Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A long bumpy ride….

Today we left Lilongway behind us and headed south to Zomba! After a 4 ½ hour tour we finally arrived and visited a feeding program for street children. We sang a few songs with them and plan to return tomorrow to serve them a meal. We are weary but have found nice lodging. We plan to be up early tomorrow to paint the dining hall for the feeding program. God is good all the time.

We’re gunna RISE up!

On Monday the team visited the RISE Malawi after school program located in Madisi. This is a wonderful and very organized program with amazing children as well. We started our day there by visiting with Za and Tenashe. They then introduced us the Standard 8 teens whom had just sat for the national exam. It was wonderful to hear the testimonies, hopes, and dreams of these exceptional teens. We shared some of our personal experiences and why God has led us to Malawi as well. Next we visited with the 4 street leaders who are wonderful role models to these struggling children. They bless them and their communities by letting each and every child know how special they are to God. During the afternoon we were able to share a meal with the children as well as sit in on tutoring, play games, and do arts and crafts. Becky shared the hidden treasure bookmark lesson (based on the parable of the lost coin), which the children loved, and drove home how important they are to God. Reluctantly we left Rise Malawi but we have a greater sense of what is needed to help make this program even better.

Back in the USA

Bryan C., Jon G., Dana S., and Bethany T. landed safely in Washington, D.C. after 25 hours in flight. God has been through every part of our trip and we praise Him for the traveling mercies. There were no delays, no extreme turbulence, and as we landed, it was hard to believe we had left Malawi more than a day before. Thank you all for your prayers, but please continue them for the five amazing team members still serving in Malawi for the next 5 days.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sabbath: A day of rest...

Sunday, today we ended the 1st week for 4 of our 9 team members as they are heading home. For the rest of us today is a day of rest…and blogging. AMEN ☺

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!!!!!!

On Saturday we again split up, one large group went to stack more bricks while another small group went to purchase some much needed supplies for Safe Haven. We bought mattresses, sheets, and pillows and dropped them off at the boys home where they waited with joy and gratefulness! We again regrouped and prepared for the highly anticipated soccer (football) tournament. The attendance at the tournament was staggering (the entire community, 2 teams (the Young Destroyers and the Rocky Stars), and many of the village chiefs including the head chief from many villages). We spent the early afternoon playing frisbie, taking pictures, and dancing with all of the children! We had a blast and were pretty dusty and sweaty by the time the game started. It was a very close game and came down to a shoot out. The Rocky Stars reigned as the champions of the football tournament! During the half time, we also had the opportunity to perform the Thief skit followed by a call to salvation and we believe many came to Christ! To end an amazing day/week, we had a nice dinner at the lodge with many of the Malawians to celebrate the week and send home some of the other team members. It was like Christmas morning when we blessed all of the people who have supported us so far for being our translators, tour guides/Malawian experts, and friends. It was a wonderful way to end an amazing week!

Our Malawian Masterpiece….

Friday morning the group split up, half tackling the bricks again while the other half tackled the tourist craft market, yikes! The group of shoppers may need some prayer due to the shopping trauma. However, both teams were successful in their endeavors! During the afternoon, we regrouped and went to visit the boys from the Safe Haven orphanage. We shared testimonies and got to know the boys. We also toured their home, which is falling apart. We can’t wait to see the day when the bricks that we helped to stack will be used to build a better home for these amazing boys. As our main activity, we painted a banner based off of Psalm 23. The boys loved it and displayed their artistic gifts!

Whistle while we work….

On Thursday, we began our service with the Youth Cares/Safe Haven ministry by doing manual labor. In the morning, the entire team, plus some of the Malawians, stacked bricks for a few hours. We were stacking bricks on their new piece of property. The bricks will be used to build the new boys homes to relocate Safe Haven (currently in a rented house). We were sore when we were finished but it was worth it. In the afternoon, we visited with one of the Youth Cares after school programs. The children ranged from the preschool age all the way up to 8th grade. We again performed the Do Not Touch Skit, which the children thought was hilarious, introduced the kids to frisbies (thanks Bekah and Randy), and taught many of them how to make balloon animal dogs. It was just precious when the children had their balloon dogs. They were all running around yelling Woof! Woof!

A day in Colonial Williamsburg...African style….

