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Gone Fishin’

It’s now been a week since Pam went back to Ireland. Her journey was trouble free and she arrived in Belfast last Friday (16 May) having made all her connections and accompanied with all her luggage. Since returning home she has been able to rest after a busy few weeks running up to her departure, visit with family, and spend some time with our church family at Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian Church.

For me, I have been adjusting to life on my own in Malawi. I am still at work and getting on with the various activities that I am involved with at Scripture Union of Malawi.

3 hours from Lilongwe to the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

Last weekend a few missionaries from the local Bible College invited me to go fishing with them to the Bua River, just north of the Nkhotakota trading centre. The stretch of river we were going to fish was located in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, a three hour car journey from Lilongwe. It was great to get out of the city for two days and enjoy some time in the countryside.

For Steve and Bob, who organised the trip, they are keen fishermen and kept the rest of us right when it came to which areas to fish and which of the lures to use. I haven’t fished since I was in my early teens, but I soon remembered some of the techniques my father had taught me.

One crocodile eating a fish Nel had just caught, still attached to the line.

The Bua River is only really famous for one thing: crocodiles. Before going I was assured that we would keep seeing the same three crocs through the weekend. To our surprise, when we got to the first part of the river we were going to fish, we were met by 8 crocodiles. Two of them were quite happy basking in the sun on the sandbank and the other six had their heads bobbing in and out of the water. This surprised us all, but they soon moved and made way for some fishing.

I’ll not go into all the details of how many fish were caught and how many times people slipped and fell into the water. But it was a relaxing and enjoyable weekend. My target was to catch one fish and that target was met. I also managed to catch a crocodile! It wasn’t my intention to hook one of the beasts, but sure enough what I thought was my lure caught on a rock was in fact a croc.

One crocodiles and it’s baby!

Towards the last few hours of fishing, before returning to Lilongwe, we were all fishing at the one spot and retelling stories of the past 48 hours. I had cast my line and it got stuck. The last thing any of us wanted to do was to lose a lure and it had turned into a bit of a competition as to who could lose the fewest. My initial thinking was to save the lure. So I did all the tricks I knew about how to loose the line and suddenly, to my surprise, the line started to move. It caused great excitement and we thought it might be a catfish. I started to try and pull it closer to the bank and then to our amazement a croc’s head popped out of the water with my hook caught in its teeth. It did take me a few seconds to realise that I was pulling a living crocodile to my feet on the bank, but I only managed to get it 8 feet from the water’s edge before the hook came out and off it went to the depths of the river. It did give us a bit of excitement and a great story to tell! Who else can say they caught a crocodile?

My success on a fishing weekend.

Being out of the city gave me space and time to reflect on different aspects of life: seven weeks without Pam, becoming a father, issues at work, and the upcoming (now passed) elections in Malawi. All too often it is easy to overwhelmed by the things of life, but being out in the middle of nowhere with no mobile signal, internet or electricity, gave me time to put things in perspective and to put my worries, fears and loneliness aside. I was drawn back to a passage that has been a challenge and encouragement over the years.

In Matthew 11: 25-30 we read of Jesus issuing an invitation for us to come and rest in him. This invitation is about giving us rest from ourselves; from our fears, our worries, our guilt and our loneliness. Jesus is enough to sustain us through life so that we don’t have to try and fix it ourselves. I need to rest in Christ and to give him everything that would distract me from loving him with all my heart, soul, body and mind.

Note: All fish and crocodiles were returned to the river and none were kept. All fisher-folk returned to Lilongwe in one piece!