Sunday, October 31, 2004

Of Healing and Favour

The international night at Brickebergkyrkan went on very well last night..colourful clothing from Indonesia, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Malawi, Ethiopia, USA, Canada, Scotland etc and the food that went with it. There was lots of mixing between the Swedes and the internationals, a quiz and also Scottish traditional dances.

This morning Senior Pastor Anders Sundström preached from 1 Corinthians 14..and tackled topics like speaking in tongues and whether women should preach or not. He was for womenfolk taking to the pulpit. At the end there was a quiet time and Pastor Anders asked those who felt like speaking in tongues to do so, and also those who had a word from God to speak it out. One man had this word: 'Do not fear, My Spirit is within you' and old man stood up to say what the Lord had laid on his heart a few weeks ago, 'Where will you spend your eternity?' Another man went forward to say that God takes care of burdens such as need for healing. In the quietness, I felt God's healing hand at work, restoring broken and sick bodies, as well as relationships. It was a moment I have never experienced here in Sweden.

During 'Fika' I saw the favour of the Lord being poured on me liberally! Kevin le Blanc my Canadian friend who today sang so beautifully in a duet and a solo gave me an early Christmas present. The best guitar chord encyclopaedia I have ever seen. God's healing at work! My Dad was an amazing jazz guitarist, and when he died an uncle took away his chord book and records. I felt hurt because as first born son, I should have inherited these items.
Then the Scotslady Ruth Willett asked me to get a spare winter jacket at her home. Ruth also said she and her husband Cameron are offering to pay half the cost for my plane schedule changes!!! I nearly cried right there in the church grounds. So it is now most likely I will leave for Malawi on 12 December. Bless the Lord.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


What a week this has been. I phoned home four home this week which is a record. My state of mind has been like a yo-yo for one reason or the other. Our study schedule has changed and we finish classes on 10 December...but my plane ticket says I leave on the 19th!!! I tried to have my departure date shifted back by a week only to be shocked by KLM asking one thousand Swedish crowns for that! I protested to the travel agent Kilroy..I will know the final outcome on Monday. Most likely I will sit out the nine days, counting snowflakes as they fall, and dreaming dreams of home!

My work place is delaying to release our pay and this may affect my 'children' who I left in the house. But blessed be the Lord who feeds even the sparrow--He will provide for the 'kids' I'm certain.
Then my Finnish classmate Mervi Itkonen showed us her Mom and Dad yesterday...they are visiting relatives in Sweden. It was a happy occasion, but after they were gone, it triggered in me homesickness and a reminder that I have only a single parent.
Today I'm mourning the passing of a young man in my home village at Likhubula in Blantyre. Ludoviko was a lively fellow and always made sure he greeted you even if you were unaware he was in the vicinity. He is no more. His young life taken by the wheels of a minibus that ran over him a few days ago. Ludoviko never came round after he fell unconscious to say 'bye'. It pained me so much when I received the news.

On the upside, the Bible study on Wednesday was really good, and our Canadian friend Mark Rydeout again made an important statement: That single sin or stronghold that remains in our lives could be the only barrier preventing us from being effective as ministers of the Gospel and fully enjoying God's blessings. We were studying how the Israelites turned away from God during Joshua's reign even though He was faithful to them.

I managed to secure packaging box for the TV which my Swedish-American hostel mate Ryan gave me, and a car to deliver me to the train station as I leave for Malawi.
I'm blessed because Lillian my friend in England found a new job today after being fired on Monday..the Lord is so faithful.

Tonight we are having an international night at Brickebergkyrkan..Scots will wear their kilts, Indonesians their robes, Malawians..their mwinjiro yokoma, and there will be food from all corners of the world, and I guess music. Make way for me to the food table please!!!

Next week we travel to Finland for a week-long study tour. Örebro continues to be extra cold.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Malawi Media and All That Jazz

My day to present the media situation in Malawi arrived yesterday! My class of 22 folks from all corners of the world is taking turns to let the others know the facts and figures as well as opinions about the media in their home countries. I came up with a power-point production and a tape of a newscast from Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. I was quite nervous, but assurances that my Mom and other people back home were praying for the 'shy-guy' encouraged me.
The first minutes were abit hazy as I stuttered and ahm..mmhh---uhhh. Thank God I got into rhythm before long and I was enjoying the questions, interjections, comments from the audience! It was a blessing at the end, to have quite a number of people including my dear course coordinator, Maria Ljunggren, commend the presentation.

