Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Update

Dear Friends and Family,
I hope you’re enjoying this Christmas season as much as I am. As some of you know, I was able to make it home this year to South Florida for three weeks to celebrate Christmas with my family! The commercialized Christmas traditions are very different compared to humble Lilongwe, Malawi. Since I have been a terrible communicator this semester, I wanted to recap what has been happening lately with my ministry in Malawi.
I inherited a new group of students for my first grade class this year. Some of the most exciting things so far have included getting started on our Accelerated Reading program, going on a field trip to the new parliament building, baking bread, learning how to rap (taught by some college students, not me;), dressing up for reading day, learning to swim, performing various songs and skits for chapel, making Joseph’s coat of many colors, and many others. I love interacting with my students from this year and last. As time goes on, we seem to create a closer bond and I like to call us a little family.
I’m continuing my children’s ministry at Senza Village that I started last year. Our team of 3 goes every Saturday to teach a Bible lesson, sing worship songs, and play a game or two. The church that was started last year has been without a building since it began. The village and I decided that if they make the bricks and put up the walls, then I will put up a proper roof. After working for over 2 months, the people of Mafungulo Baptist Church finished the bricks and put up the church walls. I bought and delivered the iron sheets and lumber necessary to put up the roof as well as found people to build it. After about a week, the roof was up and the building was ready to be used as a place of worship. Attendance has increased from 132 to 298 members. Now, they can worship without the sun or the rain making them uncomfortable. I was encouraged by a letter written by the chiefs saying that the children have been reciting the weekly verses for fun.
I volunteered to be the “assistant director” of the school Christmas Program at the beginning of the year. I didn’t realize at the time how much work this would involve, even after watching my mom do it for so many years. I organized 200 costumes for the kids, 84 costumes for my ballet girls, as well as choreographed 4 of the 5 ballet dances. The kids did a beautiful job.
I have been having fun this semester getting to know the college students better and learning more about Malawians in the process. God is doing incredible things with their lives! I can’t wait to see what he does when some of them graduate in June.
Thank you so much for all of your prayer and support throughout this semester. I cannot tell you how much of a difference prayer makes in my attitude, patience, and health as well as the lives of those I work with. I pray often that God will use me for his glory with the kids he has put in my path. Please remember the kids of ABC and the kids of Senza village; that they will know the true meaning of Christmas.
Grace and Peace,
Whitney


Click to enlarge picture

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Crazy Week

Muli Bwangi!

So many things have been going on and I wanted to share all of the details. I can honestly say that I had my busiest week of my entire life last week. The first couple days were stressful and I felt like tears could pour down my cheeks at any moment. But, as the week went on and I finished more projects, it got better and I got to see some cool things happen.

First of all, the Christmas show is coming. This means we need ballet costumes! It also means, that since we can't easily get pre-made costumes here, we have to get them made by a tailor. So last week the tailor and I measured 90 girls, collected the money, and went shopping for fabric. The fabric stores are in down town Lilongwe which is CRAZY driving for me. Too many people surrounding my car for my own comfort. They tailor and I worked out an agreement that whatever we don't spend on material is her income. That wasn't a smart move on my part because now she wants to make very small costumes with no sleeves and cheap material. Darn. But we purchased the fabric and we have worked out the designs. Most are angels with lace wings and satin dresses. I really hope they turn out ok. I will have to be calling her every couple of days to make sure she is getting the work done since it is only 3 weeks from the show.

Next, I threw a surprise party for my roommate. She turned 22! WOOHOO! I do love parties, even in Africa;-)

On Friday after school, Khuzwayo and I ventured out to begin the process of building the village church. I'm so proud of them! If you don't know, Khuzwayo, Katie, and I have lead a village ministry with the kids almost every Saturday. Last year they asked for a church building and I told them I just was concerned with the hearts of the children. Then, they built a temporary small grass church.

After coming back after Summer break I felt like God would want me to help them get the church they dream of having. It is something they have never had and with their new faith, I feel like they should have one. They know I come to bring the gospel, so now I feel like it would be ok to help them out with this. I told them that if they put up the bricks, then i will put on the roof. The roof is the part that they cannot afford on their own. They made all of the bricks themselves and called as soon as they put them all up. I'm not gonna lie, it sorta reminds me of the gingerbread houses I used to build when I was little. A little crooked, a little funny looking, but they are proud!

So My Friday was filled with shopping for the materials. We got 36 large iron sheets, LOTS of LONG wooden beams, nails, wire, termite paint stuff, and the top roof ridge. I've also hired some carpenters to do the job. They are great because they are staying in the village until they are finished because I don't have time to give them transportation everyday.

