spend the week.

We had a tender and special time of debriefing, bible reading and prayer in one of the rooms tonight. Each recounted a moment in the last 48 hours of transit where we felt the Spirit of God at work in our midst, superintending our process and trip. Truely, we felt God’s presence and provision today, in all that could have gone wrong and didn’t. As well as in special, divinely-appointed, kairotic encounters with several special people along the way, including the Immigration Officer in Lilongwe who asked if we were doing only physical humanitarian assistance, or spiritual assistance too. He smiled when Dennis said “both” and introduced himself as a brother in Christ.

Our Bible reading from Mark 6 focused on how Jesus sent his disciples out “two by two” without provisions so that they would have to make themselves dependent on those they sought to help. Likewise, we are not here to minister “to” persons in need with resources we have, but to minister “with” those who also have resources to share with us who are in need. It was a good lesson in “mutuality in ministry.”

After a short night, we met for breakfast at the CitiHope Mission Center in Mzuzu. Tackson prepared a feast of fine foods: fried chicken, potatoes, veal sausages, fresh fruits, and the best apple cake with custard that I have ever tasted. After touring the center, Gabriel gave a brief orientation and overview of the week’s scheduled activities.