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MALAWI THE WARM HEART OF AFRICA MALAWI CHRISTIAN MISSION MISSIONARIES; STEPHEN AND VONNIE SKAGGS FIELD ADDRESS PO Box 2500 Bkinlyrij, Mnlavt'i Alnca Phooe 635691 FORWARDING AGENTS James and Beveily Sivtis 5960 McLa'nan Road Gambler. Ohio 43022 <614)668-2581 MARCH/APRIL 1991 NEWSLETTER FLOODING IN IUJI AN.IF ARFA On 8-11 March 1991 we had some very severe flooding in the Mulanje Moun tain region of Malawi. Although I am unsure of all of the details of the situation, what I have heard and seen is quite terrifying. After several days of continuous rains in the area, flash floods hit several areas around the Mountain area, cen tering in the town of Phalombe. Walls of water (literally) came gushing off the mountain carrying huge boulders. When I visited Phalombe, I saw the path of one huge rush of water that poured off the mountain. Where there were once businesses and houses, there was only a wide path full of hundreds of boulders. Just down from that a wide riverbed was created where there was not one before. The toll on houses and crops was very heavy, and the toll on human life was also heavy. There are reports of 500 dead, although many make higher estimates. Assistance for flood victims, however, was swift, immediately, the government, as well as international aid organizations, estab lished shelters and food distribution points. As we received reports from churches within our fellowship in that area, we found that, although some of the churches had been hit by the flood, the situation could have been much worse. We are aware of thirteen churches in the fellowship that were effected by the flooding in the general area. The effects of the flood on those churches as have been reported to us are as follows: sixteen were killed, about 300 houses and their In our fellowship sixteen were killed, about 300 houses and their contents were washed away, seven church buildings were lost or damaged, and many maize fields were washed away.

Skaggs Steve Vonnie 1991 Malawi

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Bkinlyrij, Mnlavt'iAlnca

Phooe 635691

FORWARDING AGENTSJames and Beveily Sivtis

5960 McLa'nan RoadGambler. Ohio 43022




we had some very severeflooding in the Mulanje Mountain region of Malawi. AlthoughI am unsure of all of the detailsof the situation, what I haveheard and seen is quiteterrifying.

After severaldays of continuousrains in the area, flashfloods hit severalareas around theMountain area, centering in the town ofPhalombe. Walls ofwater (literally) camegushing off themountain carryinghuge boulders.

When I visitedPhalombe, I saw the path of onehuge rush of water that pouredoff the mountain. Where therewere once businesses andhouses, there was only a widepath full of hundreds ofboulders. Just down from that awide riverbed was createdwhere there was not one before.The toll on houses and crops was

very heavy, and the toll onhuman life was also heavy.There are reports of 500 dead,although many make higherestimates.

Assistance for floodvictims, however, was swift,

immediately, thegovernment, as well asinternational aidorganizations, established shelters andfood distributionpoints.

As we receivedreports from churcheswithin our fellowshipin that area, we foundthat, although some ofthe churches had beenhit by the flood, the

situation could have been muchworse.

We are aware of thirteenchurches in the fellowship thatwere effected by the flooding inthe general area. The effects ofthe flood on those churches ashave been reported to us are asfollows: sixteen were killed,about 300 houses and their

In ourfellowship sixteenwere killed, about300 houses andtheir contentswere washed away,seven church

buildings were lostor damaged, andmany maize fieldswere washed away.

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contents were washed away,some church buildings were lostor damaged, and the problem,effecting the greatest number isthat many maize fields werewashed away.

We have been and arecontinuing to assist thesechurches as we can with theresources that we have. Wehave assisted with food,blankets, some clothing, andplates/bowls. Most of the

thirteen churches have helpedthose among their number wholost homes to constructtemporary grass shelters. Asthings have almost dried outnow. we are beginning toprepare to assist in therebuilding of some homes. Asthe people begin to make theirbricks we will probably assistby helping to buy poles for thewalls and roofs and possiblygrass for the roofs. •


Furlough time isapproaching. We are beginningto set furlough plans now forlater this year. We hadoriginally planning the furloughfor early to mid-1992, buthave felt it wiser to furlough inthe latter part of 1991 so thatwe can be back here in Malawiin early 1992 to begin workingas a team with Jeff and KarenKennedy who are returning toBlantyre to work with us aftertheir furlough.

