I want to share a bit of information about local life here in Malawi in regard to the market and buying the necessities of life. The market in Malawi is a different experience for me.
You have to go to many different places to buy what you need.
We go to Dear Mama’s, a local chicken raiser/restaurant owner to buy eggs or chickens. Their chicken houses are kept amazingly clean and you can buy chickens live or dressed and frozen.
Fruit is sold on the side of the road at random spots where local people set a cluster of buckets filled with the fruit or spread a mat on the ground and make piles of fruit for sale. You will find seasonal fruit such as papayas, mangos, peaches, bananas, and sometimes strawberries and raspberries.
If you need vegetables you go to the city open air market where many different venders are set up with baskets of beans, greens and piri piri peppers or piles of tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, okra, onions, peppers and kasava (a root that is loaded with carbohydrates).
You select the pile you want to purchase and if you did not bring your own plastic bag you usually have to buy one to carry your produce home. There is another area of the market where you can purchase rice by the kilogram and also beans and maize. Fertilizer is in open basket and sold by the kilogram as well.
If you want to buy a large amount of fertilizer you would go to Agora that sells the 50 kg bags of fertilizer.
For bread you visit the small shop called Sana Superette or the bakery and you can find white and wheat bread available. There are sometimes rolls and sweet breads. For soft drinks you have to go to yet another shop called McConnell’s and they carry Coke and Fanta in about 3 flavors.
Sometimes they have Sprite and a drink called Sobo Cherry Plum which is very refreshing. Milk can be purchased at the coffin shop because the coffin builders have a few head of cattle for milking but you must take your empty container to them for filling. If you have more kwacha (Malawi money) you can buy a soft plastic pouch of milk at the Sana Superette or in the large cities you can by a carton of milk in whole milk, 2% or skim but it is pretty expensive.
The city is also where you can purchase a product called fat spread that is like margarine but the 1 kg container costs equal to about $6.50 to $7.00.
Sugar, salt and cooking oil are best purchased at the wholesaler because the price is good and you will save in the long run. It is also best to buy your candles, matches and tea from them as well. The power goes out often and the candles are a necessity. Many of the local villages have a market day once a week where people come from all over the area to buy or sell goods.
It is a huge gathering and a time of socializing for them as well as providing for their families. Lots of children will be found playing, men sitting at benches playing bao and the women catching up with their friends and family.
This is where you can buy African medicine which is made of roots, bark, leaves and sometimes the berries of local trees and plants. You will also find pieces of cloth, blankets, basket goods, woven mats and so much more. There will be butcher’s selling goat and pig with the meat hanging in big pieces all around the stand and a very large skillet cooking up pieces of fat and little bites of the lean meat for purchase. This is a very popular stand to hang around because you can often get a free bite of the cooked fat and it is a favorite.
When our friends at the German Orphanage slaughter a cow or pig they will always call me to let me know they have fresh meat to purchase so I can buy it the day of slaughter. I drive out to their location at around 5 p.m. so I can provide a ride back into the township for the workers who are knocking off work at that time after I make my purchase. They also sell these wonderful “freezer pops” that are made of fresh yogurt and I can always count on my friend who butchers the meat to give me a frozen treat. As you can see, gathering the necessities of life is a process that goes on almost daily. It is not possible to simply head out to get your groceries and return home the same day with what you need. You must always be including the stops in your daily travels. The fresh produce and meats are very healthy for so I am enjoying eating the local food and I feel much better in general since changing my diet. I hope you have enjoyed this infomational blog. May God Bless you all!
This holiday season has been a whole new experience for me. Watching the way another culture celebrates the Christmas season has been exciting. The feeling of excitement was definitely in the air for the past few weeks as Christmas approached. Families were looking forward to the gathering of loved ones and hoping to have enough money to buy food for a special meal as they celebrate the birth of Christ. There was an increase in shopping, but on a much smaller scale than what I am accustomed to seeing. People here just do not have the funds to buy presents for everyone. On Christmas Eve the town was really bustling with people going about everywhere picking up last minute items. If a Christmas bonus is given at all here, it is usually given on December 23rd so there is not much time to finalize preparation for the holiday. Since Christmas I have already had people mention to me that unfortunately they did not have any money to buy rice to make their meal a little more special. That was a sobering thing to hear. Our staff even said that we have had a Christmas that started something new because each one of our children and widows received a gift this year. We were blessed by some people back in America giving money to buy presents so each one would have a Christmas gift.
