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God is Real

On August 6th our family, along with Christina (our translator), and a team of three college students from Indiana were traveling home from doing ministry and seeing Lake Malawi.

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The day had been a day of relaxation and rest. Our kids got to play in the sand and water at the beach, I was able to read my book (slightly), and we got to see zebras and a giraffe so close it felt like we could have touched them if we wanted.

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We were very grateful that months before we had planned that day. There was a planned protest in Lilongwe, the city where we live, and over 1 million people had planned to protest in the capital. We had been in contact with several friends and they said that many areas in Lilongwe were not well during the day and that we should come back later in the day. We had received an email that the protesters were staying in the city. We felt it was fine to travel back home later that day, but we knew to avoid certain areas.

Since our vehicle only holds seven and there were nine of us, we had rented a large van for our trip.

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We were about 20 minutes from Lilongwe and we were almost home. As we had traveled there were some fires on the side of the road and we could see that there had been fires burning on the road during the day as part of the demonstrations. It had only been dark for about 10 minutes and then as we were driving, someone hit our vehicle with a small rock. We saw a few larger rocks in the middle of the road up ahead, but assumed that they had done it earlier in the day and it would be safe to drive on.

IMG_10981(These were some of stones that were placed in the middle of the road. Picture taken at the actual location one week later)

There were cars still in front of us and no one had turned around, so we just continued. Then my side window had a brick thrown at it and it shattered. There was glass everywhere but I was fine. The kids started crying. Luke said, “There is police stop right here so it should be fine.” That is when we saw that the Police Station was on fire and we were in danger. The bricks and stones kept flying and breaking other windows and the rocks, fires, and other obstacles in the road became larger and more often in order to slow us down.

IMG_11001IMG_11121(The burn spots on the road one week later)

Just beyond the police stop there was an armored vehicle that was throwing tear gas at individuals to try to stop them. Luke stopped to see if they could protect us and then he saw a tear gas canister roll directly under our car, so we continued a little further. We were hit by more stones and then there was a slight break but we saw more up ahead and could not determine if it would end soon. At this time over 5 of our windows are broken and they are continuing to throw rocks at us. Luke and I knew there was a decision to be made. Do we continue to keep going? Is it safer to turn around and go back the ¾ of a mile we had already come? How long is this going to continue? What if our tires go flat from driving over the large stones in the road? The Holy Spirit told me to yell, “Luke drive as fast as you can and everyone pray”.

In the vehicle we borrowed the only seat belt was in the front. Aaron was beside me in his car seat. But it was the best place for him because he was protected by the thick tempered glass of the front windshield, I laid on top of him. Christina started praying loudly in Chichewa and everyone else also starting praying loudly and Miriam even stopped crying. The next ¾ mile my brave husband drove us through fires and large bricks on the road everywhere, there were bricks hitting all over our vehicle. But the peace of the Lord hovered all over us. And then just as quickly as it began it was over.

I looked up and said, “Is everyone okay”. And I got eight yes’s, followed by one of the college students stating that his hand was slightly cut. He happened to see a rock coming toward his window due to a fire being right there, so he blocked the rock with his hand so that it did not hit his head and he also said, “I am covered in something wet, but we are fine.” (More on the liquid later.) No one else was injured. In all, 8 of the windows were smashed. The back windows were broken but nothing fell out. As far as we could tell, there was not a rock that came through a window that had already been smashed or there could have been serious injuries. Luke’s window was not broken so he could still drive. Even though we had drove through fires and over bricks, the tires were fine and the engine wasn’t damaged. God was there.

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Mark sat up and said “God was with us.” For a little boy who still struggles daily with being angry with God for having to live in Malawi, he knew God was within that vehicle.

About four years ago Miriam was learning about Jesus and she learned about when Jesus is going to come and take his believers to heaven. Now for someone that has attachment disorders and anxiety problems, this was scary. In her mind Jesus was someone that would snatch her in the middle of the night and take her somewhere without her parents. After this situation Miriam said “Jesus is sitting next to me.” For her to say that Jesus was with her was a miracle. In that moment she no longer was scared of Him but realized He was there protecting her and keeping her safe. Luke and I through this had stayed calm, I didn’t even shed a tear (and for me that was a miracle). God was with us.

