Saturday, August 16, 2014

A different Stride - Blog by: Andrew Berry


What is comfort? At what point in your life will you be able to say that you have reached comfort? When you buy that house? Or when you FINALLY get your parents off your back for getting into that great university? Or is it when you can kick back on the couch for the evening and watch CSI and eat Oreos? 

Well, what if I told you I saw comfort in people who have no shoes, no source of electricity, a hole in their roof, and ate only one meal a day.. Honestly it shocked me because I know in my life I run after a sense of comfort that never truly satisfies me.. I wait until I have an abundance of something to give. I stress over getting somewhere that maybe I wasn't even supposed to get to. Are you with me?

On the 27th of July me and 11 others left our "comfortable" lives here in Texas and started a journey to Malawi, Africa. I had honestly never heard of Malawi and now I will probably never stop talking about it! Going into this trip I expected that I would see new things and even take some great "GoProfies" that were sure to get over 82 likes on Instagram. I don't think I fully understood how this great country in Africa would change me!

Truth be known, Malawi wrecked my life. While I was there I saw poverty, I saw awful living conditions, and I saw sickness draining life from people. But you know what I saw even more than that? I saw smiles of pure joy, I heard singing and worship as powerful as a marching band,  and I heard laughter that filled the atmosphere.

One experience that will forever be painted in my mind is the the opportunity to help feed the orphans! Some of these awesome kiddos walk these same miles everyday to eat this one cup of porridge. And these same women that are there prepare the food, hand it out, and do these dishes everyday! I am glad we got to give them a short break from their hard work.

As these kids made their way out of the class they would wash their hands with a single cup or water. They would sit in rows on the ground and patiently wait for their meal. Not a single one would complain or cry. I was so shocked that this is the only meal that they would eat that day. And yet the only hunger I saw was in my own life...

In Malawi, I saw true comfort.. Not in their living conditions, not in the amount of money they have, or any worldly thing. I saw comfort from the only one who can supply that, The Comforter. These amazing people have God, and that is all they will ever need.

As I reflect on my trip around the world and back I can't help but notice the distractions (or as some of us call them "comforts") and how they only starve me from a close and intimate relationship to the creator. I thank God for where He placed me in my life. But I now have a true perspective on what comfort is and I pray I don't lose that.

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust Him." Psalm 91:1-2

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Power of Love... by Katie Kelley

The Power of Love...  by Katie Kelley

Although I was only in Malawi for a short time, I saw something that lasts a very long time. I saw love. I saw what it truly meant to love one another. I saw how one can be compelled by love and do great things in the name of Jesus. I saw a love that last forever. This is God’s love for these precious people and their love for others.

Within minutes of being in Malawi, I saw love in our driver, Moses, his sweet smile and joy for his passengers. I saw love as we drove through the city and children beamed with light as they yelled, “azungu!”.  As our work began the staff of Somebody Cares were overflowing with love for the ground-shaking work they were doing in numerous communities. In the volunteer home based care workers I saw love as they brought food, God’s word, and a heart full of compassion to their beloved patients. 

My encounters with love were endless in Malawi.

God’s love for us is endless. There is nothing we can do to make him love us more or less. He just wants us to love Him back. The people of Malawi showed me what it truly meant to love Christ back. I pray that we can be a nation that encompasses what it means to love one another.

Go love!

Saturday, May 11, 2013



It has been quite a journey but thanks to the hard work, persistence and patience of Paul and Marty Law the great folks with Appointment Congo, water is flowing to the Methodist Mission of Diengenga at Lodja!!!

They have overcome many obstacles, resistance and hardship but water is now pumping up that big ole hill to the mission station.

God bless Paul and Marty, Pastor Kitambala and all the workers who made this happen.

And God Bless all of the wonderful supporters of drops of grace who provided prayers and financial gifts as without them this would not have been possible.

There is still work to be done but water is now flowing up the hill to the mission station for the first time since the early 1970's. This is truly a blessing and life changing for thousands of people in Lodja.


The following is the email I received earlier today from Paul

Dear Phil, Kip and friends of Drops of Grace,

It is my distinct pleasure and honor to be able to inform you that as of this afternoon Lodja time, there is water on the Methodist Mission of Diengenga at Lodja!!! People are ecstatic and there was a big to do over blessing the water, the system, the tower and those who helped make it all possible.