We have no intention of trying to westernize this culture, but it really is tough to hear of the lack of material blessings knowing that there is so much wealth in the world and excessive wealth, at that. I have been here 6 months and grown accustomed to Malawi in many ways but the extreme poverty always gets to me. I want to be clear that we made Jesus birth the focus of our Christmas celebration and NOT the receiving of any gifts.
The preparation for this season began a long while back. For weeks our staff member, Bruce Chilijembumba, has been working with the children to practice songs for our Christmas program. They also created a drama depicting the birth of Christ starting with the moment Mary tells Joseph that she is pregnant and going through the death of Herod and their return home. It was several acts long and they were so creative with their costumes, stage set up and use of actors. It was such a thrill to watch them perform so well, from the oldest down to some of our youngest. They were very professional the whole time and the drama was right on target with the scriptures.
The stage was decorated with flowers and greenery cut from our own gardens and placed in paint buckets at four different places and a string of balloons strung across the ceiling just above the front of the stage. Several children had colored the nativity scene and we hung their artwork on the walls around the chapel to add to the seasonal effect.
The audience was filled to capacity with our widows and several family members of our non-residential orphans. What a blessing we all received as we witnessed the program carried off to perfection by our hard working children and their director, Bruce. He has worked with a drama troop in the past that put on dramas teaching Secondary School children about HIV and AIDS and also with church programs teaching Biblical lessons and he is very talented. He made me so proud for him and the children.
During the morning time before our program the children all wrote a Christmas/Birthday card to Jesus praising him and telling him what they were going to give to him this year. They were all gifts of the heart and it was so sweet to read their cards. Stacy made a wall hanging from bamboo poles for the top and bottom with the cards strung from top to bottom in seven different columns with some string. It is now hanging in the classroom to be a reminder to the children of their gifts to Jesus. Stacy also made cloth book bags for all of the children sewing them all herself and we filled them with different items and gave them as their Christmas presents. I have been so blessed to have her here with me for this holiday season. We have both had a new experience this year that we will remember for years to come. It was difficult to be so far from all of my family but God gave me so many blessings and showed me a new Christmas spirit that I pray will always be a part of Christmases in my future. Strip away a lot of the things that we all really don’t enjoy about the holidays and you have a very sweet, pure celebration of the birth of Christ. Enjoy the rest of your Christmas and holiday season and may God Bless you all.
When I came to know Christ as my Savior I could not wait to go and tell people of the great joy and peace that Christ had given me in that wonderful new birth that had happened in my life. I was consumed with a passion to share the great news of the “Gospel” that was now a reality for me. The message was not about anything other than the transforming power of having the Holy Spirit live in me. Thirty nine years have come and gone since that day in October of 1971. Each new episode in my life where I experience Christ proving to be all sufficient brings a new testimony that I have to share of His wonderful faithfulness and his gentle, loving-kindness, mercy and grace. At 15 I lost my oldest brother in a car accident and the pain was so difficult, but God was there with me in the tears and the heartache. I was just barely 2 years into my new life with Christ and He was assuring me that He would never leave me and He was giving me comfort as I grieved the loss of a part of my flesh and blood, part of my family. Indescribable is the only thing that comes to mind when I think of how He was able to bring soothing words of comfort to mind and joy in remembering times with Ricky that were so special. God showed me that He had orchestrated the timing of Ricky’s visit home the weekend just before he was killed and this left me with a precious memory of fellowship with my brother that allowed us to say “I love you” to each other one last time. I was so thankful to God for that. Ricky was a sophomore in college at the University of Arkansas and we lived in El Dorado, Arkansas and we had spent very little time together in the year and a half prior to his death. God knew. He is so tender and kind. At 42 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and again the orchestrating of placement of people at my side and perfect timing of events that worked to bless me and encourage me were so clearly ordered by my Heavenly Father. I can tell you in all truthfulness that the peace in my heart, as I faced this time of uncertain future was complete and so precious. My soul was at rest knowing that I may suffer and even my family may suffer as we walk through this time but God will work all things for our good. My final home is with Him and I can face anything with Him. He gave me so many opportunities to share that testimony as I went through the process of surgery, treatment and recovery. I had been working as a nurse at the very hospital I was admitted to on the Oncology floor and I returned to that job in just a few short weeks with a new understanding of what my patients were truly going through. God knew. He is so tender and kind. There have been countless other events in these 39 years as a Christian that I have had grace, mercy and love abound when I have been obedient to Him and asked for His promises and trusted completely in His provision and power.
I wish I could tell you that I have been as strong in my faith throughout all the events of my life but the truth is it is the small things that reveal my lack of faith and my frailty. The Goliath’s in my life have been challenging but I have had victory in them because I look at their enormous size and I know that I cannot do this alone so I cry out “Abba Father, stand in front of me and save me.” Then I walk safely through the huge battle and overcome by His strength. I wish I could answer the question of why I try to walk the everyday rugged road without asking my powerful Father to be my strength in ALL the things that I will face. He is teaching me and shaping me into a newer creation every day. Thank the Lord for his grace. He is patient and slow to anger. Pray that I will live what I believe in a more consistent way. Pray that I will stand on my belief and walk in the truth of God’s Word. I believe that the provision for Esther’s House and the many projects that are there to be funded do not depend on my American Board or the well-wishers across the globe that will be signing up to sponsor a child or a missionary or a project. God is the ultimate provider of everything that is needed here. Psalm 146 tells us in verses 3-10”Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-the Lord, who remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.” So I must stop letting the idea that I have to supply the needs for Esther’s House be what is controlling my mind and making me grow weary. If I believe God provides, then my faith should be what is on my mind and then my strength will be renewed daily. Now you know how you can pray for me as I have been honest about my weakness. God is teaching me that His call on my life is to face every day as though I am facing Goliath and let Him handle the battles every step of every day and then I will go through the trials with a joyful spirit that will serve as a testimony to His Great Name. The road ahead continues to be uphill and steep so I need prayer for strength and prayer that I will obey God’s Word in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Jesus said, in Matthew 9:37-38,” The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” Jesus knew that what the disciples needed to do was PRAY for the workers. With prayer comes power and with power comes victories. So pray with me, for the Lord to call out supporters to help with His harvest here in Malawi. There is a need for people to come and work and a need for people to sacrifice and give. The God of the harvest is sufficient to meet the needs. I want to share a few of pictures of what we are doing here and how Malawians live. These people are often times trusting in witchcraft and idols to deliver them from their condition. They need the God of the harvest to deliver them. Lord, use me to point to You.
We parked in a pass between the mountaintops and climbed up to the top to reach the village of a woman we heard about. We went to see her because we had been made aware of her great need. She is raising her deceased sister’s two sons as well as her two children on her own. She was afraid of us and ran away when we arrived. When her fellow villagers coaxed her out of the thicket to come and hear from us she came and said she did not want our help.
The woman, 4 young children and several goats live in this thatch hut. She has been in need of the Lords deliverance from false beliefs about herself and her worth. She remained on my heart all night and as I prayed this morning I asked God what to do. He led me to return to her village and just tell her about Him and His love for her. We went back and many of the village leaders and adults joined us. There were nearly twenty people present as I shared with her about Christ’s love and God’s provision for her salvation. In the end 13 people prayed to receive Christ including the woman we went to see, the village headman and 11 other adults.
Please be praying for them as they will need discipling. I will be looking for someone in their area who is able to teach Bible lessons for them. Several of them walked us back to our car and thanked us over and over again for bringing this “good message” to their village. Praise God for His deliverance.
Malawians work very hard plowing their fields by hand and cooking meals in outdoor kitchens over a wood fire. As we assist these orphans we can provide a good education and help them be trained for good jobs. Then they can help their families improve the living standard.
These are the faces of the future of Malawi. They are so full of joy and promise. God has called us to make a difference by taking the gospel to the unreached through sacrifice and obedience. Maybe He is speaking to you about this people group. Who are you reaching with the truth of God’s word and the testimony of what He has done in your life? If you haven’t found a place to get involved, consider getting involved in Esther’s House Ministries. Go to www.puremission.org and find out all about the projects, the children, the missionaries involved in short term and long term work here. Partner with Esther’s House by praying for the needs and if God leads helping with support. The Lord asks for us to all sacrifice for His sake and that doesn’t mean giving from where we have spare funds or resources. That mean sacrificing from the resources that we have in a manner that says we trust Him to provide in the absence of that resource we are giving away. We trust that He will supply the needs we have even though by man’s economy it does not add up. There is great joy and reward in giving out of a thankful heart for all that God has done for you. You will never find yourself standing in God’s presence with Him telling you you should have kept more for yourself. Yes, I borrowed that one from one of my modern day spiritual leaders but it is so true and it speaks loudly. I thank you for your prayers and for your interest in Esther’s House.
Please click on the link to see Esther’s House Ministries newsletter.