The REAL story is actually quite interesting.
We were pretty excited to start


After school on Friday, Khuzwayo and I met up with Pastor Noah Banda and the truck driver. The truck driver was an answer to my prayers because we had no way of getting the huge materials to the village without him. He offered to take the day off from his job to help and only required gas money. We took my car as well so that we could all fit. Our first trip all the way out of town was unsuccessful because they didn't have the right iron sheets. Our second attempt was a success and they loaded what we needed onto the truck.

Still in a good mood, thinking we were almost finished.....


Then, it was time to get the wooden beams. Oh those wooden beams. This is when I miss Home Depot. We had to go across town again and into a village where we could get them for cheap. The men loaded the wood onto the truck but couldn't seem to get them on right. They worked and worked. Took some down, and worked again. After over an hour and some lifesaving cokes I happened to have in my car, we seemed ready to go.
All loaded up

We drove about 5 minutes down the road at about 10MPH. The truck driver pulled onto the side of the road and told us he couldn't balance his truck because of the weight. It was also making one of his tires flat. Some truck huh;-) So thankfully, here in Malawi they have pick up trucks for "hire" on the sides of the roads for people who need to transport things but don't have a car. I drove back and hired someone to drive the pick up truck to our flatbed and load half of the wood onto it.


It was dark and the men needed light. I decided to turn off my car but shine my lights on them. Well, after about 15 minutes of this, I suddenly had a smartness attack (they don't come often obviously), and went to check the car. The battery was dead. Meanwhile, the truck drivers, pastor, Khuzwayo, and a few passerbyers were finishing reloading all of the wood. It had taken so much longer already that the first truck driver had to get headache medicine. He only has one eye due to cancer (eye cancer?) and needed something for the pain. He went to go get medicine while the other guys did everything in their power to get my car working again. Then, the new pick up truck driver needed petrol so I gave him money to pick some up around the corner. And THANKFULLY they had some around the corner because nobody has had it lately.
You tired yet?

So, Once all of these issues got settled, a couple hours later, we were on our way at a fast pace of about 15MPH. We made it to the village road (a couple miles long) when I started driving over wood. We stopped and had to reload. It happened again. We reloaded. And again. and Again. So, the men decided we needed a new plan and took all of them off the trucks and started again in a way that made a lot more sense. They wouldn't let me help because I'm a girl so I sat in a dark car at 10PM in the middle of villages not knowing what would happen next.

After about an hour of reloading, we started again and only had to stop 2 more times. We finally got there about 11PM.

But wait, its not over.

I had promised the men dinner earlier because I thought we would get back around 5... Riiiight.

So they still needed dinner and I took them to the only place open. We went in, got food to go, went out to the cars to go our separate ways, and my car wouldn't start again...

Once again, the men did everything in their power to start it againa nd I had to rev the engine for about 10 minutes. I wish I knew something about cars.

Saturday, I went to drop off some more small materials at the village. I couldn't stay because I called extra ballet rehearsals to finish our dances. I felt so relieved once they were finished!

Then, my small group had an outreach at my house. We hosted Malawian girls for a game/movie/chitchat/eat lots of food time. I had fun and I hope they did too!

Monday, I went to the village after school thinking I was going to help build! They're not too keen on girls doing that sort of thing, even though I wore my tennis shoes and long skirt!
The church with the beams up on Monday

I ended up starting a game of duck duck goose with the kids, fell on my knees, and scraped them like a kid. Haha how old am I?

Please Pray for:

  • The church building. I feel a little helpless because I don't have time until Saturday to visit them again and see how they're doing with it.

  • The Christmas show to come together quickly.

  • All of my sweet students: First grade and ballet.

I thank God that he has blessed me with such opportunities here.

I am also thankful that he has given me a wonderful church family that gives me so much prayer support. I am continually blessed by your comments reminding me you're praying. I was reminded this week of why I am here. I began the week relying on my own strength and not seeing how I would get anything finished. God gave me this verse from 1 Corinthians 13:3:

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but
don't have love, I gain nothing.

It is not worth it to do anything we consider "good" if the condition of our heart is not right.
I pray daily for the condition of my heart to be right. Give FIRST to the Lord.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A monthly update

Its been a long time. Sorry for that. Since my last post lots of things have happened but here are the highlights:

Last month was Reading Day.
Reading day is a day completely devoted to reading. I have been reading Pippi Longstocking to my kids so that is who I dressed up as. I ended up winning the girl teacher costume award! yay! I took the wires out of my hair half way through the day after I poked one of my barnacle like kids in the eye. Nothing bad happened, thank goodness! When I got home I desperately wanted to wash my hair but the water was only dripping out of the shower. I bucket washed it and it took me about 5 shampoo's and over an hour to get the red out. It was worth it!

