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The Mission

God has called us, Luke and Jamie, to take the Gospel of Christ and the hope of His saving grace to a people group in Malawi, Africa that is currently unreached (does not have a significant movement of Christ). He has asked us to use our gifts to work with and disciple children, raising up a hope-filled generation devoted to Christ and actively sharing their faith and hope with others. Though we alone are not able to accomplish this task, we know that through the partnership of individuals, families, and church bodies, Christ will work through all of us together to accomplish His task.

Thank you to those that have already joined this partnership. You are an encouragement to us. If you would like to join us, please send us a note or click on the link above to donate.

Family and America -by Jamie

A very common question that people ask us is, “What is the thing you miss the most about America when you are in Malawi?” The top answer is always family and friends. It was so amazing getting off of the airplane and giving my mom and Dan, my step-dad, a great big hug. We even got to see some of my nephews and my sister and brother-in-law that day.

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(Mark was so sleepy from traveling he slept through dinner)

It had been such a very long time since I had lived with my mom and Dan, I wasn’t sure how it would go. But it was an amazing blessing and I will treasure those 3 months. I am so glad that we got to do life with them.

We were able travel a little bit and go to Lafayette and Camp Tecumseh a few times, but pregnancy and a newborn limited our travels. We were not able to sit down with all the people we had hoped but we were able to connect with many dear friends of ours.

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(Having Christmas with family a few weeks late)

Another common question is, “What is your favorite restaurant or store that you missed?” I have a hard time picking just one, but now that we are back in Malawi I would say that I miss the convenience and variety of America. I miss just being able to go to the store and get whatever you want or go to the grocery store and get what we are hungry for that day. I miss just being able to run through a drive through when it has been a long day. Or having lots and lots of options of restaurants to eat at. Just to show an example. Luke went shopping today and in 3 stores he could not find any sugar, flour, or bread. They probably will have it tomorrow but there was one time we couldn’t find ranch dressing anywhere for over 3 months. At my mom’s house we had a recliner in our room and Aaron loves to rock. Someone gave us some money and we were excited to buy one here. We looked at over 10 stores we could not find one that was not part of a set. So then we had to go to 3 different carpenters to have one made. It won’t be a recliner but it will be a rocking chair and it will take 3 weeks to get.

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(These dear partners drove 2.5 hours just to see us)

Our calendar was very busy. We had a speaking engagements almost every Sunday and many throughout the week. This was a blessing to us to be able to share about our time in Malawi with so many people. We were able to meet so many new and amazing people and share our hearts with them. It was also neat to see Luke grow in his presentation and speaking ability. When you do so many of them you get pretty good by your 8th presentation.

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In a previous blog post, Love Comes Softly, I talked about not really loving Malawi yet. While we were in America, I was giving a presentation to a wonderful group of ladies that made us many blankets and outfits for an orphanage here in Malawi. While I was giving the presentation and showing them pictures of our time in Malawi. My eyes filled with tears and in that moment, I realized how much I did love it here, how much this was my home, and how I really couldn’t wait to get back. I think sometimes you don’t know how much you love something until it is no longer in your life. I was blessed by my trip back to America to help me realize how very much that I love my new home of Malawi.

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God has grown our faith so much on this journey. But I have to admit there are some days I wonder if enough money will come in this month. Sometimes I pick fights with Luke because I am struggling with the budget. I admit when going to America I had a few specific items that I prayed would be met by our partners. Mark is in a good school but there is a better school we felt he should attend for his academic growth but it was not in our budget. People had given so much we just didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask for more money. We were sitting down with a couple and they handed us some money and said we feel the Lord is asking us to give this amount of money to you and it to meet a specific need. It was the exact amount we needed to send Mark to this new school. Over and over again the Lord continues to meet our needs. This is just one of the amazing stories. We could share so many more. We are now fully funded for 2017, we still need to raise 20% more for 2018, but for this year our needs are met. For me, I feel like God wants me to fully trust him and then he meets my need, when I am fully content then I don’t have to trust him as much.


Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62: 5-6 


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While we were in the U.S. we were able to see Mark get baptized and publicly announce his dedication to the Lord.

We want to thank everyone so much for their amazing kindness to our family and friends while we were home. We have so many people that graciously gave to us in so many ways that we will never be able to repay. We were able to recharge now and again are raising up a hope-filled generation in Malawi that are devoted to Christ and actively sharing their faith and hope with others.

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Planes

We went to the airport on December 30th, 2016 excited, nervous, and ready for refreshment. There were so many people that we were sad to leave, but we were excited to meet our little Aaron and to see family and friends we hadn’t seen in so long.

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What is it like traveling in through an airport with kids and pregnant, and on the return trip, with a baby. Well it is challenging and just exhausting when you travel for 2 straight days. But one of the greatest things that I have learned in this last year of my life is patience. If you have 14 hours in an airport why hurry. On our way back to Malawi we spent 3 hours letting the kids sleep not even 100 feet from our arrival gate (D47). A year ago, I would have never done that, but why rush, just go with the flow, catch up on a book, take a needed stretch and we will proceed later.

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Miriam struggles with extreme anxiety. Any change or different activity is really hard on her. It takes all the energy that she has to accomplish this task. Let’s just say flying is so hard on her. Weeks before we board the plane she is a nervous wreck. But every plane flight we are so very proud of her. She shows me daily how even though something may be hard, you can do it. On the way back we had a few tears during take offs but we hold her hand and pray and sing and we get through it.

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Mark is very into airplanes right now and enjoyed showing everyone his KLM plane. The head stewardess on one of the flights was very excited and took him to sit in the pilot’s seat and see first class. He was beyond excited about that.

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Traveling 33 weeks pregnant I would not recommend for anyone, let’s just say I got through it and slept for a very long time once we arrived in the states. You never know how much you miss a nice bed until you haven’t had one for so long. Aaron did so well on the flight back, he cried some and there were some rocky moments but for the long travel he did an amazing job.

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Upon exiting the airplane in Malawi, a couple of our friends were waiting and were cheering when we exited the plane. It felt good to be back at home. We wanted to run to see them but we had to go through passport control and then get our luggage. The process of getting Aaron in the country was a little different than we expected, so we had to fill out some paperwork.

Our last airplane was a little smaller, so we had checked our carry-on baggage. We all went to the luggage pick-up to wait for our huge array of checked and carry-on luggage. And we waited. And we waited. Then we were told all the luggage from our flight been offloaded. We were standing there with…

no luggage,…

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not a single piece arrived. All we had were our personal items. Let’s just say there was a little bit of sheer panic that coursed through us. Here we are, we just traveled 46 hours with our 3 kids. In the carry-ons were my glasses, contacts, and all of Mark’s new toys. Mark is in full tears and I am wondering how do I get a new pair of glasses.

But God is good, we had clothes here, all our electronics were in our personal items, and Aaron’s personal item was a fully stocked diaper bag. All 18 pieces of our luggage came 2 days later. Hopefully that will be an experience that we never repeat.

At our house, we received very warm greetings from many of the neighbors. The smiles and hugs were a great welcome.

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Sorry for the long silence on the blog. We thank you for your prayers and will post again soon.

We are doing well and excitedly starting our ministries again.

The Heart of Christmas – by Jamie

Today as I was listening to music I came across a song called “The Heart of Christmas” by Matthew West, I became overwhelmed. The holidays without family is really hard. In my 36 years I have never spent this long without seeing my mom and my siblings. Some days it feels like part of my heart has just been misplaced. But when I hear that song I get to see how this Christmas, this year has been so very special, it fills in that gap just a little bit.

Last year with just arriving Christmas was focused on making sure our kids still had a Christmas and didn’t feel so misplaced. This year it has been filled with our whole family coming together to make Christmas special for some very special people in our lives.