As we were traveling home. Miriam said “Mom the windows are gone and it is night, we are going to get bitten.” For us, it doesn’t matter if we go outside for one minute, we put bug spray on after dark, for us this something that could save our lives. We do not want to get malaria and this is the best way of prevention. Miriam knows that she needs to put bug spray on, but there is no way I can find it right then so we just said a prayer and traveled on.

The rest of the way home we didn’t approach any danger. Somewhere in the mist of all of this, two shields on the bottom of the vehicle had come part way off and were dragging on the ground. All the way back to our house people were shouting “You are dragging something.” What a sight we must have been. Our vehicle had more windows broken than were in tack, it had dents in it everywhere and we were making so much noise because the pieces are just dragging on the ground. As soon Luke stopped and turned the car around in front of our house, one of the pieces just fell off.

When we got Aaron out of his car seat. There was a layer of glass under him. But not a scratch anywhere on his body. The rest of us were the same. God was protecting us.

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The next day as we got home and I was shaking and picking glass out of our belongings. I noticed that a plastic bag had a hole it in and one bottle of bug spray was empty. God had a stone shatter that one bag so that bug spray would go all over the pants of the college student and permeate our vehicle to protect us from Malaria. God was in every detail of that situation.

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We sent out an email newsletter with a few of these details the week after the event. From that newsletter we received donations that paid for the repair of the vehicle. The donations matched the amount that was needed. It came out to the exact amount in Malawi Kwacha! God is real!

In my next blog post. I will explain more about the safety of our situation here in Malawi and how we are processing all of this. But for now, we are safe there are no protests at this time. But if you take away anything from this story know that God is real. You might think that God doesn’t love you and that God is not real. Well I can 100% tell you that God is living and real. There is no way we could have come out of our situation without the hand of God being a part of it. I am personally struggling with the why in this situation, I daily struggle with fear and guilt, but I know God was there and He is real.

Since that day there has been one other demonstration day. We stayed home and we had heard that similar situations happened to others as what you have just read. The very next day after those demonstrations we were moving about the city freely as if nothing had happened and we are safe. Continue to pray for us and we will update you as the situation develops.

RUXN6200(Just before two of the college students left for the airport)

I will wait and God will Rise -by Jamie

Seven years ago Luke and I were on the phone with our adoption agency. We had been in the adoption process for two years. Our dossier was filed and we were just waiting. For two years we had just been waiting and waiting and waiting. There were so many parts of our life that were just put on hold. We couldn’t try to have another baby or the adoption process would stop. We didn’t want to go on vacations. We didn’t want to commit to ministries. We were just in the waiting process. To say it lightly we were very frustrated at the time of the phone call and all we wanted was hope.

That did not come. The agency said that it looked like it could be another two years before we would be matched with a child. We were disappointed, it felt like all hope was gone. Truthfully, I just didn’t know if I could do this anymore. I took it to the Lord, was it okay to stop. We did what he asked we started the process, maybe that was enough. Maybe after we had our next baby then we could try to adopt again. But both of us deep in our hearts heard the voice say “Stay the course, continue to follow me”. We continued to cling to the verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it”

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Less than two months later we had seen our Miriam’s face and held her. The little girl we already loved was going to be ours in about seven months. This year in May we celebrated seven years with our Miriam. Yes, there have been so many challenging days, and there still are challenging days. But I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I would miss the constant questions, the times she worries because I have a cold, and all the wonderful snuggles that I get on a daily basis. Oh, I am so glad I waited on the Lord and I am so grateful for every day I have had with her.

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Two years ago while we were visiting the Chankhungu preschool, that we went to weekly, the Lord opened my eyes to all the women that came to bring their children. The Lord spoke to my heart that they needed a way to continue to learn more about Jesus. A Bible study was started in February of 2018, the first few weeks we had about 15 to 20 women coming. But then by April there were only about eight women coming. The Bible study continued even while we were in the states till mid-July but there still were only about eight women coming.