I was also a part of a readers theater with some of the other teachers and played Baby Bear.


When I arrived back in August I found that the Chinchen's dedicated the old preschool room to my ballet classes! We have a couple mirrors and 2 of the barres I had made last year. I got 2 more 12foot ballet barres made and painted. Now it's feeling more like a ballet studio! I am currently working on choreographing 4 dances and teaching them for the Christmas show.


The Christmas show........
I am busy getting details ready for the show coming in only 7 weeks. My biggest job right now is figuring out angel costumes for 300 students. Something I have no experience doing. I am also working on making the flyer so that the students can have a design contest. I will choose a couple of cute ones and display them around campus. Then, the winner will be used as the program for the show.

The village program is going well! They have finished making the bricks for the church and just began putting them up. In a couple of weeks I hope they will be ready for us to put on a roof. I am praying that someone shows up in my life that can guide me through this process in a way to not confuse me completely. I am hoping to ask my growth group when it gets closer to the time to help me with this.


My growth group is a small group from my local church. We meet at my house every Monday night and discuss the sermon from Sunday. We also pray and share. I've enjoyed getting to know the people in my group and doing outreaches with them.

We are planning to do a girls outreach in a couple of weeks. We will invite the girls basketball team to my house for a chick flick and FOOD. I'm hoping we'll get a good response and can make some more girls feel welcome at the church.

Parent teacher conferences are this week. I will meet with each parent to discuss their child's report card. This is NOT my favorite time of the year, but I know it is needed.

It is getting HOT. I seemed to have forgotten how hot it was before the rains start. I'm hoping they start soon to give some relief to my hard working students. We call all become a bit grouchy when we're sweating through our clothes during math. I have a hard time staying after school when all I want to do is jump in the pool!


Chop-chops and roaches are in full bloom around here. We have killed 2 chop-chops already in the last couple of weeks. These are gross spider/crab things that I have never seen anywhere but here.


I just wanted to update you on how things are going. Please pray that all of the details are completed for the Christmas show! Pray for my sanity through it and that the kids will learn so much more then how to act and sing on key. Please pray for myself as a teacher. That I would be able to teach the information in a clear and fun way that they can all understand and remember. Almost all of the kids have moved up their reading score drastically since the first day of school!

I hope everyone on the other side of the world is having a fantastic Fall!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meet the New Kids

Here's the Happy New First Graders!
(Vanndel)

(Nzeru)




(Tabene)
( Sibonani)



(Emmanuella)
(Al-baatin, AKA: Bubba)
(Dominique)









Saturday, September 4, 2010

Update

I just got back from Senza Village! I was my first time back since I've been back in Malawi. I've been trying to get settled in my classroom and in my new home before starting our Saturday treks to the village. About 50-60 kids showed up (the regulars) and were eager to hear about the gospel. Our two Malawian friends who go with us, Khuzwayo and Chisomo, were talking to the adults while Katie and I waited in the little church with the kids. Katie and I decided that we know the songs, why not start one? So we began the song and the children sang right along to Palibe Ofana. After that, Chisomo told the story of the Good Samaritan while we acted it out. Next, I told the kids about sin and asked them who has sinned. They all agreed that they are mean to each other everyday. I explained forgiveness and Christ's salvation and we prayed that Jesus would come into our hearts. I don't know how many understand but it is not about me understanding anyway. It frustrates me when I can't tell what they're staying and can't quite get a feel for what they understand. I told about my frustration to a man that I met at the end who trains men in the village to pastor the new church. He reminded me that it doesn't matter if I win hearts. My job is to tell them the Truth, and God will do the rest. That made my day so I wanted to share it with you! Don't worry about feeling like you've done a good job. All you must do is tell the gospel, and God will speak to the hearts of those he has chosen. I'm so glad he does that because otherwise, I would feel like a failure! God is so much more mighty in my eyes when I realize my need for him in every aspect in my life. So you can imagine, being in Malawi really opens my eyes to his power!

Please pray for the people of Senza village. They have 5,500 bricks made for their new church building. They're working to have 15,000 before rainy season starts in a couple months. After those are ready, we are working out how to get cement and sheet metal for the rest of the church. Please pray for God to give me wisdom and for him to be involved in everything we do at the village. I know that it is bound to become disastrous if I am in charge.