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For the last several months Luke and I have had the wonderful privilege of teaching a preschool class once a week to orphans and kids that live in the village, I will post a blog about it soon. It has been a joy to see the kids and how they just can’t wait to give you a hug, just because you took time to spend time with them. There are around 140 kids that attend the preschool. We teach 80 kids one week and 60 kids the next. Even though there are a lot of them we wanted to do something special for them. As a family we stuffed 150 bags filled with a car, a dinosaur, a bag of chips, and some candy.

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When we handed them the gift I thought, “Wow they don’t seem to really enjoy it. They aren’t even opening them.” But then I realized that most of them were holding this gift like Gold. They didn’t tear into it, they just held it with smiling eyes. For that moment I feel like God touched them with the gift of knowing that they are greatly loved.

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We also still go to a local orphanage of around 30 kids on a weekly basis and continue to teach them about the love of Christ. We really wanted to do something special for them so we had them write down the 3 things they wanted most for Christmas. We thought we might spend a dollar or two to get them one of the items. When Luke and I got home, we read the lists and we broke down in tears. We were expecting things on the list like toys or special items to place in their room, since their rooms are bare. But on the list there was not a single kid that wrote down a toy other than a soccer ball. They all wanted school backpacks, shoes, clothes, and food. Luke and I prayed about it and decided to spend a little extra on them then we originally planned.

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The next few weeks we spent finding the best prices on as many of those items as we possible could. This was an experience in its self that is filled with many stories. We filled the bags with as many things in those price ranges that we could, plus candy and toys for the little kids and journals and notebooks for the older children.

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December 20th was the party.  Mark and Luke had worked hard coming up with special games and Mimi and I baked lots and lots of homemade cookies for them. That day was a day of joy. That day was a day that I really realized that Christmas is about giving. God gave his only son, Jesus, to save us, so in remembrance of that we should give to others.

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The kids laughed and sang songs and had so much fun for those 3 hours. Then we passed out the gifts. They were overwhelmed with joy. Some of the kids were saying that they have never owned a new pair of shoes. They again quickly took their gifts back to their rooms as if they were treasures from the Lord.

We received this thank you from the director at the Grace of God orphanage. We wanted to post this because we may be the hands and feet here but without everyone’s prayers and giving we could not do what we do. So take this thank you as something that you are a part of also.

“We would like to express our gratitude for all your hard work and the relationships between your family and Grace of God’s children plus staff. You have inspired taught and encouraged, you guys have lived life with us and we know it takes a lot and that’s why we are thankful for all you do for the ministry God has called you to. It has been a wonderful year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! God bless you!”

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Wherever you are, no matter how far, I pray this year you can remember the reason for this blessed Christmas. Maybe you could spend it with family, Maybe you couldn’t. Maybe you got gifts, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you had power and water or maybe you didn’t. But I pray no matter what you remembered the Heart of Christmas.

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“Wherever you are, no matter how far
Come back to the heart, the heart of Christmas
Live while you can, cherish the moment
The ones that you love, make sure they know it
Don’t miss it, the heart of Christmas”

 

Pray Requests:

We fly out December 30th (a day early). Pray all goes well with check in etc.. Pray for Miriam’s anxiety it is high right now. Continued protection over sickness.

My dad has cancer in his colon. His surgery is on January 3rd. Pray they can get it all out and that his body heals fast. I am not sure if I am able to see my dad this trip due to having baby Aaron and due to the surgery, he will have no time off. So right now I am treasuring every single moment that I have had with him. Again this helps me remember what is truly important and to cling to our Lord with all that we have.

Merry Christmas and we can’t wait to see as many of you as we can.

Christmas Letter

Dear friends and family,

We have been in Malawi for over a year now. The amount that we have grown in the Lord is amazing. We are not fluent in the language yet, but we are making huge strides towards that direction.

These last few months have been busy and full of change and new ministry opportunities. The children are back in school now, are doing well, and are adjusting to the changes. Mark is able to be in a swimming club once a week and he is really enjoying it. Miriam continues to attend her occupational therapies and her favorite subjects in school are French and P.E.

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Our family is also growing. We are expecting our third child in February. We are so excited about this new change in our lives and we know God has amazing things for this new child. The health of the baby continues to look wonderful and it is very active.

Children Ministries

We are able to go to an orphan care center/preschool once a week. We have been teaching these children English and they are helping us learn Chichewa. We have been sharing a Bible story with them in Chichewa every week. We are also teaching the teachers different educational tools and resources to use in the classroom. It is a joy to continue to show the children God’s love and his power and to work together with the teachers.

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During our time here, we are working hand in hand with the Anglican Diocese. We have the amazing privilege to be helping with the children’s programs for all of the central region churches. We have gone to several churches to visit and/or teach the lesson for the children’s ministry. The teachers are eager to learn new ways to teach the Gospel of Christ to the children. They are very excited to learn that we are putting together a resource book to give them a variety of new ideas for each lesson.

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Furlough

Our first furlough was scheduled for December. After much prayer, we moved our dates back so that the baby’s delivery could happen in America where we will be surrounded by our families. We will be there from January 1 through April 5. The children will miss the second term of school in Malawi, so Mark is going to be homeschooled in Illinois by his Aunt. Miriam is going to be homeschooled by Mom. The kids will be right on track for the third term starting in mid-April.

We plan on making trips to several places in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan (and maybe more) while we are home to connect with our amazing supporters. Visiting and giving updates to our partners is very important to us. If you would like to visit with us, we would love to arrange a time for this. If there are any churches or children’s ministries that you know of that would like to have us come visit, please let us know, we love sharing with as many people as we can about our ministries in Malawi.

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We are not bringing much home so we can take lots back to Malawi. We are collecting crayons, pencils, glue sticks, erasers, pencil sharpeners, preschool aged/easy reader paperback books and small preschool learning toys to bring back to Malawi if you have any you would like to donate.

We are in need of some winter clothes while we are in the U.S. We will be in the Lafayette and Paxton areas much of the time. Miriam- size 7 shirts and jeans (must have adjustable waist). Jamie- winter maternity shirts and jeans (size 10 to 12).

Hope Rises Together –

Support us in Prayer

We cannot do this alone. We have over 100 individuals, families, churches, and organizations that are partnering with us. Thank you so much.

Prayer Requests

For a healthy rain season for Malawi.
Continue to pray for no Malaria for all of us and protection for our health.
Pray for continued good health over Baby Ulrich.
For protection over our home while we are on furlough to the states.
Pray that we will be able to find a vehicle to use for the time we are home.
Prayer is vital to our ministry and it is amazing to know people are praying for us daily. If you want to participate in this and do not have a prayer card from us on your refrigerator, send us your physical address and we will send one to you.

End of Year Giving

A significant portion of our income is given in December. Whether you give your annual gift now or a gift to supplement your regular giving, your gift is tax deductible in 2016.

Join Monthly

Monthly supporters are the backbone of our ministry in Malawi. If you would like to be more involved in our ministry, consider supporting us regularly. Click on the recurring gift button on our giving form to set up your ongoing gift (it can be changed at any time by contacting Global Teams).
If you have questions feel free to connect with us via e-mail luke.jamie.ulrich@gmail.com or Whatsapp using the number +265 999 803 162 and continue to follow us on the blog.

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We love cards and pictures. They are something that bring us joy on days that are hard. If you were planning on sending us a Christmas card, please send it to:

Luke and Jamie Ulrich
74 N. 400 E.
Loda IL, 60948.

We cannot wait to see what God will continue to do in Malawi through all of you!!!

