now browsing by author
Its been awhile since we have updated this post! So many things to report on and what shall I say? Lets talk about an orphanage that we are involved with, "The Samaritan Trust". This is an orphanage that takes vulnerable children, or children that have been begging on the streets and gives them a home, schooling, and food.
Here is an excerpt from a newspaper here:
Twenty former street kids have graduated after undergoing vocational training for a year at Samaritan Trust Centre in Blantyre.
The trust trained the young people in tailoring, brick layering, carpentry and electrical installation.
The organization’s aim is to reduce the number of street kids in the country’s cities. In her remarks following the graduation, the trust’s executive director Margret Mukwena said the training is an effective way of dealing with rise in number of street kids.
She further said that it is not easy to take care of the children since they get exposed to different abuses in the streets. “It is difficult to take care of such children as any child because they are exposed to different abuses since they have no one look after them,” she explained.
Mukwena said even though her organization is facing a lot of problems, it will continue to train more young people.
We give each of these graduates a Bible and songbook as a graduation gift each year.
Our organization has been providing food for these children since 1995. Our mission director, Calvin, helped to start this along with the late Jervase Chakumodzi.
We have a service here every two weeks in the evening and you should hear these children sing! It's one of the more rewarding things we are able to do here. There are around 60 children, mostly boys, but around 12 girls also. They are good kids, even though they come from difficult circumstances. They have hopes and dreams for the future; ask any one of them what they want to do when they finish school and they will have an answer. Lack of nice clothes and shoes does not keep the smiles from their faces; their joy is contagious and we have come to love each and every one. Around Christmas time we knew that most of the kids would be going back to their home villages to stay with relatives or friends over the holidays for about one to two weeks. We also received a small donation from a school in America for them at this time. We donated to them each a blanket and a book bag. Then for some of the older ones we gave them small calculators, geometry sets, and backpacks.
Here are the list of items that they need written directly from the children!
We told them to list the most important things first! If anyone would feel in them to help some of these children with these items we have our own misssionarys on the field to help with the donation so that it gets taken care of in the right way.
Again, thanks for all your prayers and donations!
Here is an App from the World Food Programme that everyone should consider using.
Sorry, it's been awhile since we have updated this. I have been involved with UNWFP (United Nations World Food Program) for the past 6 months or so. If you didn't know, there is a crises that is brewing here in southern Africa. Most of southern Africa is facing a food shortage and there is 6.5 million people in Malawi this year that will need food assistance to live. Pray that we will know what to do and how to do it. It will take US$307.6 million to feed the needy just in Malawi, and that's not counting the other surrounding country's.
I went with WFP on a food distribution day and here are some highlights from that day.
Here are people waiting to receive their food. On that day it was World Vision that did the actual distribution.
World Vision then uses this time for training the village people about sharing their food, HIV/AIDS etc.
Click on the link below to see a skit that they use to teach the people. (it is .MP4 format)
We took a trip to Majete Game park here last week in Malawi and had a wonderful time. Here is a link to some Google pictures from that park.
P.S. Stay tuned! A report about that trip is coming soon!
Here are some other pics of the park.
Good day to all ~ what's happening in your world this last day of January? We're spending a Saturday morning at home…Marla is making tortillas and the kids are doing kid things. Like playing bike taxi and making coke icees. To do this you put a glass bottle of coke in the freezer for a while, then take it out and pop the lid, at which point it's supposed to slush up and taste like a coke icee from home–yum! (It won't slush until you pop the lid–don't ask me why–but if left too long it WILL seep out the top of the bottle and make an interesting brown iceberg in the freezer.) Slushies are especially lovely on very hot days when there seems to be no reprieve from the heat. We've actually been enjoying quite comfy weather since the rains have come though; many evenings we listen to rain pattering on the tin roof and feel thankfully snug.
