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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.

The Heart of Christmas – by Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pray Requests:

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

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

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

Christmas Letter

Dear friends and family,

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

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

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

Children Ministries

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

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

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Furlough

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

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

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

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

Hope Rises Together –

Support us in Prayer

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

Prayer Requests

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

End of Year Giving

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

Join Monthly

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dreaming Again through Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reaching kids for Christ in a different Culture – by Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooking in Malawi – by Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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God Sightings -by Jamie

We have a somewhat regular schedule of language lessons, shopping, ministry, and church events. Due to Malaria, other sicknesses, unexpected guests, events scheduled on short notice, and funerals, things get cancelled or changed very often. Funerals pop up out of nowhere and they happen the day of the death or the next day.

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Malawians, on a normal day, are late. Not American late, 5-10 minutes. I mean like 30 minutes, an hour, or two hours late for pretty much everything.

When you ask a Malawian when they might do something, their response is normally, “We will do that tomorrow.” But tomorrow does not mean the next day. It means sometime in the future. It could mean tomorrow, it could mean in a month or a year.

These are not necessarily bad things, but because they are a change for us, we need extra doses of patience every single day. When Jesus left to go to be with his Father he gave his followers the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and lead them where they were going. I am so grateful for our loving Father and the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide our paths. Psalm 25:4-5 “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long”. Here are some amazing stories of God leading us to where he wants us to go and also give you a feel for life here in Malawi.

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One of the things that we do here often is to visit different churches around Lilongwe to observe or teach Sunday School for them. When we teach, we are helping give ideas to the teachers who serve on a weekly basis. One Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. we were informed we were teaching at a Sunday School the next day. We were only given the time, the area of town and a number to call for directions. We headed there in the morning and when we got close to the location, we called the number. There was no answer. After several more attempts Luke decides to just head off in a direction. I kept my mouth very quiet, which is hard for me but I didn’t say a word. After a few minutes of making different turns Luke says, “Is that the Anglican Chitenji?” (African wrap they wear all the time). I said yes, so he rolls down the window and says, “Are you going to the Anglican Church?” They said yes, so they hop in the car and take us to the church. We had headed in the right direction but there were a lot more turns in order for us to get there. Road GPSs are no help here, but God is a big help!!!

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We have been praying for a cheap way to get Bibles and audio Bibles in Chichewa. One of the ministries we visited are needing these for their outreach. You need audio versions due to the fact that many of the people in the villages are unable to read. Luke had been out running an errand and was headed home for his language lesson. On the way he spots someone that he knows so he stops and asks “Where are you going?” She said, “Right here to a Bible store.” Luke gets out and goes in and meets someone that has connections with getting audio Bibles and a personal connection to the Gideon’s who have lots of print Bibles in Chichewa. Both of these can be used for Bible studies etc. When we prayed for something, God just led us straight there, we can’t wait to share a post with you about handing out all these Bibles. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” They even have Bibles in Yao which is the people group we hope to serve in the future. God is so good. And Luke made it home by the time his lesson started.

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I travel by transportation here several times a week. I have so many stories I could tell from this but God always keeps me safe and I don’t ever feel nervous. One day I was almost to the place I walk to get a taxi. There were 2 women waiting where I needed to cross. I felt the Holy Spirit say wait here and I looked across the way and he said stay away from the man in the yellow shirt. I just stand there and just wait to see what to do. When the women cross, I cross with them and stand by them, far away from the man in the yellow shirt. At this point he looks just like any person, he hasn’t been talking or anything. So a taxi pulls up right in front of me, and the man runs up and right away you can tell he is very drunk. So we all just back away, the taxi driver doesn’t let him get in the taxi, tells me and the other ladies to get right in and off we go. The Lord is always there guiding and leading our paths and keeping us safe, we just need to have ears to hear him. Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you”.