Merry Christmas.
Luke, Jamie, Mark, Miriam, and Aaron

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I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, Phil 1:3-5

 

Dreaming Again through Fear

November 6th marked one year of us being in Malawi. There were moments I admit that I just wanted to jump on a plane and go back to America and all things that are comfortable and known. Some moments have flown by in the blink of an eye. Then there are moments that I know I am on God’s plan and no matter how stressful the day is, I wouldn’t change one bit of it. We feel very privileged to be here and to be serving among the wonderful people of Malawi and hope to serve for many more years to come.

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Luke and I have had the amazing privilege to attend some the Global Leadership Summit in Malawi. It was targeted for preachers so they showed some past year’s speakers and some from this year. The theme that I felt like God was speaking to me was to dream again.

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Fear is a powerful thing, just like the Israelites in David’s time fighting against Goliath, it can paralyze a nation. Three years ago as Luke and I were dealing with the pain of losing a baby and then 6 months later loosing another baby, I became consumed with fear and an inability to hope and dream again. That dream of holding another baby, that dream of extending our family vanished in the blink of an eye. I became unable to move just like the Israelites in David’s time. My fear was stopping me from continuing to dream again. I forgot how big God was and how small we are. I had lost sight of the focus and I thought my problem was bigger than God.

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This Easter when I was sitting in church, the Lord said to me “Are you going to let fear keep you from living your life?” Luke and I knew God had said it was time to have another baby. But I just couldn’t do it. The pain and fear was just too strong. I was consumed with all the unknowns of life. Would I die if I had another ectopic pregnancy? If I had another ectopic pregnancy would I lose the chances of having another baby? What if I got Malaria, would the baby die? Could I have a baby here or would both the baby and I die? These are all valued fears and questions. And I think it is important not to throw caution to the wind. But God had told me to do something and I had to believe that he was going to carry me through that. My theme verse right now is 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “The one who calls you is faithful, and will do it”.

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But God doesn’t want us in fear. Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand”. So here I am sitting here six months pregnant with a very healthy active baby typing these pages. There are still dangers and prenatal care is so different, but in all, for being 36 years old and having a baby, we have had a very uneventful pregnancy. We felt led and released from the Lord to come home to America to deliver the baby. We are going to have the baby near my mom and family and friends and feel blessed beyond measure. Looking back now. I am so grateful knowing that we have a beautiful God that holds us in the palm of his hand. He leads our path and he is there with us though the pain and through the Joy. John 16:22 “So with you; now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your Joy.”

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In this last year I have been overwhelmed, filled with compassion, and have a greater appreciation for life. I am surrounded by people that have been born into their circumstances. A place where many people feel that the government is corrupt, the government officials are not for the people, and that there is no way to change the system. A place where there has been 2 years of famine and not enough rain. At this time with no power and water most people cannot work, do their jobs, and can’t even get their food because the mills are not running. But Malawians are not a people that give up, they continue to keep on moving. They don’t get easily frustrated. They just continue moving.

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Over this past year the Lord is helping me to dream again. To have a confidence to know God has me here and has amazing things to do through us here in Malawi.  T.D. Jakes said “If you are not challenged daily then you are not doing the right thing”. Well we are definitely challenged every single day so at least God has us on the right path.

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We thank you so much for your amazing love for our family and for the people of Malawi. We dream that someday children will have a safe place to dream their own dreams and a people that can hope again.

 

Reaching kids for Christ in a different Culture – by Jamie

In my last post I talked some about the differences that we face here. I am going to expand on that thought just a little bit, but doing it in relation to ministry. Most people reading this know that the 8 years before we came to Africa I was involved in children’s ministry and was the Children’s Pastor at my church in Indiana. I was so grateful to be in that job every single day of those 8 years. There were many challenges in those 8 years and so many things I learned about leadership and about ministering to people. But those 8 years did not prepare me for all of the ins and outs of doing children’s ministry here in Malawi.

We are very blessed to be working hand in hand with the Anglican Diocese Lake Malawi. With the Diocese one of our many jobs here is to help develop the curriculum for the Children’s Ministry. We are in the process of coming up with some resources to help the Sunday school teachers be able to share the Bible and their heart with the children.

