Thursday, October 22, 2009
It's all still processing and will be for a while. Who knows, maybe by November 20 we will be able to eloquently express the experience we have had. In the meantime, here is the mile high view:
Kinshasa..... stay tuned, I'm still working on that.
The airports at Kinshasa, Lodja, and Chumbe.... Oh my goodness.
The Diengenga Mission Station at Lodja. I have high hopes.
The work on the dam and hydram system is well on it's way. People are working and by this time next year, provided we raise the remaining funds to complete the project, women and children will no longer have to carry water up a very steep hill on trecherous paths and almost a mile to the village.
This project is providing employment for many of the men in the village. Here are few along with their families that are benefiting from the generous gifts so far. They got all dressed up to get their pictures taken.
On Monday we took a road trip to Katako Kombe. A short 6 1/2 hour drive of 160 kilometers. There is a dam there, built by David Law many years ago. It stands strong but the unrest and other political problems prohibited the completion of the project of installation of the pipe and pumps. Here is a picture of the pond that was created by the dam. The Lodja project will have similarly constructed dam and pond when completed.
After Katako Kombe, we were off on another short 7 hour drive of about 170 kilometers to Wembo Nyama. Wembo Nyama is a special place. This is where missionaries set down in 1914 and established the beginning of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the people of the Congo. This is a very large mission station and village that, in spite of a well intentioned attempt many years ago, has never had substantial water. To the South, a very wide valley and the convergence of the river, to the West a a branch of the river, and to the East, a spring that trickles from the mountain, enough to build ponds to capture a few small fish but nowhere near what will be required to produce enough water to sustain the village.
It is a very complicated problem for the mission station that has no electricity or running water but has a hospital, schools, and trying to build a university.
But life goes on, as difficult as it is
Kip and I received a very warm welcome everywhere we went. The hopes of these people to deliver water to the village is clearly beyond the resources they have. We met with village and church leaders and spent time with the Bishop. It is clear that they are willing to participate in the solution.
In our meeting with the District Superintendent, he cited an Otetela proverb that said,
"a man will never starve where there is running water"
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
As we look forward to our Galveston Mission Trip benefiting the people affected by Hurricane Ike, I'd like to share a little excerpt from speech given by Robert F. Kennedy... This speech has, from the first time I heard it, always affected me. It clearly shows we can act to change our world, and our world becomes the Whole Wide World of change...
Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation... It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert F. Kennedy
University of Capetown
Capetown, South Africa
June 6, 1966
Saturday, October 17, 2009
We have experienced the DRC. Been there, done that, I want to come back.
We arrived back in Kinshasa after another adventure in air travel here in the Congo. After hops from Lodja to Chumbe to Kindu, we landed in Kinshasa about 5:15. The problem was that the plane the luggage was on, did not show up until about 7:30. No worries, we spent some quality time hanging out in baggage claim with about 100 new friends until the bags arrived. They did and all is well.
We are back at MPH today and spent the afternoon with David Law. They are drilling a well at the school and we watched that a while. Looked much like what we did in Honduras but on a larger scale. Ate supper (meatloaf and mashed potatoes, yum) with David and Laveta, met some more new friends and now back at MPH for the last night.
Tomorrow morning we expect to see Bishop Yemba early, then off to check luggage, then church, then lunch with the Laws and Dean Jordan, back here for a little while and hopefully a shower, then off to the airport for the flight out of Kinshasa at about 9:00. Back in Austin Monday evening and home.
It's been an awesome experience. It was not an easy trip but certainly one we needed and wanted to make. The needs here are many and resources are scarce. It will take time and money, and people committed to improving the conditions and the lives of the people here. It is happening now but there is a long way to go. The work being done in Diengenge(Lodja) , and Dengeli (Kataka Kombe), and Wembo Nyama will have a ripple effect in the region. This I know is true.
An update with pictures and stories will be posted when we return next week.
