Final week with Rays of Hope.

This week marks the end of my time in southern Malawi with Rays of Hope Ministries.  Things have been wrapping up as far as projects are concerned, and the kids have now started their two-week break from school, since it is the end of their third quarter from school.  They will start back up again in mid April, and programs will resume.  Since the kids are on vacation, Rays of Hope has not had their after school program this week, so the majority of my time has been spent focusing on development projects for the

Some of the kids from at Rays of Hope and I.

ministry.  This coming Thursday I will be meeting up with a good from college who is currently serving in Zambia; she and I will be spending a few days together.

I ended my time with the kids in some wonderful last days together as we wrapped up the program and completed the development art project and the child sponsorship profiles and information.  We sang songs; the kids taught me some in Chichewa and I taught them songs in English, dancing with joy as we praised the name of the Lord.  We played games of basketball and football (they make balls out of plastic bags that they find), practiced English and grammar together as I helped them work through some of their studies, and helped them prepare for their end of quarter exams which they took at the end of last week.  The kids received the results from their exams early this week, and they proudly march over to Willie’s house to show him their results.  It is part of the Rays of Hope program for the kids to report their grades to Willie, the director, as he notes who has done well and should be rewarded and recognized, and who needs to receive more attention and tutoring from the youth leaders.  The results from their exams seem to reflect the wonderful job that the Rays of Hope after school program is doing to encourage and tutor the kids in their studies.  It is difficult for them to focus on their studies when the reality of life for some consists of working alongside of their parents on the family farm, or helping raise their younger siblings, and facing many more responsibilities than simply focusing on academics.  The ministry of Rays of Hope is much needed and greatly beneficial for its participants.

It was very difficult for me to say goodbye to the kids.  I see the Lord shining through every one of their smiles; their hugs and embraces make my day.  I wish I could stay at each and every site, with every child and youth leader, to continue to be involved in their lives and give them my all.  As of today, I have exactly one month left until I board a plane that will take me back to the States.  I pray that the Lord uses this final month to bring Himself glory and honor through my actions, thoughts, and words.  He has been so faithful so far, and I know that He will not fail me in this final month.

Willie and I were able to complete some resources and prepare for an important meeting that he is going to have with a local rotary club in a few weeks.  Willie has done a great job networking within the community of Blantyre to find some local support for Rays of Hope, and hopefully build some meaningful relationships with other non-profits and influential people that will be helpful to the ministry as it looks to grow in the future.  I was able to create a ministry brochure, come up with some giving idea’s, and help Willie gather other important information and advise him on some strategies and tactics which he should use in approaching the rotary club for support and funding.  It has definitely benefited Rays of Hope Ministries to be located in such close proximity to the city of Blantyre; the connections that have been made and will be made in the future will be crucial to the success of this ministry.

Since the ministries will be on break for the next two weeks due to the schools’ vacation time at the end of the quarter, I will be taking

Three beautiful girls from Rays of Hope After School Program.

the next week and a few days to do a little bit of traveling with my friend who is currently working with the Mennonite Central Committee in Zambia.  The timing works out perfectly, because I need to leave the country in order to renew my visa.  The law here in Malawi is that as a visitor, you are only allowed to stay for 90 days, after which you would be illegally staying here.  Since my time here in Malawi exceeds that 90-day period, I have to find a way to leave the country for a few days to acquire an extended visa for another 30 days, in order to be allowed to stay here until my time has been completed in early May.

So my friend and I are planning to use this week to visit lake Malawi for a few days, which is the 8th largest lake in the world, and then travel on to Choma Zambia where she is staying and doing ministry with the Mennonite Central Committee.  We may possibly make a trip to Victoria Falls which is about 2 hours from where she stays.  Since I will be traveling next week I will not be posting a blog, but will resume posting the week of April 18th.

Lord willing, I will return to Lilongwe on the 16th of April, and I will start my time with YouthCare Malawi, a boys’ orphanage and after school program.  I will be spending the remainder of my time with this ministry, and will be wrapping things up with UrbanPromise International here in Malawi.

As I look forward to this next week and final month here in Malawi please pray:

-  For safety and a restful, reflective, and rejuvenating time on my trip with my friend.  That we will be successful in our days of traveling and time spent at the lake and in Zambia.

-  For the details of my visa to go through as I cross the border into Zambia and return to Malawi.

-  For a successful meeting of Rays of Hope with the Limbe Rotary Club.  That the Lord would move in the hearts of the members and encourage them to get involved and give to the ministry.

-  Praise the Lord that the boil on Willie’s leg is getting better and he is almost 100% healed and able to move around comfortably.

-  For the Lord to bring peace and clarity to my heart, as I begin to think about leaving this amazing place in May, and determine what His next steps are for my life.