Blog: 2009

September 14, 2009

Our Malawian fellows had their first experience with snow last winter!

Last year, Molly McCormick (Left)  interned with UrbanPromise.  She shares about her experience and learning as she worked and lived with our fellows from Malawi, Africa....

 Growing up in a military family, I was traveling much of the world before I could read and write. Learning that the world has much to offer, I had grown up being around diverse groups of people; and at an early age I learned to value being around people who speak different languages, practice different religious beliefs, and eat different kinds of foods. Interning at Urban Promise Ministries in Camden, New Jersey, I have had the unique opportunity to not only learn from, but to live with two people from Malawi, Africa. Mwai and Vincent are natives of Malawi, the country in Africa known as the "warm heart of Africa." I was truly able to expand my knowledge about life in Malawi, learn about cultural traditions, and even taste some of the staple foods that Mwai and Vincent were accustomed to daily.
    Coming to America for a year long internship is completely courageous. If I were to put myself in the shoes of Mwai or Vincent, life would definitely have its struggles. Much of this year I thought more about my own journey and my own experiences; but too much avail, I discovered that it is important to learn about other people's culture, but more importantly it is imperative to put your feet into someone else's shoes, the only way to fully grasp the complexities of their every step.  Fitting into the American Culture, eating foods you are not used to, venturing on streets and sidewalks unfamiliar were common daily activities around Camden for Mwai and Vincent. Less thought goes into these such things for me because this, [America] is territory I have understood for years.
    Viewing life through the angle Mwai and Vincent walked everyday is something valuable like discovering a ruby never discovered. Why? Because now I see the worth and value of having conversations with those who are not from America, those who have never been to America, nor seen the things I have seen or experienced life quite like I have, knowing what to expect with the nuances of American Culture. Ask someone what their homeland is like, invest in someone because living in America is not the easiest thing to do if you have never been here. Relating to International people is not difficult if you put them first, and have a true desire to see what their life back at home is, what home looks like, what kinds of foods are found in their country and ask about the culture of their particular country. Another intern from Malawi, Willie, had great patience for my "ignorant questions" that I was often embarrassed to ask. "Where do you get your groceries from?" I asked, "We have Shop Rite, and 7-11" he replied. "Oh, Malawi has 7-11's??" I was shocked. You would be surprised and probably, like me, very intrigued about these countries in which our international friends reside. Many Americans have very jaded perspectives of African countries and only think of war, HIV/AIDS, and famine. Willie assured me Malawi is a beautiful place, and it is peaceful. He has not witnessed war in his country.
     What a challenge to come willing to serve a God who may not share all the details of his plan with us, yet asks us to willingly follow. To me, Mwai, Vincent, and Willie have a faith I rarely see, but that I strongly admire. These three individuals were constantly uncomfortable in a community that I rarely struggled to fit into. God called them to come, and they came. God called them to learn and they are now doing. God asks us all to have faith, and to follow him, and when I put my feet into the shoes of Vincent, Mwai or Willie I start to see the utmost faith and commitment they have to putting their concerns on the back-burner for the sake of the children and people of Malawi, and for the Glory of God.
Blessed are the feet that bring good news, and blessed are those who love, and sacrifice for others.

September 3, 2009

After taking a break to visit friends and family, our leaders in Honduras are back in Copan Ruinas and gearing up for the school year.   Their summer program was a great success... here's one of their posts from the end of summer.  For more, visit 

Bruce Main and Messy/Water Day

4 08 2009

This past week we had the pleasure of hosting the president and founder of UrbanPromise, Bruce Main. It was the first real visitor that we’ve gotten to host, and it was a week filled with fun and memories. It was great being able to share with Bruce the culture of Honduras, the city of Copan Ruinas, the wonderful families and children we’re blessed with, and the first international site of UrbanPromise programs. I think we were all encouraged by what God has been doing.


We had to show Bruce the Mayan ruins, for which Copan Ruinas is so famous for. We had an amazing guide named Saul (ask for Saul if you want an interesting ruin tour) and since there are no tourists around, we had the whole ruins to ourselves. This picture is not staged – its purely the magic of an amazing place and some trained macaws.


The UP Honduras team with Bruce, all on our own in the ruins.


A highlight for me was doing the “bean skit” with Bruce. For those of you who don’t know what the bean skit is, its a really stupid skit that has been around for many years (Bruce was doing it when he was a program director), but its an old favourite. Basically its a movie set with a director, and these actors are acting out this scene where they are eating beans, they end up dying and a doctor comes in to try to revive them – to no avail. The director is always upset with the actors and tries the take in different stupid ridiculous styles, like slow motion, fast motion, where everyones ninjas or where everyones babies, etc.

Anyways, watching Bruce in action as the director…years and years of child ministry and practice doing the bean skit has brought Bruce into the “genius” level for the bean skit. Truly a thing everyone should experience before they die – if you like the bean skit.


