From our Missionary Partner

From our Missionary Partner

The weather is hotting up here in Mzuzu. Temperatures are now around 30oC. We’re in the cooler, hilly north of the country, but it’s still a month or two until we expect the hottest weather. These temperatures are not uncommon in the UK now, though we visited for a Scottish summer in July and seemed to miss it all together. We are grateful for the chance to reconnect with family and friends and enjoy a week at the Keswick Convention.
The change of weather is another reminder that the year is marching ahead. When I last wrote, I had recently visited southern Malawi, where communities were devastated by Cyclone Freddy.
We were there again last month to distribute roofing materials thanks to donations from Overton Parish Church and other international partners.
The CCAP General Assembly has supported the rehabilitation of 20 homes in Migowi and Chiuta Presbyteries, in an area of Southern Malawi that was hit hard by Cyclone Freddy. Local congregations identified vulnerable households and mobilised the other materials needed. A local congregant provided the transport of materials from Blantyre. The presbyteries arranged for young people with bicycles to get the materials to each home. It is great to see the impact of the church working together locally and globally. Praise God!
The road to recovery is long and slow, particularly in the current economic climate. We noticed the difference in supermarket prices during our short visit to the UK, however, the hike on our return to Malawi after only a few weeks was perhaps larger. A shortage of foreign exchange to support imports of fuel, medicines and supplies for vital infrastructure projects is hitting Malawi hard. It is also making it hard to source fertilisers, so food prices are being pushed higher and higher. This is the context in which the church is serving.
There’s a lot to be thankful for when we take the time to stop and think. That includes our gratitude to those who read these updates and join our work in prayer and through giving. We’re grateful to God for our partnership with you – thanks!
We’re glad the girls have settled in well for a new school year. There is always a fair amount of change in the classes each year as jobs and other commitments lead families to move. We’re mindful of the impact all this transition has on the girls and appreciate your prayers for them. Caitlin is now very much walking. It seemed like, though the skills were all there, last month was when she decided to put them to use. Now, there is no stopping her!
After many months of planning, advertising, recruitment and preparations, the Emerging Leaders Programme got off to a very positive start. I could see God’s many provisions in the logistics for the event, the positive relationships formed in the group and the meaningful conversations we had together. Please pray for our group as they begin to put things into practice in their workplaces and join online workshops until we meet again in November.
During our first in-person gathering, the group visited the Dzaleka refugee camp. The camp was meant to be home to 10,000 refugees, but until recently, the population was over 50,000. That has now swollen to an estimated 60,000 following a forced relocation exercise by the government of any refugee living outside of the camp.
Malawi is a signatory of various international instruments and commitments. However, it falls short of many standards around integration and freedoms of refugees. Like in the UK, the political rhetoric towards those fleeing conflict, violence and persecution is widely inaccurate and dehumanising.
Our aim for the visit was to allow our group to draw their own conclusions from real conversations in a dignified, two-way exchange of information. They sat with people who have been awaiting their application processing for decades, who are three or more generations from those who fled their home country, and who are trying to make a dignified living to provide for their families.
Looking ahead to the coming months, with funding for the trees project now in place for two Synods, please pray for the work of launch and coordination of this project. I’ll go to Zomba Theological University in October as the post-graduate building project should have completed the planning stage. We will look at funding and logistics to start the renovation and building works. Then, later in the month, I plan to visit Blantyre to help develop the marketing plan for the nursery there – getting to put my academic studies into practice!
Jacqueline maintains her link with Mzuzu Crisis Nursery and Family Centre, mostly through friendship and support of the nursery manager, Anna. Please pray for Anna as she grieves the loss of her father this month. Jacqueline was able to travel to attend the village funeral, and we pray she can continue to be a friend and support to Anna and the wider ministry.
When we stop and reflect, perhaps the challenges seem greater than before. Perhaps resources look smaller than before. How great a comfort it is to know that He is always greater: Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21
As ever, thanks for your continued prayer and friendship.
Gary, Jacqueline, Eilidh, Morven and Caitlin x
September 2023

Meet our Student Minister

Meet our Student Minister


My name is Andrew Johnstone, and I live in Dumfries with my wife Amanda. We have been blessed between us with four teenagers; Bethany, Sezen, Ayla and Christy. We have three cats as well who keep us well entertained; Star, Ripley and Hubbles. My wife Amanda has a busy job working as a Health Visitor with NHS Dumfries & Galloway. If I was to sum up our family life in a few words, I would have to
say, manic, busy, but always filled with fun and happiness.

As a family we love going to support Annan Athletic on a Saturday afternoon. For going on holidays, our kids love nothing more than going to Blackpool where I think they know every last inch of the famous Pleasure Beach and promenade. Most of our holiday photographs involve either a theme park ride, or an ice cream. Happydays!

For the next six months, Ive been given the privilege of being placed as a student with the congregations of Gatehouse and Borgue, linked with Tarff and Twynholm. This will be my second placement, having previously worked under the supervision of Rev. Alison Burnside in the Parishes of Castle Douglas linked with Bengairn. I write this short introduction after having spent my first day with Rev. Val Ott, and it was wonderful. In just one day we took part in a school assembly, met the new leaders of the Monday Club, led a wedding rehearsal and enjoyed taking part in a choir practice. My singing still needs a lot of work, but my goodness me, we had a wonderful time.

