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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.

Help on Isle 5

When Miriam was about three and a half years old we were doing our normal day of grocery shopping. We were just going along shopping and all of a sudden, I notice there is liquid dripping all over the place. A nice man stopped and was helping me. We looked under my milk and juice and we became really puzzled. Then we looked under Miriam and she was peeing all over the grocery store. Then the man just stood up and yelled loudly “Help on Isle 5”, and then very quickly walked away. Years later I can finally laugh at the story.

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We live in a world where we are taught to always be independent. Both Luke and I were brought up with single mothers. So we both are very independent and proud of that fact. But when we are so independent, how do we become dependent on God?  When is it okay to ask God for help? When do we finally say I can’t do this? I need help.

We had lived in Malawi for 1 month. I had been hand washing our clothes, homeschooling the children, cooking over a charcoal pot and taking care of the house without electricity and water most of the time. I was sitting on the back porch and our neighbor came over to me and starting talking to me. She was trying to be helpful but she said, “I never see you mopping the house, you need to mop the house every single day at least once if not twice a day.” I had been moping occasionally but definitely not that often. I went into the house completely deflated and exhausted and cried for a very long time. That is when I knew I needed help.

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When we completely love Jesus and follow the Lord we need to finally learn to depend and trust in the Lord. We need to finally say “Lord I cannot do this life without you, I need your help”. If you are like me there are many times in our lives when we continually try to fix what is wrong and try to do it on our own.

When Miriam first was diagnosed with mild intellectual disability, I was determined that I was going to prove everyone wrong. I was going to do whatever possible to make sure that she was treated right and got all the best care she needed. We spent so much money on therapies (that I will always be grateful for). While all of this was good, I was completely wearing myself out. I was trying to hide the fact that my daughter had severe behaviors and I really didn’t know what to do or how to help her. But in the end, I was faced with the honest fact. I couldn’t heal Miriam only God can do that. We are still praying for healing, and I still continue to strive for her to have the best care she needs to be successful, but I need to trust God that He knows what’s best for her.

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Living in Africa where some days life is just plain hard, I have had to realize this very brutal fact. That I need help to do so many things that I used to do independently, otherwise there would be no time for our ministries. But the amazing thing that I have learned over these last few years is that God has put amazing people in my life to help me and I am so grateful for all of them. I have also had to realize that God uses me as a blessing for all these people that help me in all that we do.

I wanted to introduce you to a very special person that we have had the privilege of getting to know since coming to Malawi and she helps us to be able to do our ministry in so many ways.

We need help.  

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We have been extremely blessed with our very loyal and wonderful house help Christina. At the beginning it was a relationship of someone that helped me part time do our massive amounts of laundry and dishes, all by hand, so that we would be able to get out of the house and do the ministry God has sent us here to do. But now she is teaching Miriam’s schooling 75% of the time. She loves our children so much. God has placed her with our family to help us in all these things and to also become very involved in many of our ministries.

Many of the children that we work with at the preschools, do not have sweaters. In the winter season, when it is cold, they do not go to school because they don’t have a sweater. Christina saw this great need and she came to us and very cautiously asked if we could have some yarn and needles sent to Malawi. Christina took the yarn that was sent and has taught other women to knit. Around 10 women are now helping to knit sweaters for the children. What a blessing to see these Malawian women, who don’t have a lot themselves, volunteer their time to meet the needs of these precious children.

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Christina also has joined our passion for the women that we minister with. She plays a very vital role in our women’s ministry and has recruited another woman named Florence (pictured below). Between the 3 of us we are able to make sure that the women are being taught from the Bible every single week. Christina also is a very wonderful translator and communicator for us to our different ministries and helps bridge the gap when our communication is lacking.

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There are so many more people that we could introduce you too that help us and come alongside us. Whether it be all the language tutors, translators, therapists, priests, or gardeners that have helped us along the way. But next we wanted to share with you one very special individual that many of our supporters have been able to help.

Others need help too!

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When we started our spaghetti business 2 years ago, we quickly learned how much time that it took for us to make all of the sauces that we need to sell. We were aware that there were many high school graduates that were in need of employment. It was a huge blessing to us for them to come to our house and help us. On a weekly basis our house was filled with young high school graduates that needed a little extra money. And we were overwhelmed by all the work needed to start a business.

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Many of you heard about our dear friend Chisomo as we traveled around from church to church. We just wanted to share an update with you and fill in anybody that maybe hasn’t heard about him. Chisomo is someone that we met as we worked with Grace of God orphanage. Here is a brief introduction he wrote:

“My name is Chisomo and I am 20 years old. I am one of four children. My mother and father were separated while I was young. I was living with my mother. Living with her was difficult. Sometimes we were sleeping without food and we were also lacking clothes. We became street beggars. In 2004 we moved from the village into town so that my mother could find a job to support us. Three years later my mother died and I moved in with my older brother who had just gotten married. The situation there was worse than before because my brother’s wife was treating me harshly.

