Fr. Ermolaos from Malawi – May 2015
Dear Friends of the Mission,
Rejoice and exult at the joy of the Resurrection! Not only now that the Paschal bells are still ringing joyously in our ears but always as well …
The reason why we are writing to you is to share with you our feelings about the trials and tribulations our Malawian brothers are currently going through due to extreme weather events that have hit the country this year.
This year Easter came immediately after the devastating passage of a huge disaster that struck the country and left its mark on many homes. That incredible cataclysmic rainfall was followed by many and varied agonizing efforts to eliminate the scars and heal the wounds… The death toll was high. Many people were killed. Far more were left homeless amid the ruins, not to mention the countless wrecked homes.
Generally, the grief is great but the mobilization that followed is also moving … Various bodies, organizations, as well as the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity that is always by our side, when emergencies take place, are trying to help deal with the tragedy, each one in their own way and according to their abilities. Many of them are being involved in the reconstruction of the destroyed schools. Others are supporting and treating the needy by hosting or transferring them to their relatives. Generally, everyone does their best.
Our little mission could not remain inactive before this grief. So many are the needs in every parish and so meager are our abilities to care for all those seeking our help that we reach an impasse when we have few goods to distribute to many people in distress.
We saw that the blankets are a valuable and indispensable good for the natives and the homeless, as the humidity at night is too high in relation to the heat of the day, but especially now that winter approaches, they are necessary for our brothers who spend the night in the mud hut. Our blankets were sought after!
Our mission decided to distribute 500 blankets, which is why we appeal to all directions in order to collect them. Each blanket costs 12 euro. The more blankets we collect, the better for our brothers. Needless to say, feeling the warmth on the cold winter nights (in July and August), they will remember the donors and pray to the Most Merciful God for them.
However, no matter how difficult it is here for our brothers in Malawi to deal with the sudden death of their own people, face the destruction of their house, be left orphaned or homeless overnight, it is just as common for them to leave the pain behind and throw themselves into the daily struggle, fighting to survive with all their might.
Therefore, despite all the biblical disasters that occurred and the different types of wounds that were opened in every home, the local parishes humbly continued their program; this way, every parish passed through the Great Lent to the Resurrection of Lazarus and through the solemn entrance into Jerusalem to the Passion Week.
How touched are the souls of our African brothers by the solemn hymns of our Orthodox Church! How much our soul rejoices to see that all parishes are giving their own fight and with small steps year after year they experience and feel deeper inside the principal truths of our faith! And of course the joy of the Resurrection comes and redeems all of us who humbly went along the path of our Lord’s Holy Passion.
How fulfilling the Resurrection is! This is something that we all live within the Church even though words are inadequate to express it. But one cannot help noticing how happy everyone is, especially the newcomers into our faith, when they take the red-dyed eggs and knock them together and laugh. And how joyful is the paschal meal every parish offers to all of its parishioners, who gather and eat all together and rejoice, as happened in the first years of our Church with the “agapae”, i.e., the early Christian love feasts.
This year, thanks to the generous offer of a donor, a large truck brought sacks of flour to each parish and “they did all eat and were filled and rejoiced and exchanged the Paschal greeting”. Also, thanks to the same donor, there were hundreds of eggs that were distributed, which the natives have learned to dye in their own way, and they knock them together and exclaim “Kristu Auka” and answer “Zuuna di Auka.”
Brethren, our feelings are mixed, like the events that surround us! Thus happy events are tied to sad and joyful to sorrowful. But believe us that this daily agony is our salvation as well. It is this pain that protects us from spiritual slips and falls as well as our deviations from the redemptive path we all long for, which leads to our Creator through our fellow man. It is through the hardships and sorrows that each one of us leaves their comfort and sets out on the journey to eternity, which we are created for.
For we should always bear in mind that no matter how much security a settled and without tribulations life inspires, it does not cease to be a part of the eternal life which has been made for us and which our Lord Jesus Christ taught us through His Passion, Sacrifice and Resurrection and showed us that it is there awaiting us …
I pray fervently that we can achieve this goal all of us in unison by working with all our strength in order to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human beings; only this way can we be made worthy of getting closer to Him who we so deeply believe in and love. Amen!
Rejoice, brethren, for Christ is Truly Risen!
Fr. Ermolaos from Malawi