Pastor Kitambala was faithful to remind the villagers and church leaders assembled that it was your gift, vision and encouragement that has made it all possible.

A faucet has been set up near the tower to supply people immediately and we have already begun digging up the old distribution pipe to see what can be used and what needs to be replaced. We will be trying to locate distribution points strategically around the mission to serve everyone as best we can.

There has been some tweaking that had to be done on the hydram, but it has found its pace and is now pumping water steadily up the hill. It is a wonderful day for the people at Diengenga.

Blessing to you all, Paul


And yes I asked for pictures and will post them as soon as I get them.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Clean Water Rising!

Isn't it great when a million miles away (the Congo feels a million miles away) work is being done by local labor to bring desperately needed fresh water to a village due in large part to the generosity of people in Round Rock, in Texas, and several other states.

The Lodja Mission of the United Methodist Church in Central Congo had a water system in use for 20 years from the mid-1950's until 1976. At that time, unusual rains and seepage from the hillside caused the dam to give way and the system was no longer functional. 

Villagers (mostly women and children) are forced to get their water from the valley almost a half a mile away and haul it up a steep hill back to the village.

In 2009 drops of grace partnered with Appointment Congo to rebuild the dam and water system to a village and mission station near Lodja in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Kip and I visited Paul and Marty Law in 2009 at the mission station in Lodja and we were blessed to come back with a sense of what this project would ultimately be.  We reported that at the inaugural Ripple Effect Banquet and raised enough money to fund the project.

That was three years ago and although it has taken longer than anyone anticipated, the dam is finally nearing completion!  

This is a recent update from Paul:
"We finally got down to the drain level and by building a form around it and pumping the water that was coming in, we managed to pour a foundation to the monk that envelops the original drain. We pounded gravel down around the original drain to try to create a fairly solid base upon which to pour the foundation. We made it 2 meters x 2 meters and when we got it up over the original structure about 4 inches we placed the form for the inside of the chimney on top over the opening below. You can see in the pictures how much earth we had to move to do all this.

The second pour was easier and brought us up another 4 1/2 feet. I'm sorry that I didn't get any pictures of that process, but I did of the 3rd pour where we began to leave an opening on the upriver side that will allow the water to flow into the monk and drain out through the dam. This opening will also allow us to raise and lower the water level as we wish to. The top of the monk is about 15 inches above the regular overflow up by the feed boxes to the ram.

We are now ready to begin refilling the dam around the monk and downstream. Once the monk has set up enough we will divert the water into the monk and remove the temporary plastic pipe that has been carrying the stream through the dam. Once this out of the way, we can refill in earnest and complete the dam entirely.

We will then rebuild the overflow and take the water up to operational level. At that point we will be ready to install the ram and start laying pipe up to the tower on the station.
 Keep us in your prayers and I'll keep you posted as the drama unfolds."


See how easy that is?     The cool thing is that this is being done with local Congolese labor which supports the local economy.  And....

Ultimately the pond will be a beautiful setting providing bring clean fresh water to thousands of people for generations to come.

It would not have happened but for Paul and Marty Law, Appointment Congo, and the generous support from the friends of drops of grace

It's getting close to completion and hopefully water will be flowing in the next few months. 

Want to hear and see more?  The Ripple Effect Banquet will be held on September 14 we will be talking about it and showing more pictures.

You will also hear about the phenomenal year drops of grace has had in Joplin Mo, Bastrop, and  two awesome  teams to Malawi.

 God Bless you all and we will see you at the Ripple. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Little Wonders...


Chief Theresa Malila - Somebody Cares-Malawi

     During our first team’s visit to Malawi, Chief Theresa, Executive Director and Founder of Somebody Cares-Malawi, took the drops of grace   medical team to visit at the local hospital.  They met with the Head Mistress and gave T-shirts & blankets along with a “cutie baby” to the babies recently born.  As they were there, a beautiful little girl was born.  While Chief Theresa chatted with the new Mom she discovered there was no money for diapers, blankets, or clothes. Happily this precious little wonder was gifted with a new blanket; baby t-shirt, and a cutie baby.  As Chief Theresa cuddled & cooed with the baby, she dressed her, wrapped her in warm blankets and smiled with the new momma. Thanks to a Chief’s heart for her people, and the generous donations provided by St. David's North Austin Medical Center and various volunteers who made the precious Cutie Babies, a complete stranger was shown tremendous love.  This is just one story of many.  This is Somebody Cares, and we are blessed to go alongside them. 