God saw my situation and heard my prayers and by his grace I moved to Grace of God Orphanage in 2009.”

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Two years ago he graduated from high school and achieved high test scores to help him be able to go to college. Over the last 2 years he has been working for us, helping with the spaghetti sauce business and gardening around our house. He had applied to several colleges and was waiting to here back from them about entrance into the school.

We became aware that he was very talented at making jewelry so we asked him if he could make some jewelry for us to take back with us this last summer when we went. He made many beautiful pieces of jewelry to take back with us that we sold as we visited each church. We are happy to say that Chisomo was accepted into a college of nursing and started in January. With all of the wonderful donations from so many individuals he was able to have his first semester completely paid off by selling the jewelry. He is doing well in college and is so happy for this wonderful opportunity. We have an opportunity to send more jewelry to the states in August. If anyone would like to sell some jewelry at your church or by yourself to help Chisomo continue his schooling or if you would like to donate money toward his next semester of college starting in August, please let us know.

Psalm 121:1-3 I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

If I can say if there is one thing I have learned about living in Malawi. It is full dependence on the Lord. He is there to help us when we are broken and in despair. And many times we get the amazing privilege to be his hands and feet and to help and pray for individuals when they are broken and in despair.

 

Update on the Storm:

Cyclone Idai continued to hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Southern Malawi for almost 2 weeks. We were not near the storm and have not been affected, except for lots and lots of rain for three days.  Please pray for the areas that were affected by the storm as thousands of individuals have lost there lives or their homes.

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Christmas Overseas

When you hear the word Christmas, what are the first things that come to mind? For me it is playing with snow, watching Christmas movies with my mom, making Christmas cookies, spending the whole day with family, and singing “Go tell it on the Mountain” on Christmas Eve when the clock strikes 12. For everyone Christmas can mean something a little different. But when we moved to Malawi, everything was different. There was definitely no snow and as much as I hate snow, I do miss it around Christmas. Your family will not be there and maybe there will be power to make cookies and maybe not.

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Being overseas during the holidays, Thanksgiving through Christmas, is the hardest season for our entire family and all of us get a little ‘homesick’. All those normal Christmas traditions have suddenly and instantly vanished. All those people that you always see are no longer there. And it is raining, raining, and raining. You see everyone else carrying on with there festivities for the season, and all of your traditions have just stopped. In Malawi pretty much nothing changes for Christmas. There are very few Christmas lights and Christmas trees.

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The Rains

In Malawi, from April to December it is almost completely dry here. By the time October hits, it is dry and dusty and everything is covered in brown. For us even though October is the hottest seasons, Luke and I were saying it is like our winter in the states because it can feel dreary and dark.

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But then in December the rains come. And yes, when it rains here, it rains and rains and rains. But when it rains all the green pops up. Malawi is the prettiest when the rains have just started falling. The rains are a sign of hope. Everyone is in the fields planting. Everyone is hopeful that the harvest will bring a good crop and they will have enough to eat. But it is also a time from December to April that many individuals don’t have much to eat. They have spent all their money on fertilizer and planting materials. So, there isn’t much money left over for food or Christmas. This is a time in Malawi when there is an expectancy of hope, it’s like us waiting for Jesus to come back for us. We know it is coming. It is going to be glorious and wonderful but it just hasn’t happened yet.

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Traditions

This is our fourth Christmas in Malawi. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it gets easier but it becomes normalized. We have made new and wonderful traditions in our family. Our first Christmas here, we were able to purchase a very small Christmas tree. I brought with us about 15 ornaments so we decorate our little tree with these wonderful ornaments and a few new ones too. We each take turns all putting up the special ornaments that we like and Luke and I talk about where they all came from.

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In my family our children, all the cousins, do a gift exchange. My siblings make sure that my kids are still a part of this. Then on Christmas day we call and through video chat open the presents. Some of the grandparents still buy presents for the kids. We take the kids around to the few stores that have toys, then they pick out what they like. We take pictures, put American prices on them and send them to my mom, she picks out what she likes and sends a check. The process is similar for the other grandparents too. Then Luke and I go and purchase them. Then the kids wait until 2 or 3 pm and as soon as the grandparents get up, they call us. And the kids open all the presents on video chat. Our sending church also sends a package with Christmas cards and Christmas gifts for all of us. Yes, it is different but for all of us it is the normal and it makes a huge difference. I am thankful for our families that make sacrifices so we can still celebrate Christmas together, even if we are miles and miles away.