May god bless the people of the Congo and,
Zombi anyu chokoli
(God Bless you all)
Phil and Kip
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The guys were mapping out the dam site and so they had to make the trek to the water. Well if you've been keeping up with this blog you know that the walk is rather interesting. It is a steep, rugged walk down through the jungle. If you've done any hiking at all you know that going DOWN is not nearly as hard as going UP for most of us. So the guys were going to do the mapping today and that meant a couple trips DOWN and then back UP the "hill."
Just a side as to their dress code: Being the ever cautious one, Kip brought with him all long sleeved shirts - he 'read' on the internet that it was recommended that you wear long sleeves to prevent mosquito bites and so being ever mindful of this Kip brought ALL long sleeves with him - Anyone who knows Dendy already knows that Dendy did not read the information on the net and so he probably packed a pair of jeans but he is most likely sporting a tshirt, a hat, shorts, and sandles - and that is how they roll....
Well after the first trek to the water and back the boys were a little winded; they drank some cold water; discussed the project; and back down they went. On their way back up the hill our boys were feeling the elements - not to mention starting to grumble about the fact that their personal trainers were going to hear a thing or two from them about their training regiment - Anyway, back UP they were going when they came across a 9 month along pregnant lady with a 5 gallon water jug on her head going UP the hill to her home... little disconcerting for our guys as she was not nearly as winded as they were. She smiled and on she went to get back home to complete her chores, maybe give birth, and then do her laundry by hand.
This time UP they felt it for sure... they were just plum tuckered out. They drank gaterade to replenish their electrolytes and rested. Kip decided it was too blasted HOT for long sleeves and disregarding everything he read he decided to live the reality - he took scissors to his sleeves and now Kip is sporting short sleeves and not worrying about the mosquitos in the Congo.
The guys were successful in mapping the dam site and have left for Katako Kombe where there is a successful hydroram pump to check it out and then off to Wembo were they are assessing another site that is in desperate need to get water. Please keep them in your prayers that they may continue to have the eyes to see and the wisdom to discern what God would reveal for drops and the people in the Congo.
Diane (on behalf of Kip and Phil)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
October 9 at 6:00am we were picked up by Dean Jordan and his son Ben to head to the airport for the flight to Lodja. We were anxious to get there. Marty (Paul's wife - Appointment Congo) describes this process like experience Bedlam...however, Bedlam defintely underestimated this experience. Fortunately, Pastor Leon had taken our luggage the day before and we did not have to mess with anything other than a back pack. The 'staging' for the airlines was in town and packed with people inside and out. We we made it through the room was the size of a two car garage and boy did it feel smaller. It was hot and dark and chaotic and we were so thankful for Pastor Leon and Dean with us.
Finally getting on the plane we flew to Lodja without any further issues. All our luggage had made the trip successfully and was piled and waiting for us on the tarmac. The porters hoisted those 70lb. packs loaded with tools, saws, paint, and various other supplies on their heads! Unbelieveable!
We found Paul outside, loaded up and ready to rock and roll. The trip to the mission station was only 7 kilometers. And so here is where we sigh - phew... from Austin to Kinsasha and finally in Lodja - we have arrived!
Marty and Paul are incredibly loving and committed people. The people of the Congo are truly blessed to have them. The Laws have a nice home. After visiting for a little it was time to open the packages. We popped open the trunks filled with the saw, the transit, the paint, the chocolate chips, and of course the pecans - after all there is more to life than tools, I think - all made the trip safely thank you God.
After a short visit we settled in the guest house. The house is at the end of the station and looks out over the center of the compound. Palm frawns waved in the breeze as if they were welcoming us into their home. There is no electricity, but there are concrete floors one dichotomy of situations that was becoming the norm and yet felt surreal. It was nice.
That afternoon we finally made our first trip to the "dam" site. At the top of the hill was ran into a group of children carrying water up the hill and a few small children on their way down. The hill is much more than I expected.