I returned to the pub last night after a long break! Hey, it wasn't to partake of that which biteth like a viper and stingeth like a cobra. I went to K5 Pub to listen to my new friend Martin Hallman and his jazz outfit, the Tembo Swing. These chaps visited Örebro university some weeks ago and I was impressed with their skills, young though they are! 'If you want to be great, rub shoulders with the great' is one of my principles.
Martin is a missionary kid and his parents spent some years in Tanzania, which is Malawi's neighbour! Martin speaks Swahili, a common language in East Africa. Tembo Swing were the curtain-raisers and a trio of quite elderly men, (who were later joined by an equally elderly woman) was the main attraction. Both groups played well and were cheered by the crowd, but the younger guys received a more standing ovation.

The sun reappeared today in Örebro after a week-long absence. But it was a hide and seek affair as sunlight and rain chased each other during the day.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Who was, and is and is to come...

"Blessed be the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come..." so goes a popular gospel song by Bob Fitts!! I love this song. It adds emphasis to Psalm 14 verse 1, 'The fool says in his heart there is no God' No matter what atheists say, God is there and will reign forever more.

Last night I had a talk with Mike a guy in my dorm who doesn't like Jesus at all, and thinks if God was there, there wouldn't be war or diseases. I tried hard to tell him of man's fall, how Jesus replaced the law and animal sacrifice as atonement for sin and way to heaven, faith. He said God is undemocratic--I told him of the freewill that allows some people to disregard God's ways! Mike went on to describe Jehova, Lord God Almighty as father christmas who gives presents to good children, and that Africans believe anything such as Jesus because of illiteracy unlike Swedes who are educated! Oh dear...
I testified of the Lord's goodness in my life and reiterated that Im for God the Father, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit.
I said to Mike, 'I hope you will come to know Him one day, and when you do so email me about your preaching and teaching about God'

The weather continues to be harsh..dark, cold and rainy. Our class had the third seminar series assignment today. It went okay maybe because this time it was Professor Stig-Arne Norstehdt in charge...the past two were handled by PHD students Ulrika Ollauson and Peter Berglez. There is general dissatisfaction with the marking of these previous seminars. Lots of Cs and very few Bs!! Bless the Lord!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Church on Fire...

Brickebergkyrkan really came alive today. The was a gospel ensemble made up from some local and international members and from the word 'go' it was African-American type of praise and worship with a bit of rock'n'roll, as well as soul-funk. Ahhh. The sanctuary echoed with sing-alongs, feet-tapping on the floor and clapping of hands. It was fun to watch the normally reserved Swedes, faces alight and some getting up to enjoy the rhythm! The church was ablaze! It reminded me of Malawi where praise and worship is very lively and noisy.
Assistant Pastor Johannes preached on speaking in tongues and the Holy Spirit, taking the readings from Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14. The Holy Spirit was at work today.
I felt bad having to cancel my lunch invitation again with the Brickebacken missionary family who have been to Africa..I gotta round up my assignment due tomorrow morning...Ethics in Journalism.....for example, Is it okay to show smashed up bodies on TV news? Some quarters say journalists make alot of money by showing bloody pictures
Örebro is cold, rainy and dark today. So gloomy, but anways the church fire is greater than this sombre weather!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Originally uploaded by Joe Mlenga.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Press freedom and other escapades!

'If you want to enjoy, freedom of the press, be a publisher and not a reporter. The publisher decides what stories to publish...' The Master of Global Journalism students at Örebro university met with counterparts from Asia who have been undergoing several weeks of training at Stockholm university. This statement drew various reactions from the two groups, about 50 people in all, mostly anguish and general consternation! The Philippine publisher who said this went on to suggest that if one is not ready to die when working as a journalist they should leave the professiion!