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This year Mark started a new tradition. He made a Christmas tree out of paper. Then we each made ornaments and every day we tape an ornament on the tree as a countdown to Christmas. The children had a Christmas Disney book so every night we read a story and then on Christmas Day we will read the Christmas Story. It is exciting that Christmas continues to change and expand and new traditions get made every year.

Spreading the Story

In the Bible it tells the story of Jesus’s birth, the true Christmas story. God sent his one and only Son to this earth. He came here humbly as a baby, fulfilling all the prophesies written in Isaiah. We choose to share what the Lord has given us with others this time of year and share the Christmas story with many adults and children. We have some wonderful supporters that have donated evangelism tools, books, mosquito nets, yarn for sweaters, dresses, bibles, and additional money so that way we can spread the love of Jesus to so many others. Another donor also was able to provide an eye exam and glasses for our friend’s son that needed glasses.  We are so thankful that we are able to continue to spread Jesus love to so many, through the gifts of so many.

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As the rain bring hopes it also brings lots of Mosquito’s with it. We attended a training and a local clinic, who was also in attendance, told the story of when they went to a poor community during this time of year and tested around 350 children. 190 of them had Malaria. Malaria can make you very, very sick even if you are completely healthy. And with many of the children and even the adults that do not have proper nutrition, it can be life threatening. One of our supporting churches children’s ministry has raised enough money for us to buy 80 mosquito nets for these families. This gift is very special to these families because it can keep these children safe during this rainy season.

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I want to leave with one story from us passing out our gifts this year. I have been doing a women’s Bible Study in a village. Many of the women come faithfully, we normally have about 20 women that come. Last week there were no women that showed up due to planting their fields, since many of the women in the village do the planting. This week when we went, we were not sure how many would come since the kids are out of school. We bought gifts for about 20 women and about 30 kids. When we arrived, there were people everywhere. There were over 60 women and 100 children. Luke and I looked at each other and I thought of Jesus feeding the 5000. We did a quick prayer that God would make us have enough for everyone and we went to tell them about Jesus. I did the women and Luke taught the children, we both shared the Christmas story and about Jesus with all these people.

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When it came time to pass out gifts the Lord was amazing. I passed out gifts to the women who had faithfully come to the Bible study. For the women that had not come, I just put all the left overs in a box and they could choose 1, there was just enough for every single woman, and none left. When the children lined up for the chips the same thing happened when I gave the last child his chips my bag ran out. God continues to show us over and over again how very faithful he is. He provided the perfect amount not an over abundance or not too little but the perfect amount.

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Christmas is different for our entire family. We are so very blessed by all the people that shape our Christmas and the individuals in our ministry that we get to serve alongside. May your Christmas’s be blessed even if your traditions are changed. I pray that if you are like us and maybe your family is not near, that you will still be blessed by the holidays this season and God will bring you Joy and Peace.

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Jesus, I remember -by Jamie

On Tuesday Night November 3, 1998. God spoke to me for the first time. He said, “Are you going to trust me with your life?” I remember saying to him, “Only if you help me.” And he did. On that day I committed myself to him. I depended on him to start this journey of following him.

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Sometimes we just go on with our day. Sometimes we are in desperation and we think. Does God really still answer our prayers. Is he still there?

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May we remember: God is our constant. God is always with us. He is there.

God, I remember when you were with me when I was 20 years old and a new Christian. When I thought I was pregnant and felt all alone and thought you couldn’t still love me. But you healed my broken heart. You helped me to depend on you. You helped me to find a great man that waited with me till I was married.

God, I remember when you were with me in those nights that I sat in our guest bedroom weeping because my little girl was in another country all by herself. You were with me and you were with her.

God, I remember when you were with me on the days after I lost the first baby and then the second, where I couldn’t stop crying. I was so angry with you, I didn’t even want to talk to you. But you were with me. You helped me get out of bed and you helped me find joy in the depths of my despair.

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May we remember the times that God is with us.

We just had our 3-year anniversary of moving to Malawi.

If I am being honest with you. There are many things that have been challenging on the mission field.

  • Cooking in the dark.
  • Handwashing and line drying your clothes.
  • Not knowing how to respond when 3 people that told you today that you were getting fat.
  • Being embarrassed that you shouted “I just pooped” when you were trying to say “shut the window”.
  • Being terrified while driving that you are going to hit the bicycles that are riding on the sides of the road.
  • Holding your children as there crying themselves to sleep because they really want to see their grandma.
  • Wanting so badly to just see your sister and tell her in person the crazy thing that happened to you today.
  • Being surrounded by extreme poverty and not really knowing how to help.

When we first got here. Everything around me was different. Everything felt foreign and different.

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May I remember…

But I can say that in these last 3 years my relationship with God has become different. May I remember that he is always my friend. May I remember that he is the one that comforts me when I just want to give up. May I remember that he is the one that calms me when my schedule is so full and I think there is no way I can do this. May I remember that he is the one that protects me when I am in the village doing ministry alone. May I remember that he is always my God.