…. It’s the heart that matters in the end.

    Peace & Grace,
    Diane Bouchard (VP International Operations)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

what is the gift of love?

Love can be expressed in diverse ways and in diverse places. Consider where our team from San Antonio, Texas may have seen love in abundance on their recent mission trip to Malawi:

Was it . . . the humility we felt as the women in the village came to meet us singing, dancing and hugging us as we arrived?

Was it . . .  the child who quietly walked up to us and lightly grabbed our hands to walk with us for the duration of our visit?

Was it . . .  in the smile of a child who just ate their only meal of the day?

Was it . . .  the moment Kelly attracted the children to tell them of God’s love?

Was it . . . the powerful sense of the Holy Spirit that brought life, healing, and hope to women who possessing only their children came to learn how to crochet in the hopes of a brighter future for their family?

Was it . . . the smile that radiated from the little girl with the torn dirty dress and the shaved head?

Was it . . . the prayers and worship that rose up from the youth in the village as we sat in church together?

Was it . . .  when Judy would help the Home Based Care Volunteer hear her heartbeat for the first time. 

Was it . . . the construction, with the help of the youth, at the Home of Mercy, a safe house for women and children caught in domestic violence?

Was it . . . the care and concern the Somebody Cares staff had for us?

Was it . . . on Friday game day in the laughter and joy found in being together?

Maybe . . . it is wrapped up in the fact that Jesus gave His life for us so that we can follow His example in extending love to one another!

“Because we loved you, we were happy to share not only God's Good News with you, but even our own lives. You had become so dear to us!” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Grace and Peace in abundance.

The Living Hope

In the bible, hope is not wishful thinking but a firm conviction, much like faith.  For Christians, we are assured of hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Hope invigorates and spirits up the soul to action, to patience, to fortitude and perseverance to the end.  This is our Living Hope. 
I was listening to Crystal Bowersox singing, "Up to the Mountain” strangely it triggered a vision of Jesus.  He had been teaching, preaching, and healing throughout Galilee. I imagined He was tired but as He turned He saw the expansive crowds, I could see a small smile on His face as He watched the expression of amazement on the multitude of faces eagerly watching Him.  Resigning Himself, He made His way to sit along the gently sloping hillside along the Sea of Galilee.  He called His disciples to come to Him, with the sun warming His back; he began to outline His standard for all Christians.  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted, blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:3-6, 8).   Probably like most believers, I haven’t really seen much fulfillment of this through the lives of those that I encounter on a daily basis. 
It came to me that our San Antonio, Texas June Team in Malawi brought Living Hope to the Blessed.  Every day in community there were precious moments with the children - the blessed.  Looking into the angelic faces with the eyes of Jesus, I saw team members bring HOPE to the “least of these” in the kingdom.  Every time John would turn from his task and seeing the quizzical faces looking up at him, he would bend to their level; language no longer a barrier, he would sit among them with a smile on his face revealing hope through his presence.  In another captured treasure, I was sitting in the courtyard of the Home of Mercy, when I heard uncontrollable laughter.  Smiling, I turned to see what was so hilarious, what I found was Guy, a huge smile on his face, pushing 2 small boys in the mouth of a wheelbarrow.  They were falling all over each other, legs and arms flying everywhere, laughing so hard I wondered if they were able to breathe.  And I thought in that moment - Jesus, through Guy, was in motion bringing hope to the blessed.  Something deep inside me said, breathe deep, moments like these are treasures to keep. A small child having never seen a white person - an azungu - would be full of fear, crying, and hiding until he saw the sweet smile of Colby kneeling down to him, holding out her hands gently beckoning. Patiently waiting for the child to resolve to come on his own terms and seeing the light of Jesus in her eyes, this small one, this blessed one, would smile back and reach out to touch ever so lightly.  Living Hope offered to the blessed.

I am captivated at how God graciously revealed Himself by reaching down, and through the Holy Spirit available in the lives of those that are open; He created in them the qualities of His own character to teach the rest of us the richness of His kindness.  He brings to the non-influential, the unlikely ones, those living in the farthest reaches of our world: The Living Hope.  I am encouraged, inspired, and motivated by witnessing this living example of the only viable way to approach life with our Lord. 
                         Grace and Peace in abundance.