He then really dropped a clanger, by effectively saying, he was fed up and wanted to go home as Örebro city council hosted us for dinner and gave a talk in the town hall! We were all tired but had to stick it out till the end of the presentation, but our dear colleague had other ideas..ten minutes later..we all were heading home. Amazingly rude to me.

Some people think I should be called, "Jesus' cousin" because of my Christian stand. Not long after this public utterance I received a TV set from a Swedish student. That description must be a blessing!! Relate me to this wonderguy Jesus, folks, and the goodies will follow me!!
The frost looks beautiful in the mornings, as temperatures continue to drop here in Örebro.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Mothers' Day

Today is Mothers' Day in falls on the second Monday of October each year. This being a public holiday Malawians usually go to their home villages and shower their Moms with gifts and love...the mother is supposed to put her feet up and let the children do all the chores. Grandmas too aren't left out of the festivities..sometimes Dads get a gift as well!

I phoned Mom to say, 'Thank You' for the sacrifices she has made. I'm in Sweden because God wanted me to, but Mom has facilitated this blessing to come to pass in a big way.
How refreshing and exciting to hear Mayi (as well call Mom) again! My Granny was so happy to talk to me..she said it's only the second time for her to talk on a long-distance phone in all her life! Too bad for Dads..they do not have a special day in Malawi.
Folks treasure and honour your parents while they are still alive

We have been in class for only 45 minutes today and so it has been easy time for once!

Sunday servive was good..Pastor Anders Sundström at Brickebergsyrkan preached on love and referred to 1 Corinthians 13. A lady who spent time in Africa with her husband as missionaries has asked me to lunch at their house next Sunday. Wow! Saves me cooking which I don't particularly Malawi it is the women who make meals on a traditional open fire.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Language hitches and shopping!

What do you have when you don't understand Swedish and you are in a shop with an assistant who has limited knowledge of English, yet you have an eye for bargains? A comedy I can assure you.
Today I went to Prix, a shop known for its cheap goods at Österplan on the road to Örebro centrum (city centre). I spied potato chips whose price tags seemed to say you can have three for 20 crowns! Mind you the bags were huge. Sensing a kill, I asked a passing shop assistant who assured me my interpretation of the Swedish tag was correct! I always keep receipts and study the billing later. I jumped a few inches skywards or did something close to it showing consternation, as I realised I had been charged 66 crowns for the chips! After siesta I made my way to the shop to demand a refund. To cut the yarn short, it transpired there had been a misunderstanding between me and the shop worker. The price tag said you could have 20 crowns back if you post to the makers of the chips a sort of code on the bags. Ha! Tomorrow I'm going back to return all the three bags and buy pasta perhaps--the favourite student food.

Yesterday evening was kinda funny. My morale sagged abit. I couldn't get through people I wanted to call.
And a fellow Christian said I could be labelled a 'boring' and 'extremist' Christian because I refuse to go to night clubs to dance. Bah! Also because I objected to the use of a word starting with S and ending with T which in my opinion is obscene. Well, well well..oh dear... It so sweet to trust in Jesus that He accepts me and you in our imperfections! In Him we live, move and have our being..identity too.

Problem for them is I can't start doing things I never do in Malawi. Many times I think Christianity means taking a long and lonely earthly road....what do you say?

Friday, October 08, 2004

He hears...

Friday! The class almost deserted as folks start their weekend....we have half day on Fridays. This is a breakdown of members of this Global Journalism bunch. 18 nations in all! Six Africans. 8 men against 14 women! Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, Finland, USA, Canada, Peru, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Ethiopia and Nigeria. All sorts of cultures and beliefs you can guess, but Psalm 8 says, 'O Lord our God how excellent is your name in ALL the earth' Over the world..Jehova reigns!

And this God hears prayer. On Wednesday there was a prayer item about a missing teenage girl presented by Claudia from Germany. There were doubts that she was still alive for many days had passed since her disappearance..coupled with her disorder of inflicting wounds on herself apparently stemming from abuse in her childhood. I took the item, praying for her safe return, trusting God she was still alive. Blessed be the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come..I received an email from Claudia last evening saying the missing girl is alive and had sent an SMS to her parents!

