Blog: 2010

October 1, 2010

We all got up early to make the long trip from Lilongwe to Blantyre. Peter Gamula (CCM) accompanied us to make sure we stayed on track. Arrived in Blantyre at 12:30 to pick up Willie from Rays of Hope. Went to Willie's house (and office for RoH) for introductions to camp leaders (5) and to see demonstrations on their computer skills. Each one had prepared a Powerpoint presentation on their church. Good work. Then on to after school program at a local school - over 90 children at the after school program which included devotions, lessons, crafts and games delivered to very respectful, well-behaved and eager children. Their school was in major disrepair with no classroom furniture. Commitment of the leaders is amazing. One young man, Arthur, is a volunteer because he does not want to be idle. Full, wonderful day!
(By Carol McWilliams)

September 30, 2010

It has been exactly six and a half weeks since I first sent out my support letters, and about three months since I talked to Bruce Main about the desire the Lord has placed on my heart to serve with UrbanPromise International (UPI). It has been one of the most overwhelming times of my life. The Lord has been opening doors, and working things out in such a way that has simply affirmed this calling in my life. Family, friends, co-workers, my boss, even random people I meet are so excited for, and so supportive of this mission that the Lord has called me on. Overwhelming support has come to me both financially, emotionally, and spiritually. As of the end of September $8,085 have come in towards the $9,000 that I need to raise to serve with UPI over this next year. Money has come in from supporters I would have never even imagined would be as generous as they have been. I get an update from the director of UPI Lindsey Markelz once a week, and was almost brought to tears with the vast amount of support that was coming in. God is so good, and has provided the means for His work to be accomplished in Honduras and Malawi, I have $915 left to raise.

The Lord has provided already in miraculous ways. In preparation for my time abroad I went to an international clinic to get the shots and other medications I need. The clinic is up to date on diseases and medical dangers in all areas of the world and advises its patients as to what is best for them depending on where they are going. One thing recommended for me to get for Honduras and Malawi is the rabies vaccination. This vaccination is a serious of three shots for $270 each shoot. That’s $810 that I was not expecting to spend on medical expenses, and had not factored into my support goal. I was going to go without getting the vaccination because of the cost. However, a coworker of mine had heard of and showed me a patient assistance program through Sanofi Pasteur that gives free vaccinations to people who do not have health insurance and are under poverty level. I applied for the program, and put it in the Lord’s hands. Praise the Lord I was accepted to the program and only have to pay for the doctor to administer the three rabies shots. Also, the doctor is rushing the administering of the shots to one shot a week until I leave. The shots are supposed to be given over a month and half time period. The Lord worked these details out so perfectly, and I know He will only continue to amaze me.

I appreciate your support so much, and any support that is raised over and above the $9,000 needed, will go directly to ministry needs in the sites in Honduras and Malawi. I know that while I am serving at these sites, various needs will come up for the children and communities that we serve. Boys in SafeHaven orphanage may need school books, children in Copan Honduras may need Bibles in their language, ministry needs will come up and if I have raised excess finances, I can help with these needs.
I am a week away from leaving for Honduras on October 7th. It is going to a quite a busy week of finishing up my work in the development office, and preparing for this journey.

Please pray:

•That the Lord gives me the grace and the time to accomplish
everything that I need to get done over the next week.

•That the Lord prepares my heart for the things I am going to see and experience.

•That my host family and I will connect and truly be a blessing to each other.

•That the remainder of the financial support needed will come in.

•For the families, children, and youth that I will be working with and serving in Copan. For their salvation and well being.

September 29, 2010

“This summer, UrbanPromise International had their first summer internship program in Malawi. Eleven interns from the African Bible College served with the 5 UPI affiliates in Malawi. Here’s the story of one intern.”

Chester, a June 2010 graduate of African Bible College, had a deep impact on the children at RiseMalawi Ministries as an intern. He immediately began taking initiative to know the children and be a mentor with whom they could talk. He always spent unstructured time with several of the boys before and after the official program time to build these relationships. He was also an effective teacher in the 5th grade classroom each day to encourage the academic development of the students. He eagerly anticipates his tenure as a fellow with UPI for the upcoming year because he dreams of working with secondary school students in ministry in the future.

One of the pivotal contributions that Chester made to the RiseMalawi community this summer was his effort to plan and coordinate a special field trip for 37 children. The focus of the trip was both education and amusement. It included a bus ride to the Salima district along Lake Malawi, a guided tour of Salima Technical College, picnic lunch, beach walk, and recreational games. The trip was arranged as an incentive for RiseMalawi children who have displayed satisfactory attendance and academic performance in the school year. Chester led the planning meetings and even took a solo trip to Salima to make the proper arrangements several weeks in advance. The kids were ecstatic to have this opportunity to leave their rural homes and explore the beauty of their nation’s famous lake, most for the first time. They were engaged during all parts of the experience, from bonding through songs on the bus, to inquiring about entrance requirements at the college, to displaying their teamwork and creativity building sand castles.