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We rarely go out to eat here because it is very expensive. But one night I told Luke I think we should go out, I said let’s try something new. So we pulled out a magazine we have with different places and pick a place to go. We were waiting for our food and there was another white couple and their 3 children at a table across from us. The kids were out running around playing tag and I said,” Mark, you can go if you want.” So off he heads. He comes back full of laughs and talking to the parents. We go over and introduce ourselves. They were Americans that have been here for 2 years and the wife runs a playgroup. So we exchanged numbers and we have met several American families that have become dear friends to us. It has been such a blessing to have others to talk to that really understand what you are going through. A dear friend has faithfully been praying for several months for a friend for me, knowing how lonely I was. God cares about us deeply and when the timing is right he will meet all our needs. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”. Mark has bloomed with meeting other Americans and this has been helping in his transition also.

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One day we were at church shortly after arriving in Malawi and someone walks up to us and starts talking to us. And she informs us that she works for people with disabilities so I ask her if she knows of any occupational therapists. She gives me someone’s number and from this connection we found a great place for Mimi to get therapy on a weekly basis. She has been growing leaps and bounds from this place and it is near our home.

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Lately it has been neat some of the things that the children have experienced.

One day Mimi and Daddy went to pick something up from the store and there happened to be Minnie and Mickey standing there. It certainly made her day. She was able to take a cute picture with them also.

A few weeks ago Andrew Palou, the evangelist, was at our church. We went to the event that he was putting on a week later and Mark got to see motorcycles, he was so excited.

This week Luke and the children went shopping and as they were coming out of the store a helicopter landed one parking row over from the car. They then went back a little bit so they could get a video of the helicopter taking off without getting dust in their eyes. Mark and Miriam were both so excited. I love how these simple things are such a blessing to our children and it was so amazing that God cares about even some of the little things in life.

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One of the verses that I hold near and dear to my heart is 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” We know God is with us and he will carry us and lead us where he wants us to go.

Love Comes Softly -by Jamie

We had Miriam for about 2 months and our social worker came for her first visit and to see how we were doing as a family. She was asking us lots of questions and then the next questions were, ‘How attached are you to her? Do you love your daughter?’ Luke’s immediate response was yes, I love her completely and am fully attached. In the next moment there was silence. I was thinking, “What in the world do I say. Do I love her?” At this moment she was of course on my lap because she lived there most of the time. Luke was often gone because the summer season at camp had just started. I was still trying to get used to 2 kids. Miriam had just begun learning English and didn’t understand us most of the time. She refused to eat almost everything. And if she wasn’t swinging she was often screaming. So how did I feel? I answered honestly “I truthfully don’t know how I feel right now.” But that was not the end of the story.

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I tell you this story because it is the way I feel right now when people ask me if I love Malawi. I really don’t know how I feel right now. I really can’t describe how different it is here and truthfully we are all still grieving from not being near those we love. We are forming relationships but it is a slow process. Our time here has just begun.

I am reminded of another time in my life. About 10 years ago God called us away from a church family we loved. We had only been at our wonderful church in Lafayette, Elston Family Church, a couple months. But at the time I was miserable. I just wanted to go back to my old church. A friend of mine asked me, “If you could just go back to the way it was, would you?” When I honestly looked at that, I knew the answer was NO! I knew God had us where we were supposed to be. I knew this was God’s plan even if I didn’t like it.

Sometimes people ask me. Do you ever regret adopting Miriam? Maybe it hasn’t been what I expected. But I can honestly say never. Not at a single moment. Not in the middle of her screaming and kicking fits. Not when she still refuses to eat or yells at me because she doesn’t want a bath. I don’t know when I fell in love with Miriam, but it came softly. This love I have for her now isn’t any different than Mark’s, it is full and complete and a mother’s love.

Someone a long time ago asked me when do you think home stops being where your parents live?  Well I believe I have many homes. My home is in Loda on the Pig farm. I truthfully only lived there a few months before I graduated high school. But it is my home, it is where my mom is, it is my safety and security. Elston Family Church is my home. We may be miles apart but they will always be part of my heart, they are incredibly supportive, that is where I learned to trust God completely and where I disciple and loved so many kids.

But right now Malawi is my home. It is where my husband and kids live. It is when I am with the children here, I know I am exactly in the right place. If I could leave right now would I? Absolutely not. I know this is where God has me. I may not feel happy all the time, but this is my home. I know and I believe someday I will love Malawi because I believe that sometimes love comes softly.

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