Saturday morning after breakfast we loaded the saw and headed to the shop. Worker's were unloading the freshly cut lumber. We had our first real conversations with the men of the community. Shaku, Jamba, Michelle, Victor, Daniel, and many others. The kids were everywhere all the time.
Believe it or not access to the internet is limited when you are in the Congo. Who would have figured that? But, here we are. I am sitting on the porch of the guest house listening to the roosters and other birds, seeing activity beginning to come about, including three women that just disappeared around a house with their buckets. They are on their way to fetch their daily water.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The need is great in this country. It will take a while for it to sink in so we can adequately express it.
At the Methodist/Presbyterian Hostel (treating us very well by the way) we met some folks from Austin doing a documentary on the Lueba(sp) rebuilding a church and using (not the right term, or maybe it is) Don Bobb, another Austinite that was here and knew Burleigh Law and knows the Law family well. God has a way of making connections. Who knows what this one will lead to.
Kip is trying to teach me French. He speaks pretty much - none, and I speak zippo so between us we can say "we don't speak French" with a Texas Accent.
Tomorrow we meet a new friend, Dean Jordan who will accompany us to the airport and to Lodja where we will meet with Paul and Marty Law and continue the journey between Appointment Congo and drops of grace.
Thanks for the prayers and support.
We will post again when we get a chance.
Kip and Phil
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
We leave at 12:30, then Chicago, Brussels and Kinshasa.
Follow us on Facebook. Just click on the link on ths page. That will be quick and dirty updates. Check here for the good stuff.
God Bless and thanks for all the support.
Phil and Kip
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Before I forget, let me express my sincere appreciation to everyone that has been giving their prayers and financial support to drops of grace. Because of that support so far, we sent the money to kick start the Lodja Water Project. Additional gifts just received are allowing us to send additional funding to Appointment Congo next week. It is so cool that Kip and I will deliver the message in person to Paul, Marty, and the people in the mission station that they have the prayers and financial support from the people in the United States.
We still have a long way to go but thanks so much for all the support so far.
Here I am blogging, watching (really just listening to) ESPN Game Day, when I should be getting my stuff ready. It's a packing party at the Dendy's today.
Kip and I will be squeezing two weeks of clothes and personal effects into our carry-on luggage. Every ounce of our checked luggage will be used to pack needed supplies for Paul and Marty, the mission station, and the project. Again, thanks to Dan and Gregg, Diane, Cheryl, and Carl for filling the "grocery/laundry/supply/wish" list.
Gotta get busy,
God is Great!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
We are very excited about our mission and look forward to telling the stories at the drops of grace banquet on November 20. Details will be posted very soon. This will truly be our coming out party and will demonstrate the how, with the love and support from our friends, family, and partners, and the tools and gifts with which we have been blessed, a few drops can create a ripple effect that will positively impact those who are less fortunate.
Now a quick update about Lodja. We have been visiting either via email or Skype on a regular basis with Paul Law. The story of the Law family is in and of itself incredible. From a missionary assignment in the 1950's for his father Burleigh and mother Virgina, to the tragic loss of his father in 1964, the Law family persevered, returned to the Congo and have been spreading God's love and working for the Congelese people for many years. I can't wait to meet these remarkable people in person.
It's still not entirely clear how drops of grace has come to be a partner with Appointment Congo. What I do know is that obstacles kept being thrown in the way when we were looking in other directions. But every time this relationship was on the table, the signs were there to follow. God has a plan and we finally paid attention.
This great project will rebuild a dam and hydram water system that washed out in the 1970's. Women and children spend hours hauling water up the hill and for about a kilometer twice every day. Not only will this project bring water to the Lodja mission station, it will employ over 30 people for about a year and be an economic benefit to this region.
As soon as Paul received the initial funding, work began clearing the land and dredging the stream bed. The pictures in this blog were taken since the work began the first week of September.