Our tentative plans areto arrive back in the US In early

September. We are alreadybeginning to start on the manypreparations for furlough.Preparing and organizing forour first furlough is anotherchallenge of being a missionarythat I had never reallyconsidered. All of thecomplications of storing thingsin Malawi, setting up houseagain in the US, getting adependable car to use fortravelling to churches, etc.. willbe very interesting first-timemissionary experiences! •



UPDATE/ACTIVITIES/NFWSMThe rainy season is coming to an end here: it is

getting drier and cooler. We have received mixed reportsabout the crops. Some areas had a good harvest thisyear. Others had a poor harvest. Hopefully, most willhave enough maize to see them through until next year.

The end of the rains means greater freedom oftravel for us to get to the churches. Our dry season

CHURCHES schedule of weekend teaching is filling up fast. We willhopefully reach each area at least once before furlough.

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We had a very encouraging and enlightening timerecently as we had a 4-day retreat with Bill andJackie Brant from Kasungu, Malawi, and John, Gail,and Matthew Douglas from Chipata, Zambia. Bill,John, and I had several good discussions about our work.Although we live in three different places, we areworking with people with a common language and^nerally common culture. I really gained some insightsinto the work from these missionaries who have been onthe field for many years.

I recently started attending a Ohichewa classthat meets twice per week for one hour as a means ofprodding myself with my Chichewa. My Chichewa iscoming slowly but surely, although it hasn't come at thepace that I had hoped. Frankly, living in Blantyre, it isj ust too easy to use English most the time. English is thesecond language here, so when people see that one iswhite, they usually speak to him in English. It is easyjust to rely on one's English living in this kind ofenvironment. The class, however, helps me keep on itand it provides me with quality input as I add to what Ihave already learned.

Graham celebrated his first birthday on 03April! He had a very fun day, with a small birthdayparty and the works! Thanks so much to those of you whosent cards or gifts! Graham was already walking a bit byhis birthday, and by this time is really getting aroundwell! He also has a grand-total of four teeth!

We have been in contact by phone and letters withJeff and Karen Kennedy, as well as Bart and LeslieSnyder. Jeff and Karen Kennedy are currently onfurlough in the States, but will be rejoining the workhere in Blantyre upon their return to Malawi in January1992. They have been travelling extensively, but aredoing well. Their first child is due in August! Please bepraying for them and their baby, and send them anencouraging note! Their furlough address is TheKennedys, 623 North Terrace Drive, Altoona,PA 16602.

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SNYDERS Bart and Leslie Snyder are doing well and areRAISING making progress as they raise support to join the workSUPPORT either in the Southern or Central region of Malawi. They

currently have a small amount of monthly supportcoming in, so they are urgently needing monthlysupporters, as well as one-time gifts to help with themany expenses of relocating to Africa. We hope you willbe praying for them and also send them a note ofencouragement. We also encourage you to send them acontribution and contact them to speak at your church orgroup! Their address and phone is The Snyders, 102Fourth Street, Grayson, KY 41143 (606)474-6824. •

A7i{rTP.<fpnm\^imip.I continue to enjoy

working with the ladies fromChirimba Christian Church,with whom I have been workingfor some time. Recently theyexperienced a very speciallesson. I found a video tapecalled "The Life andLand of Jesus." Thetape showed significantplaces in Israel whereJesus had been whiletelling of the life ofChrist.

The womenreally enj^ed it . . .for many it was theirfirst time to watch TV11The exciting part wasthat the women could seeChrist's time on earth asreality. They where Christwalked, across fields and hillsmuch like their own. They saw apeople, who, despite some colordifference, are very similar tothem in many ways. Their

homes and their daily activitiesshare many similarities. Therewas one scene in the film wheresome Israeli women werewalking with bundles balancedon their heads. The Malawianwomen were delighted, as that is

their custom here aswell 11

It was anexciting experience forthem, as well as formyself! The freshnessand delight in theirexcitement of seeingthe land where Christwalked was good forme, and I viewed thefilm with a new

interest.Working with these

women is very chal-lenging, andmany weeks I come away feelingsad because I feel that I havebeen blessed with many benefitsthat they will never have—notthe benefits of material items,

As thewomen watchedthe film aboutwhere Jesuslived, they sawthat Jesus's landand way of life hadmany similaritiesto their own.

