Monday was the first day of the Gospel Boot Camp which was held in a rented hall in downtown Salima. The meeting was well attended and Pastor Ron Tobias, and elders Rich Porter and Greg Knapp led the seminar. Participants were given instruction in how to clearly and concisely present the Bad News and Good News of the gospel using the material developed by SRC founding pastor David Nicholas. One pastor came up with a unique way to remember the seven basic concepts (sin, death, grace, love, christ, cross, invitation) – in song (click here to view video).
Monday was also the first day of the clinic. Dr. Yelle, nurses Jackie and Susan with pharmacist Joe spent the morning organizing the newly opened clinic and with Dr. Maseko saw many of the orphan children in the afternoon along with their “Mommas”.
The VBS started off with various craft projects including sun visors with each child’s name and taking individual pictures (printed on a portable printer) of each child which will be the basis of a foam frame decoration project tomorrow. It was a challenge getting all the children’s names straight and making sure each child was present and accounted for.
We ended the day giving out the many gifts for the “Mommas” and staff ladies (lovingly prepared by Judi Hartnett’s and Mary Ann Sousa’s Women’s small groups) and the individual clothing packets collected by Spanish River Christian School and arranged into outfits for each child by the Lord’s Closet team. Marika Yelle gave a Momma a blanket that she had hand sewn (see photo) for one of the infant orphans. The kids were very happy and excited to receive these wonderful gifts.
I woke up early Sunday morning (about 4:30am, wide awake, not yet adjusted to the seven hour time difference) just in time to see a beautiful sunrise over Lake Malawi at the Lakeside Hotel where we are staying in Salima. It was dark when we arrived the night before so this is the first time we had seen the incredible view.
We ate breakfast and went to Pothawira Village to attend church service in the village church building that was funded in part by SRC. The kids were very excited to see us, especially when we introduced ourselves and told of the many wonderful gifts of clothing, Bibles, and the cards and letters we had brought for them from the children of Spanish River Christian School. Ron gave the message with Pastor Peter translating into Chichewa.
After the service we ate lunch, then returned to the Village to unpack all of the medicine, clothing, toys and craft supplies we had brought to Malawi in our luggage. Peter was overjoyed to see all the medicine that he needed to stock the new clinic in the Village. Since the clinic has no power yet, we worked via flashlight. Curious children watched as we sorted and organized everything.
This morning we loaded up the hotel shuttle bus with our 21 bags ( 7 we checked with us from Fort Lauderdale and 14 that we shipped ahead to the hotel via Fedex to avoid luggage fees) and left early to go to Dulles airport in Washington D.C.. The Ethiopian airlines agent was very helpful and allowed us to check all the bags without fees, using part of the luggage allowance from the Yelle family who met us at Dulles after flying in from Ottawa.
After a thirteen hour flight from Dulles to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia we boarded our five hour flight from Ethiopia to Lilongwe, Malawi, stopping briefly in Lubumbashi, DR Congo. At Lilongwe, we went through immigration and at customs they waved us on through. We felt God’s provision in that the only bag they checked out of 24 total checked bags (16 of which were medical supplies) was the one bag that contained the flip-flops and clothing for the orphans.
Pastor Peter Maseko, his wife Emma and three year old Alpha were there to meet us at the airport where we loaded up a large truck with all the luggage and loaded up everyone in a mini-bus and Peter’s SUV for the ride to Salima.
In what has become a tradition on our previous Malawi trips, we stopped at the Pizza Inn for a few pies which tasted pretty good after our long day and a half of travels and 5 meals of airplane food. Praise God for a safe trip with all our luggage and no extra fees! After dropping off all the checked bags at the clinic in Pothawira we finally checked in at our hotel in Salima at about 8:30pm Saturday (Malawi time, seven hours ahead of Florida) where Ron and Miriam were there waiting for us.
We enjoyed a brief time of fellowship with the entire team (together for the first time) by the beach along Lake Malawi before going to bed.
Today we leave for Malawi, flying from Fort Lauderdale to Washington D.C. where we will stay the night. Tomorrow morning we meet the Yelle family who fly in from Ottawa and together we fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From there we fly to the Congo where we have a brief stop, then on to Lillongwe, Malawi, where Pastor Maseko will be there to greet us.
We will arrive in Malawi on Saturday at about noon. We then drive about two and a half hours to Salima, Malawi where Pothawira Orphan Village is located.
Ron and Miriam Tobias have a different itinerary and left for Malawi early this morning and will get there Friday.
We have been busy for the past several months gathering medical supplies, gifts for the ten dormitory “Mommas” (donated by two small groups in the SRC Women’s Ministry) and craft supplies for the Vacation Bible School. We also packed clothing and shoes for the 100 orphans, collected by Spanish River Christian School and assembled into outfits for each child by name by the SRC Lord’s Closet Team.
The Yelle family, who will be joining us from Ottawa, Canada also gathered medicine, soccer balls, recorders (musical instruments) and clothing which they will be carrying with them. It was truly a team effort!
We are very grateful for the generous donations from the members of SRC and the parents and children of SRCS. We were able to pack 25 fifty pound bags of luggage including 16 bags filled with medical supplies. We were also able to purchase 120 Chichewa Bibles from the Malawi Bible Society which were shipped directly to the village.
Many thanks also to TravelPro® (local luggage manufacturer) who donated 10 large bags for use on this trip and future SRC medical missions.