Kip and I will visit the Lodja water site and have the opportunity to assess the project so far, meet and visit with the people in the community, and while there, will be visiting a couple of other sites and assessing the possibility of similar projects along with other possibilities that follow our mission of community development with water, health and hygiene, and education.
We will communicate through this blog and any other way we can while there.
We will keep you posted, No pun intended.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Do you know that women and childen spend approximately 4 hours a day hauling water for their daily use - EVERYDAY! They walk about a mile down to the valley fill their 5 gallon containers, which averages 40lbs each, and walk 1 mile back UP the hill to bring the water to their homes. Can you fathom that? Can you imagine what your day would be like when at any given time during every day you are bringing much needed water to your home? Think about how many times a day you turn on your faucet in your home, your sprinklers, your washing machine. And then imagine having to get the water every time to do these every day tasks. Astounding isn't it?
We found a solution but we need your help. The Lodja Water Mission project at the Lodja mission of Diengenga will be a restoration of a technology that has been around for generations. The original hydram water system has been salvaged and with a minimum of parts can be put back into use. The dam will be built mostly by hand and will require a team of men to work for many months. The salaries of these men will be the primary expense in addition to some parts for the ram and repairs to the distribution system on the station. Just by employing the local people to build the dam we stimulate the whole regions economy. This project alone will be the biggest employer in the area.
It is exciting for the people of Lodja and they are so full of hope and joy for the possibilities that this water project will bring to them and their community for many years to come.
We invite you to follow along as we rebuild this exceptional technology. We will introduce you to the men who are working to rebuild their community. You will meet childen and women and read about their lives as this transformation to their community unfolds.
Please visit often feel free to comment. We look forward to your partnership on this journey.
The drops of grace team
Just a short update on the progress of the water project in Lodja Africa. We have raised a little money for the down payment for the project and have sent it off. We have received word that Paul Law has received the money and the project is underway!!!!! The timing was perfect; Paul was going to lay some workers off from other projects the same week the money arrived so they can now keep there jobs, God is GOOD!!! Paul tells us that the dam site is cleared and that they are starting the dredging of the stream bed. They need to clear the site and dig out the stream bed to see how much of the original installation can be redeemed. The word is spreading that they may have water again and there is excitement in the air. Many are asking what they can do to help, even the Pastors school students will be working on the project a day or two each week. This is truly going to be a community project. Paul tells us that he met several women on the hill carrying water back up and they spoke with much emotion about the hope that they have that there will once again be water in the village after so many years.
We are in full gear trying to raise all the funds for this project; we can not let the hope of these people fade. We will be having a fundraiser dinner on Nov. 20th so stay tuned for more details on that later.
As the project gets up to speed we are sending our own Phil Dendy and Kip Reuter to the Lodja station on Oct. 6th. They will be going to get a first hand look at the project and report back to us on the 19th. While they are there they will be looking into another project in Wembo Nyama. That is all I have for now, God Bless and thank you all for your support.
Surrendering to “His” call
Saturday, August 1, 2009
When we first arrived at Matanda the village children were bashful. Many of the small children hid from view and yet others would reluctantly surrender a smile. One young boy, about 9 years old, was primary caretaker of his sister who was about 1 year old. This boy carried his sister on his back and every time the baby would look at us she would cry. She was very scared and hid in his back. The children were in the middle of their lessons and so we stayed in the perimeter of the building watching and helping where we could. We had a secret though that was going to be a shoe in. :D lollipops!
