Given a Gift from God, and Giving Back...

It has been an amazing second-to-last week here in Malawi.  I have already been able to accomplish much in my short time with Youth Care, working hard alongside of their wonderful staff and getting to know the boys from Safe Haven Orphanage a little bit better.  I spent all of last week working in the office, checking various things off of my growing to-do list, and spent the long holiday weekend with various friends, beginning the difficult process of saying goodbyes.

Last week I spent the majority of my time with Chikondi, Mwai, and Gibozi, three of the full-time staff members of Youth Care, brainstorming various development ideas, working with the Safe Haven boys on their profiles, and discussing details of the new sponsorship program.  They seem very excited for the potential of the sponsorship program, and jumped right on board as we discussed its potential and importance to the sustainability of the ministry.  Youth Care also runs two after school programs in the local community; however they were still on holiday as of last week so we were able to focus the majority of our time on office items.

Praying to close After School Program

Another project I spent time on last week was the editing of the college application of Ernest,  one of the Safe Haven boys.  Ernest is 19 years old and has lived at Safe Haven since 2005.  His mother passed away when he was only a child, and his father passed away when he was 11, leaving Ernest to fend for himself on the streets of Lilongwe.  He would be on the streets during the day begging for money to eat, and would frequently have to go for days without food.  His home was the underside of a bus, and he soon became part of a group of street boys who bonded together as orphans in this already very poor country.

By the grace of God, Ernest was taken into the Safe Haven Orphanage in 2005.  The director at that time found him on the streets and asked him if he wanted to start a new and better way of life.  He and the other boys he was with were taken into a new family and community at Safe Haven.  Ernest was given a bed, fed, clothed, taken to church, and soon was attending school.  Ernest has now finished his secondary education thanks to a lot of hard work, help, and encouragement from Safe Haven and Youth Care, and is currently in the process of applying to university.

The possibility of getting a university degree in Malawi is something that is very rare.  Since there is only one government school with four sub schools for the entire country, the competition is very intense for the 2200 openings.  Besides these government schools there are about 4 private universities in Malawi, which are also difficult to get into and expensive.  These are only some of the factors that make it difficult to get a university education.  Many children and teens are unable to complete secondary school due to lack of funds and responsibilities at home.  If they are blessed enough to complete their secondary education they have to sit for exams and pass with high enough marks to get them into a national university, and if they score well enough to attend, they have to somehow come up with necessary finances..  The odds are very much against them, and education in this country is truly the key to a brighter future.

Ernest, by the grace of God, hard work, and the help of Safe Haven has completed his secondary education, scored well on his exams, and is hoping to attend university this coming fall.  His top choice for university is a Christian university in California, Azusa Pacific University (APU).  His dream is to become a doctor.  He hopes to help his country with its need for medical doctor specialists.  Malawi has many serious health issues, such as HIV/Aids, malnutrition, high rates of infant and child mortality, and malaria.  There are not many doctors in Malawi—only one physician for every 65,000 people-- and often the ones who are fortunate enough to get their medical degrees end up leaving the country to find better paying jobs in other countries.  Ernest’s story, strength, and

Martha, from Youth Care, posing for her Child Sponsorship shot.

motivation are so inspiring to me.  I am blessed and privileged to have spent so much time with him last week, working through his application and editing his essays.  His desire to serve his country, with a potential degree that could take him to so many levels of what the world would see as “success”, and give to his community touches my heart.  God has given a gift in bringing him to Safe Haven, and he desires to pass along that blessing to others, serving them and bringing glory and honor to God.  I pray that the Lord continues to guide and direct Ernest’s future, and that He will grant his desire to attend Azusa Pacific University.

I spent the long holiday weekend visiting my friends from Rise Malawi in Madisi, Tinashe and Za.  I spent the weekend at Tinashe’s house and attended the Good Friday and Easter Sunday services at her church.  It was wonderful to spend this Easter holiday with friends, experiencing and celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with the local church.  The celebration was incredible, full of songs in Chichewa, praising, and dancing for joy.  Our Easter lunch consisted of pasta with some tomatoes, and some relish.  We sat together on the sitting room floor (since Tinashe does not have a table or chairs), thanked the Lord for his gift of love and salvation, and shared our last meal together.  I said my goodbyes to my family in Madisi, and boarded the bus for the 1 ½ hour ride back to Lilongwe.

Sunday afternoon and Monday were full of more visits with Robert, the director of CCM, and his family at their home.  I was able to catch up with them and stay at their house overnight from Sunday into Monday.  It was so good to see them again; their baby girl, Mercy, is getting so big and growing so quickly.  It was also nice to spend some time with Innocent and Felista, the house helpers who stay at their home and attend high school.  I will miss their family very much.

This week I am working in the office in the mornings and attending the after school program in the afternoon.  I haven’t gotten much done in the office this week due to a nationwide power and water outage for the past 4 days.  We have power again today so I am in a rush to get a lot done before it goes out.  The things we take for granted…!

As I begin my final week here in Malawi, please pray:

-          For Ernest, as he sends in his college application to APU this week.  For the outcome of that application and for his future.

-          For the goodbyes that I will have to say this next week to my family in Malawi.  This is going to be a very difficult week for me.

-          For peace and clarity from the Lord, as I return to the States on May 7th.  That I would be able to process everything that will                 be going through my mind, and that the Lord would guide and direct my every decision and future.

-          For the Sponsorship Program and other development projects that I will be working on with UPI this summer.  That the Lord                  would go ahead of each of these projects and bring them success; that the ministries of Malawi would benefit.