March 30th 2011
Time literally seems to be flying by. Each day is filled with so many wonderful things and I wake up one morning and find myself more than halfway through my time here, with only two sites left. My time with Project TEACH came to a close last Wednesday. I attended my last day at the after school program, finalized some details, gathered the last profiles for the child sponsorship program, took my last pictures, and said goodbye to all the kids and youth leaders. I can’t express to you how hard it is to leave every site. I could see myself staying to serve at any one of these ministries, having grown to love the staff, youth leaders, community, and children, and having left a piece of my heart with each and every one of them. The Project TEACH community was such a blessing to be a part of, and I truly can see the Lord working through the example of that ministry in the community, changing the lives of the people of Mulanje for the better. Project TEACH has a big plan for the future in the establishing of a soccer academy and the growing of the after school program. I hope and pray that the efforts of a child sponsorship program and the other development projects I worked on with them will help accomplish these goals.
I began my journey with Rays of Hope Ministries in Blantyre last Thursday. I moved into Willie’s (the leader of Rays of Hope) house, which serves as both his house and the facility for the youth leader program and ministry space for the feeding program. Willie has taken in a boy from one of the local villages to help him around the house and to provide a space for the boy to live while he attends a local high school. Two of the other youth leaders, Arthur and Isaac, are also living in Willie’s house while I am living here for the next two weeks. I am staying in a small room that is used for storage, with a mattress on the floor and no pillow. Normally I would feel sorry for myself, but knowing that some of the kids we serve sleep on grass mats with no blanket or pillow, I have no reason to complain. Willie’s room doubles as his office, and there are two other “bedrooms”, one used as an office for Arthur (who is a volunteer for Rays of Hope) and in which he and Isaac are sleeping for the time I am here, and the other full of four desktop computers which are used for the youth leader program.
The youth leader program looks a little different here than it does at all the other sites. It is a yearly- based program involving about seven youth from the local community. Willie works closely with the youth as they act as mentors and counselors for the kids and their families in the after school program. They walk together through a computer training and learning course where Willie teaches them the basics of computer knowledge, including programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. They also take part in Bible studies and prayer together, and they participate in evangelism to the local community. Each youth leader is a part of the program for one year only because Willie believes that they should be able to accomplish everything they need to in one year’s time. They are then sent from the program well- equipped to pursue the Lord’s calling on their lives.
The after school program runs Monday through Thursday here at Rays of Hope, and has about 120 kids in attendance. Before the program even starts, about 40 or 50 kids begin to gather at Willie’s house to get lunch. Willie has been fortunate enough to become friends with the director of another ministry in Blantyre, a medical-based hospital ministry called CURE International. CURE had some extra food donations and donated about 20 boxes of a rice and soymeal that the leaders cook and serve to the kids every day, providing lunch for the children who cannot go home for lunch, or whose families do not have enough to feed them lunch. After lunch the kids gather in four classrooms in a schoolhouse that is just a few minutes’ walk from Willie’s house for afternoon tutoring and the after school program. They study subjects such as math, Bible, agriculture, and English and end the afternoon with a fun program of prayer, songs, Bible lessons, and games.
Willie and I will be working on a number of projects together including the development art project and the sponsorship program. He is in the process of preparing for a very important Rotary Club meeting where he is going to try to find some local support for Rays of Hope, and he does not have very many resources prepared. I will be working with him to create a brochure and to get some other important details and promotion pieces in place for these meetings. Willie is doing a very good job at networking within the local community, and has already seen great benefits from his efforts and connections-- one of the advantages of living in the largest city in Malawi.
- Pray for Willie as he is currently suffering from a boil on his leg. It has been causing him a lot of pain and making it difficult for him to walk around. It seems to be getting better, but please pray for continued healing
- Pray for the future of Project TEACH, that the Lord would continue to provide for them, give Sullivan wisdom as he heads up that program and looks to the future. For the potential of a soccer academy and the expansion of the after school program in the community of Mulanje.
- Pray for continued strength from the Lord for all the ministry leaders and myself as we serve the children and youth of Malawi
- Pray for guidance and direction from the Lord in my life as I look to what He has for my future.