Back to School Night is on Monday night. I've been working hard getting everything prepared for it but am still nervous to present to the 2 groups of parents.

Ballet has started and my classes are overflowing with eager little ballerinas! ABC has a new studio for our classes. I am busy getting more barres made for it.

Thank the Lord for the great year ahead of me! He has answered my prayers and brought fun and kind staff this year and I am hopeful for what this year will bring!
Thanks for your prayers!

John 3:30
He must become greater; I must become less.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rats on a Stick



Yummmmy! I finally made my way to the side of the road to buy a mouse on a stick. They were much smaller then I always imagined them. Not really any meat on there. The tails were really gross and they still had all their teeth. I was told the fur gets singed off but there was definitely lots of fur left. Of course I ate one..:-)




My neighbors saw me walking up with the rats (I was about to use them for my 3rd prank of the day) and they wanted to eat them. I was shocked when their moms got their video cameras and told their boys to take a big bite! Something is definitely right about those rats or the moms wouldn't let them eat them. Part of a balanced diet of course.

We asked what it tasted like and he said salty chicken. Notice the appropriate t-shirt.

One of the best parts is the way they are clamped onto the stick. They split the stick, shoved the little mice between it at the neck, then closed it tight with a string. And bada-bing, you've got Mickey in rigamortis. Glad I could share the experience with you all. Come visit!:-D

Monday, April 19, 2010

Servant

If anyone knows me at all, they probably know that I can probably relate a conversation topic to a song- whether I learned it when I was 3, or if it was on Y100 yesterday. This very rarely comes in handy except to annoy people who want to just have a conversation without me breaking into a diddy.

I've been thinking about what I will do in the future a lot lately. I have committed to a second year here at ABC, but am looking for what I will do after that. Perhaps still in Africa. Teaching, I've realized, is not very self gratifying. There is always something I could have done better, and always something I still need to do. I have thought about working with street kids. I know they need help, but am still not quite sure how. I’ve thought about creating my own ministries to start something new.
So, I was listening to my Kids Music playlist on Itunes the other day to find a song to teach my students, and a Doughnut Man song came on. Gotta love good ol' Doughnut Man:-) His song "I Wanna Be Great" came on and it struck me.
I wanna be great,
I wanna be super, absolutely wonderfully great!
James and John were hangin’ around, fightin’ over who was the best, but Jesus said you want a crown on your head? Well this will be the test, listen carefully: ‘if you want to be made great by the Lord well then you've got to be the servant of all!’

This is what I've been missing. I've been trying to think of what I can start or do that is new and that they don't have in Africa that is needed. Jesus says, just be a servant. Sometimes those aren't the jobs that are in the spotlight or make you feel good, but they have to do with your love. Tim Keller said:
“It ain’t ministry unless it is being dictated to you by someone else.”

When it comes to my future, I can do all I want to make a "difference" in Africa, but it’s not right if we’re doing it on our own terms. Only when you do it as a servant, is it pleasing to God. I cannot be a disciple of God if I don't execute what God wants me to do.
This song has been stuck in my head all day long so I finally decided to write it on my blog.

The greatest among you will be your servant, For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Victoria Falls


I DID IT! That’s right, I laughed at the face of danger, I defied gravity, I purposefully did one of the dumbest things I have ever dared to do, I BUNGI JUMPED 111 meters (364 feet) off of Victoria Falls in Zambia! The video wont work so here are some pictures. I'll work on getting the video up.


5,4,3,2,1, BUNGI! (push)

Notice my dirty little foot slipping through

I wouldn't have been able to do it without Vicki


Was it fun? Umm… No. Will I recommend it to a friend? Ummm… NO. Will I do it again? Ummm NO! But I’m so happy I got it out of my system. The girl before me tore her ACL and couldn't walk off by herself. My head felt like it was going to burst open any second and I knew it might when my arm started to go numb. You can see in some close up pictures that my left foot was beginning to slip through the rope. I have the bruise to prove it!
I also was able to stay with my beloved friend from college who lives in Lusaka, Zambia. What a blessing to meet up with that wonderful girl!
I got there by bus. 12 hours of bumpy, stinky, bus travel. Don’t get me wrong, it was worth it!

This was the "bathroom" that costs 1,000 Zambian Kwacha to use.

After arriving in Lusaka and eating at SUBWAY (one of the highlights of the trip), we took a 7 hour bus trip to the falls in Livingstone. It is the rainy season so it was impossible to see the falls anywhere but this one point from the side.