Before I moved to Malawi, I believed that I lived my life led by the Spirit. Since moving here and living life each day by the Spirit’s leading, I have learned how structured and sanitized I was living out my life before. The sweetest parts of the day, back home, were when I could see the hand of God working and know that he had me at that place, at that moment for His purpose and I was blessed to be part of some divine exchange. Maybe praying for a coworker or encouraging a patient who was suffering or even possibly loving someone who was not easy to love and I have to say I even felt a little pleased with me, when those moments happened. I knew it was God who had given me the ability to love the unlovely but I certainly gave myself credit for being obedient. There is nothing wrong with that, right? Well, there is something wrong with that because I am not the glorious, holy, perfect, all knowing creator of this entire universe who sent His son into the timeline of earth, which is temporary, to give me life abundantly, which is eternal. Living here, in this country, I can see that I have so much to learn about living abundantly. In America, I had a daily schedule and a weekly schedule that kept me moving smoothly through time for the most part. Safe and structured is the best way to describe it. The truth is, I was WAY too much in control of the schedule myself leaving little room for my life to be led by the Spirit, and that control actually gave me a sense of security. I knew what to expect most of the day and what was coming tomorrow.
As I began to release my plans, my future, my family, and my possessions to God in obedience to His call to move to Malawi, it became clear that I would have to learn how to truly live by the Spirit’s leading. With so many questions unanswered every day, I had to lean in to the Holy Spirit and trust Him like never before in my life. I had gone through periods of uncertainty, loss and failure which required this kind of living before, but I always worked very hard to get things back “under control” so I could feel secure. Do you know that feeling? “Whew, I finally have life back on a routine again and can relax. I know what tomorrow will be like for the most part and so, with God’s help, I can handle any surprises that come.” Well, I won’t say that I have overcome that mindset completely, but the Lord has made a lot of progress with me here. The first few months here have been joyful, painful, confusing and enlightening as the Lord molds me and teaches me to trust in Him for everything.
Daily life here is a series of unexpected events. You plan what you believe you are to do for this day and then you walk with the Spirit and experience the reality of the day. The Malawians have a completely different mindset than I do and I am in constant field training trying to get an understanding of their way of life. Some of their ways put me in awe as I see them accept everything that comes along in daily life. It has been so challenging for me to carry out daily activities with so many diversions and false starts. I have cried out to God so many times, “Lord, teach me how to just rest in your care and accept that I don’t know what today will hold.” Until you experience life that is so uncertain every day, you do not realize how much you live life “under control” by your own means and your own plans.
Malawians have a phrase that is used so often and they know, full well, the truth of this statement. “Life is precious”, they say. When we hold prayer meetings with the staff, I always hear thanks expressed to God for life today because life is precious. When I first came to Malawi I marveled at the simplicity of that prayer of thanks and realized that I did not say those words to God often enough. I take life for granted because I am healthy and I have the means to feed myself today. Death is not something that I think about or accept as a part of daily life, but here within this culture it is thought about and it is part of daily life. Many of the plans that I have for a particular day are rescheduled because the people I am to meet with are going to a funeral. This has happened so many times now that I cannot recall the number. People I know have died or have lost a baby, a sister, a brother, or a parent. In the 4 months that I have lived here I have come to realize that life is much more precious than I knew before and I had better make good use of my time and that means to live it led by the Spirit. In my life, I have lost loved ones and experienced grief and spent time afterwards loving more, caring more and reaching out more. Then I have slowly slipped back in to a lifestyle that seems to say we will be here tomorrow and we will have more time to do the things that we plan to do. Maybe, I was a bit wiser and moved further down that path of understanding that life is precious, but nothing like the way it resonates in my daily life now.
About a month ago I was driving here in town with a carload of our staff just returning from a village and I saw in my rearview mirror a minibus struggling to brake before it hit me in the rear end. Bruce was in the very back seat and he saw it too, and we both held our breath as the minibus managed to stop at the last second. I was trembling inside with the adrenaline rush and Bruce just looked up at me and laughed and said, “Life is precious.” That statement has rung back in my mind over and over since then.
This past Thursday I returned to Esther’s House after being in another village riding out a storm under the thatch overhang of a hut, only to find out that we had experienced much more from that storm than we thought. We had smiled and enjoyed seeing the Lord bless the ground with much needed water there in the village.
What I found upon returning to Esther’s House took my breath away. The roof over the girls dormitory had been peeled back over the back wall of the campus like a tin can opened by the mighty gusts of wind from the afternoon storm. My very first thought was, “Life is precious.” The violence of that wind could have been devastating to any one of the precious lives of our children or staff. God choose to spare those lives. They are in His hands and under His care. The disaster of the damage of the building was overwhelming to me in that first moment. But because of the Spirit’s presence, I was able to lean in to His glorious arms and tell Him “thank you for life today, Lord, and I trust you and know you saw this coming and you have a plan.” I did have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes but I had a Savior to lean on and experience life abundantly in that moment. His guidance led me to the first steps that needed to be taken, who to contact, what to collect in the way of tools, and immediate action began. Before nightfall, we had the part of the roof that was hanging over the wall removed and the campus secured with the girls moved into the boy’s dormitory and all parties in safe housing for the night. We had also already had a visit by four staff members of the German orphanage that is in a nearby area, who had launched into support mode and had a plan of how to assist us and relieve some of the burden upon us. Early the next morning, we had more support by a local pastor and three young men with him who helped our staff remove the damaged part of the roof completely, before the sun made the tin roof too hot to work on. After the work was complete, we all gathered in the chapel to give thanks to God for His protection and to ask for His provision to repair our structure. What a sweet time of prayer we had and a time for me to encourage others for doing “even unto the least of these”.