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but the benefits of Sundayschool, youth group, aneducation enabling me to readand write, and Bible college.Until I met and started workingwith these women, I neverrealized how privileged I am in

the knowledge I have of the Bibleand of God and His greatness!

Please pray for me andthese women that God will useme to show these women His loveand greatness and that thesewomen will come to know God astheir father and friend. •

PRAYER NEEDSPlease continue praying

for (1) our furloughpreparations (2) those affectedby the floods here (3) aproductive dry season oftravelling and teaching (4) Jeffand Karen Kennedy on furloughand their baby (5) Bart and

Leslie Snyder raising support tocome to Malawi (6) Vonnie'swomen's study group atChirimba Chr. Ch. (7) wisdomfor Steve as he continues to dealwith the leadership problemsaffecting many of the churches.*

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Blaniyre. MalawiAtnca

Phone W569'

FORWARDING AGENTSJames and Beverly Swits

5980 McLarnan RoadGambler, Ohio 43022




As we informed you inour last newsletter, we arepreparing for our fast-approaching furlough. Ourplans at this point are to be backin the USA in early September,and we are planning to live inGrayson, Kentucky. As we alsomentioned in our lastnewsletter, there are manythings for which weare trying to prepare:

We have madeflight reservationsthrough a travel agentin the US. We have thefunds on hand for aone-way ticket to theUS, but our travelagent has informedus that we can save about$1500 if we can find themoney to buy round triptickets now instead of buyingone-way tickets back to Malawilater. We anticipate that wemay be approximately $2000short of the funds needed for around trip ticket, but arepraying that either the Lord will

provide the funds or enable us toget a loan.

We are beginning topack some things away here.When we leave for our furlough.Bill and Jackie Brant will bemoving back to their house inBlantyre, which we have beenrenting. As things stand now,when we return to Blantyre, we

may be able to renttheir house again for ashort time while theyare on furlough. Afterthis, however, we mustfind something morepermanent.

We are alsotrying to makepreparations in the

States for our return. We dohave an apartment reservedfor us in Grayson, and arearranging to borrow some of thehousehold items that we will

need. Perhaps the biggest thingto arrange in the States for ourreturn, however, istransportation.I We will also begin soonto prepare our schedule of

Our travel agenthas informed usthat we can save

about $1500 if wecan find the moneyto buy round triptickets.

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speaking. Although our timeIn the States is not going to bethat long, we do want to be ableto visit all of our supportingchurches to update you on thework here. We encourage all of

our supporting churches tohelp us by letting us know whenmight be the best time to visityou. We hope to begin speakingby early October.*


CHURCH It is the dry season and church activities are inREVIVALS full swing. There are many revivals and church

conferences going on among the churches here in thesouth. Most of these meetings will have teaching in theday and worship services at night. Many of them attractlarge numbers of people from the churches in the area ofthe meeting. The people will walk, sometimes from faraway, to the host church and just stay there for theduration of the meeting. The churches that attend usuallycontribute some food for the meeting, but the primaryresponsibility for feeding those in attendance usuallyfalls upon the host church. Occasionally, they will alsorequest assistance of food for the meeting from us. Atpresent, Steve has scheduled to teach/preach at several ofthese meetings before we return to US.*

AFRICA Mid-July will also bring the biannual All-lilS^IONS Africa Missionary Conference in Kenya. ChristianMEETING - Church/Church of Christ missionaries from all over

Africa will be gathering in Nairobi for a five dayconference for encouragement, equipping, sharing ideas,and fellowship. We are quite excited to be attending thismeeting, as we will be meeting many missionaries fromAfrica for the first time.*

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WHAT A In late June, Bill Brant and I made an excitingDAY!!... trip to a church conference at Nkotankota.