Unfortunately there are many others around us that haven't felt so snug…L most of the homes around are made of mud bricks, with thatch or grass for the roof; if they're rich enough they might have plastic sheets under the thatch… but you can imagine what happens to these after the rains have pounded down off and on for several weeks, or even after 2 or 3 days without any sunshine to dry them out. All over the country there are collapsed walls and fallen-in roofs. People are living here and there with relatives, or in temporary shelters, hoping to fix their homes after the rains let up. We help where we can, though there's not a way in the world to help them all. Some places closer to the rivers were flooded especially hard this year and now have many, many homeless people…somehow they survive and make do with almost nothing…and when the sun comes out they begin to fix and patch things up as best they can. A resilient people!
Most of the crops are looking wonderful which is a bright spot. The people work in their gardens a lot–babies tied on the mama's backs, feet dirty and muddy–but so happy for the rain and sun which makes the maize grow. It is absolutely amazing the amount of acres that are farmed here; all done entirely by the sweat of their brows. (Makes Americans look pretty spoiled!K) Amongst the corn plants there are pumpkins, peanuts, pigeon peas, and sweet potatoes planted. Around our village we can see the gardens are cared for very well; weeds are pulled and fertilizer is applied whenever they can afford it. Hills and valleys are a stunning blanket of all shades of green, and the tall green mountains rise in the distance. Colorful skies and even some rainbows appear as the showers come and go, and sunshine glints off the clouds and mountains around… wish you could come and sit on our front porch with us and enjoy it too–no need for jackets here!J
Jan. 1 & 2 found us at Likabula (a lodge close to Magnificent Mount Mulanje) with the other missionaries for our Christmas get-together. So fun to see everyone again…the kids played in the wild, chilly river, we ate Christmas goodies, sang, cooked over grills and propane burners and washed mounds of dishes in dishpans on the table. Also survived a rainy, no-electricity night in a dorm room with a bunch of moms and little kids…once a year is enough for me!J
Got home from that deal on Friday at noon, and that night Mark got really sick; sicker than he's ever been here so far. Of course those things always happen at night, and I didn't know what to do, other than pray. He couldn't keep anything down so it didn't do any good to give him medicine; he was in a lot of pain all over and had some fever, but the malaria test we did was negative. I figured I'd be taking him in to the hospital as soon as morning came, but around 5 or so the nausea started to abate a little and he finally was able to rest better. I was so very thankful and relieved! He laid around that day and by evening was able to eat some; and the next day we went to church and he was able to lead the meeting as usual. Felt like God had been there and seen us through once again.
Some of you have asked what the children do here. They have school as many days as we can get in, though it's not always 5 days a week. Other than that Kasey keeps busy working in the garden, corn patch, and yard; building things, riding bike, cooking stuff outside over the fire…how we'd love to have all his old friends from home come for a week and let them get a taste of village life! One rainy day a bunch of the boys his age appeared at our gate, hollering and wanting us to come. They had a HUGE lizard (it was about 3 or 4 feet long) of some kind that they'd killed down by the river; they seemed sure that we would want to buy it and cook it for ndiwo. We told them azungu don't like to eat things like that, so they happily carted it off and we don't know what they did with it; surely someone had meat for their supper that night?!