May I remember when sometimes I wonder if I am following the right paths the times that he has opened doors in only the way he can, to let me know I am on the right path.

May I remember how God has directed our visa and helped us stay in Malawi. When we first got here, we had a really tough time getting our first temporary employment permit. It was 10 months of Luke going back and forth to immigration. He would drive 5 hours one way and sit for hours just being disappointed and told we didn’t have everything and told he needed to go home. One of the hardest times was that we still didn’t have our Visa when it was my brother’s wedding and I had to miss it. I was so frustrated at the system of all of it.

In Malawi they issue Temporary Employment Permits (TEP) every 2 years. Our first TEP was expiring in August of this year. We had so many friends that were struggling with their permits being approved. Many of them their TEP’s had been expired for over a year and others two years. It is hard to explain the frustration of this process. We filed our renewal in May and then faithfully left to go to America to wait to see if we would be approved again.

We came back to Malawi two days before our TEP expired. We knew at this point we would need to go to immigration and start hunting for our files and try to get the TEP renewed as fast as we could. Luke called the office when we got back to check on it and miraculously they said that the TEP had been approved. At this point our passports could be stamped but he needed to drive to Blantyre five hours away to receive the official paperwork so that way we can file again the next time. We know countless friends that never receive this paperwork and they sometimes just sit buried in a box. When Luke arrived, he had found out the person that had said our paperwork was approved was the head of immigration. He was sent to her office and within two hours he was on his way back home with the approved document.

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May I remember how God has been with Mark through this journey of change and transition. When we moved to Malawi Mark was very angry. Mark didn’t want to leave his home, Camp Tecumseh, and he did not want to be in Malawi. Mark didn’t like that he couldn’t speak the language and he felt that when anyone was talking in Chichewa that they were making fun of him. When we first moved here, I wasn’t doing very well with the change and I was struggling and with Mark struggling too this was hard on both of us. We found a school we thought Mark would love but it was way out of our budget. But the Lord miraculously paid for him to go there and he continues to provide for Mark to go to this school. Within the last few months the Lord has started to heal Mark. I will admit Mark is still angry and he still is unhappy sometimes. But Mark has become content with his circumstances. Mark loves his school, his teacher, and he has a best friend that we are grateful for. Continue to pray for him that he finds his purpose in Malawi and that the Lord continues to grow him into the man that God wants him to be.

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This week has been a truly frustrating week for our ministry. We have been a little discouraged. But God continues to move. God continues to provide. God continues to be there and show us he is for us in the good times and the bad. )

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May you remember the times that God has been with you. I pray you look back over your life and see all the times he was by your side. May you remember the joyful moments when he was there with you. May you remember the sad moments when he held you. May you remember the times that you still need to trust in him and know that he is always with you.

I am leaving with you the song “Remember” by Lauren Daigle- It has been an encouragement to me. May it be an encouragement to you.

 

 

October 2018 Newsletter

Dear Family, Friends, and Supporters,

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In November of 2018 we will hit our three-year anniversary of living in Malawi. The Lord has guided and taught us so many things in these three years. We continue to “stand firm” in the Lord, continuing to do the work to which He has called us, and we thank you for partnering with us by supporting us and holding us up in prayer.

So many of you pray for us on a regular or daily basis, and we couldn’t do our ministry without you. We wanted to start our update with some praises!

  • Our visa has been approved for two more years. Some of our friends have had to wait over two years for their approval and ours was approved in only three months!
  • Mark is adjusting much better and is even calling Malawi home.
  • We are fully funded for 2018. We are 80% funded for 2019.
  • Through special gifts, we now have solar panels in our home and are able to complete our Global Teams ministry work more easily.
  • Additional special gifts allowed us to assist our team in purchasing property and starting an income generating business to pursue ministry among the unreached at the lake.
  • The sauce business, GOGO Sauces, is now fully Malawian run and continues to make a profit and provide for needs at Grace of God Orphanage.
  • We continue to be healthy and not have malaria.
  • We had safe journeys to and from our furlough, and all of our luggage arrived with us.

Furlough

We were gone 13 weeks. We traveled to 11 different states, crossed state lines over 35 times, spent 214 hours in a van (with three children), and drove 8,900 miles (14,000 kms). We visited nine churches, did presentations to Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday Schools, and women’s groups, and updated friends and supporters (too many to count). We recharged a little bit with a full week spent at Camp Tecumseh, a couple of vacations with extended families, and lots of wonderful time with family and friends that we have missed.

We thank all of you who showed us and our family such wonderful hospitality along our journey. We are always so very blessed to meet with all of you, and we are very sorry for the ones that we missed. Every one of you is significant to our ministry and is loved and prayed for.