When we came back to Malawi in August. It felt like everything started to move very fast. The curriculum was being approved and we had so much work to do to get it ready to be passed out. A ministry that we were working with was starting a preschool and I was volunteering during the week. I was still homeschooling Miriam and was afraid of how not being at home very often would affect her.  It took an entire morning with traveling plus prep time to do the Bible study. I just didn’t think there was anyway that I could do it. Yes, I knew 8 women were important but I just didn’t think I had the time.

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A dear friend said, “Jamie, these women need you, no one else ministers to them, you need to go.” Again, I prayed and he gave me verse 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I sat down with Florence who had been leading while I was gone and Christina our house help. We prayed about what to do and we were led to study the women of the Bible. It has been an amazing time learning more about all the women of the Bible. I just go once a month and Florence does the rest. As time has went on, we have on average 35 women coming and sometimes we have had over 60 women come. Around 40 women have received Bibles because they have come five times or more. Many of the women have started following Christ and they continue to strive to learn and grow in him daily.

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Again, I look at how close I was to quitting. How close I came to not getting to know these women. These women that have spoken about how they feel so hopeless most days because of their circumstances. But once a week they can be encouraged about the Word of the Lord. They can feel a little less alone and they can be secure in knowing how much that God loves them. And they can see that someone cares. Someone cares enough to come every week to invest in their lives. And for me when I go, it is my favorite time of the week. This study has grown my relationship in the Lord and it helps me to know the Lord will always sustain me.

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This November we were going through a little bit of a discouraging and tough time. Our businesses were both struggling a little bit. Some days it can feel that the amount of money needed to do everything that God has put in our hearts can feel unreachable. The amount of poverty here sometimes makes me feel that there is no way that things can ever be different.

This made me think of the Israelites when they were in Egypt. The Lord had brought them to Egypt. But then after all this time they became slaves. They felt oppressed and forgotten by God. Then Moses came to rescue them but even then, things got even harder for the Egyptians, even after they were rescued, life some days were hard and they didn’t have enough food or water.

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In January, as I was praying, the Lord gave me the word ‘rise’. Truthfully, I wasn’t really sure what it meant. But I did know that I was bogged down with so much of my daily life. So many of the things I can not change and so many things that I wish were different. Isaiah 60:1-2 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

Right now in Malawi, we just had an election. The election is over but tension, fear, and discouragement fill the air. I don’t know exactly what is in store for our beautiful country of Malawi. But what I do know is that the Lord is there with us. I know that the Lord loves his people. Sometimes it may not feel like that. Sometimes it may feel like he has abandoned us. I saw the verse this week from Hebrews 13:14 “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come”. The Lord continues to speak to me that he wants me to wait in him. He wants me to trust in him. Even when things don’t make sense. He will be the one that will make sense of all of it.

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I have learned we need to Wait on the Lord and then he will rise.

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May 2019 Newsletter

The Ulrich Family

Serving in Malawi

As we started seeking wisdom for what the year 2019 would bring us, the word that the Lord continued to show us was “RISE”. The year of 2018 brought lots of amazing growth, change, and promises for the future. With excitement and growth also come challenges and obstacles to overcome. The Lord gave us this verse: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Is 60:1-3). May we continue to focus on the Lord and continue to shine His light in the dark places.


Sausage Business

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The sausage business that we mentioned in our October newsletter was launched in November with the name Akazembe Ministries, which means “ambassadors”. The business was started as Luke helped lead a three-day training on how to run a business for the four ladies that will be running the business. This business has been a venture in trust, as neither we nor the Malawians were experienced in making sausages. It took several attempts, but our partners in this business were very persistent and continued to change the recipe until they, and the customers, were happy with the product. They have been selling sausages for six months and the business has continued to grow. Our partners have started paying back their loans with the profits. The profit of this business will go to sustain the future ministry of Hope Home, an orphan and vulnerable child care center.