In the late afternoon that same day another strong storm moved in over Esther’s House and I had to trust God to keep us safe under the roof we had for shelter. I looked out at the wind and rain blowing across the campus and thought to myself “Life Is Precious”.
Lord, let me grow in the understanding of your will, your ways and your guidance and as I learn let me follow you keeping in step with your Spirit .
In Galatians 5:25 Paul says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” He is in the middle of talking to us about the difference in the acts of our sinful nature and the fruit of the Spirit. We think of all the heinous sins mentioned in the text and say we are not guilty of such as that. But the truth is that our human nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit so we have to KEEP in step with the Spirit or our human nature will be what leads us and gives us a very false sense of security. Pray for the Spirit to “keep me” in step with Him. Without the Spirits consuming presence I cannot do anything at all.
I pray that this blog blesses you and that the Spirit keeps you. Life is precious….don’t miss out on it’s abundance.
Tonight we are celebrating a wonderful day that brought two new children to our orphanage. After several weeks of looking for orphans and working out all of the details involved in the process of enrolling a child in an orphanage, we joyfully went to two villages today to pick up Mphatso, a five year old girl and Elford, a four year old boy. Our hearts just swelled with love and victory as we received each one of them in our vehicle and took them to Esther’s House. Mphatso lived with her grandmother and is in Standard one in school which is equivelant to kindergarden in America. Her family was struggling to feed her and clothe her and said we are a blessing from the Lord. They thanked us for bringing such a wonderful ministry to their area and helping their village.
As she sat on her grandmother’s lap, I was praying for her asking God to help her feel comforted as she adjusted to her new surroundings and the house parents who will be caring for her. There are so many emotions at work in the process as a family gives their child up to live in an orphanage for the good of the child. We trust God to be the comfort they all need for these days ahead as life changes for all of them. By the time I was leaving Esther’s House for the evening Mphatso was exploring her new surroundings and as I called out her name and waved goodbye she waved good bye back and I felt she was already making progress.
The other child is Elford Mark from the village of Majuwa and he is a darling little four year old with the sweetest voice and a contagious laugh. He is severely malnourished and we were so saddened by his poor condition. Please pray for him to improve as he is given 3 nutritious meals per day and gets a good nights rest in a warm soft bed each night. His living conditions were about a hard as I have seen in this country. He lived with his grandmother and great-grandmother and his older sister in a very small hut and they were all very thin. His mother was killed by lightening strike when he was 2 years old while she was carrying him and walking alongside of his sister. It is amazing that he was unharmed.
Tonight he has had a nice warm bath and been fed a meal that was more than he has had in one sitting in his life. I was informed he ate more than anyone else including the adults. He is now soundly sleeping in his new bed under his new blanket on a soft mattress instead of the bamboo mat on the dirt floor. Doesn’t that make your heart fill with joy? There are many tasks involved in the work that I do here but this is by far the most wonderful part. God has allowed us to make a difference in these two lives tonight and I pray that there are grandparents resting a little easier tonight knowing that their beloved grandchild is being fed well and given a safe, warm place to sleep and the future is much brighter for them now. They will get an education, the healthcare that they need, clothes to wear, food to eat and loving people to share their life with.
Here is a picture of both children with two of our house parents, Bruce and Getrude Chilijembumba.
These two will both be added to our website www.puremission.org for sponsorship. If you want to sponsor a child just go to that website and select sponsor a child, choose the one you want to sponsor and follow the prompts. We still have several non-residential orphans in our program needing sponsors, too.
Please pray for Esther’s House Ministries, the staff, the children, the widows and the impact we are having on this community for the Glory of God as we fulfill the scriptures in caring for the orphans and widows. To God be all the glory for the great things He has done.