We had lollipops for everyone! The children had never had these and so we waited until after their meal and recess and then the teacher called them back and they sat in rows looking at us with anticipation and uncertainty and then Barbara and Sandi told them we came with a treat. That peeked their curiousity - even the crying baby stopped to watch somehow sensing something exciting was about to happen. Sandi took out a lollipop, unwrapped it, and put it in her mouth and with a grin from ear-to-ear she said, "YUMMY!" As I watched their little faces nearly every child licked their lips and their eyes were big and they were starting to smile too. Sandi told them that everyone was going to get one and then we handed them out. (watch the video now. :D)
Isn't it a wonderful thing that JOY is totally FREE! We can make such a huge difference in someone's day or even in their life if we will be open to the needs of others. The adult's & children's unembarrassed expressions of joy as they sucked their lollipop for the first time was a sound that is forever embedded in my memory. The exuberance with which they sucked those lollipops, and their need to savor each and every moment was a JOY to watch.
Sometimes all it takes is a smile, a warm hug, or a lollipop. You never know what path someone is on and just how deeply your gesture effects their very soul and alters their day and they learn to just let go and feel a moment of happiness.
JOY! it is contagious.....
Peace and hugs,
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
It was our final day being among the people. We picked up Mary and Agnes, our treasured angels, and headed out to Mtandile. This is the village of Agnes. We were excited to meet her people. This community was a hustle and bustle of activity. Many street vendors selling their wares, music playing, and people were out and about. This was very different than all the other locations we had been at and Agnes was smiling from ear-to-ear. It was a special day for her bring the azungu. She most especially wanted us to see her school, meet her teacher friends, and meet her husband Godfrey and her daughter. We pulled into the school yard - it was a locked school area and all the children were there along with the women to greet us. They sang to us and brought us into a school room. This was the first school that we saw that actually had buildings for the various subjects - reading hall, administration, etc... In the center of the small courtyard was a playground. It was run down by our standards - there weren't any swing seats on the swing set; the teeter totter was rusted and unsafe, the slide looked like it would collapse at any moment but the children were having so much fun playing and laughing it was easy to overlook the conditions and focus on the joy of the sounds of children playing. One of my most favorite sights is to watch a child soar like an eagle on the swings and watching their face scrunch right before they get the courage to jump off and land back on the ground...the look of wonder and accomplishment at themselves as they brush their knees off to go and do it again makes me feel that I've eaves dropped on a moment and I tuck it away in my heart. As I watched the children in this school play on their one tire swing I knew that I was eaves dropping on special child's play and I have tucked it into my heart. Children inspire me to be more than I think I can be; children, no matter what, hold hope in their hearts.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I'd like you to meet Agnes (on the left). Agnes is a native Malawian woman who volunteers for Somebody Cares - Malawi (Theresa Malila). She spends her days as a Community Leader working with village volunteers within the surrounding villages of her community. She is an angel on earth. Her smile is contagious and her sweet and humble nature is calming. Her energy for her people, especially women and children, is boundless and it is an honor to be in her presence. Mary (on right) is yet another volunteer who spends her days visiting women and children in her community. She, too, is a community leader with Somebody Cares-Malawi. Mary has a little spark to her. She has a keen sense of humor and gives new meaning to joy that is found in everyday life. She is a born teacher and takes every opportunity to help the azungu (white person) understand her culture and people. You will always have a homework assignment with Mary. She is a treasure.
Monday, July 20, 2009
When the service was over we started the much anticipated 'football' tournament. Many of the youth leaders came forward to show us their teams. We had 8 teams all together - only the 14-17 year olds played. This was a serious village to village competition. Girls are not allowed. Small children are not allowed. It is just the real men of Lilongwe who will be playing this day. As we set up many people started to show up to line the perimeter of the field. You could feel the anticipation the excitement in the air. They told us that although they were there to worship as one family under God when it came to football they were going to be looking to win. And they were right in telling us that. The guys lined up for the uniforms. They were so excited. Shirts and shorts and socks and shoes... WOW! They couldn't believe it. You could feel the excitement in the air. We didn't share with them that they would get to keep the uniforms right away. They thought they were just borrowing. Each team played. Nearly every game ended in a shoot out. They are very good players for sure. They didn't like playing in cleats and socks. They were way more comfortable barefoot.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Genuine diamonds are known for both their beauty and their strength. The same is true for strength of character and how this priceless trait is developed takes place through an unexpected process - experiencing joy when you're suffering under pressure. As your character grows stronger so does your HOPE. And this, my friends, allows you to find genuine joy, even in the middle of suffering.