Before we were soaked

The rest was like walking through the waterfall, even though it was only mist creating the monsoon.

After we walked beside the falls

The next day we drove about an hour to Botswana to go on a river/land safari. We saw SO many elephants and giraffe. It was awesome!

I had the Toys R Us song stuck in my head after I saw these guys



There had to have been at least 50 elephants

The next day we went back to Lusaka and saw a movie and saw what other types of ministries in Africa can look like. We returned back on another 12 hour bus trip making that 41 hours in all on a stanky bus. I don't miss it.

Now as I prepare to finish up my year with 9 weeks left of school, I can rejoice! He has made me glad!

“The heavens declare you are God and the mountains rejoice!
The Oceans cry Hallelujah as we worship you Lord!”


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jesus is in Heaven!




I have so much to blog because I haven’t in so long!
The staff at ABC wanted to make Easter week a memorable one for the students. Easter is why we do what we do. It is why we sing songs in chapel, it is why we learn scripture, it is why we love Jesus. We love him because he first loved us. Each day of the last week before Easter break was made special by an ABC college student teaching our Bible lesson. This was followed by a craft. I am not patient enough to do a fun craft everyday of the week so this was a special treat. The teachers thought it would be fun to get balloons and helium for the last day before Easter break. The plan was to let them go up to heaven to remind us that Jesus not only died for us, but he also rose again and ascended into heaven. As the day approached, we realized it would be much harder to get helium then we thought. We sent out a flyer to all of the parents asking if they had any idea where we could find it. Thank goodness, a parent knew where to find some helium. As we handed out the balloons to the anxious children, I realized from their amazed faces that this treat was more special then I thought. Only 2 children from my class had ever seen a balloon float before. Sure they’ve seen balloons before, but none that they had to hold on too to keep it from flying away. I was struck by their kindness when a preschooler didn’t have a balloon and most of my students volunteered to share theirs. They were told to keep quiet because the big kids were having their chapel not too far away, but they couldn’t contain their enthusiasm for very long. They watched the balloons ascend into the clouds, and, up to God just like Jesus did.

During Easter week I had my students write about why it is important that Jesus rose from the dead. They all had answers that said it is important because it saves me from my sins. But these two were my favorite:

Why is important that Jesus rose? It is important because he will
save us and he can't save us wen he is dead thats why.
~Johanna

It is important because he wanted to save our sins and he also wanted to save the bag guys.~ Alicia

Alicia failed to remember our discussion that sin makes us all bad guys, but I love the fact that she understands that Christ came for the ungodly. Something we have talked about alot.


Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord- that you alone are the most high over all the earth. Psalm 83:18

video

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Once apon a muddy road

Once apon a time, I tried to go to the village with a couple of Malawian college students to ministry to the kids. We were hopefull, even though last time we tried the car broke. It was a beautiful day! The sun was shining and the Africans were out and about.
Shortly after beginning our journey, we came to a hole in the "road" filled with water and surrounded by thick mud. After careful deliberation, I proceded to go through the mud at about 2 Kelometers an hour.

After bumping along very slowly for a while, we came to a village! It must be market day!


OOOO AHHHH look at all that cool stuff! Lets go shopping!



There was a problem though. There was a huge ditch through the middle of the road and blankets of merchandise spread out along the "good" part of the road. I don't think they were expecting any guests.




People gathered around as I stopped and started in my standard car. "AZUNGU!" they shouted. (white person) I gave a wave and a wink then got back to business.


They seemed confused why I couldn't get the car through. They all had advice to give, even though most have never driven a car.



Cooswayo directed me on safe ground... sorta. I accidently ran over some pants someone was selling on the road. Thats right. Not next to the road, ON the road.




It is hard driving under pressure. Bright got out of the car and bought snacks as we tried to make our way through.


We have already turned around a couple of times and this is our last road to try. It doesn't look so bad............
And then we came to THIS. I stopped dead in my tracks and tried to process a way to get through the huge muddy potholes.


Bright went to survey the land to see if it was safe to cross. Of course, he said there's nothing to it. All you have to do is put one tire in the hole and the other on the hard ground and you'll be FINE. RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.


After about 30 minutes of debate, everyone walking around in the mud, and about 30 Malawians stopping to help on their way by, I decided it is not safe to boud through the muddy ditches. I made a three point turn in the tobacco field and headed on home.
On the way back we saw some of the woman and children from the village we tried to go to so they knew we tried. It was a crazy day which took about 5 hours.
We will try again next week so I guess you could say this story is to be continued.