From August 24th through September 2nd I had the pleasure of hosting a 13 member mission team from the United States most of whom were from my home church. It was a great time of ministry to the people of our village and surrounding areas. We held a two day medical clinic and treated 342 people and had over 100 profession of faith during the process. Each patient heard the gospel through a device called the Proclaimer that plays the message in the language these people speak. The Proclaimer was brought by a gentlemen named Ken Edwards who is in ministry work with the organization called Faith Comes By Hearing. This device was used several times throughout the week to witness to villagers. We also held a two day pastor’s conference for 25 local pastors of many denomination. This was a great success with many pastor’s being refreshed, revived and encouraged. We held discipleship classes for local adults and Bible School classes for children. One day was spent in a predominantly Muslim village where we shared hut to hut evangelism and then an afternoon of worship and discipling in a central area of that village. This was attended by the village chief and village headmen who were all Muslim. They welcomed our team and allowed us to plant a Baptist church there. God is so good. Another day was for general repair and maintanance at Esther’s House Orphanage and the missionary house in Ntcheu. So much work was accomplished and the team maintained a great attitude and cooperative atmosphere the whole week. We all stayed in my home and shared the activities of daily living in close quarters. They were so great and it was a joy to experrience the time together.
Now there are 2 women from the team remaining here with me, one for 2 months and the other for 6 months. We have spent the past two weeks focusing on interviewing potential orphans to enroll in our residential orphans ministry and move them in to Esther’s House. These women are experiencing firsthand the process of going to the villages, finding the village headmen and going around to visit all of the homes with qualifying orphans in them. We are seeking to find those that are most vulnerable. They are the double orphans, both parents deceased, and under the age of 6. This is the work that really gets in your heart and makes you appreciate every good thing in your life. These children live in tiny huts with extended family, all sharing a small space to sleep each night and a small amount of food each day. Villagers must travel a good distance from their homes to collect water for cooking, drinking or washing. They also travel a good distance to reach their gardens where they grow maize which provides their staple food called nsima. Nsima is a thick porridge made from maize flour. Many families have little else to eat besides nsima most days. We are working hard to complete the process of enrollment so we can provide relief for some of these families and orphaned children.
We are also working with our current orphans teaching Bible lessons, playing games and encouraging their progress in learning English. We want these children to feel that they are loved and to know that they have a God in heaven who has a wonderful plan for their life. Pray for us as we carry out the mission God has sent us to this country to fulfill.
Unfortunately I have not been able to raise the monthly support that I am requiring to live here in Malawi. I have only raised 50 % of my initial projected requirement for monthly living and this will soon present a problem for this ministry. I was able to raise a surplus for the move over here and have been able to stretch the extra funds to this point, however, now there are no surplus funds to draw from and I am asking for you to please join me in the work here by helping support this full time missionary. As I was preparing to make this commitment to move to Malawi for two years there were several people who spoke of their intention to help support me that have not acted on those intentions yet. As well, there are others who sent in pledge cards to support monthly and have failed to follow through. As much as this grieves me I have to acknowledge that it grieves the Lord even more. He has a work to be done here and has called me to be the one to leave my home and family and country and fulfill this post. At the same time he has called people to be financial supporters of this ministry. As I recently read in David Platt’s book “Radical” that God will never say to you ” I wish you had kept more for yourself” I became emboldened to simply state my situation and ask that God’s people evaluate again what they can sacrifice for the sake of the gospel being shared here in Malawi. You will never out give God and He will never let you down as you act in obedience to give to missions. Many will say I am already doing my part, but I say to you if there are still so many millions who have never heard the gospel then we are all falling short of our part. If there are still millions of orphans living in desperate conditions we all can sacrifice more. Please look further and deeper into your resources and help with support so I will be able to continue the work I have been called to with the orphans and widows of Malawi. You can go to www.puremission.org and select “Send A Servant” , chose my name and follow the prompts. It is easy to set up monthly support one time and then you don’t have to keep returning every month to make your contribution. You can also set up to make a one time gift. There is no gift too small for this work so don’t think that there is nothing you can do. Please follow as he leads because the need is real and it takes all of us to meet it. Pray always for the people of Malawi and the work that God is doing here. God Bless you all!
About a month ago I was sitting at a local clinic waiting on one of my Malawian friends to be seen by the clinician. On the TV in the lobby was a program about the Safe Motherhood Foundation Launch being hosted by the First Lady of Malawi. It was such an inspiring program and I began to get a sense from the Holy Spirit that I needed to pay attention and take notes. The Foundation is concerned with empowering women and children in Malawi who have long been the most vulnerable and the least served in this country. Women face a difficult life doing work that involves heavy lifting and long hours of hard work starting from their very early years of life. I am always amazed when I see one walking past with at least 50-60 pounds of wood or maize resting on their head and they will walk long distances with this load. I also observe them swinging the heavy hoe or kasu, as it is called here, working the dirt preparing it for planting. This tool is very heavy and they most swing it over and over for hours as they turn the dirt and make the rows for their garden. They are often the first of the children in the family to be pulled out of school due to inability to pay fees or buy books or uniform or just pulled out because there is work to be done and the parents need another set of hands. As they reach adulthood they are then faced with no skills to seek employment or get a loan for schooling or starting their own business. Bare with me while I share a few statistics that I copied down from this TV program.
