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Where are the keys? | Monday Malawi Memories

Cloud formations are fascinating parts of God’s creation. Long before we spoke about ‘the cloud’ in the digital sense, we learned about the clouds in geography class. The amazing thing about them is that they form a recognisable shape one moment and then have morphed into something else the next or lost their shape altogether. Under the beauty of an African sky, the clear blue background with candy floss white imprints, you can lose minutes gazing and guessing the scene that unfolds.

Beth and David at the Post Office
in Lilongwe City Centre (Feb. 2016)

One such occasion for me was while on a trip to the post office. If I’m honest I always loved going to the post office. It wasn’t that I had letters to post very often, but I had to go to see if anything had been delivered for us. In Malawi there is no door-to-door postal service, so you rent a post office box. When you do you are given a key and it is up to you when you go and check it. There was always excitement when a letter would appear, but even more excitement when there was just a slip of paper. The slip of paper instructed you to go into the post office and collect a package that had arrived for you, the post box renter.

On Friday 30 October 2014, one year to the day of being in Malawi, I was so distracted by getting the post that I hadn’t realised I had done something foolish until it was too late. As I approached our Land Rover Defender 110 and reached for the keys, I realised they were no longer in my possession. I hurried back to the post box to see if I left them in the lock and then to the post office counter incase I had set them there. But they were no where to be seen, until it dawned on me they were sitting in the ignition! I had done the convenient old trick of pushing in the door handle button while pushing down the lock and shut the door behind me. There I was, on a hot Friday afternoon with an armful of post, and no car keys. Thankfully we had a spare set and Pamela rushed into the City Centre to rescue me.

It was while I was waiting that I looked up to the clouds. The sky was clear and I was patiently waiting in the heat. As I watched the clouds move slowly above me I saw what looked like the shape of the island of Ireland. It was almost perfect in its form. For a few moments I was transported back to what 30 October should have felt like with the cold temperatures and seeing your breath in the morning coolness. But for me I was in 30oC+ temperatures and seeking rest under the shelter of a tree while keeping an eye on my Defender, and more importantly, my laptop inside!

For just a brief moment, before the clouds shifted and I was reminded of home, I was thankful for the years of care of attention many had given me to instruct me in the faith that allowed me to be in Lilongwe in that moment in the hope of helping others know Christ and grow in him. The clouds may have shifted but the missionary endeavour of God’s people has not. We are to continue to go into all the world and make disciples as we await the return of Christ.

Clouds are funny things and can play tricks on the mind; losing your car keys and finding them inside the locked car will do other things to your mind, but when they came together that one, hot Friday afternoon, I was thankful to stop and say with the psalmist in Psalm 19:1,

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (ESV)

Monday Malawi Memories recaptures memories from over 20 years in Malawi. Photos won’t be in chronological order and can be on the Lilongwe Letters blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also find them using the hashtag #mondaymalawimemories.

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