Nkotankota is on a small strip of land In Malawisurrounded by Lake Chllwa on one side and Mogamblqueon the other. In order for us to reach there, we droveabout 1 1/2 hours to reach the shore of Lake Chllwa,then we travelled another hour by boat. We were met byabout 30 Christians that had come out from the shore inboats. Then when we reached the shore, we were met by ahuge crowd of people, all of them singing and clapping.Both Bill and I preached at the worship service, attendedby over 700 people, according to the count of the leadersthere. We tried to feed and encourage the people there,but I think Bill and I were the ones encouraged the most.The people there were singing with jcy nearly the entiretime we were there. Bill and I finally got back toBlantyre at about 6:30 p.m. We were sunburned, a littlewet, and very tired, but had a goodfeeling in our hearts.*

FLOOD In the last newsletter we informed you about theUPDATE flood/landslide in the Mulanje area. In addition to the

assistance we mentioned before, we have continued toassist some with food, and also with hybrid maize seedsfor those in areas that are capable of growing maize inthe dry season. In early to mid-July, we will also beproviding some assistance for those who have prepared torebuild their homes.*

POSITIVE Recently we have begun to see some positive signsSIGNS IN In some churches showing a move toward a more BiblicalLEADER- position on leadership. We have seen a couple ofSHIP churches recently that have been going through the

process of selecting a group of elders. Although I wantto be quite cautious about this and encourage the churchesto go forward slowly, I do feel this is a big step forwardin the thinking of many church leaders.*

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PRAYER One of the things that has been a blessing for us InGROUP our personal spiritual lives has been our involvement in

a fellowship/pr^er group. We meet everyThursday evening with four other expatriate couples tohave a short Bible study, pray together, and encourageone another. Two of the couples are British, one isCanadian, and the other American, and each couple comesfrom a different church background. It has been veryuplifting for us to share with these other couples inmutual encouragement! •

SKAG6S In general, all the Sicaggs fainlly is doing well.FAMILY We have been blessed recently with very good health. We

certainly have been keeping busy and anticipate gettingbusier as we prepare for our departure for furlough.Please be praying for us as we try to "wind things up"here in preparation for our furlough.®


local churches (4) Jeff andKaren Kennedy on furloughand their baby due in August (5)Bart and Leslie Snyderraising support to come toMalawi.®

Please continue prayingfor (1) our furloughpreparations both for here andin the US (2) funds for airlinetickets (3) continued movementtoward plurality of elders in

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=iELD ADDRESS=0 30* 2500

Slaniyre, MalawiAtnca


FORWARDING AGENTSJames ana Beverty Sivijs

5980 McLarnan RoadGamDier, Ohio A3022




As you read thisnewsletter, we may very well beon our way back to the U.S., orwe may already be there!! itseems that time has really beenflying by as our furlough hasapproached.

Preparations for thetransition back to the US forfurlough have been coming alongwell. We are seeing the light atthe end of the tunnel for packingall of our things away here, andthings seem to be comingtogether in the US as well.

We were able to find the

funds to purchase round triptickets. As we mentioned in our

last newsletter, we were able tosave about $1500 by buyinground trip tickets now instead ofwaiting until later to buy theone-way tickets back to Malawi.We were able to secure a loan tocover the amount of the ticketsthat we did not have available.

Our travel plans are toleave Lilongwe, Malawi onAugust 29th and arrive inCincinnati, Ohio on the eveningof August 31 St. Please bepraying for us that our journeymay be a safe one, andespecially that Vonnie andGraham will travel well.*

GOALS FORFURLQUGHAs the time for our

furlough approaches, we havebeen pondering "what do we wantto accomplish during ourfurlough?" Actually, as we havesat and thought about it, thereare many goals that we have forfurlough.

First, we want toinform/update our sup

porting churches. As wehave been sharing in ournewsletters, there are so manythings here that are so differentthan we expected. And our rolein the work Is so much differentthan when we first arrived. Wewant the churches to get anaccurate picture of what ishappening here In the work,

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what our role in the work is,what the problems andopportunities of the work are,etc.

But as the word"furtough" suggests, we alsowant our furlough to be a time ofrest, reflection, andrenewal. We really need sometime to renew ourselves andreflect on the work from adistance. Our time in Malawithus far has been rewarding, buthighly pressured. Getting awayfrom the work for a while willrenew our zeal and give us a newperspective on the work. Weanticipate that attending theWorld Evangelism Conference/National Missionary Conventionin November and living nearKentucky Christian College willprovide us with manyopportunities for encouragementand renewal. We will also berenewing our relationships withfamily and friends, and we areso excited for all our family andfriends to finally meet Graham.

While we are home wealso hope that we may findvisionary and gifted people withwhom to share the needs here inMalawi, so that they might joinus in the work here. Yes, wehope to recruit moreworkers! We could certainlyuse more personnel not onlyhere in the south, but also in thecentral and north of Malawi.