We finished off the week with Messy/Water day, which involved many different games, skits and activities that either involved getting really messy or really wet. It was a blast. We got to do fearfactor, which is my personal favourite. I always love the challenge of trying to make kids puke.


We also bought a couple tarps and made a slip and slide, honduras style. Definitely a hit.


A great way to end off a great week.

August 19, 2009
Promise Mchenga, a graduate of ABC, has been working with ProjectTEACH in Malawi.  Next month, he will start a fellowship with UrbanPromise International.

Promise Mchenga, a graduate of ABC, has been working with ProjectTEACH in Malawi. Next month, he will start a fellowship with UrbanPromise International.

While it's sad to see our fellows leave after one year at UrbanPromise, it is exciting to see them begin their new ministries and to invite a new group to the U.S. for a year of training.    This year, 7 individuals have been invited to serve with UrbanPromise.   Five graduates (four men and one woman) are from the African Bible College in Malawi, one man is from the Ugandan Christian University, and one Kenyan woman joins us after teaching at Bates College in Maine.  

Shoni is our fellow from Kenya.  She interned with UrbanPromise this summer and will continue with a UPI fellowship this fall.   Charity is joining us from Uganda and is due to arrive on September 7th after visiting a friend in Minnesota.

Our five new fellows from Malawi are on hold, however, due to new visa regulations.   Requests for visas are in process and we hope for their acceptance ASAP!   At this point, they will arrive late, but we hope that they are here shortly after other interns arrive at UP.    In the meantime, they are helping our leaders in Malawi in their programs.   This is a great opportunity for our new fellows to learn about the work and begin to develop a vision for this work.  It is also a great asset to our leaders who have extra hands on deck for a couple of months!

Please pray that our group will arrive safely and that all of our Malawian fellows will be approved for visas soon & help us welcome them when they arrive!

August 2, 2009

Beautiful Smile

The more one travels the more apparent it becomes; the world is big, cultures do vary, but people will always be people.  The aura of Africa entices many, and the West has succeeded in sensationalizing the continent.  Yet, as you walk through the markets, sit in the classrooms, or drive down the roads, the mysticism disappears and life, as it has been, and will be, emerges; natural, normal, ordinary.  To step into peoples lives and immerse in their reality for a while is a unifying experience.  It congeals the notion that we are all God’s children, sharing our joys and hardships with those around us.  And it underscores that we are all in need of love and grace.

Several planes and a day later we are back in America.  We saw and did so much that our trip felt long, yet saddened that it is now over.  There were a lot of highlights that will be cherished, yet the pervading remembrance centers around the demands UrbanPromise International and its ministries are fulfilling.  The Malawian children and their communities are so eager to embrace the programs.  It is hard to understand, born and raised in America (the land of opportunity).  We are indoctrinated from an early age that if you want it bad enough, it can be achieved.  In Malawi, there are obstacles, hindrances, and circumstances that if your lot is not right, your future is set, and it doesn’t matter what your dreams may be; unattainable is a reality.  That is why each Malawian fellow that comes to UrbanPromise to train and learn has a remarkable testimony.  Each has a story of God’s hand directly in their lives lifting them up to the one percent of Malawian citizens who earn a degree.  And that is why each fellow has a desire to give back, to be God’s instrument in removing those obstacles and changing the circumstances of Malawi’s next generation.  Undoubtedly the difficulties run deep and wide, yet in less than a year, since the introduction of these ministries, hundreds of children and several communities have been influenced.  The opportunity for growth and the impact on Malawi remains vast and immeasurable.  The appreciation for what is being done, however, is well understood. 

It truly was a spectacular journey.

August 1, 2009
Cohorts 1 and 2 around the table

Cohorts 1 and 2 around the table

The retreat with cohorts 1 and 2 at Lake Malawi was a success.  A lot of good information was shared as well as a refocusing on how these ministries can most effectively raise funds and reach as many children as possible.  As mentioned earlier, the demand for what these ministries are doing is so high in Malawi that it really comes down to the monetary support they get from UrbanPromise International, and individual supporters like you. 

The lodge that we stayed at was relatively nice, although no internet available.  A moment of concern resulted from its “cash only” policy (not uncommon).  Malawi’s biggest bill is the 500 Kwacha = $4 US, therefore, a retreat for 15 people, food and drinks, conference room and extras was going to cost a decent amount.  Getting all that cash together was literally going to take a suitcase to hold it all.  Luckily, the manager was accommodating and we worked out a wire transfer payment.  Nevertheless, a cash based society with its biggest bill equaling 4 bucks is a hassle. 

Its winter in Malawi, but the temperatures remained in the 70s.  The lake was a little chilly, yet, we jumped in anyway.  All last year, the fellows talked about how beautiful Lake Malawi is, and they were right.  So, it was necessary to take the plunge.  It didn’t feel right to have traveled so many miles and not to.


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