1,000,00 orphans and vulnerable children.
400,000 double orphans(lost both parents)
of the 2,603,285 households in Malawi 304,202 are caring for orphans or vulnerable children.
Last year 23,606 Orphans or vulnerable children applied for school support; 9,900 were paid.
Of those paid roughly 6,600 were boys; 3,300 were girls
there are 105,855 male headed households in Malawi
there are 198,347 female headed households in Malawi
there are 59,800 elderly headed households in Malawi
ther are no solid numbers on child headed households but they exist in alarming number
there are 10,464 Community Based Care Centers in Malawi
46,772 volunteers work at these centers that feed children Vitameal in the morning and train preschool children after the older ones go to school until around 11:00 a.m.
(Our ministry currently maintains 14 of these centers.)
The Safe Motherhood Foundation is raising money to help build health care facilities, provide funds for education for children, help women get training for employment, obtain loans for starting a business, and teach women healthy living habits.
Before the program was over I began to feel a strong desire to meet with this woman and share with her the difficulties we have faced getting electicity and other needs. I began to pray, asking God if this was from Him and if so to help me find the way. I approached our chief with the idea and he said it could be possible. Within two days he called me to say that the First Lady had scheduled a big event in OUR VILLAGE and that I would get to meet her and share our needs. This event had already been scheduled before I watched her program. Don’t you love how the spirit moves us to be ready for what He has planned.
I worked on a letter of introduction for several days to be sure it shared our needs and gave her the facts. Then the Lord reminded me that He made this appointment and to share from my heart how He was Lord of my life and keeper of this Ministry. I included in the letter the manner I had come to desire sharing with her our needs and that we would give God all the glory for any good thing that came from our work here in Malawi.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of being at the soccer grounds in our village for the event and sitting under the canopy where she sat. I was seated with all the Members of Parliament present and other dignitaries. How humbling that was for me. I am just a girl from Arkansas who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to take a step of faith and be bold enough to ask to meet the First Lady. I had the pleasure of briefly exchanging greetings with her and the chief gave her my packet that included the letter of introdution, a copy of our Core Values, our mission statement, our goals and our objectives.
During her speech she did mention the needs shared with her for our fine facility called Esther’s House and that she would be giving our packet to the president to garner his help in the matter. The crowd gave a loud cry of support as only Malawians can do and applauded her remarks. I felt holy goose bumps as I looked out at the blue sky and thanked God that He had done far more than I ever imagined. Now it is for us to PRAY this through as we anticipate what God will do. Politicians are pretty much the same the world over and they have many affairs to attend to and are known for their rhetoric. I am not counting on any politician, I am counting on my awesome, BIG GOD to bring the matter to those who will help us.
Have you complained about your healthcare lately? Before leaving the United States, I heard the topic spoken of often in nearly every area of life. May I offer you a fresh perspective on the gift of good healthcare enjoyed in my homeland. Since arriving in Malawi, I have had several occassions to take people to the District Hospital here in Ntcheu or to the Family Planning Clinic, which is used as a general heathcare clinic. Assessments are based on the patients complaints and rarely are further questions asked to dig deeper because that would mean you might have to treat the patient for something else. The system is understaffed and those staff members are overworked and I mean in a whole new playing field than you can imagine. If a person seeks help there really is no time to do a full examination because there are numbers of other people waiting to be seen so they are strictly treated for the presenting complaint. I want to share these pictures that tell you more than words could ever express.
Maternity Ward visit to see a friend who had lost her infant son hours after emergency c-section. It was 3 days after surgery and her incision had not been redressed or even examined. Before I left it was assessed and her care made a greater priority.
Beds are provided after giving birth. During labor you get a spot on the floor. One of my Malawi friends gave birth on the floor after being in the hospital for 2 weeks. Delivery staff was too busy to assist her so her elders assisted in delivering her son.
There is currently an outbreak of measles in the district. One of our orphans became ill with measles and we had to take her to the hospital where she was placed in the isolation ward, a tent out behind the hospital.
Bed is a foam pad on the ground.
