February 22nd 2011
This week was full of different emotions. It was an amazing week because I really started to feel comfortable in Madisi and at Rise. I was able to lead devotions for the youth leaders and also teach a bible lesson in AfterSchool Program one day on humility (Philipians 2) to the kids. It was also a very difficult week as it was my last week at Rise, which was hard for me to say goodbye too, and also a very sad event happened in the life of Tinashe’s family. Her sister in law (Grace) who is married to her older brother, and is mother of Tinashe’s 9 year old niece, passed away this week from some sort of cancer after about two or three weeks of treatment. In Malawian culture it is very important for the family to come stay with the person or family left behind of the loved one. So Tinashe needed and wanted to be close to her brother and family as they prepared for the burial of Grace. Tinashe left on Tuesday afternoon for Lilongwe, where she stayed with her brother and family as they waited for the body to be transported from a hospital in Zambia back to Malawi, and prepared for the burial.
It truly troubled my heart to see how sad Tinashe was, and also because I had just meet Grace’s 9 year old daughter Gift, the weekend prior. My heart truly goes out to their family during this time of need and I spent much of my week praying and thinking of them asthey were together. I missed Tinashe very much as I held down the house with her sister Ruth and her nephew Chikondi. She has been a great friend and mentor to me as I start off my journey here in Malawi. Teaching me important cultural things to be aware of and helping me figure out my way in society here. She is such a wonderful woman of God and I have been blessed to be able to stay with her. She truly challenges me as her faith and love for the Lord is so strong and evident in her life. She is always praying to the Lord for even the littlest things, thanking Him for a safe journey to and from program, and simply just praising His name for His glory and mercy towards us. It was difficult to spend most of the week without her.
It was hard to leave the kids, they were extremely sad that it was my last week with them. I was so encouraged by the time that I was able to spend with some of them during tutoring in program. I was able to take some of them aside one on one and practice reading English with them. They are doing well in their English studies, but it is hard for them to focus on the areas that they struggle in a group setting, so I was able to take time with them on the areas they struggle. The progress that they made even within two weeks was amazing. They work so hard to be successful academically, and it is encouraging to see Rise assist and encourage them in their education in a society where it is so hard to achieve academic success.
I leave Rise with a hopeful heart that the development projects that we worked on will help them find funds to continue with and grow their wonderful ministry, and with great expectation and hope for the child and high school sponsorship program. I hope to be back to Rise to visit for at least a day or two before coming back to the States, and will stay in communication with Za and Tinashe as they continue on with ministry in Madisi.
Saturday morning Robert (the director of ChristCares) the ministry I will be spending the next two and a half weeks at came to pick me up. I am living in his home with him and his wife Sheila, who just had their first baby girl, Mercy, last week. Along with Robert, Sheila, and Mercy, lives Sheila’s sister Pemphero who is 16, and two other high school/college age friends and helpers around the house, the boy, Innocent, and the girl Felista. There house sits right on the outskirts of Lilongwe, the very small capital of Malawi.
Robert serves as the Director for ChristCares, and also serves as the lead pastor of a local church which I attended this weekend. The church was built by and is served by Korean Christians in a complex along with a hospital and school. I am already starting to feel like home with Roberts’s family, and am so blessed to be able to serve along side of such amazing people.
One thing that truly challenges me and makes my heart so happy is the idea of family, and community here. So far, both at Rise with Tinashe, and here at ChristCares with Robert, my whole idea of family has changed. These people I lived with over the past three weeks open their hearts and their homes to so many people, and treat them as family, living in true community. They live with their brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, youth and friends. Both Robert and Tinashe have taken relatives or simply people in need from their communities into their homes to help them have a more successful future. They help pay school fees, feed, pray with, tutor, encourage, laugh with, and treat them as family.
What a beautiful picture of the body of Christ, the church. Not in the sense of the word that the church is a building that we gather in on Sunday mornings, but the idea that the church, is truly the body of Christ. That we are His hands and feet here on earth, living out love the way that He called us to; Sharing love and community with those around us through actions, meeting each other’s needs, helping each other with problems, praying with and for one another, etc... That what we have is not our own, our blessings and everything that God has given us should be used to bless others and share with them the love of Jesus. What an amazing example of Christ’s love. I am so blessed to be a part of this body of Christ here in Malawi.
-For Tinashe and her family as they continue to cope with the loss of their sister-in-law, daughter, wife, and mother: Grace
-For my transition into ChristCares Ministries here in Lilongwe. That I would be able to build meaningful relationships with the kids and leaders, and that we could work out some meaningful development programs
- For details of my Visa to go through as I need to reapply for the visa this week