Written by Gaye Guyton
Although the term “dancing Lutherans” may normally be an oxymoron, today the seven of us were warmly included in two exuberant dancing circles. Worn dark hands clasped lighter hands drawing us into stomping, moving, joyful circles of welcome. In both the morning and the afternoon, we processed from village streets into a community meeting space wrapped in Malawian folk music accompanying the dancing.
This was our introduction to two self-sustaining women’s groups. The first was a short walk away in Mgwayi. The women there were making bed nets until recently when their prices were undercut by Chinese imports. They are working on a new venture to launch a mobile restaurant— similar to a food truck — for people in the area who are such long hours that they don’t have time to prepare lunch.
This afternoon, we met a group of widows in Mtsliza — young to middle-age — left penniless by the death of their husbands. Initially bereft, they retreated to their family homes until, as time went by, they came together for Bible study, prayer, and support. Realizing they had knowledge and skills, especially baking and sewing, they taught one another and now run a successful sewing business and dream of saving enough to purchase a freezer, rare in Malawi, to create frozen sweet treats to sell on hot days.
And, always, always, there are children with big eyes and quick smiles, quietly observing or participating in the dancing and music wherever we go.