The experience opened their eyes to many new things and it was truly the highlight of the summer months for all involved. Chester’s influence will always be remembered when these RiseMalawi youth recall their wonderful trip to Salima!

July 26, 2010

Ive had quite a change of scenery this week, experiencing several different ministries here in the capital city of Lilongwe. I helped out alongside American missionary doctors for several days at the African Bible College Community Clinic. I also joined a mobile clinic organized by Ministry of Hope yesterday to the village of Khwamba, helping the nurses take vital signs and such. One highlight was spending an afternoon at Christ Cares Ministries, one of our UPI affiliate programs. I enjoyed joining in the games and classes, although the best part was getting to sit for some time and discuss life with the standard eight girls there. In their particular neighborhood, there are many things luring girls away from school, especially the older male population that commutes in and out to the industries located there. Along with 3 girl interns from ABC, we were able to talk with them about how rewarding it is for girls to stay in school and go to college. As with Rays of Hope last week, it was so encouraging to see the UrbanPromise model flourishing in so many different communities here. The kids are really enjoying being involved and speak of so many positive changes in their lives. Its good to see them excited about their education and looking up to the leaders in the program. There's great things happening here in Malawi!

I'm approaching my last weekend here, I hope to write some final reflections and upload lots more pictures when I return. Thanks for reading and sorry this is short due to time crunch this last week :)

Picture: Me with the staff of Christ Cares Ministries

July 19, 2010

Wow—so much has happened since I was last able to post details and pictures! I’m beginning my last week here and can’t believe my time here is almost finished. It has certainly been a fun and busy past few weeks! I’ve done quite a bit of traveling and experienced the Southern region cities of Zomba and Blantyre, where Tinashe and I visited more of her family and our UrbanPromise International friends at Rays of Hope and Project TEACH ministries. I also saw the beautiful Lake Malawi on a field trip this past weekend with the kids of Rise. Lastly, I’m heading this evening to African Bible College in Lilongwe, alma mater to many of the UPI fellows, to volunteer at their community clinic for several days.
Meanwhile, back in Madisi, I’ve been incorporating some health education into the RiseMalawi programs these last few weeks. I led sessions on Sanitation/Hygiene, Dental Health, HIV Prevention, and an Intro to Medical Careers. It has been really fun to bring together my interests in health care and youth ministry in this way. I yearn for these kids (and kids everywhere) to be able to reach their God-given potential without being hindered by preventable health issues. I feel an important piece of this is to empower the children with knowledge and tools so that they can make positive, healthy decisions for their lives. To me, it’s a natural extension of the UrbanPromise vision to equip youth with the skills necessary for success in education, leadership, spiritual growth, and life management. It also seems a natural extension of my vision for my career in healthcare, preventing illness being just as important as devoting my time to treat those who become sick. Under the advice of Tinashe and with some generous funds that people back home entrusted to me before my trip, I was able to provide new toothbrushes for all the kids in the program to take home after our lesson. I also bought and stocked a first aid kit for Rise, which had been on their wish list for a while. (Ironically, I was the first person to use it after a nsima-stirring hand burn, but I successfully made nsima for staff lunch all by myself!) It was nice to be able to know the kids and the program and work with the staff to identify areas where those resources could be used best.

On this topic of giving/donating, I’ve had some really engaging conversations about this with Tinashe and other staff. We’ve discussed and debated about how to support the physical needs of the children in the programs and others in the community. I think we’d all prefer if it was as simple as seeing a kid with torn clothes and just buying and giving them new clothes. But, it’s been interesting to hear about how the dignity of the children needs to be preserved as well as the respect due in their homes for their parents as providers. These two points, along with other concerns about logistics, program and visitor precedents, and perception of the community, have really called me to evaluate how we can help the kids in Malawi and elsewhere around the world. I have been impressed to see the Rise staff being thoughtful in ways they handle these situations. Shortly after I arrived, they had a small award ceremony where the kids with the best grades from the previous term were acknowledged and received a few school supplies and a t-shirt. The standard 6 awardee, Jakob, has without fail worn that T-shirt every non-school uniform day I have seen him since. I just think it’s wonderful to know that he wears that shirt with pride that he studied hard and earned it, which is so much more fulfilling than to be thinking someone gave it to him in pity of his poverty. I think creating and supporting programs where these types of physical and psychological encouragement coexist is one of the best ways people can channel their charitable resources. I’ve been challenged here that the blessing of having resources is also a challenge for the creative side of our minds. I think God wants us not to be lazy and participate in simple, mindless, giving, rather he offers us a chance to be creative, to engage others, and to honor each other as fellow human beings when we share what He has entrusted to us.

I hope to be in touch again before the end of the week-thanks for reading!

Picture: Kids playing doctor during my health lesson at camp.

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