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At our church in Indiana one of the biggest headaches is a closet called the resource room. In it are so many awesome and amazing craft items such as construction paper, stickers, markers, glue, etc. There are also tons of Bible visuals, puppets, story boards, DVD’s etc. that are available to help you teach the lesson to the children. This closet is also used by the daycare and we share it, so it can get very, very messy and it needs cleaned on a weekly basis so it can be used properly.

Here in Malawi, I wish I had a resource room, even if it was messy and painful thing to deal with. Depending on the church, Sunday Schools here have virtually no supplies and often no set curriculum to work with throughout the year.

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One of the other things that we do is to travel to many different churches and observe and teach. Our first step is to observe how the Sunday schools teach and the resources that they have. We feel it is extremely important to not come in and try to change everything so we want to see the way they teach. The next step is to go back to the same location with the children’s curriculum that is being designed and to start implementing and see what other ideas and resources we can add to it within the existing context.

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You might be saying, “Well I teach in a Sunday school, what are the main differences?” The first thing is the population of Malawi. There are just so many people here. In most Sunday School Class you have 100 to 400 kids that you are teaching. The teacher ratio is also much different. On an average basis there is 1 teacher to 30-50 kids and sometimes a 1:100 ratio. Some of the classes that we have visited have rooms for the children some of them do not have space so they are outside. Sometimes there are benches, chairs, and sometimes they just sit on the floor. We have also visited some classrooms where there is a dirt floor.

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In some places they break them up by age but most places all of the children from ages 1-12 are in the same class. Sometimes it is due to not having the space and sometimes it is not having enough teachers. Another main difference is the length of the services. Most services are at least 2 hours long and some services go 3-5 hours long. I have a huge tool box in my head of resources, but this is a really long time to occupy so many children. And of course in 90% of the places that we visit, the children and teachers only speak Chichewa so this always makes it difficult, but we are getting used to using broken Chichewa and translators to help us.

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We are located right now in the city of Lilongwe, the capital. We also have the opportunity to visit the villages and go to many of their Sunday Schools. I have a dear friend that has visited Haiti and it is a place close to her heart. She used to always talk about the huge gap between the very, very poor people and the very, very rich. In the villages you do not see the huge gaps. Most people don’t have water, power, or more than a clay brick and grass hut style shelter. But in the city of Lilongwe we do see the huge differences and gaps of how people live. There are some very expensive and pricey hotels that I even gasp at seeing. There are gardens that will put some of the places in the U.S. to shame, and we have walked in houses with washers, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves and the works.

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While we are here we split our time with traveling to the different Sunday schools and going to a fully English speaking high income church, St. Thomas. It helps us to get filled up from the Lord on a Sunday by being able to understand what is being spoken and to hear the Holy Spirit. Miriam loves children so it doesn’t really matter her environment as long as there are people, she is happy. Mark does get very overwhelmed by all the people and the language barrier. He still struggles but is getting slightly adjusted to the differences.

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Luke and I are able to help out with the St. Thomas Sunday school when we are there. We take turns teaching in the Sunday school classes. Most of the children and adults speak English so we don’t need a translator. I think there might be a schedule of who teaches, but if you show up, you know you will be teaching or at least helping teach. In these classes they do split up in 3 groups, ages 1-5, ages 6-9, and ages 10-12. In each class you roughly have 20-40 kids and you are the only teacher. It has taken some time getting used to never knowing if you are going to be the main teacher, having no set curriculum, and never knowing what age group you will teach. But we have gotten used to it. We are starting to be prepared with our own lesson to teach. I have to bring so many supplies due to the fact that I sometimes teach the younger kids and sometimes I teach the older kids. They do have crayons there, a snack most weeks, and a few toys to play with at the end for the preschool class if it is a long service. It has taken time to figure out what to do with 30 to 40 preschoolers outside with just chairs and the few supplies for 3 hours.