I study with Highland Theological College; something I hugely enjoy. Before entering ministry training as a candidate, I worked for 17 years as teacher in a number of schools; Stranraer Academy, Annan Academy and Dumfries High School. Even before that, I spent 17 years working in the nuclear industry at BNFL Chapelcross. My prayer is that God blesses me with many further years to serve him, as he has called me to his service.

My home congregation is Caerlaverock Parish Church, and the most difficult thing about training is that I have to leave my Caerlaverock Church family on a Sunday morning. However, the other side of this, is that every Sunday morning I have the privilege of sharing in worship with the new Church families with whom I am placed. I am particularly passionate about rural mission and ministry and hope that I can bring a new perspective and hopefully something of value to both charges.

My daily prayer is that our rural parishes experience a move to God in our lifetime, and that we can partner with God, help bring about his Kingdom, and that once again rural South West Scotland takes its place as a powerhouse of the Church.

I feel very blessed to be sharing this next part of my journey with the parishes of Gatehouse and Borgue, linked with Tarff and Twynholm, under the supervision of Rev. Val Ott, and I am looking forward to meeting you all in person.

Andrew Johnstone

Let all the world in every corner sing

Let all the world in every corner sing

Well, at least in every corner of our church, if not quite ‘all the world’, our congregation can be heard lifting up their voices praising God each Sunday during our worship. The singing in our congregation is earnest, sincere and robust and our small but much valued Choir gives an excellent lead. Even when new or less familiar hymn tunes are presented, the Choir provides a vigorous projection of both confidence and energy. The Choir will recommence weekly rehearsals in September on Friday afternoons (4.00pm-5.00pm) after the summer recess and we would welcome any new voices from amongst our regular worshippers or visitors. It is traditional in our Church to sing an Introit each Sunday (a short piece, usually two or three verses from a hymn) to provide a call to worship’ and a moment of reflection. We prepare anthems for the main festivals of the church and would like to tackle a new repertoire in the year ahead. Our current choir has about 10 voices, with a regular mix of about six sopranos, four altos and one bass. For special occasions we are fortunate to have support from Twynholm parish church choir, with a soprano, a bass and a tenor too. If you would like to join us or even wish to come and give it a go, then you would be made most welcome. The only requirement is some ability to sing (preferably in tune…) and if you have additional qualities of being able to read music, or previous choral experience, then it would help too. We are a friendly group, love singing and enjoy supporting the congregation with Sunday worship. Please get in touch either informally with a word after morning service or drop me an email if you prefer! Bill Thomson, Organist 

The Guild – Summer Outing

The Guild – Summer Outing

Summer Outing:

On Wednesday 24th May a lovely sunny evening – members and friends met at Elizabeth MacGregors Garden in Kirkcudbright. Following a relaxing stroll around the beautiful walled garden we went to the plant sales area to make purchases for our own gardens. Then, it was on to Arden House for a delicious supper, sing happy birthday to the proprietor and have a good old blether – the noise was incredible!!

A Piano for Tarff and Twynholm Church

A Piano for Tarff and Twynholm Church

We have acquired a piano to replace the keyboard previously used by musicians who were unfamiliar with the organ. The Eavestaff Pianette which is in very good condition will, hopefully, be an asset at Church services. It was formally introduced to the congregation at an IN-TUNE COFFEE MORNINGon Saturday 27th May with a musical programme devised and hosted by our dedicated Choir Leader, Katharine Barber, who warmly welcomed everyone to the event before inviting Val to bless the piano and its use in the church, which she did in fine style. Val followed the blessing by playing a solo piece Le Coucou’ by Daquin, a timely recognition of calls of the cuckoo in Maytime.

There followed a Fashion Showof hymns. The audience sang two verses from each hymn using word sheets kindly provided by Ken Michie who introduced his choice of three hymns popular many years ago but rarely sung at the present time “Tell me the old, old story, “Jesus bids us Shine” and When we walk with the Lordfollowed by a solo March Religieusefrom the opera Alceste” which he played effectively at a slow and stately pace.

Next, we jumped to the 1980s with Katharine playing three hymns popular then, but which have fallen out of usePraise Him”, “Kym bay ah” and Give me oil in my lamp. Katharine ended her presentation with the gentle and lyrical “To a Wild Rose by Edward MacDowell.

To round off the programme Eileen Cawthorne chose hymns which have stood the test of time and are never out of fashion – “O love that wilt not let me go, Blessing and honour” and Who would true valour see” before concluding with a solo – the beautiful Petite Litanes de Jesu” by Gabriel Grovlez.

The musicians took a well-deserved bow and Violet warmly thanked Katharine on behalf of the congregation for creating the programme as well as all four of the musicians for giving their time and talent to support what was a very enjoyable, successful, and worthwhile event. Violet also expressed thanks to Agnes and her team for the sumptuous treat of cakes and coffee they provided for everyone to enjoy. There was no charge for the event but £200 was raised by donation for Katharines chosen charity Mercy Ships.