Hope Home Property

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In Malawi it is very important to have a fence on your property to ensure the safety and protection of your investment. We are happy to say that with the funds acquired we have been able to start building the fence. We have not been able to build the entire fence but it is exciting to start the building process. Thank you for your prayers. In Malawi almost every property that is purchased has a boundary dispute that comes along with it. We are happy to say that, although there was a conflict, it was easily resolved and we were able to acquire another small, adjacent plot. We have also been offered a larger plot next to the current one. Please join us in prayer about purchasing this plot of land at this time. We still need funds to complete the fence and to start building on the property. Our goal is to build a building in 2021. Continue to join us in prayer. If you would like to join us in this project to extend hope to these children, please contact us.


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We have six months of curriculum that we had completed. As we started editing the curriculum, we realized there were many additions that needed made in order to make it accessible for the majority of Malawians. These changes have taken several months. But we are happy to announce that the curriculum has been translated and is ready to start to use. We have started organizing the training schedule with the local churches. Continue to pray over the churches, leaders, and children as the curriculum is being used. Many of the churches have not ever had a designated curriculum, so the teachers are very excited to attend the trainings. We are praying that this curriculum will continue to encourage the spiritual growth of thousands of children in Malawi. There is potential for the curriculum to be used in other areas and African countries. Pray for God to give us wisdom to know the direction in which the Lord is leading us.


Women’s Bible Study                      IMG_0260

In October 2018, Jamie–with the help of two other leaders–continued her women’s Bible study in a local nearby village, Chankhungu. The three of us met on a weekly basis to discuss the study. As we prayed for wisdom on which studies would best reach the women, we felt led to study the women of the Bible. We started by studying Eve and have continued through the Bible. We are almost ready to start the New Testament. We have studied the strengths, weaknesses, and growth of each woman. Between the three of us, we continue to teach on a weekly basis. The growth of the women has been amazing to see! On average, we now have 35 women attending, but on some weeks as many as 60, up from an average of eight for the school year of 2017/2018. With donations from specific people, we have been able to pass out more than 20 Bibles and will continue to pass them out. We are excited to see what God continues to do with this ministry. This journey has reminded Jamie to continue ministering and following Him and He will do the rest.


Grace of God Orphanage (GOGO)HOYS9984

The business GOGO Sauces is continuing to expand and grow. We have been able to sell to a few more local restaurants and we have more connections that are being made. It is exciting to see the growth of this business.

This year GOGO has moved from being an orphanage to a community day center and preschool. Jamie continues to work weekly with the preschool and the children continue to learn and thrive in that environment. In November GOGO also opened an afterschool and feeding program. Some of these children have never had an opportunity to go to school and it is a privilege to help them continue to learn and succeed. Jamie gives encouragement and support to the staff in this program as well.

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Our family continues to get more comfortable daily with our home in Malawi. We are so thankful for your prayers for our family and our ministries here. We are thankful that we have been healthy during this last malaria season. In most of Malawi there has been a very healthy crop this year, and we are thankful for that. Pray for the people of Southern Malawi as there were many deaths and losses due to flooding. Many individuals in those areas lost everything and had no harvest this year.
We are very thankful to all of you that have given your financial support for us to continue our ministry here. We are very thankful for all of our very faithful supporters. With the pledges we are funded for 2019 and only need a little bit more support to be able to stay until our next furlough in summer 2020. After our general fund, the building project for Hope Home is the next biggest area of need at this time.

Prayer Needs

  • Continue to pray for the sausage business, Akazembe Ministries, as it is continuing to grow and develop.
  • Pray for all the required permits to be completed with the property where Hope Home will be built.
  • Pray for wisdom and funds to come in if we are to purchase more property.
  • Pray for the upcoming trainings on the Sunday School curriculum.
  • Pray for all the children we work with to continue to learn more about Jesus and grow in their faith and to be able to share the message with others.
  • Please pray for those in Southern Malawi and areas where there was flooding where there were not sustainable or no crops.
  • Continue to pray for our health and safety.
  • Continue to pray for mental health and attitude, as our next furlough isn’t until summer of 2020.

Luke and Jamie Ulrich, Mark, Miriam, and Aaron

P.O. Box 30606, Lilongwe 3, Malawi
luke.jamie.ulrich@gmail.com
https://hoperisestogether.wordpress.com

 

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