Thursday, May 28, 2009

almost home.

Just a quick note before I head off to bed. I have been at a debriefing meeting since Tuesday (was suppose to be Monday, but we missed our flight even though we showed up at 10 and the flight was suppose to leave at noon, and they told us that it left at 8 that morning.) We will be flying out tomorrow (Friday) night. We will fly to Frankfurt, Germany and then to Washington, D.C., and then arrive in Oklahoma City on Saturday night. I am just writing this note, as a prayer reminder to pray for safe traveling, not only for me personally, but for the other 24 HANDSon members as well. As i begin and continue to process the last few months over the next few weeks and months, I will be continuing update this blog. Thanks again for your prayers and support. I love you guys, and I will see you in the near future.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

the beginning of the beginning...

So usually I try to think of a somewhat clever title, and usually give up before coming up with something. So I was going to name this one, the beginning of the end because of the two weeks we have left and then as writing the update, I thought to myself that this is only the beginning of what I believe God has in store for this place. Thus the title, the beginning of the beginning….

Wow, even while writing this I can’t believe that we will fly out of Malawi, two weeks from today. Time seems to have flown by. Don’t get me wrong though there have definitely been those days that have seemed long and hard. If someone were to ask me how I felt at this moment I wouldn’t even begin to be able to explain it. I am very sad to be leaving Malawi, but will be very excited to see family and friends when the time comes.

Things are going well and kind of routine, except completely not. One because things are not routine is Africa. And secondly, because when I usually hear the word routine, I also think of the word mundane. And things are far from boring here. the next two weeks will be very full weeks, both filled with joyous times and maybe some tears as well. As we are nearing our departure, our friends here have become fully aware of this; I have began enforcing a rule that we unable to talk about this until the day before we leave. As time is closing in, we are trying to spend even more time with those we have developed relationships with. The kids from the village are still constantly coming to the house at all hours of the day. The saddest thing here is that I’m not sure they know or would even understand that we will be leaving soon. Thoko, the girl I have been discipleing, and I are trying to spend more time together as well. I am viewing this time as the moments where I will be able to squeeze out the last bit of knowledge that she needs to know. We are continuing the kids bible study for the next two weeks. I am encouraging her that this is something that she can easily do by herself, or with our other friends, after my departure. This week I think we are going to try to teach about John 3:16 and about why Christ died on the cross for us and rose again. While some of the group is quite young, there are quite a few that are older and to the age where they are capable of understanding these matters. Wednesday, my teammates and I are going to co-teach the bible study at TAYO. Nowadays, we just let them do all the teaching, but we want to spend this bible study as a commissioning-type thing where they are prayed for and sent out on mission to their local villages.

I also had the opportunity of going to a group of houses in the village right below our house, except a little farther. I was going to deliver some socks to some women I had met previously. As I showed up unannounced, they were very excited to see me. I talked (or tried to talk) before a woman that could speak English finally showed up. I, then, gave a pair of socks to all the woman, and they were very grateful. Then they insisted on cooking some nsima and relish for me. Even though I had just had lunch about 30 minutes before. I appreciated the gesture and made myself eat some more food. Afterward, we were all sitting in a circle, and the woman that could speak English began to ask lots of questions. She asked things dealing with early and unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and many other topics that are social taboos here and, somewhat, in America. I was able to talk about abstinence with the women, and about how the children are living before they are born and how it’s not their fault that the mother got pregnant. (Culturally here, the woman call the babies ‘katoondoo’ which translates ‘stuff’ until they are born. The reason for this is because of the high percentage of miscarriages, deaths at birth and the first months of a baby’s life.) When they heard, the line about ‘well, its not the baby’s fault.’ You could tell by their comments and expressions that this was a very good point, that hadn’t really crossed their minds before. I continued to talk to the women and mentioned that I would come back again before we left.

So as our time dwindles down here, continue the prayers up until we depart but even after we are gone, because the Lord will still continue to work among these people. Also, a very great thing will be happening. There will be three summer missionaries who will be coming for 6 weeks, they will be arriving next Wednesday. We will have the opportunity to show them around thyolo, as well as to help them get acquainted with the different people we know, and ministries that have been set up.

Here are some prayer requests:

The last two weeks here in Malawi. That is will be precious, precious time.

Safe travel for us: The 25th, we will be heading to a debriefing meeting in Joburg, South Africa, and then we will fly out the 28th from there, and I will arrive in OKC on the 30th. (and safe travel for the girls arriving on next Wednesday as well.)

The bible studies. TAYO and the children’s bible study.

Elections: there will be a presidential election on Tuesday the 19th. It is projected to be a peaceful election. Prayers will help to make this a reality.

Pray against the lies of Satan. Pray that we will not believe the lies that we hear, when we may be thinking that the things that we are doing here are not useful. While we want to make the most of the time we have left and not waste it, Satan wants us to make us feel like we are doing just that.