On Wednesday we visited Peter’s village Ntchitsi, this was an authentic, very well kept, African Village. There we met most of Peter’s extended family and learned both the female and male jobs of the village. The women learned to mash and separate corn (to prepare it for making nsima), while the men learned to plow the fields and build a house. They told us that if we could not perform these tasks then we were not worthy of an African bride or groom (we’ve all passed the test, uh oh). To top off our visit in the village, we were able to hold some of the babies and carry them on our backs. As a parting gift, the village gave us some peanuts that they had grown themselves. After visiting Peter’s village, we went to visit his primary school. We toured the school, met the head master and many teachers, and all of the students (>1000). We learned that each grade has one teacher and the first grade class happens to have 233 students! The students had some skits and songs prepared for us. We performed the Do Not Touch skit and the Thief drama. The school challenged the visitors to a game of tug-of-war. It was hardly a fair fight, 12 visitors against 1000 malawian children. We lost miserably. Before leaving, we were able to bless all of the children and teachers with gifts. The 1st -3rd grade students received toothbrushes and the 4th-8th grade students were given pencils. After visiting the school, we visited a local government hospital where we toured the pediatric wing and also blessed those children and familes with gifts and prayers. What an awesome day!

Scrubbin in Scrubs….

On Tuesday, we visited the Dae Yung Luke Hospital. The team spilt into two groups, each cleaning a separate area of the hospital. One of the groups dressed up in scrubs and boots to clean the operating room while the other group scrubbed the floors in the radiology section. Becky also used her nursing skills in the triage unit taking endless blood pressures, temperatures, and weights (Dana and Jess helped too). We also toured the hospital and had the opportunity to pray with the patients in both the female and male wards. Later that day we headed to Christ Cares Ministry (CCM), which is an after school program run by many of the Malawians who had visited the US. CCM has 45 students from nearby villages who are committed to studying, completing their high school education, and loving Christ. We had a blast making salvation bracelets, performing the Do Not Touch skit, as well as creating a banner based on Psalm 139:14. The kids had an amazing time and so did we, our faces hurt from so much laughter and smiling.

Monday, September 21, 2009

First Impressions!

Hello from Malawi!
The team has arrived and we are safe along with all of our luggage. Here are some updates/highlights. When we arrived at the Lilongwe airport we had 17 suitcases all of which were to be inspected, but GOD is GOOD! The airport manager had been to Roberts Church and knows that he is doing good for the community, so he said, "let the church people through", and they did not inspect a single bag!! we walked out of the airport and paid no duties. Roberts church is beautiful and Jon did a wonderful job preaching! After church we went to a local soccer game where there must have been 1,000 people, it was amazing. When we left the soccer game we were trailed through the village with the kids jumping and screaming onto the car! We had a wonderful local dinner prepared by Robert and some of the other Urban Promise leaders. Today (Monday) we visited a few of the homes of the children who attend Christ Cares Ministry, all of us will have stories to share with you. We also toured around Lilongwe today and examined this amazing city. We all are having a blast and are full of joy. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Zikomo (thank you)

Friday, September 18, 2009

pitstop #1

We landed in Rome. We're waiting on the tarmac for a crew change. We are tired.Becky has arrived safely in Malawu. All else is well. More updates to follow.

We're leavin on a jet plane......

We have arrived at Dulles Airport and all of our bags were successfully checked in. Please pray that all of our luggage makes it to Lilongway safe. We are all happy although there are some butterflies.
Waiting with anticipation!
Team Malawi

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Malawi or bust...

Takulandirani. That's "welcome" in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi. Our team of 9 is headed to Malawi, the warm heart of Africa this Friday. We've been preparing for this trip for months and it's hard to believe that it's finally here. Though I don't think any one of us can ever be prepared for a trip like this. It's pretty much guaranteed to be life changing. I am super excited to see my good Malawian friends - Willie, Peter, John, Vincent, Chiko, and Mwai. And I think they are equally excited to see us. We've gotten to know them while they interned with UrbanPromise here in Wilmington and in Camden, NJ over the past year. They are a special crew and it will be great to be able to work side by side with them in Malawi. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It's a small country about the size of Pennsylvania and yet has 1.2 million orphans due to the AIDS pandemic. HIV is estimated to have infected 14.5% of the population. We hope to be able to journal our activities while we're there. Of course in a developing country like Malawi, there's no guarantee of electricity let alone internet access, but we will do our best. We leave on Friday, Sep 18th and will be returning on Sunday, Oct. 4th. You can check out our rough itinerary here. We'd love to hear from you so feel free to add some comments.