Today Cheryl and I visited the community of Njawa. It was similar in appearance to Deya Center in that it is supported by Somebody Cares but it did not have the same feel for sure. When we arrived the women were dancing and singing for us. It was so sweet to be greeted in such a way. They were smiling and having a good time and you could see their genuine happiness that we were there to help. What bothered me was that I did not see the children right away. I was looking for them but they were not there and that was strange since this was supposed to be a location for widows and orphans. We brought bubbles and books and though the women were singing loudly I was looking for small smiling faces. After we enjoyed the singing and dancing for some time Mary, our community leader, took us on a walking tour of the village. They have a new well so we were excited for that once again, but still there were no latrines.... and as we were walking I realized we had some children following us. I excitedly turned to say Hi! but I paused. The children were not smiling; they were not laughing; they just were there. Curiosity? Maybe. But their eyes told me the entire story and I knew in that instant that I was never going to be the same. You know eyes are the way to see the soul and these childen were telling me volumes without even speaking.
Overcoming my reaction instantly, I smiled and said hi and I as I bent down and shook their tiny hands one of the women spoke to them and they ran off. I was confused and in that moment I put my video down and just walked and looked and listened and watched. Mary asked if we would cook the meal and of course we said yes. We went into a small room with some young girls and they showed us how to cook the fortified porrage for these orphans only meal. I stirred the huge pot on an open fire pit and the smoke was so thick I couldn't see and my eyes burned so bad. While the porrage cooked we went and got some water from the well. Cheryl and I filled the tubs with water and the young girls asked if we wanted to put it on our heads and of course we said yes. They were allowing us in to their life and asking us to see the daily chores of their lives and so two girls lifted the bucket and placed it carefully on my head. UNBELIEVABLE! I could not believe how heavy that bucket was. I seriously thought my neck was going to break. We walked for about 25 feet ever so slowly because there was no way I wanted to spill the water and the young girl stopped me and took it from my head. Now you must know and I am ashamed to tell you, but that young girl took that tub of water and put it on her head and as she turned I saw a baby on her back too! It was so humbling. We washed the cups and by then the porrage was done and we filled 92 cups 1/2 full with porrage. Smiling and excited because we accomplished a chore for these sweet women - maybe even eased their life for a moment when Mary came in and told us we did not have enough. Are you kidding me? That isn't a choice and in that instant we bowed our heads and prayed that God would multiply those cups. We counted the children again...but while counting more children kept coming and we were getting nervous and I could feel my chest start pumping - this is their only meal! are you kidding me? Where is the food? I was telling myself not to panic or make a scene they were watching me. I had cooked everything they gave us to cook. The head teacher had lined up the children and they were watching us; starring at us with huge eyes filled with hope for their daily meal. Cheryl and Bianca were pouring some of each cup into more cups to make enough for everyone there. The children waited and watched. There was no shoving or pushing. There was no shouting or excitement...they just waited and watched. I watched and listened and prayed there was enough. Cheryl, of course, was not going to accept anything else and I watched her and I trusted her that she would make it happen because for some reason to me she was going to be the miracle worker. She looked at Mary with hands open as if to say, "Come on lets get these children fed" Mary got more cups and filled them with the scrap from the bottom of the pot and while the last child waited for his 1/2 filled cup of food for the day we found the amount we needed at the bottom of that pot and handed it to this young man and he said, "Thank You" I know that I was not breathing until that moment. Praise God! He fed the children for this day.
