Greetings to All,
Yesterday marked 3 months being here in Nkhoma, Malawi, 3 months, and right now, Dec seems a long way away. At times I wish it was sooner. We have learned much, with so much more to learn. We have seen and heard from those in need, and, with your generous donations, have been able to offer help. Thank you! Yet, the call of Christ in Malawi seems too big for us. We have come to realize that with the strength and ability a person has, we can only power through so much. We need God’s heart, vision, and wisdom.
We have seen suffering, the lack of life’s basics and the lack of professional resources to do a job, the lack of being able to care for your family, the lack of ability to buy medicine, and the lack of being able to care for the sick, the lack of furniture, the lack of clothing and lack of shelter, the lack of plumping and no end in sight of lacking daily sustenance.
2 Corinthian’s 1:10: “…in God we have our hope.” We have had to realize that we cannot do this on our own strength and initiative. The chance to demonstrate the Love of God in Christ Jesus, God’s compassion and comfort, God’s call to be ministers of reconciliation…. we can only do this with Christ working in and through us. We have no ability to do without God’s doing within us and through us.
We had a chance to be at Lake Malawi April 1st. It was our first weekend of being out of the village for some R & R. It gave us time to reevaluate, find renewal, and reprioritize. 2 Corinthian’s 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of compassion, and the God of all comfort.” We need this, and so do the people of Malawi.
May God be with you in the midst of your needs, providing gifts of compassion and comfort.
Easter Blessings to You All,
Our getaway at Lake Malawi a couple weekends ago gave me a chance to shift from overdrive to neutral, …and it was a shock to the system, provided time and space for some spiritual inventory. Take-aways: part humbling, part sobering, part disappointing, and, with Deb’s reading aloud 2 Corinthians 1:3 (above), part remembering, part healing, part inspiring.
Thankfully, God is all-compassionate, a comfort in times of discomfort, like being out-of-balance.
Three months ago, I hit the ground sprinting here in Nkhoma–preparing lesson plans each night for two seminary courses, preaching a couple of times, hosting guests for weekly meals, creating posts for the Facebook and web site pages, attending several worship services each week and Sunday evening fellowship gatherings, balancing personal expenses with giving as much kwacha to as many people and organizations in need as possible, playing frisbee with children and youth each Friday after school, and, of course, exercising.
Then, at the lake, with the shifting sand (not quite the sinking sand of On Christ the Solid Rock), God got my attention and impressed upon my heart and mind that perhaps I had left God in the dust in my rush to dig in and begin helping out however possible.
Friends and family have offered words of empathy, encouragement and even some good advice: take a deep breath; it isn’t about you, it’s about God using you as an instrument of God’s grace & purposes; God cares, God is merciful; God will equip you, God is at work through you and through the people of Malawi, God will sustain you and use you according to God’s good plans.
Prayer: O God, may your will be done. Fill and guide Deb and me here in Malawi, our family and friends and supporters at home, and all your beloved children created in your image. Thank you for your compassion and comfort. Amen.
“There are so many problems and struggles in this life, Jesus; when you come again, take me with you.”
Believe it or not, the song is actually from Revelation 12 where there is a cosmic battle between the dragon (Satan, who is leads the world astray), and the angels fighting for the woman clothed in the sun who is going to give birth to a son who will rule the nations.
There is an old hymn by an unknown author that is called How Can I Keep from Singing?
My life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentation. I
catch the sweet, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
Refrain: No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging. Since Love is lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing, It
finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?
I hope this letter finds you well. From the words of the old hymn, “How can I keep from singing?” is how I feel today. My friend and coworker is very poor. There is no electricity in the home, there are no toys or books for the children, there is no bathroom as we know it. She struggles with school fees, and food, and …… She never complains. If you would speak to her, you will only know of her deep faith and her continual praise to God….for everything. She has three precious children. I enjoy her friendship.
We had a fun day last weekend. I took her and her children to a stream with a small waterfall just outside of town. She and her children had never been there. I took them to splash and play in the water which I did not tell them ahead of time. I just told them that we are going to a waterfall. My friend was so scared. The idea of playing in the water and playing with your kids in the water was a new idea. The idea of play is new. Once we were there, she got used to it and ENJOYED it!! The kids loved playing in the water for the first time. The eleven-year-old said it was the best day of his life. They all wanted to do it again. The kids were off from school, my friend took the kids to the water to play the very next day!! And we’re going again tomorrow! How can I keep from singing!
My same friend’s eleven-year-old goes to the local elementary school. In his grade alone there are 150 students. The school had a spelling bee. He was one of two kids from town here to go to the regional level of the spelling bee with 85 other kids this week in the Capital. Not only was it a big deal to go, but he won!! Now he goes to the National Spelling Bee!! How can I keep from singing!
I have been going out on Palliative Care visits with a team of people from the hospital. It is heartbreaking to see God’s precious people struggle to live with chronic and end-of-life illnesses. I have been going out with the team for about 3 months. The circumstances of two of families were particularly heartbreaking. The children have severe cerebral palsy. The father of the children left the family because the mother “caused” this disability. The mother is struggling to care for and feed her family. The families around them are poor and aren’t able to help. The children are getting bigger and harder to carry. The children mostly stay in their home. The mother has a hard time doing the most basic things because of the constant care needed by her children.
There is another man among the many many difficult situations. This man had a stroke 3 years ago. He has not left the cubicle in his home for 3 years. 3 years!! He has left side weakness; he is not able to leave his bed and be engaged in family life or see people he knows outside his room.
I mentioned the need for wheelchairs for these and other patients to the social worker. With a sigh he gave me the phone number and email for an organization that gives out free wheelchairs. I emailed them and… they responded in less than 24 hours! I had them call the social worker from the hospital. The organization will be coming with 3 free wheelchairs for the families this week! This changes the quality of life for these individuals and families. How can I keep from singing!!
This organization with free wheelchairs is Malawian and located in Lilongwe, one hour away from Nkhoma. But they are willing to partner with the hospital to continue with free wheelchairs going forward. How can I keep from singing!
On a personal note, Chuck and I celebrated our 33rd anniversary. We hiked an amazing domed mountain, rode back to town on a motorcycle and went out to eat. We are healthy and well and thankful. How can I keep from singing!
We are thankful that you are on this journey of life and faith with us. How can I keep from singing!
With Endless Praise to God,