Food for the patient is brought in by family. We brought our young friend food that was donated by a local restaurant owner who was moved by her story. She said, “We are here to serve the Lord,too.” The isolation tent was filled with young patients and their caregivers.
After three days she was discharged and we happened to be arriving with another villager who was 8 months pregnant and suffering with measles, just as our friend was needing transportation back to her home. We were able to return her to her village and spare her the crowded public transport that would take her part of the way home leaving the remaining 6 kilometers for her to walk.
There is so much that we take for granted and could not imagine doing without. Have you had a measles vaccine? Do you get warm meals brought to your bed 3 times a day while in the hospital? Water is provided in a pitcher there beside your hospital bed. Take a moment and give thanks for the healthcare you are blessed to have and then pray for these people and their great needs.
It has been too long since my last post. We have experienced great joy and deep sorrow in the days since I wrote last. During the third week of June we traveled to Lilongwe twice for meetings with Ministry officials and the Director of Feed the Children Malawi. Progress on both fronts is being made as we work to expand our feeding program and also expand our residential orphans program. We have seen beautiful views of the mountains in this country as we traveled back and forth. Once we were all in the vehicle singing about the majesty of God and we come over a rise in the road and there before us were layers and layers of mountains and valleys. It was such a moment of sheer joy as we surveyed the majesty of His creation.
Isaiah 55:12 “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Look at God’s handiwork all around you. Do not miss the joy of His beautiful creation. He wants to be praised for His majesty.
At one of our feeding centers the lead cook and record keeper asked me to pray for her son who was sick with malaria. She volunteers her time there at the feeding center and came this day with her child to work. It is unthinkable, in my culture, to carry a sick child with us to our area of service but in Malawi, they carry on and meet the needs of others. Children are sick everywhere you go and life just doesn’t slow down for the parents of the sick unless they become gravely ill. Remember these people who sacrifice for their neighbors as you pray for Malawi.
Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclain peace, who bring good tidings, who proclain salvation, who say to Zion,”Your God reigns!” “
As the fourth week of June began we were met with our most difficult days. Our precious friends, Bruce and Gertrude , who serve as house parents and General Liason for Esther’s House suffered a great loss. Their firstborn child, a son, went to be with the Lord just after he was born by emergency c-section. Early Monday morning Bruce was at our door to bring us this sad news. His heart was broken and he had bearly the strenghth to speak the awful words that told of his loss. We took him inside and prayed with him and then we had to begin the process of returning the baby to his mother’s village for burial. We went to the hospital and prayed with Gertrude, spoke the only words of comfort we could speak, that God is here and He will carry the brokenhearted, and mend the wounds that are so deep. We gathered up the elder women of her family who were there at the hospital, picked up the baby from the delivery room and began the painful drive out to the vilage. The wails of anguish coming from these family members as we made our way out to the village were heartbreaking. I prayed the whole way for God to meet their need and comfort as only He can. Malawi culture allows only the women to go to the burial of the infant so Bruce and all the men stayed at the home of Gertrudes family while we all walked to the graveyard in the woods and held the burial ceremony. The elders led us to the area the baby was to be buried and we all sat on the ground. One of them stood and spoke a prayer and then several of them began clearing the ground in the selected spot. It was mostly silence as the the grave was dug by several women taking turns. Once the site was prepared they carried the baby to the side of the grave and knelt again. The elders allowed me to read from the book of Psalms and then asked Alyssa and me to view the baby’s face. It was an honor they were sharing with us that is allowed only for the elder women of his family. He looked so much like both of his parents and I was thankful to have had the honor to see him. He was layed to rest at this point and the elders asked me to pray the final prayer over the grave. As inwardly I prayed for God to use me to minister to them He spoke healing words outwardly. These are the times that God carries his children and allows them to rest in His arms. We slowly made our way back to the men of the family. It had been only hours since the birth and the burial was finished. We spoke once more to the family members and then we drove several of the older women back to the areas they lived and worked. It broke my heart to leave Bruce alone in his grief but it was clear that this was the custom.
As the week has progressed I have seen the evidence of great faith in these people. They are believing God and relying on Him. I had wondered how long it would be before I saw the smiles of these two people that had been a vision of joy for me in past days. I am happy to report that I have seen both of them smile again and the evidence of healing is clear to see. Our God is always good, even in times of great grief and He will give joy to them and new prupose as they move forward. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. We know that there is everlasting hope in heaven and this baby is safely there.
Thank you, Lord, for your gift of eternal life. We are here by your appointment, in your keeping, under your training, for your time. Let us be your hands and feet, speak your words to the hurting and lost. Give us opportunities to share our faith. Show us where you are working and put us to work. We give you all the Glory for you are our Great God!