Sandi, Operation HOPE's manager of operations, had a HUGE bag of lollipops. YEAH! After they ate we got to give every child and mother a lollipop. They thought they were funny. They had never seen anything like it before. Isn't that funny? While they were eating them, Cheryl was blowing bubbles and they were laughing and having a good time. Cheryl has glasses that are reflective and so she thought the children were curious about her because they kept starring at her and following her, but what it was they were looking at themselves in her glasses! We laughed about that. They have never seen themselves before it was so interesting to watch them and Cheryl was so wonderful with them because she would just bend over and let them look. I just wonder what they thought about that?After that we went on a home-based care walk and visited the community and their sick people. I did an interview with an aging gentleman. He was super sick and I obviously don't have the skills to know with what but luckily we are with doctors here and so we sent a note to Somebody Cares and they are going to get him to our Doctors. That was fabulous. We talked with a woman who lives is a concrete house with not a stick of furniture. She was so happy to bring us into her home. She has AIDS. She has 7 children and her husband left her. We fetched water for her from her borehole and washed some dishes and then sat and chatted with her. She didn't have food. That was her biggest problem. She needed to find a way to get food for her and the children. We seriously need to work on getting the communities a means to get food for their children. It is not a question of whether or not they want to work it is just a matter of not having the resources and tools to grow food. After our visit with this wonderful lady we visited a 14 year old girl with Malaria. She was laying on a straw mat covered in blankets. It was stunning to see this sick young woman laying in the dirt on a straw mat and feeling so sick and everyone just going about their business around her. It is a way of life here in Malawi. What choice do they have? We talked with her mother and tried to talk with her but she was too sick and so we just prayed over her.
Today I didn't take any pictures. Today I learned to not judge and just love. I love Malawi. I love the people they are truly warm-hearted. We feel so blessed to have this opportunity. They are so very thankful for anything and so accepting of that which we would never accept in the States. Please pray for them. Please love them. Today my character was challenged. I will never be the same.
God Bless you all.
Peace and Joy,
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Cheryl and I have finally arrived in Malawi, Africa - The Warm Heart of Africa. It was an adventure getting here for sure - 2 days worth. However, as we were loading our ridiculous amount of luggage (oh, let's just say we had over 40 pieces of luggage so you can imagine the spectacle we caused; I think we were for many this days reality TV show) on the roof of the little car that was taking us to our hotel, a school group of little children, probably the ages of 4 - 8, were having a "field trip" to the airport and there was probably 50 kids. They were dressed in their school attire; some were looking at us with curiousity and others would smile and say hi. It didn't take us long to wipe the sleep from our eyes and defeat the fatigue in our bodies as we watched them skip along swinging their arms and laughing while their teachers tried to keep them all safe and in the group - it was like watching cats being herded. All of us were smiling and laughing as well and it just instantly changed our attitudes and reminded us what it is we are here for.
The hotel is fun. We had the electricity go out about 5 times already. It doesn't last long but it is still interesting depending on where you are in the building. ;o) It didn't take me long to take my small flashlight every where I go!
We are excited to start our work here with Operation HOPE. Dr. Thomas, Sandi, and the medical team are amazing. For now I just wanted to let you all know we arrived safe and sound and ready for God's work! We can't thank you all enough for your support in getting us here. Without all of your contributions - be it time, resources, or gifts we would not be able to help these beautiful people, and especially the vulnerable children. Malawi has a staggering 1.5 million orphans due largely to the AIDS/HIV pandemic - a number we were told this evening will grow if something is not done to over 2 million by next year - remember Malawi is no bigger than Pennsylvania. But also, disease and sickness runs rampant as the water and food crisis continues here. We will be working in the communities with Somebody Cares-Malawi an organization that is run by an amazing woman named Theresa Malila.
Please come back and follow us on this journey. Please pray for us that we can be God's eyes and see what it is He would like for us to see. Our hope is that we can partner with local community leaders - such as Theresa - and assist in the communities to help set up an infrastructure that will provide transformative solutions to empower the people and let them know that we care and that everyone deserves a few little drops of grace during hard times. God Bless.