Pray against any tiredness or homesickness that may occur as we know that we will soon be going home. Pray for renewed strength.

This may be my last update before we head home, but I will try and make at least a quick note before we depart from Malawi. Even after I return, as I begin to actually process the things that have gone on, I will continue to write about them as well. Thank you so much for your time and reading and caring about the things that are taking place here. Thanks even more than that for the prayers that have been prayed. You have played a vital part in spiritual warfare and in the Kingdom of God.
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Jesus Retreat

The past week has been very eventful as usual. Though for lack of time and space on this blog, I will only write some highlights. I had the opportunity to ride a mini-bus here in Africa for the first time. This is an experience that everyone here told us that we must have. We rode to Blantyre, a city about an hour from here. We were able to meet up with some leaders that are in Younglife here. (If you are unfamiliar with Younglife, it is a Christian organization that I help with back in Edmond. We form relationships with students and love on them so that they will come to know that there is Someone out there that can love much more than us.) Anyways, just as they have Younglife in the States, they also have a Younglife here in Malawi. We attended their once-a-month leadership meeting and it was so refreshing. It was amazing how encouraging it was meeting these people for the first time. It was a great visual of the family and body of Christ. Though we had never met before, we have a common goal: bringing glory to God and telling those around us about Him. And because of this common goal, this common Spirit, we are family.
Yesterday marked the first day of May. It also was the day of our Jesus Retreat. We had originally planned for it to be two days long, but due to other plans of the majority of our friends we shortened it to one day. We began the day early that morning at around 8:30, we had time set aside for them to decorate notebooks provided for them and to eat some muffins and bananas for breakfast. Next, I taught the first session. I told them the theme for the day which was Colossians 2:6-7 and explained about just how trees must have deep roots to prevent them from just being blown over, we must also have a deep-rooted faith. We talked about spiritual disciplines and the importance of them and also about living intentionally everyday. Whether we are on a mission trip, at home, playing volleyball, or just hanging out with friends, we must be showing those around us the love of Jesus. We then took time for a tea break and to play some different games. We had a relay race and then played some games with water balloons. After eating a very American lunch of hamburgers, we had another teaching time about the importance of prayer and how we should pray without ceasing. We then set aside time and split into groups, and went prayer-walking. We walked about the Boma, the market, the TAYO office, the grounds where the kids play soccer, and among the village. We then concluded with our final teaching time on abandonment to Christ and how He must increase in our life and how we must decrease (John 3.30). Afterwards, we had a praise and worship time with English songs, they had been asking us to teach them for some time now. We then fed them dinner, chicken and rice, something more familiar for them. When leaving, our friends told us how grateful they were and how much they had learned and appreciated the day that was planned for them.
There were only 8 of our friends from TAYO that attended the retreat. We knew it was going to be a small event at the very very most there would have been 20 people there. Though with only 8 people in attendance, I feel like it was a very intimate time with them. These 8 people that were there are leaders of the TAYO organization that we partner with here. They are all individuals that have completed secondary school. They have the ability to impact not only the TAYO organization and all of the schools and organizations that they influence, but they have the ability to impact the whole Thyolo district, and God-willing all of Malawi.
We had bible study on both Wednesday and Thursday this week. Wednesday and the bible study at TAYO was good. We decided that we would finish telling storied from the Bible and our personal testimonies that we had begun, but never finished a few weeks ago. At first no one really wanted to be the first to share. Then Nafe, a girl that had not shared a story yet, shared first. More than half of the group shared either a story or a verse that had really impacted their life. There was one girl who had yet to share a story either time we have done this activity. And she said that she would be the first to share something next week. It is very encouraging that all of them are beginning to feel comfortable talking about their faith and to share stories from the Bible. Thursday’s bible study with the kids was led by Thoko. She told the story about Jesus feeding the five thousand. She then asked them questions about the story as usual. Thoko seemed really frustrated at the end of the bible study. She told me that she just felt like none of the kids were listening. I explained to her that sometimes, it may seem as though the kids aren’t listening at all, and there may be one that hears something and that one thing changes their life. We may never know the full extent of the things that we do or say here on earth.
With it being the first of May, that means that I will return at the end of this month. We have already began to say some of our good-byes. Our friend Chisomo has returned to school and won’t return until June after we are gone. Pray that in the next few weeks that we will be focused at the task on hand and not just on our return to the States. Pray that the remaining time here would be precious, sweet time with our friends. Pray that we would be able to leave here with no regrets because we know that we have been completely obedient to everything that the Lord has asked us to do. Pray that the work that has been begun here will continue on. That we wont be needed because the work here if more than work of ourselves.

In closing, I will leave the theme verses from our retreat on Friday.

Colossians 2:6-7
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
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