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Yes ministry here is very different. But Jesus is here. He is all around us. He is always here guiding us and teaching us. Even though I admit some days I get very frustrated and want to pull my hair out. When we minister to the children and teach them about the love of Jesus, it doesn’t matter how many children there are, it doesn’t matter if it is a dirt floor, and it doesn’t matter if all of it was from my head. We are teaching children the love that Jesus has for them and we are teaching them that they are important in the Kingdom of God.

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I want to leave you with one special story that is dear to my heart. When we first got here there was a little boy we were neighbors with that was terrified of me. He was about two years old and he couldn’t stand to even walk past me, he would go the other way. If I was his Sunday school teacher he would scream and yell and would not stay in the class. This continued for about 6 months. But then one day I was teaching some kids and had a balloon and I handed it him. The next time he came to me saying “balloonee, balloonee”. Then he would hesitantly give me a high five while shaking. So for the last 3-4 months he has been able to come to class with me and is just fine. I saw his dad today and he said, “You are my son’s favorite teacher, he loves when you are his teacher.” So this little boy and his ability to conquer his fears challenges me to conquer my fears. It teaches me things can be scary but in the end it can be pure joy.

Cooking in Malawi – by Jamie

Life in a foreign country helps you to really examine and figure out why and how you do everything that you do. One of the things that I have always really struggled with is me. Who am I? What things bring be comfort? What things can I live without? I love food. I love cooking and I love creating things. I love nutrition and I am glad that I can now cook more things from scratch.

I really have to be creative and adventurous and think outside of the box. I now know how to make rolls, tortilla shells, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese and so many other things from scratch. My confidence in cooking has grown and I am glad that I can cook so many more things than I used to be able too. I admit it can be a pain sometimes when you just want to eat and it takes a long time to make things, but I am a planner, so as long as I think ahead, it works out.

One of the main questions that we get asked to all the time is, “What is the staple food in America?” That is such a hard question to answer, so my new answer to that question is ,”Nothing. That is one of the amazing and wonderful things about America is that everybody is different, there is not a mold.”

The staple food here is Nsima, a corn flour mixture. They have it every day for lunch and dinner. With it they have vegetables (a green leafy vegetable cooked with tomatoes and onions) or sometimes a cabbage salad, and a meat, either fish, chicken, beef or goat if they have it. Occasionally people also eat French fries and rice .When we travel and go places this is the main thing that they serve in restaurants. We have been exploring a little bit and have found some different places to eat. But just like kids, Mimi would rather just go to KFC and Mark would rather just order a pizza.

People eat things differently and are used to different things. Does that make their way right or my way right? No. It just makes us different. I have learned to listen to them see why they do things the way they do it. I can sit and eat one of their meals and be content. Do I agree with everything? Not exactly. But living somewhere different just means that we can appreciate people for who they are and accept them for that. People have started accepting us even though we are different and I am so thankful for that.

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I can’t talk about cooking and food here without talking about the reliability of power. The one thing that is constant is that the power goes off almost every day for 8-12 hours. Most days there is a pattern to things so you can prepare a little, but sometimes it is just unpredictable. We are so thankful for our new LP gas portable stove. This has made life so much easier. Cooking on the charcoal takes a lot of prep and we are grateful to be able to do things a little faster and easier. The other thing that takes getting used to is heating up hot water for baths around dinner time. One thing I have really learned here it is the art of flexibility.

We will show pictures of our kitchen set up so if you have any questions just leave a comment and we will get back to you.

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I will leave you with a funny story. Luke is an expert pizza maker and we eat it once a week. Well, Pizza can be tricky here with the power outages. With making the crust from scratch it takes about 2 hours to make. There have been a couple times that the power has gone out unexpectedly in the middle of this pizza process. What do you do at this point? You can’t cook pizza on the charcoal or stove top very easily. We just eat snacks, play games, pray, have lots of patience and then eat the pizza very late that evening.

And we do get the old coke bottles in a crate!

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And we save all of our containers for something to use with the kids later or for canning.

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