Perhaps one of the mosturgent goals for our furloughwill be raising funds for

housing In Malawi. As wehave mentioned in earliernewsletters, the housingsituation in Blantyre is growingsteadily worse. Rental pricesare astronomical!! One of ourmissionary friends here wasnotified recently that the rentalprice for his house was jumpingfrom the already high K1800(approx. $650) per month toK5000 (approx. $1800) permonth!!! The sad thing is thatthis kind of situation is quitecommon! We have been reallyblessed to be paying only $500per month for the house we arerenting now, but when wereturn to Malawi in 1992, thehouse will only be available tous for a few months. After that,it is almost guaranteed that wewill not be able to find any houseto rent for less than $ 1000 permonth, and it may be very likelythat we could be forced to paymuch more. At our currentlevel of support, this could leaveus with very little funds for thework!

This dilemma leaves uswith two choices: either raisemore monthly support to coverthe rental housing costs or raisefunds for the one-timeexpenditure of building/buyinga house. It seems that the onlywise thing to do is to raise thefunds to invest in a house ratherthan losing so much money inrent. As we visit supporters,we will be sharing in more

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detail about the housingproblem.

As you can see, furloughis going to be a busy time for us!But we are very much lookingforward to it! Not only is thefurlough going to be a time ofsumming up our first term inMalawi, but perhaps moreimportantly, it is going to be a

time of laying the groundworkfor our second term. We ask allof you to please be praying aboutall of these goals that we havefor our furlough. We know thatthe prayers of God's people areindeed powerful,and with theLord's help we can meet all thesegoals.#


KENYA In mid-July we attended the [email protected] Missionary Conference in Kenya. Christian

Church/Church of Christ missionaries, as well as non-instrumental Church of Christ missionaries, from allover Africa were there. What an encouraging time we hadthere! We were challenged by some really great sermonsand workshops as well comforted and encourag^ bysharing with other missionaries. Of particularencouragement to us was seeing the openness and unitythat is being developed with the non-instrumentalChurch of Christ. We had great fellowship together at theconference ... and we were so pleased to meet fourcouples, of whom two were from the non-instrumentalfellowship, that were working together as a team in onearea. •

STILL With our furlough approaching,! cannot help butMANY remember the various problems and needs thatNEEDS IN will remain here to meet us on our returnMALAWI early next year. Even as we prepare to leave for

furlough, there are still quarrels between churches,quarrels between leaders, and even conflicts still risingout of the episode with the group of evangelist whodisassociated themselves with us last year. One thing thatcan certainly be said for the work here is that it is neverboring!!

Although we have seen slow progress in someareas, there are still so many needs that need to beaddressed. As we have mentioned to you before, BibJ^jknowledge is still appallingly low among most Christians,churches need much guidance in following Biblicalleadership patterns and those leaders need much teaching.

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and pr(^rams for teaching the women and children needwork.

We are praying that our time away from the workwill renew our patience and tolerance for handling theproblems that often arise and renew our zeal for tacklingthe great needs that exist here. Certainly we lookforward to sharing these problems and needs with youwhile we are home so that you can fully understand thework we are doing here. •

SKABQS Yonnie is pregnant!! Yes, we are excited toFAMILY— share with you that we are expecting child *2! Since theSMK baby is due in late February, we will be able to have the

baby in the States tefore we return to Africa. We reallylook forward to being able to share this experience withour family at home! The pregnancy is ^ing well thusfar, but Vonnie has had a tougher time with morningsickness so far, cr should we say all-day sickness!Vonnie is getting to the point in her pregnancy where thesickness should be tapering off. Please pray that thishappens so that our journey home will not be a difficultone for her.

We are all very excited to be home. Vonnie willbe able to satisfy her cravings!! Von has been having BigMac attacks occasionally—guess where we are ^ing assoon as we get off the plane!!. Steve can't wait to play agood game of basketball! As for Srahain, he willprobably be very pleased to be the center of attention forawhile! •


Please be praying for(1) a ^Dod trip home, (2) fundsto repay loan towards airlinetickets, (3) the problems andneeds that confront the churchand missionaries here, (4) Bill

and Jackie Brant as theymove back to Blantyre and settleback into the work here, and(5) Jeff and Karen Kennc»dyon furlough and their baby duein August.®