It's cold, dark and rainy in Örebro and it is a struggle to wake up in good time for the classes. You kinda think it's still night and wham! Its 7.30am..sorta different from Malawi.
Im almost done with one of my three assignments that's putting pressure on me. And oh, about my relative who likes to drink and justifies herself with Proverbs 31! I emphasised the need to look at context in quoting scriptures. I recommended James chapter 5.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Of See-Saw Emotions and Questions!

How do you treat those from whom you expect nothing? Do you respect them or tread on them? Reputation is what men say you are but character is what heaven speaks of you....
My mind grappled with these issues yesternight following the Internationational Group Bible study in the Brickebacken area of Örebro. There are people from all corners of the world in this group. Scotland, England, Korea, Palestine, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, USA, Canada, Indonesia, India, Sweden, Germany, Hong Kong....
Kevin the Canadian guitarist had a special arrangement of 'Ancient of Days' it was cool. Of course it was FIKA or coffee and cookie, cake time at the end of the session.

Before leaving campus for the 1.5km trip to Tallrisvagen the exact location of the Bible Study, I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. Theodros one of my classmates from Ethiopia reappeared with Nigist his 'countrywoman'. Ted as we call our pal, had suddenly collapsed in the corridor of Prismahuset after eating lunch screaming in agony. An ambulance was called and the sick fellow quickly taken to the Sjukhuset--hospital in town. He recovered there and apparently the medics were nixed over the cause of the seizure. Ted was observed for some time and then sent back home. It was all hush hush as we waited in concern for him. Imagine our joy to see him in person walking into the class after six hours!

One of my elderly relations thinks it's okay to take that which biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder( or something like this) I advised her to stop, but she threw Proverbs 31 back at me..give beer to the poor so that they forget their misery! I'm planning my response. This woman doesn't actually clap and go 'tra la la la' after partaking of the bitter stuff, but merely saunters to sleep. Nevertheless I think it's sin to drink. So there!


Originally uploaded by Joe Mlenga.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Laughs and Changes!

Wednesday! The small Friday as one Nicaraguan described the day.. I get an email from Mom. My beloved 8 year old nephew Chisomo(meaning grace) has been reading Psalms and praying again. He prayed for my safety and his also during the night. He asked God to protect him from creatures that disturb his sleep like, rats, lions and mosquitoes! He made my day..I pray for Him that his knowledge of God will grow.

I slept like a log last night due to fatigue and a cough medication which makes one drowsy..a cold and cough seemed imminent yesterday. I woke at half past seven thinking it was half past six..because of the fog and darkness I guess.

There are factions developing in our class and it aint the same good working unit we had in the early days. People do not want to share books and other resources. WWJD? Love us all despite our meanness and superiority complexes. 'This little light of mine, Im gonna let it shine' somebody sang-- I read scripture about putting the lamp on a stand this morning and the song that came to my mind as I walked to class was, 'Go Light Your World..carry your candle, into the darkness..' Cathy Troccoli and Steve Rice versions.

This morning Staffan Larsson of Linköping University lectured on Qualitative was hard going for me with terminologies like hermeneutics, phenomenologists!!

We continue with building websites using Dreaweaver software this afternoon with Henric Noren. I look forward to the praise and worship at the Bible Study at the Willett's home tonight. Kevin is leading it. I have heard this Canadian is a great guitarist! Funny I don't know his last name or email address. Cameron Willett lent me his guitar for my whole stay in Sweden. He lived in Africa (Zambia) for 12 years and once visited Malawi. God is indeed good.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I Get Started

Today is another day the Lord God has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I have just discovered the world of blogs and I guess it's kinda exciting. Here I am in the Swedish city of Örebro studying for an MA in Global Journalism..thousands of kilometres away from home in Blantyre, Malawi, southern Africa.

Today, Im expectant of the Lord God.. I trust He will do something good to me, my family and friends who are struggling in finances, bless the Lord!

Maria Ljunggren, my course coordinator and Henric the computer guru have today put up a big map of the world at the back of the class, and I can see where all my 22 classmates come from. It's so good to see little Malawi yonder!

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!