Funding Updates

We are humbled by the generosity we receive every time we travel to churches and visit with our partners. We are blessed by how faithful and prayerful our partners are. All of our financial needs have been met for 2018. We are 80% funded for 2019 and 2020, but we do need additional monthly supporters to fulfill the remaining 20%. This is our most crucial need, so we can continue to stay here with Global Teams, ministering to the children of Malawi. Please pray and see if God would have you join us through a one-time gift or an ongoing pledge.

New Business Venture Along the Lake

In April of 2018 God showed us a property to buy along the lake. In this area, there are many ministry opportunities with a particular unreached people group. The Lord has given Global Teams Malawi a vision to build a building where children can come and be loved on in tangible ways and learn about the love of Jesus Christ. Our heart is for this building to be sustainable for decades. The Lord has given us and other field partners in Global Teams Malawi vision for involving local Malawians so it can continue to flourish even if God calls us elsewhere. We are working to start up a sausage making business in this area. Please pray for all involved in this new business venture. So far, we have raised funds to start the business and to secure the property, making it a safe place for the children. To give to this project, go to http://weblink.donorperfect.com/gtfpulrich and add a note that is for the Hope Home Project. We are happy to answer any questions you have – simply send us an email.

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Luke Ulrich on land that has been purchased

Sunday School and Preschool Opportunities

When talking with leaders in the Anglican Church, we have heard that one of the areas of weakness is the discipleship of the young people. For the past two years we have been working on a Sunday School curriculum that will be used in all the Anglican churches in the central region of Malawi. Currently, the first six months of curriculum has now been approved, and we are in the process of translating it into Chichewa. We expect to launch to all churches in January. Please join us in prayer that more and more children will continue to grow in the Lord and learn more about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through this curriculum.

One of the challenges here is education. We have discovered that in some areas there are no preschool teachers available. Many children start school in Grade One significantly behind the other children. Over the last two years we have been developing a curriculum to train more preschool teachers. In September, the orphanage in Lilongwe that we have been working with opened a preschool to continue to minister to the community. Jamie has been volunteering once a week to gather resources to add to the curriculum and to form relationships with the children of the orphanage and those in the community.

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Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the startup of the sausage business.
  • Pray for the finishing and translation of the Sunday School curriculum.
  • Continue to pray for our health as we are approaching the rainy season.
  • Pray for a healthy rainy season for Malawi.
  • Pray for the individuals and children to whom we minister, that their hearts will continue to be open to the Lord.
  • Pray for continued guidance from the Lord for our ministries with Global Teams and that the Lord will give our family strength to complete all that He has called us to do.

Our Prayer for You

“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, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6.
We love hearing from you, and in this season of Christmas approaching we love receiving Christmas cards and photos.

Luke and Jamie Ulrich

http://weblink.donorperfect.com/gtfpulrich

Raising Tarzan – by Jamie

From the story of Tarzan, you know that he is a little boy. He was born being a little boy. But then he was raised in a completely different culture that was foreign and different to him.
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When I was younger I learned how to fold towels. I folded them the way that my mom folded towels. But then when I got married Luke folded towels differently. I had never doubted or wondered why I folded my towels that way. I just always did it that way. I really hadn’t thought about, “Oh, there are different ways to fold towels.” or that you could fold towels I different way. I just did.

Over the last few years I have had to really think about so many things in a much different way. I have had to think about why I wear pants and not skirts. Why do I eat the food that I eat? Why do I take communion the way I take it? And I also have had to think about why I believe what I believe?

Many times we believe what we believe because that is the way we were raised, it is who we are. Over the last 2+ years in living in Africa. I have had to examine all of those things. When I first got here I really tried to be like a Malawian in every way. But now I am just trying to be who I am, which is an American that loves the people of Malawi. So that means sometimes I do things the way I always have and sometimes I do it the way they do it here and most times I do something in the middle.

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Sometimes I admit, I feel like I am raising Tarzan. So how do I parent when everyone around me is parenting so differently. Is the way I parented Mark the right way? Is the way they do it here the right way? I have learned that just because someone does something differently, doesn’t always mean they are wrong it just means they are different. Many things I do the same as I did for Mark and some things have changed because he is a 3rd child and some have changed because we live here in Malawi. But I am here to learn this culture and relate and love the people of Malawi. So, if it is safe and doesn’t go against our beliefs, we often do it the Malawian way.

I am going to share with you some cultural differences in raising children so that you can see a little more of the picture of Malawian life.

Carrying them

Everywhere you go they carry their babies using a Chitenje, a two-meter piece of fabric. They use this as an apron, they use it as blanket, they use it on there heads, and they use it to carry a baby. Their babies, from the time they are born until they are about three years old, are carried like this most of the day. They work with their babies on their backs and they put them to sleep like this.

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Breastfeeding

This is something that has completely changed from when I had Mark. Breastfeeding is done everywhere and is completely acceptable in all environments and without any cover. I still tried, if I could, to do it privately. But I admit. I have breastfed in the middle of meetings, restaurants, and many places I would never have done before. I have learned though, sometimes you have to get over yourself and your own pride in order to bridge gaps. I admit I still don’t like it, but when I breastfed in front of a group of women it helped me be just like them. It helps bridge that gap that is so often there because of the color of my skin.

Food

This is probably one of the greatest differences between the American culture and the Malawian culture. Malawians eat about the same thing every day so their children and babies do the same. When babies start eating food the most common thing they eat is porridge. They normally eat this porridge twice a day even when they are older. Aaron does love to eat the porridge but he pretty much just eats everything.

 

One of my favorite memories here was when Aaron was about 10 months old we took a trip to one of the villages to do ministry. While Luke was doing ministry, I went to the car to feed Aaron some homemade sweet potatoes I had made. All of a sudden there were about 20 women surrounding me. They only spoke Chichewa but I was able to communicate what I was feeding him and how babies can eat sweet potatoes and how it is good for the child. Aaron has always been a big boy so they were very interested into what he was eating differently. I love the memory because there was no judgement, just learning about each other and how we do things differently.
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Language

For us hearing a different language is normal for us. It surrounds us constantly. One of the major differences for Aaron is that he is very used to that. When we visited the states, he only heard English for 3 months except the Chichewa we spoke to him. His talking seemed to just completely stop for about a month, his little brain was trying to figure out what was happening. Today when he speaks he normally speaks English but he also speaks Chichewa sometimes. He can completely understand most things in both languages. I love that he loves the Chichewa and when he gets upset, we just need to play or sing some Malawian music and he calms right down.

Crying and Pacifiers

Their culture here is that their babies do not cry and babies do not use pacifiers. This is something I needed to get used too. One time we were in the doctor’s office and Aaron was crying for about 1 minute. Someone came over and said he needed to stop crying. But Aaron is a little boy that will definitely cry more than a minute no matter what we do. That is who he is. Another person told me that if you use a pacifier the babies will not talk. We still use the pacifier to shorten his crying and we are happy to report he is talking just fine, in two languages.

 

Dust and Dirt

 

Toddlers get dirty no matter where you are. But my little boy, he looks like Tarzan most of the time. He has dirt caked on him, no matter how many times I wash him. He almost always refuses to wear shoes. And for some reason his hair refuses to lay down, it just sticks up. I have just resided to the idea that he is going to look like that no matter what I do or how many times that I change his clothes (which is still at least 2-3 times a day).

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Baby Gates

You cannot buy baby gates here. We use cardboard boxes, bottle crates, and anything we can find to prevent him from getting into everything.

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Like Tarzan, he is curious, he moves, he falls, he climbs, he bumps into things, and he loves to find the way to touch the things he isn’t supposed to touch. I know that one day I am going to have to write a note to Mark’s teacher that says “Sorry the baby ate Mark’s Homework”. I have been tempted to buy a bicycle helmet and put it on his head and make him wear it all the time.
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Car seats

My mom tells the story often that when she was 3 or 4 years old, her place in the car was standing up in the car next to her dad as they traveled. This is not the culture that I grew up in. But here, they cannot afford car seats. Babies do not use them at all. We had a wonderful bucket baby seat that my friend gave us, we just carted him everywhere in it. That is very common in the states. Here it is not, people would say, “Oh, he is sleeping, is that comfortable for him?”
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I actually have loved raising Aaron here. Yes, it is different. Yes, it is challenging. Yes, the kid is covered in sunscreen, dirt, and bug spray continually. But my eyes have been opened up to the bigger picture. I mess up a lot, I pray a lot, and I am so very grateful for this wonderful Tarzan that I get to raise.

Blessing in 2017 (part 2)

We are continually encouraged by all the individuals that come alongside of us and are passionate with us for our ministries. In 2017 we had a transition of some ministries that we are still able to be a part of and some that the Lord is transitioning us out of. We still try to visit Grace of God Orphanage as often as we can, but with starting GOGO sauces, now we have the children come to our house to help us with the business.

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But the children are still very dear to our hearts. With the books that were sent to us last year we were able to start a small early reader library at GOGO. This library will help them continue to strengthen their education. When we asked the director of the orphanage something that would bless the children this year for Christmas. He stated that the children needed something to put their clothes and belongings in. Through the help of a donor family, we were able to purchase a large storage bin for each child, so now each child has a place that they can put all of their belongings in that will be safe. We were also able to provide each child with a new pair of shoes and some small supplies.

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The children at the orphanage continue to inspire me. Our Chichewa and their English are improving so we are starting to be able to communicate better with each other but it is still difficult at times. But as we have learned this year, there are so many things that can be communicated without speaking. The children come once or twice a month and help us cut vegetables for the sauces. They are also wonderful at helping take care of Aaron so we can focus on making the sauces.

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One day when the children were leaving, I saw that they had written a Bible verse in English about joy and hope. They are planting God’s word deep in their hearts. Every time they are here, they are very thankful to have something different to do and to spend time with us in our house. Truthfully it is not fun work. Sometimes they cut hundreds of tomatoes and apples. But it is a joy to spend time with them and to continue to learn more and more about them. When we are growing in our relationship with Christ in order for us to get to know him, we need to spend time with him. I feel like this is exactly what God is calling us to do, to just spend time with them. Let them know that there is a big God up there and that he loves them. But he has also sent people like us that really love them and care about them and want to spend time with them also.

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There were 5 students from GOGO orphanage that were able to complete their form 4 exams last May. That meant that they were able to pass High School. At this time they graduated out of the orphanage and were able to live with others in the village. These students have become near and dear to our hearts, and have almost become additional family members to us. We are able to see them about one to two times a week. They come to an orphan care center with us and help us teach, they help us make the sauces, and they come help clean the house and help with laundry on weekends. The Lord has provided some money so that we can hire them for this work which helps support them while they are living on their own. And we are able to spend time with them often and encourage them in this transition season of their lives.

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At Christmas time we were able to take them out to eat. Most of these kids are not able to ever go out to eat, so it was a huge blessing to be able to provide for them to have this experience. We were able to take them to a store that is kind of like a good will. They were able pick out some new clothes and we were able to provide them with a small bucket of food to take back to their homes. We are very grateful for these relationships with these kids and hope the relationship continues to grow.

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There is a ministry a few hours away from our house that a partnering Global Teams member is a part of. This is a ministry where many individuals that have disabilities are able to come and have a Bible study with each other and give support to each other. We were able to visit and attend their Bible study and spend some time fellowshipping with them. This is a ministry that is near to our heart. We were also able to supply them with some additional Bibles so that many more individuals can continue to know the Word of God and grow closer and closer to the Lord and continue to trust in him to meet all their needs. As we were leaving for the trip an additional box of books arrived in the mail. We were able to provide a small library for the kids to have and a small gift for each child.

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From our time in Malawi there is a dependence on the Lord that was never there before. We feel his hand of protection and blessing over us daily. One night during our mealtime prayers I felt lead to pray for protection. About 20 minutes later Aaron was climbing and fell off the chair backwards and hit his head on the cement. But the Lord protected us in that situation and he didn’t even get a bump.

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We had our dog, Obed, ever since the kids were young. These last 2 years we have all been missing having a dog. But with having no fence and coming back to America every few years. We didn’t think we should since there would be no one to watch him. About 6 months ago, we were having a hard time with wild dogs in our area. They were everywhere and it was hard for the kids to play outside not wanting them to get attacked by wild dogs. We noticed that there was one dog that was different. Dogs here are treated very differently, even the ones that are pets. They normally are very hesitant around people, since many people here are mean to dogs. We noticed right away that it definitely was not a stray and he was probably owned by a non-Malawian. We adopted him and are so grateful for our wonderful dog. Our neighbors have gotten used to him and everyone loves him so they will take care of him when we go back to the States.

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Every day the Lord continues to grow and stretch me. I am continually reminded to not plan too far ahead but to keep focused on the Lord and where he is leading me

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Aaron’s Birth Story

Sometimes life moves very very slow and sometimes it moves incredibly fast. This year being back in Malawi it has moved so very fast, I can’t believe that my miracle baby is 1 year old. When Luke and I were married 13 years ago, if you had told me I would be raising a baby in Malawi, I would have said you were crazy. I thought it would be a fun blog post to share his birth story with you around his first birthday.

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Prenatal care in Malawi is so much different than in America. I was well taken care of and Aaron was safe and had proper medical care but it is different. I went to an American doctor as my primary prenatal care doctor who has been in Malawi a long time and she was so wonderful. At our 26 week appointment she looked at me and said things look good, I don’t need to see you again until you are in labor. My face went white and I almost fell off my chair. We discussed things and then all agreed it would be best if she saw me one more time before returning to the States at 33 weeks

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Then I arrived in America and had my first appointment shortly after arrival at my doctor. The first thing you need to do is check into reception downstairs. Well we didn’t know that, so we went all the way upstairs to be told you have to check into reception downstairs. Here everyone talks pretty slow English because it is not their native tongue. We have learned to listen and talk at a slower pace. Well at reception the person spoke so fast I couldn’t even process what he was saying. So he paused and looked at Luke and I for our answer. We just stood there having no idea what he just said. We asked him to please slow down. When we saw the doctor, I was told I was of mature maternal age and we needed an ultra sound on a weekly basis starting in 2 weeks. So I went from not needing to be seen until I deliver, to being high risk and needing ultrasounds on a weekly basis. Let’s just say the culture shock was a little overwhelming.

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But all the appointments went well and the doctor’s permitted me to travel back and forth to Lafayette even though they said I really shouldn’t be. We had a scheduled C-Section for February 15th, we prayed and decided that if I went into labor before that we would do a vaginal birth, if not then we would do a C-section.

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On February 8th we made our way to our last check up before the scheduled C-section. It was a snowy day but we made it there. We had our ultrasound and to our dismay Aaron did not “pass” the Ultrasound. They said he wouldn’t do a practice breath within 30 minutes which means he was starting to be in distress. I had another test which he passed and the doctor assured me that she felt Aaron was fine but she wanted to do a C-section that day. Well that was not what I had planned at all. I didn’t even have my overnight bag packed, it was mostly packed luckily but not all the way. And I didn’t even have it with me. Weirdly enough I had my contacts case and glasses with me, which is rare for me. It was snowy so Luke didn’t have time to run back to get anything so we just went to the hospital.

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I have to admit I was a little panicked. We got to the waiting room, took a picture of me just before delivery for Facebook, and Luke asks me what the baby’s middle name will be. Luke picked out the first name so I got to pick the middle name. Luke and I had talked about two options which we both liked. I have to admit that I hadn’t thought about it for a while and had no idea what I was going to settle on. All of a sudden I said I think it should be Glen. Well this was not even in the choice of names. Luke about fell over and started laughing really loud. Glen was my grandfather’s name, from my mom’s side of the family. He was a kind gentle man that died when I was really little, but I know he loved me greatly and my mom. So I choose him as the namesake. At least it is a funny story that we have on the crazy day of his birth.

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Due to a cancelled appointment the doctor came earlier then we thought so they took me to do my spinal tap. With Mark, I had a C-section but with an epidural. So this was new, They said Luke couldn’t come back until just before delivery. Well Luke is my center, he is my calm when I am a wreck. We didn’t know if Aaron was okay and then they separate me from Luke. They do the spinal tap and then they tell me I have to lay back quickly. Well, quick things freak me. Then I see them pull my legs up. So I literally start shouting, “Stop, My legs hurt don’t do that.” My legs are numb at this point but I am panicking and am still yelling loudly. So I try to move my legs myself and they are numb so I can’t and I am still screaming. The anesthesiologist was a little Indian guy. He asks another person to go get her husband now. So they run to get Luke as I am freaking out and yelling at the top of my lungs. Then the sweet doctor he holds my hand and tells me it is okay. I don’t know why that helped but it did. Now cultures are very different so I know in his culture this is probably culturally inappropriate to hold my hand, but I am so grateful he did. I calmed right down and by the time Luke came in I was fine. I told him the story later when I was apologizing to the nurses for my bad behavior and he still thinks it is so funny. That is my crazy operating room story.

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So Aaron comes out at 4:58p.m. on February 8th. He wasn’t just a little upset he was very mad. He screamed and screamed and screamed. They probably thought that our family is full of yellers. He was screaming so loud the doctor immediately told me that there was nothing wrong with his lungs. He was in the same room as me as they are stitching me up. I had seen him but not really held him (which I knew from Mark’s birth, so it was okay). Luke was with him and kept coming back and saying he was fine. He was 9 lbs. 1 oz. and really healthy and the baldest baby the doctor had ever seen.

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So Luke held him and he calmed slightly but after 20 minutes he was still screaming. I said wow he is really mad. So the nurse brings me this screaming baby. I am still being stitched up and lying flat on my back and she says, “Do you want to hold him?” They probably got concerned but I said not really. I am on my back, how can I calm him like that. But they said let’s just try it. Well Aaron stopped crying instantly. I hadn’t even talked yet he just stopped. It brings tears to my eyes to this day. What an amazing immediate connection that you have with your own child.

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I thought Aaron’s birth story was a good example that sometimes things don’t go as you thought or planned. But life just continues whether you want it or not.

And My God never left me at all. He protected Aaron and me during the pregnancy. He led me to the perfect doctors and anesthesiologist. He calmed Aaron and me on the operating table. And he brought me this beautiful frisky baby that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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So if things haven’t gone as planned. Hold on, keep walking. And know God will never forsake you. Luke and I waited 8 long years to hold our 2nd biological baby. Some days it felt it would never happen. He blessed us with Miriam and the blessing of having a little girl. Yes we had many trials, but the wait was worth it. And your wait will be worth it too. No matter what God has instore for you, he is always with you.

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The next blog post will be about passing out the rest of the books that were donated and then continue with talking about what it is like to raise a baby in another culture.