Blog: September 2009
To read more about the Wilmington team's trip to Malawi and their time with UPI leaders and programs, visit http://malawiteam2009.blogspot.com/
Once a week at Camp Hope, we have Discovery class. Discovery can encompass a wide variety of activities, but the main goal is to get the students thinking outside the box. This week was the students’ first experience with Discovery and we did the “” challenge. The students broke into groups of 2 or 3, were given simple supplies, and were told to build the tallest tower they possibly could that stood on its own using only the supplies given to them.
At first, the students looked at the paper, tape, popsicle sticks, and straw, and then looked at me with completely blank faces. “Build a tower? But we don’t know how!” I told them to just start experimenting and doing whatever they could to turn those things into a tower. Pretty quickly, the class of older students got to work tearing and rolling up the paper, taping things together, and hiding their designs from the competition. When it came time to measure, each group in the older class had a free-standing tower.
For the younger class, this task was a little more daunting. The blank faces didn’t change as quickly, and one young boy, Milton, looked up at me and said, “I can’t build a tower,” in a tone that suggested the task was ridiculous. I knelt down next to him and assured him that he could, but he continued to insist that it was impossible. He and his partner, Alduvin started to fold the paper with doubtful looks on their faces, and each time I passed by them, Milton looked up at me and reminded me, “I can’t build a tower!”. Each time, I affirmed that he could. Eventually, Milton and Alduvin had a design in progress that was standing on its own and climbing at the same steady rate as Milton’s confidence. By the end, Milton was beaming as he looked around the room, noting that his tower was significantly taller than the others.
When it came time to measure all the towers, Milton and Alduvin’s tower was the tallest in the younger class, and even taller than the tallest from the older class. As I announced this, Milton’s eyes widened and his grin broadened. At closing, he made sure everyone knew that his tower had been the tallest of them all, very proud of his great accomplishment.
As he walked out the door at the end of the day, I looked down and said, “See, Milton, you can build a tower.” He smiled back and me and said, “The tallest one!”
Many Many praises!!
The entire team arrived safely on Sat with ALL 16 bags! Robert, Willie, Peter and I met them at the airport and were able to wave to them from a second floor balcony. Robert is an amazing man full of the favor of God. He got the official to let him and I back into the luggage area to great and help. Then we went as a group through customs and the man wanted us to start filling out paperwork and when he asked us what we had we told him school supplies etc. Robert said we were here to visit his church and do missions and the man said then come on in! The next stop they opened one bag and Robert said we were here to preach the gospel and the guy said no problem go on. All those bags just went through without a hitch!
We are all feeling well and being totally blessed to be in Malawi and to be visiting with the people.
Yesterday we worshipped at Robert's church. Half the team taught 150 kids that they are a treasure from God and Jesus wants them to help Him find lost coins. The other half of the group gave testimonies to about 100+ teens. Then in the main service we sang a few songs and Jon preached on Psalm 23. Afterwards we served the entire church beef and rice, starting with the kids first! We spent the afternoon watching a soccer match and then ended it with a time of fellowship in Robert's home. We all enjoyed traditional Malawian food of fish, nisema, peanuts and greens, and of course soda & ice cream :)
Today we were in groups of three and visited the homes of some of Robert's kids and got to pray with families. It was really special and humbling to be in their homes and to receive gifts of food from their hearts. It seemed that God sent specific members of our group to specific houses.
We also toured the city and had a history lesson. Turns out the first president of Malawi's favorite scripture was Ps 23:1-2 the exact passage that God put on Jon's heart to share.
Robert asked us last night where have we seen Jesus today? I think we have not stopped seeing His hand putting together even the smallest details of the trip. We cannot express how amazing it is to be here and to be united with our family in Malawi.
Tomorrow we are ministering at the Korean hospital and visiting Robert's afterschool program Christ Cares. Wednesday we will visit Peter's village, a school and a hospital in his town.
We have felt all of your prayers and really need them to continue. We have so many stories and experiences to share.
Becky and the Malawi team
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.
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 http://urbanpromisehonduras.wordpress.com/
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.