My Malawi Gratitude List.

I am seriously in awe that we are exactly one week away from celebrating our one year anniversary of being in Malawi. To celebrate I want to write about Malawi. This week I will give you a glimpse of my gratitude list focusing specifically on Malawi. Next week, I will write about what God has taught me throughout this year.

I could definitely write an entire post about the things we miss back home. Our family, church home, all four seasons, and Muddy’s Pucker Up cupcakes would be at the top of the list. However, there are so many things I am so glad God has brought to us while in Malawi. When we left Memphis one year ago all I could think about was the sacrifice. My head knew that God was going to bless us, but my heart, deceptive and desperately wicked as it is, couldn’t truly believe it. My heart was wrong and God is faithful. These are my “stones of rememberance”.

Malawi Children’s Mission

Malawi Children’s Mission and its wonderful administration and students are what brought us to Malawi. When Josh and I worked with MCM on a short-term trip seven years ago, we knew this organization was special. Thanks to the founders and the staff they’ve chosen MCM is uniquely equipped to meet the physical and spiritual needs of a highly impoverished community. Our position as somewhat of a “resident missionary” allows us to be used uniquely. We get to meet practical needs like picking up supplies to rebuild houses destroyed by flooding. We also get to meet spiritual needs as we teach Scripture through weekly bible assemblies, twice weekly Young Men’s Initiative meetings and Weekly Teacher Discipleship programs. It is such a blessing to experience God working in the lives of these precious children.

 Malawi Children’s Mission has become the exact ministry outlet that Josh and I need in order to grow. Josh and I feel like God wants to use us globally, beyond Malawi. Though we don’t know the details of what that entails, we do know that MCM is our training ground. Just as a football player goes through rigorous pre-season work-outs, we get the joy of working our ministry muscles at MCM. All that we are learning is invaluable. Not only is it training us for more future ministry, it is making us more teachable and Christ-honoring people. I’m forever grateful for the training God continues to give us as we serve at MCM.

Blantyre Community Church

It took us a little while to find Blantyre Community Church, but I am so glad God brought us there. The welcoming community of our church is a true picture of the body of Christ. They preach the truth of Gospel and the infallible Word of God unashamedly. Through monthly church-wide prayer meetings they model the biblical practice of praying for each other, other ministry partners, and the world. Blantyre Community Church made us welcome the minute we walked in. They made our girls feel at home and rekindled a love for meeting together with God’s people in their little spirits. They also offered us a true place to serve. Thanks to our pastor and his wife who have offered us responsibilities, we can use what God has given us to bless others as we work within the church. These are gifts I will forever be grateful for. Thank you God for Blantyre Community Church.

Our Anchor Couples who got us Started

Words cannot express how grateful I am for MCMs directors, Ken and Avisha Mpemba. Without the Mpembas I’m pretty sure we would still be stuck at road traffic, would not be half as safely nestled, and would not have met many amazing people. The guidance they showed us when we first arrived was invaluable. Not only that, but they continue to take us under their wings as ministry partners. This wonderful couple has so much practical wisdom and an incredible heart for the people of Malawi. We are honored to help them advance the kingdom of God.

Dave and Andrea Taylor were the first couple we met in Malawi. They opened their home to us when they allowed complete strangers to stay in their guest wing for two months. Not only did their hospitality afford us the necessary time to establish a home, their love and encouragement went beyond that. Andrea promptly invited me to join her weekly women’s bible study where I was able to meet precious ladies who helped me feel at home. This weekly meeting was the highlight of my week for those first few difficult months. Dave and Andrea were also one of the primary reasons we decided to visit Blantyre Community Church, which they also attend. We are so grateful for the Taylors’ encouragement.

Our Sweet House Help

I hesitate to write about this blessing, because its something very few Americans, myself included, understand. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t set up this “stone”. We have two wonderful paid helpers who live on our property, a gardener and a maid. By hiring these two workers, we are able to provide them a steady income and a roof over their heads. Our maid has been able to use a portion of her salary to pay her grandson’s school fee, less than $15 per semester, so that he can continue his education. We are able to build a relationship with these two precious people in hopes of sharing the Gospel with them as we daily show them the love of Christ. That is the economic and spiritual benefit, but the practical benefit to us is enormous. Life here is far from convenient. The water pressure is too weak so the kids’ clothes must be washed by hand to remove their stains. Everything has to be ironed because there is no dryer and heat kills parasites that could latch on to fabric during the drying process. We don’t have a dishwasher so everything is done by hand. Dust accumulates so quickly sweeping and mopping is often a twice-daily task. If I tried to take on all of this and more I would be rendered ineffective both in my mothering and our ministry. We are so thankful that although we are thousands of miles away from family, we have faithful helpers to rely on.

A Safe and Healthy Birth Experience

Though having a baby in a third-world country is completely out of my comfort zone, I obeyed God and I am so glad I did. God proved himself faithful by providing a precious American doctor who took ample time to do her research on me and my conditions. Though the hospital I had Jack at was far from plush, it was sterile and competently staffed. God placed just the right group of people in that delivery room to walk with me through each contraction. I’m forever grateful for how God sustained me and gave me a healthy baby boy who did not require any emergency care. He is so good!

Our Home

God has blessed us with a home that truly makes us feel “at home”. We have a caring and generous landlord who has welcomed us with open arms. We have a guest room ready for anyone who gets to come experience the wonderful country of Malawi with us. Our property is walled and provides a safe haven for our family. However, we would be poor stewards of what God has given us if we allowed this home to merely be our safe haven. It is also our base of ministry. We are able to host weekly bible studies, invite couples into our home, and serve others by opening our doors. God truly gave us a wonderful ministry tool when He gave us our home.

Working Internet

I think back just a few decades ago and imagine how much more difficult international missionary life would have been. Thank God for technological advancements that allow us to see live videos of our family across the world. Social media keeps us informed on our friends’ lives so that we can join them in prayer. Blogs, newsletters, and social media allows us to keep our prayer supporters up to date on what is happening with our ministry. What a blessing to live in this day of technology and a country where I have access to internet, however fickle it may be.

There are many, MANY, more blessings I could attribute to Malawi. This only scratches the surface! I’ll cover some of the biggest blessings next week, because the greatest blessings He has given me here are the lessons I’ve learned.

When I think about how I was feeling a year ago, I completely understand my fears. However, I wish I had done more listening to the Holy Spirit and His tender call to trust, rather than my unstable emotions. My God is always faithful and gives good gifts, even when my emotions try to tell me otherwise.