Another evening 5 of Kasey's friends were hanging around outside our gate. We chatted with them for a while and then decided to pop popcorn over the fire. Of course they were very happy to come to the porch and help us, liberally dumping salt on the popcorn and glugging down our cold water–a real treat when all they're used to is well water. I told them I wanted them to sing for us now so they did–a treat for us.J
Shandi usually has some project or another going on. Lately she's been sewing some purses together using old scrap fabric she found somewhere. She likes to get up early and help Mark get the coffee made, or start something for breakfast. She's also a good caretaker for all the little critters and babies that seem to find their way into our yard. The latest editions include 25 baby chicks, a hedgehog which we captured and then felt sorry for so let it go, and a two year old monkey with fuzzy grayish fur, quick dark eyes, and a sharp little brain. Her name is Ichabod; if you want to see what she looks like look up "vervet monkey" in the encyclopedia or online. We've had some entertaining times with her! (Apparently she was a previous missionary's "baby", so is very used to being handled by people. No worries June.J) She's the most active, curious little thing. We wondered how she'd adjust to the cats and dog we have. Well, she immediately stood up to the dog and took his long nose in both paws, stuck her nose right up to his and let him know she wasn't afraid of him! Zabo stood there stiffly, tail sticking straight out, with the most bewildered expression on his face. They have an interesting relationship; Zabo loves to pester Ichabod, and she delights in teasing him and then leaping easily into the tree out of his reach. Every now and then she still stands up on her hind legs and gets face to face with him just to prove she's not really afraid. Just recently he finally started allowing her to pick through his fur much to her great delight. We read that vervets spend 3 or 4 hours a day grooming each other; one of her most favorite things is to have someone scratch her side or brush her fur. She'll sprawl out on the ground or branch or wherever and just enjoy it to the hilt! We keep her either on a long plastic chain or in a big pen, though one evening she had a grand time galloping along the wall and leaping hither and yon in the trees after she snuck out the door when Shandi went to feed her. That was quite a commotion-maker for all the people around our wall! They thought it was hilarious. About dark Mark lured her back into her pen with something sweet and we thankfully shut the door. We sure would've been sad if she'd have disappeared. The first few nights she was here Shandi could hardly stand to go inside. She sat out there with Ichabod snuggled in her lap and begged us to let her sleep out there. The electricity was off so the yard was totally dark, and we told her she had to come inside for night. Ichabod resigned herself to sleeping alone, pulled her blankie over her head and went to sleep.
Connor's become our little chatterbox/noisemaker lately. He plays and talks and sings so loudly all the time we wonder if we need to get his ears checked or if that's just what third children have to do to be heard?! He has special friends outside the gate that he plays ball with, and we hear him rattling off Chichewa phrases and words a lot. His cheerful (loud) singing is usually done in Chichewa, though I'm sure he doesn't know what all the words mean. He's doing very well physically which we are so thankful for. He wears a splint at night but otherwise we haven't had to take him in for anything other than check-ups.
We're finding out that rainy season in Malawi is cause for some interesting road experiences if you happen to travel by vehicle. One week we tried twice to visit a sick lady who had been coming to church previously. The first time we got to a washed out bridge and with much encouragement from the bystanders, Mark edged the vehicle partway onto the boards and planks that had been placed there as a replacement. The rest of us (including two of our member brethren) got out and stood in the rain, trying to help direct him, but finally we decided it just wasn't going to work, (the planks were moving around and the whole thing was just a tad too narrow…plus there was mud everywhere:-/) so he wiggled the rig back off and up the steep, muddy embankment. Shortly a minibus came down the road and unloaded it's passengers before gunning the motor and slipping and sliding precariously across, much to the delight of the people! They all traipsed across and climbed back on. Personally I was glad to turn around and see that bridge receding behind us. A few days later we tried a different road. Partway there a stretch of black, slippery mud effectively canceled our plans of visiting anyone that day. We spent several hours trying to get out of there, requiring the assistance of some strong black arms and a few green bills. Also a four year old's prayer.
One Sunday Eric and Fern Unruh, the CSI boys, and teacher Meghan came for lunch. It looked like one of the boys' jeans were a bit damp when they arrived. Sure enough, they'd had a delay in a "large puddle" on the way to church and he'd had to wash the bottom of his pants off in the creek before they continued on their way. I told you once we don't wear really nice clothes to church here didn't I?
This morning (Feb. 22) we sat in church in Yasini and sang and prayed with the people there. I was happy to notice that almost every person was using a Bible. Seven of them have earned their own Bible recently by memorizing the books of the Old and New Testaments. It's been rewarding to see them learning to look up scriptures on their own. We can't give Bibles away because too many people would just resell them, but we have a short program going now at that congregation, where we can give an attendee one Bible if they can memorize all the books of the Bible. It's a fun program and it looks like they treasure those Bibles.
I realized we must be getting accustomed to things when I watched large flies crawling around on a little boy's sores on his head (during church) and it didn't gross me out too seriously or even induce a great deal of sorrow in my heart; instead I know now that this is life in Africa…dirt, poverty, flies, worms. But just as real are the happy children, (they don't know they're wearing rags); the contentment many of them have even though they are very poor, (we often hear the ladies singing as they sweep their yards or wash clothes); the hospitality that welcomes us into their home and seats us on their living room "furniture"– a reed mat. The way the children come in quietly, one by one, to kneel down in front of us and shake our hands; the way they freely offer us their best, proving that "Little is much when God is in it"; how they take our hand in both of theirs and wish us a safe journey, escorting us to the road and waving with both hands as we drive away. Somehow our hearts and lives feel richer for living and knowing another way of life.
We want to say "Thank-You" again for remembering us in thought and prayer…and letters and cards and packages!:) Our Christmas was special and it was so fun to get the mail in Dec. and Jan. and have a stack of Christmas mail to open–thanks to all of you who took time to write and mail to us clear over here. Yesterday we reached the 9 month mark since we arrived; can hardly believe it's going this fast! May we be thankful for the moments that come and go so swiftly.
Love to all ~ Mark, Steph, Kasey, Shandi, and Connor
This is the season for Ngumbe which is some sort of large brown termite or ant with wings.
These can be eaten as a snack or ndiwo…
The process: after the rains have started, go outside late in the evening or early morning and there will be thousands of winged bugs coming out of holes in the ground; they almost look like steam rising from the ground as they come pouring out and flying up in a constant stream. These are not Ngumbe but only the solders. Then in an hour or so the Kings (Ngumbe) come out of those holes. They come flying up to the outside lights where they hit the house wall and fall to the ground. You then have a pail with some water in it and you pick up as many as you can. Pull the wings off and drop the bugs into the bucket. (The water in the pail is so the ants can't climb out.)
You then start a fire and roast them in a pan. They have their own oil in them so there is no need to add any.
Serve to your friends in a bowl. Try it some time, you might like them!!!!
One day we took a little outing to Nyala Game Park. Two of our children–Kasey and Shandi–have birthdays one day apart in September, so we took off school for a day and headed South. Here are a few notes from that trip.
Nyala Park is a small game park owned by Illovo Sugar Company. Here is a link to their site. http://www.illovosugar.co.za/home IIlovo makes most of the sugar for Malawi. The drive down there took us about 2 hours and was breathtakingly beautiful. We drove out of town and down the mountains to the Shire Valley which is about at sea level, so it is usually very hot there.
At the park we saw most of the animals that live there. It only took a couple of hours to drive all the way through. We were able to get pretty close to the giraffes and zebras, and saw lots of monkeys in the trees too. Reminded us of the book, Summer of the Monkeys. Most of the ones we saw were Vervet monkeys, but there were quite a few baboons also. They are so fun to watch.
This is a stadium that we pass when we go to town. I haven't been there yet but if I get a chance I would like to drop in and check it out sometime. Wikipedia says this stadium has an artificial turf field, called Xtreme Turf, and has been manufactured and installed by Act Global. This is one of the biggest stadiums in Malawi. This is a very old stadium that was built back in colonial era.
It supposedly holds 50,000 people but on an interesting side note, I have been told that one of those bleachers has been condemned by the government and they don't let anyone sit on it.
Just a little update on our lives here in Africa! It’s been awhile since we have touched base with many of you. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the last few months. Our place here feels like home now. Many nights we can hear the African drums beating out in the villages, sometimes it’s close and other times just a distant drumming. The evening sky is beautiful here; we often watch the sun setting beyond the mountains and think how lucky we are to be here.
We had a meeting awhile back; it is called a brothers meeting. That’s when delegates from all of our outposts come together and discuss issues that arise through the year. Anyway to start the day off I had to get up around 3:30am and drive 5 to 6 hours to this meeting. At least half of that was on dirt roads. (real bumpy roads) Just for interest sake it was only about 62nm as the crow flies and would have taken only about 30 minutes by air. I did stop and pick up a few people on the way. It was way way out in the bush. We had about 51 members there and 3 were from Mozambique. There were 20 congregations represented. We tried to fit into a church building there but there just wasn’t room inside so the local brethren laid out large mats on the ground under a tree and set up a little rickety table in front for the secretaries and a little rickety bench for a few of the pastors to sit on. The rest of us just sat cross legged on the ground for the rest of the day. (it was hard on some of us white people’s knees to sit like that, we had to keep moving our legs; but it didn’t seem to bother the local ones, guess they’re used to that.)
I had brought 3 mosquito hammocks with me to Africa and so I had brought them to this meeting. These hammocks are made for the jungle and they have a mosquito netting that you zip close after you get in. That makes you feel a bit safer from all the critters that crawl around here. I was glad I had brought them because about half of the crowd slept in the little two room church on the floor and the rest just slept out on the ground under the stars. I shared my hammocks with some friends (James, Michael, and myself and Jed brought his own also) and we found a few trees to hang them in. We started hanging them and we quickly became the talk of the crowd. I guess those people had never seen or even heard of a hammock before. They would point and come up close to inspect them and then they would laugh and say we were like monkeys sleeping in the trees! Oh ya, of course they had no lights but one of the missionaries had brought some 12volt lights that used the vehicle battery to help out in the evening. Soon we were in our hammocks and trying to go to sleep; listening to the many night sounds that are made in Africa. All of you back there, your really are missing out on a lot of blessings! The trees we had used for our hammocks were about 10ft away from the little dirt road. Not much vehicle traffic there but a lot of foot traffic so at times I could see people stopping and peering at us throughout the night. I was a little worried that someone would come along and not knowing someone was sleeping inside would think this would be a good thing to take home and try to cut it off the tree. I didn’t know if my back would take a fall like that.
I had been told to expect to take a shower sometime in the night and sure enough, at exactly 3:30am someone came around and tried to wake me up, they said it was my turn to shower. Snuggled into my enclosed hammock I groggily said that I didn’t think I needed one this time. I was thinking that I could just skip one night and it probably wouldn’t kill me. But soon another person came around not knowing I had been asked already and asked me again, but this one was more persistent and I decided I should take one if only for the experience. Got my stuff around (we had to bring our own towels etc.) and followed the man through the darkness to a little grass enclosure. Only had the moon for light at that time of night and was kind of glad because any more light wouldn’t have been too good. Not much privacy. I think there were about 3 others taking their baths with only a little grass wall separating us. I was kind of wishing I was black about that time. I couldn’t see anyone else but they all could probably see me! Anyway they had a tub of hot water there that they had just heated up over a fire and so I proceeded to take a sponge bath. Not bad after it was all said and done.
After that I tried to go back to sleep and did after awhile, but I was once again awakened at 5:00am because they wanted to get an early start on the meeting. For breakfast we had hot tea and a bun. About mid-way though the morning we heard a chicken squawk, then another one, and someone whispered “that will be our lunch”, and sure enough, we had chicken to eat. I won’t get into the eating too much but you pretty much have to give up everything your mom taught you back home because you sit on the ground and share a bowl of this stuff with about two other people and did I mention that all two or three of you are eating out of the same dish with only your fingers from your right hand?
All in all it was a good meeting and I was impressed time and again how dedicated that the Christian brethren here are for the Lord. It seems like with Malawi being one of the poorest countries in Africa that the people here would have a lot to complain about but they are some of the happiest people around. Maybe that can be a lesson for some of us. Keep praying for the work here and for us also that we can know how to help and do what God wants us to do here.
Maybe next time I or my wife will describe a little about the many trips we have made to the hospitals here for Connor’s knee problem, or about the two snakes we have killed close to our house, one being a black mamba and the other one we think was a puff adder, and a few other things.