Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Malawian Reflections

As you know, Debbie returned from Malawi at the end of July. She led a Visionledd team to work alongside Somebody Cares. The team was involved in speaking and ministering to literally hundreds of women, working with children, and being pastors to the staff and volunteers who work with Somebody Cares.

When Debbie is in Malawi, she is not just a team leader - she also serves as a "cultural translator" and a liaison between Somebody Cares and the other teams that come from Canada and the USA. Somebody Cares considers Debbie part of their family, and so some of her time is spent helping North American teams understand what good relationships and effective ministry look like in rural Malawi. Sometimes it is the "little things" she knows and shares that can make a big difference and help a team be effective.

Here are some thoughts from Debbie after being home from Malawi for almost a week.

Here I am again sitting at my desk in my quiet, comfortable home and yet in my head and heart I am still in far away Malawi, with the requisite short term mission team uniform on – my jeans, t-shirt and a beautiful, African print cloth wrapped around my waist, and worn like a skirt. I’m riding in a van over very pitted, pot-hole filled, bumpy, dusty dirt roads, packed in with my Malawian friends who have become very dear to me.

One of them is Mary who leaves home while it is still dark, taking her daily, many miles long, bicycle ride so she can be on-time for the 7:30 am staff devotions and work at the office of Somebody Cares. She calls me “my Debbie” and I call her “my Mary”.

There’s Miss Theresa who has been a school teacher for over 20 years to local children in Malawi and has now retired and works for Somebody Cares. Theresa recently lost her dear husband Felix, also a dear friend of ours, who died last year, in a matter of a few days, because of Cerebral Malaria. Both women are very capable, loving and patient but are quite able to “give it back” when the teasing and joking begins.

There are 17 staff on the Somebody Cares team, and every one of them has a story filled with sorrow and sacrifice. Yet despite their "trials and tribulations" they find joy in serving orphans and vulnerable children, widows, the elderly and those infected and affected by the scourge of AIDS. The time we have travelling in the vans, give us opportunities to get to know these precious people. It takes some gentle prodding but they will share with you if you ask them and they sense you are genuinely interested and care for them.

Over my past six visits I have come to think of the leaders and staff of Somebody Cares as my second family. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to seeing them each time I make the journey to the other side of the world. Once I get arrive there’s a lot of hugs and hand slapping which is a version of "high fiving" and saying a long drawn out aaaaayyy in that Malawian/African way.

Some people have admired me for the "sacrifice" I am making by going to Africa. The truth is -- it's not a sacrifice. It's a privilege to walk and work alongside my African family in caring for the poor, the widow and the orphan.

I can't wait to go back!

The Fall

The fall is going to be a very busy time for us with a lot of travel. Between September 1 and November 30 one or both of us will be in Washington DC; Austin, Texas; Capetown, South Africa; Malawi and Burkina Faso. All of these trips relate to our work with Visionledd. In our next update, we'll give you some details.

Karl will also continuing working at his new part-time job as the Director of Justice Ministries at Mission Community Church in Gilbert. We've been friends of Mission Church for 3 years. Karl introduced them to Somebody Cares in 2007, and as Mission and Somebody Cares have formed a partnership, we've served as advisors and consultants along the way. Our ministry with Mission Church doesn't change what we are doing with Visionledd, Somebody Cares, Vigilance or our church and ministry partners here in North America -- in fact we see lots of opportunities to create synergy between Visionledd and Mission Church -- in Africa and perhaps even beyond.

We are also thrilled that Donovan and Hyesun are back with us after a year of living in Korea. Hyesun will be studying at Mesa Community College this fall, while Donovan continues working part-time as a web-programmer and begins the "home-stretch" on his degree in Software Engineering. It's simply great to have them back with us!

Thank you so much for your continued friendship, prayer and support. We are so grateful for the fact that you are standing with us in helping North American churches walk alongside those in Africa who are ministering to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, widows, orphans and vulnerable children.

We would encourage you to check out the Visionledd Facebook page. You don't have to be a member of Facebook to see the updates, photos and videos. Just click Here.

No comments: