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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.

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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.

Blessings in 2017 -by Jamie

I pray that no matter what has happened in 2017, you can look back and find moments of joy and things to be thankful for. Every single night at our dinner table everybody has to say their favorite part of the day. Now some days that is easy. But some days the day hasn’t been very productive. Or some days it has been a horrible day. But we do this because no matter what the day has brought there is always something to be thankful for. My prayer is that even in the storms you can have the faith to see the little rays of joy that God sends your way.

We have been living on the mission field for 2 years now. We are funded by so many people that believe in what we are doing. We do not take that lightly at all. Luke keeps every receipt and spends hours making sure everything is recorded so we know how much money we have spent and how we have spent it. We spend so much time praying for every ministry purchase that we make so we can use God’s resources where He wants them.

I am continually overcome with gratitude by the support we receive for others. Last December we asked for school supplies. And I am happy to say we received so many while we were in the U.S.  that they overwhelmed my parent’s entire basement. Last September, school started in Malawi. We had enough school supplies to give 300 children supplies to start their new school year. The location that we choose has a diverse population and this helped us to share the gospel with many children from many backgrounds.

When we delivered the supplies we shared the story of the little boy that had 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread and Jesus fed 5000. We feel like that sometimes. There are so many people in Malawi that are orphaned, hungry, and do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But God can take what is given, that can feel so little in comparison to the people, and multiply it out to so many. He can take our little faith and can reach many with the message of Jesus. We were also able to make 6 boxes of school supplies to give to preschools and Sunday schools for them to use. These are supplies that they normally would not have and this will help them as they continue to teach and train the children.

I have worked with children for so many years. I know we are teaching and training them but I can honestly say that I have learned so much from working with these precious children. There was a dear girl, only in preschool at the time, that came to her mom after our talk. And she said mom “I want to sell all my toys to give them to Africa”. My heart overflowed with this statement but I was saddened because I didn’t know how she could help.

I was praying one night and the Lord woke me up with an idea that could get children like that involved, donating books to a book drive. So we contacted our supporting churches in America and they came through with books. Over 500 children’s books have come to us in Malawi and we still have more on the way. One of my joys is when kids help other kids. And oh the joy that the books are bringing to so many.

These books were so dear to our hearts and as we were praying where to donate them and what children would receive them, we were contacted by some dear friends of ours. They wanted to help us to make many children have a merry Christmas that they would not otherwise have. So let’s just say that for the last month the reason we have been disconnected is because we have been so busy, but our hearts are overcome with joy. The things we are about to mention is not about us and what we are doing, but about all of you that sacrifice with your donations and your love and your prayers for the people here. Everywhere we go we talk about the many people in America that have given supplies and that are praying for them and this impacts them greatly to know that they are not forgotten, but that they are loved and prayed for. Thank You for praying for them and as you look at these pictures, please continue to pray for these children and people that are dear to our hearts.

We were able to start a library at a facility that has a preschool and a primary school. The director was so excited when he received the books that he started labeling the books that day. They were happy to have the library because this way many more parents will want to send their children to the school to advance their education and they will be able to reach many children and continue teaching them about Jesus. We also were able to give around 200 presents to the preschool children. Most of these children are from very low income families We gave around 100 gifts to orphan’s in primary school and another 20 gifts to very young children whose mothers are struggling to provide everything needed. We were also able to leave additional school supplies for the preschool and primary school. This is a church that has limited resources but has a heart to impact and reach as much of their community as possible.

We still work weekly with a local preschool. When I asked for books this was the first place that came to our mind. Education is so very important in Malawi. If you are able to speak, write, and read English, it enhances your ability for further education and job opportunities. Luke made many chalkboards in May to help them individually be able to practice their writing skills. As a Christmas present we were able to give each child their very own chalkboard and chalk. Thankfully we received so many books that we were able give each child a book. I will not forget the smiles on their faces when they had opened their gifts and received their very own book.

Since our arrival back in May I have been teaching a preschool Sunday school class on a regular basis. It has been pure joy to be able to get to teach and get to know these children on a more regular basis. In our work here we are able to travel to many different Sunday schools. Early on when we asked them what would best help them to reach more of the children in their area, we were asked to help create a curriculum for them. I am working on a curriculum now and have been testing it in my local Sunday school class. Eventually it will be used for the entire Anglican diocese, hundreds of parishes. We were able to give my Sunday school class of about 40 kids a small gift and a book.

Luke and I also had the joy of directing the Children’s Christmas program for our church that was performed on Christmas Day. It was my joy to teach these children the rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ that I used to do at Elston Family Church. And we ended with the song “Go tell it on the Mountain” because at the church I grew up in, every Christmas Eve service I can ever remember ended with it.

There are more Christmas Adventures and Programs that we did. I will be sharing those on the next post, but I want to leave you with these words.

Last year at this time we were sitting in America and we knew we would come back to Malawi. But to tell you the truth I didn’t really want to return (read more about that journey in Love Comes Softly and Family and America). I can honestly and 100% tell you that now I am filled daily with an immense joy and passion for the people of Malawi. This is a place I am happy to call home and I pray that no matter where you are or what you are doing that you continue to “Go tell it on the Mountain, Over the Hills and Everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is Born”

To Be Significant – by Jamie

Are we significant?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what makes a person significant. Does significance rely on how much money you make? Is it based on your position at work? Is it based on how many people you brought to Christ or how big your church is?

Something I struggle with is jealousy and never feeling like what I am doing is good enough. I have been in ministry for many years now, but many days I struggle with this. Is what I am doing enough? Should I be doing more? Am I significant in the kingdom of God?

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

For so many years of my life I lived doing the things that I thought others wanted me to be doing. This people pleasing continued on in my Christian years. I dressed the way people thought I should, I did my devotional life the way people thought I should, and I said the things people thought I should say, and I made my children act the way everyone else thought they should.

About 4 years ago. I realized I didn’t even know who I was and what I really liked. I had been what so many people wanted me to be. But who was I really? I realized that if my focus was on what God wanted, then that is all that really mattered. But truthfully I still struggle with significance and jealousy on a daily basis.

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who has been called according to his purpose.

The other night I was sitting in my kitchen and Satan was speaking so many lies to me. And I was letting him win. I felt so insignificant. I felt that I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing at all. I felt like I was not doing enough for the kingdom. I haven’t saved enough people and I wasn’t advancing the kingdom of God. The Lord in his kind voice spoke to me and asked me “Jamie! All the people that you are helping, are you telling me they are not significant?”

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We are significant when we are doing what God wants us to be doing. There are so many people in my life that are greatly significant to me and to God. They’re not missionaries, they’re not pastors, they are not rich and they are not CEOs, they are moms, children, farmers, and career professionals. Most of them are ordinary in the public eye. But they are significant to God and to many others. If you are doing what God is wanting you to do, then you are significant in the Kingdom of God. If you are not doing what God has created you to do, then start doing it now. If he calls you to do it, he will see you through it.

So be present. Cherish every single moment for the glory of God. Sometimes you might be knee deep in God’s work. This is significant. Maybe your day might look like mine sometimes, where all you do is take care of the kids and fold a load of laundry. This is significant. Choose to be significant every day no matter what you do.

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Ever since Mark was little, he was dragged to wherever we were going. So naturally when we arrived here, that is what we did. Mark is a light to people. But Mark shines when he is comfortable. When he is confident in his skin, Jesus shines through him. Mark is not confident doing very much ministry here. He is a very sensitive boy and his heart struggles with the poverty and the difference in culture that he sees all around him. Right now he can’t see through that to let his light shine. Right now we know that sometimes we do ministry together and sometimes we don’t. We are in this together but that doesn’t mean we always have to do it together. Mark shines here when he gets to lead and teach others about Jesus and we love when he gets to show that.

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Mimi loves people. She spreads joy just by being her. She isn’t afraid to just share all of herself with everyone. Miriam is who God wants her to be and in her simplicity she spread’s joy to the world.

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Aaron is loved by everyone that he meets. We cannot walk past a person where he doesn’t bring a smile to their face. I wasn’t sure how adding Aaron to our mix was going to change our ministry. He drastically changes our days but Aaron is opening doors up for me that were closed before. We were doing ministry in one of the villages and Aaron was fussy. So I took him to the car to feed him some baby food. All the moms gathered around and asked what that was and how I made it.  Aaron is helping me connect with moms in a way I never could before. He helps people see me as a mom and someone that loves being here. Please pray for me to start leading in ways that God is guiding me.

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My children are significant when I teach them about Jesus and how to shine the light of Jesus and share his love with others. The children I minister to are significant. You are significant and I am significant in the Kingdom of God. Serve him confidently and boldly and let his light shine wherever you go.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

And if you missed Luke’s last blog post, it is really good. See it here.

 The Dry Season -by Luke

What does it feel like to not have rain for eight months? There is a LOT of dust. The roofs all become one color, brown. The plants all become one color, brown. Most lawns do not consist of grass, just dirt. We mop the house multiple times a week, our feet won’t come clean, and when you blow your nose the snot is dark. (The one on the right has been scrubbed!!)

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One of the things in the midst of Malawi’s dry season that really fascinates me is the mango tree. During the rainy season, it grows some leaves but no fruit. Then during the dry season that follows, it loses a lot of leaves.

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Then after six months of no rain, it starts to grow leaves again and it flowers.

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The most fascinating part is that after eight months of no rain, during the hottest months of the year, it grows big juicy fruits. In order for the tree to grow fruit it must have a water source. Last year most of the wells here in Malawi were dry due to two seasons without much rain. The water dam that produces electricity was almost dry and we were without power for 20+ hours per day, and yet the tree in our front yard produced more mangoes than the year before, juicy sweet fruit. Where does the water come from? There must be a root that goes down deep into the earth to find water. It reminds me that God created the mango tree to be able to survive in this climate. And He created all things to survive in the climate in which he placed them. And he Created man and all of our intricacies. And I don’t believe that the creation of man was a one-time thing, it is a continual creation of the person we are and will become.

Sometimes I feel like I am in a dry season. There isn’t a lot going on in my life, it feels like my life is covered in dust, and I am just dirty. 2015 was one of those seasons. Before coming to Malawi, I had left my job to be able to focus on developing partnerships and we had not raised enough money to move to Malawi. It was a strange feeling not having full time work. And then after arriving in Malawi we were getting our house set up, getting settled and learning the basics of the Chichewa language. We weren’t working with the kids yet. I didn’t understand why God had put me in a place that felt so dry. I heard the term ‘ambiguous loss’ from someone else and it explained exactly what I was feeling. I had lost the regularity of work and feeling like I had a purpose but I had not started the next phase of ministry. It was a season where my work was purely transitioning, for months. Yes, missionaries have ‘dry seasons’ too.

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But just like the Mango tree, I was in a season where I was losing my leaves. My roots had to go very deep in order to survive. But during this dry time God was doing some preparation work in me and my roots had to go deep. First, the preparations included building relationships with people. This is something that I don’t do well, but without it here, we never would have met the right people to get started with our current ministries. Without relationships, we would not have the partners needed to fund the ministry we are doing.

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Second, my joy for working with kids was rekindled. I longed to just go play games and run. Third, my faith and trust had also increased during this time. I know that the waiting was part of His plan and without the preparation season we would not be where we are with the ministries. I just needed to wait on God’s timing for the fruit. But I put my faith and trust in Him. Now we have begun the ministries and the fruit is coming. We see the children at Chankhungu Orphan Care Center preschool growing in their development and the teachers are using some of the educational tools that we have taught them. We see the relationships we have developed at GOGO orphanage.

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Who am I to question God’s timing and judgement? I can’t! I won’t! He is all knowing. His love is deeper than any of us can imagine. Our minds are very finite and cannot fathom His greatness. When I am dry, He will fill my cup in His timing.

If you feel like you are dry, be patient. Keep pushing on and put your roots deep. God is still alive and working in you. Things can get gross, like our feet, and you may feel like it will never come clean. Do not fear. God’s love never fails.

Teaching – By Jamie

When I graduated from High School, everyone said I should go to college and become a music teacher. But when you’re 18 and wanting to claim your independence you don’t want to do what everybody else says that you should do. I graduated from Illinois State University with a degree as a Certified Recreational Therapy Specialist.

I remember when I first started learning about recreational therapy. I said “I can do this, but I won’t work with people with disabilities,” but the rest sounded great. Well, when I was in college I fell in love with working with people that are different from me. I loved seeing the way that God creates people and really seeing what was going on and not just what everyone else was seeing. That degree started my love for teaching and my passion for learning how to love people.

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I thought hard of going back for my teaching degree several times, but just never felt complete peace about it. But I love teaching. I am glad of all the neat opportunities I have had over the years to teach kids and to learn from so many other people. In my heart I have a teacher’s heart and love seeing kids learn new things in their own individual ways.

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Luke also has a wonderful teacher’s heart so it was a very easy fit for us to start working in preschools and with children here in Malawi. In our first year here we were able to observe so many preschool classes and hear about so many needs. One of the needs is the training of preschool teachers. In some areas there are no preschool teachers, so the kids start school at Standard 1, very similar to the American Grade 1. This is so hard for the children when they haven’t been exposed to any teaching and then start with over 100 kids in their class. To graduate from High School they need to be fluent in English so it is so important for them to start learning it early.

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We have been going to a wonderful preschool once a week for about a year now. This is helping us to learn new songs, practice our Chichewa, and learn new teaching techniques. But it also gives us an opportunity to test out some American ideas and see if they work in Malawi. So right now I am in the process of creating a Chichewa preschool curriculum. A curriculum in Chichewa but that teaches the children the English alphabet and some English words. Our hope is then to be able to train many preschool teachers so kids can continue to learn at early ages and they can continue to excel in their academic growth.

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Teaching is one of our pure joys every week. The preschool, Chankungu, that we teach has around 150 kids in it with only two teachers, the children range from 2 to 5 years old. There are some days when we are there and one teacher is gone so we teach about 60 to 70 kids by ourselves. It is very interesting with our limited Chichewa, but it works, and we are learning Chichewa faster because of it.

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The preschools we work with do not have very many supplies. They have a one chalkboard and chalk and some pencils and paper. And even with these supplies there isn’t enough to go around. Luke was able to make chalkboards for about 90 of the kids. This has been so exciting for them, now all of the children have been able to practice their writing and alphabet skills. Luke does chalkboard writing with them every single week. He loves working on the shapes and letters with them. The older class is really been able to excel on these skills.

“Lembani lembo E”

(Write the letter E)

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Every week we have been breaking them up into smaller groups so that way we can help teach them more hands on skills. Something I can’t put into words is seeing a child play with play-dough or color with crayons for the first time. I love this time because we can do some real hand on skills with them and continue to work on simple preschool skills, on a weekly basis. Mark’s school is on break but most governmental schools are in session until the end of July, so Mark has been going with us and loves helping the kids.

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We are so thankful for all of you that donated all the wonderful school supplies. We received over 200lbs of pencils, glue sticks, pencil sharpeners, crayons, and so much more. There have been so many more things I have been able to do and share with others with all the additional supplies. Because of all the wonderful donations, in September when school starts up again, we are going to be able to give school supplies to some that have never had them before. Please be praying with us in this adventure we are on and that God will continue to guide our paths.

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Weekly I am able to teach a Sunday school class for 2-5 year olds. We are also helping develop a curriculum for the Anglican Church to teach in Sunday schools. I have taught preschool and Sunday school classes for years, but developing curriculum is a new concept to me. God has definitely taken me on many journeys, sometimes I feel privileged to have had so many different careers. But he continues to teach me to follow him and when he asks you to do something, he will help you to complete it.

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Some days are hard and I am lonely and wonder if we can do this. But then when a little boy yells, “House!” at a picture of a house. Or you hear the kids talk about how God is our friend, our comforter, and our provider. I remember why God calls us here. My next post is going to be on significance and serving God where you are. I pray that you all are continuing on your own journeys that the Lord is taking you on and that you know that he is going to be there with you every step of the way.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

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What I have learned from my kids. Love, Joy, Hope, and Peace -by Jamie

When we started off on this parenting journey 9 years ago we were so full of excitement. Being a mommy has had some wonderful moments. Seeing Mark run around camp and him loving to swim in his daddy’s pool ever since he was a few months old has brought me a lot of joy. There are also so many moments that I never saw coming. Like the time I thought I had a milk jug leaking in my shopping cart, but I realized that my 3 year old daughter just peed all over the Walmart store floor. I say things on a daily basis that I never every thought I would say, like, “We do not throw orange seeds at your brother.” or “It is best not to give someone money for a piece of trash they found on the bus floor.” And the teachable moments are never ending. Like the time Mark learned that you don’t go to the bathroom and brush your teeth at the same time, because you might need to get a new toothbrush after dropping the old one in the toilet.

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We have been in elementary school mode for the last few years so these past 4 months of having a new addition has really changed our world. 9 years is a long time to not raise a baby. There are so many things I have forgotten. I am grateful for all the moms that let me help take care of their little ones at the child care center I worked at or I would be lost right now.

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But over all these last few months I am in awe of my father’s heavenly love for me. I also have had some very humbling moments of being a mom of a newborn. It has also been a time of reflection of these past 9 years of being a mommy and all the different adventures God has taken us on. When we got married I have to admit my dream wasn’t the family that I have. Our family didn’t happen the way I had planned, but God’s ways are always better than ours. Here are the ways my children have taught me Love, Joy, Hope, and Peace.

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Mark has taught me and continues to teach me about love. He was the one that first made me a mom. It was love at first sight for us. Most days he is easy to love but some days it is hard. He has taught me how much you can love someone no matter what they do. He has also taught me that sometimes we are put in situations we may not like, but just to love them through it. Mark has had one of the hardest adjustment here in Malawi. It has been hard watching someone struggle that you love so much. But over the last few months he is doing so much better in realizing it isn’t as bad as sometimes he thinks it is. He is finding his place here and he is realizing that the world is bigger than just him. I love him so much and can’t wait to see what God does with him on a daily basis and what God will continue to do through him.

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Miriam teaches me daily to have Joy no matter what life throws your way. I have never seen anyone that lives with as much joy as she does. She just learned to spell the Joy in her name so she writes it on everything and I love seeing that. The first 2 months back was an adjustment, as any change is for her. We decided in January that for the next school year we were going to homeschool Miriam. I was never one of those moms that wanted to homeschool and I never thought I could homeschool Miriam. But we both enjoy it very much and she is learning so much. I love how she teaches me that even if things don’t go as expected, to have joy through any situation.

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Hope was the lesson I learned from the 2 babies I never got to hold. I have never really talked about it too much but those first 18 months after the miscarriages were a raw time in my life. I was in so much pain but instead of dealing with it I ignored it and just pretended like I was fine. In about the 18 month period after the miscarriages my sister got pregnant. I didn’t handle it very well, I loved her so much but I was so jealous and it made my pain almost unbearable. But I am so very thankful for baby Josiah. He made me deal with my grief and in some ways I feel he saved me from a very dark path I was headed down. But after I started healing the Lord gave me Hope. Hope that even though things may not always go the ways you think they should but that God always has you in the palm of his hands. Hope that he knows better than me even when we don’t understand it. I now know that even in your despair God can bring healing, hope, and peace

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Peace is what I continue to learn from Aaron. He is the baby I really never thought I would have. He gives me peace that my heavenly father loves me unconditionally. Aaron was so active in the womb, it gave me such peace I never had to worry about him. On February 8th he came out suddenly and it didn’t really feel peaceful at all. He came out so angry he screamed for 30 minutes straight. But as soon as they placed him in my arms he stopped crying and there was an overwhelming peace that we could do this. We prayed the entire pregnancy for peace. My selfish prayer was one that I would have a nice chill baby. Well, he is not. He is so incredibly loud all the time, you cannot leave him in a room by himself without him throwing a fit, and he wants held the majority of the time. But when he smiles at you it melts your heart. When he is so happy to see us after a nap he almost starts jumping up and down. He is a big boy, strong, and healthy. God made him full of personality and able to stand his ground in this crazy family of ours. Peace does not always mean calm. Just as Jesus is called the Prince of Peace but yet he overturned tables and started quarrels among leaders. God may not have answered my selfish prayer for a baby of calm, but he did give me a baby that brings peace.

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So like I said in the beginning, I never imagined my life would consist of a 9 year old, an 8 year old with disabilities, two babies I never got to hold, and a newborn. But it is my family and I am so blessed for all my children.

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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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