Not Our Work, But God’s Work.

Posted on August 23, 2010. Filed under: Children, Glory, God, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , , |

God created all of these children in His image.

7-19-2010

Each morning prior to going out into the field to do ministry, we gather at the Somebody Cares office for worship, prayer, celebration, and a time of devotion.  Today, at devotion, Theresa shares how we should allow God to guide us with His will and purpose and not our own.  She describes how each day we may be asked to do something that we do not desire to do or what we thought we should be doing, but rather what God wants us to do.  It is important for us to recognize a willingness to first seek the completion of His will in all things, including our mission work.  At times, if we are following our own will instead of God’s, he may rebuke us.  God may do this in order that we come back inline with His will.  We may not like how God disciplines us, but it is necessary so that His greater purpose is fulfilled.  It is important for us to remember this, it is Not Our Work, But God’s Work!

On a mission trip to Africa, there are many different types of duties to be completed.  It is always a good time packaging up bars of soap and sugar for widows in the villages, because we know the items are needed.  One of our teams will be taking the packages to the village of Njewa.  I am sure the widows will be blessed and very appreciative.

We are a little sad this morning, as we are told that of the widows died in Ngona on Saturday night.  We pray for her family and those who knew her.  It is difficult to comprehend the loss of life that happens so regularly among these village people.  The devastation of Aids and other diseases truly aches my heart as I meet people who do not have much time left in this life.  My prayer is that they all come to know Jesus as Lord and savior while they still have time.  When we arrive in Sichongo, Chief Kapudzama tells us that someone in his village had died during the night, and many of the villagers are at the funeral.  Again, I am stricken with grief and sorrow for the many who suffer.

In Sichongo today, a remote village about 30 minutes outside of Chikudzulire, we are greeted by most of the villagers on the side of a soccer field, which also serves as a gathering place.  We are given wooden chairs to sit in underneath a large tree.  The chief formally greets us with Ramsey interpreting his message.  Although Somebody Cares has been giving assistance and guidance to Sichongo, Ramsey tells us we are some of the first non-Africans to visit their village.  A sense of being distanced from the outside world overwhelms my emotions as I wonder about the isolation these people have been in for so long.  The beauty of us engaging with these people today in community and in the presence of our mighty God brings me peace.  It is obvious how the ministry of Somebody Cares is instrumental in bringing God into this community.  The ministry is not just about bringing them life’s physical sustenance, but also to teach them how to become a self-sufficient village.

Tyler and I play soccer with some of the youth.  These kids are very skilled at moving the soccer ball with their feet; I on the other hand am not skilled at all, and they no it, taking advantage of my lack of playing ability.  We play 5 on 5 on a smaller field, without any goalies, as we have make small goals about 4 feet wide, using bricks as the side markers.  There are 3 teams, which are rotated in after each team scores a goal.  One goal wins the game.  So, after each goal, we start a new game.  I play until I am soaked with sweat, and too tired to run any longer.  I am not 15 anymore, and these kids run circles around me.  Still, it is a huge blessing to be able to play soccer with these young boys on their turf.

Around 1 PM, several of us go with Ramsey and about 15 of the village youth and adults to the garden.  It is our job to give the garden it’s afternoon bath, or let’s just say we water the garden.   We dip and fill up the watering cans from a water hole and give the garden the much-needed daily supply of water.  This procedure is completed twice daily, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon.  The village has a starter garden, whereby they plant the seeds until the plants began to grow.  After the plants reach a certain growth stage, they transfer them to a larger garden so they can grow to their fullest potential.  Ramsey shares with us how proud the villagers are of their garden, and how they expect it to continue producing crops they can eat, sell at the market place, as well as produce more seed in order to continue production in the future.  Their goal is for their village to become self-sufficient and not rely on outside resources.

The medical team performs another incredible job as they administer examinations to 185 children, including dispensing medicine as applicable.  In addition, all the children are given medication to prevent them from having worms.  Unfortunately, there are still about 30 children who do not receive examinations today, as we run out of time in the day and have to leave to go back to COTN.  There is just not enough manpower or time to take care of all the children who need our attention.  Leaving some children without receiving medical examinations brings sorrow to all of our hearts.  But, we know we have given our best for the fulfilling of our mighty God’s divine purpose; we have to be at peace with that thought.  Also, we must remember it is Not Our Work, But God’s Work.  Amen.

I pray all of you are blessed by God’s Spirit,

Daryl Dho

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The Church Service In Malawi Is Spirit Filled and Long. AMEN!

Posted on August 19, 2010. Filed under: Faith, Glory, God, Grace, Salvation, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , , , , |

Some of my friends in Malawi; I love this picture.

The Church Service In Malawi Is Spirit Filled and Long.  AMEN!

7-18-2010 (Sunday)

As usual, today I wake up early long before the sunrise.  Every day since we arrived in Malawi I have been waking up long before my 6 AM alarm clock screams it’s nerve-wracking sound; today time is a 4:55 AM.  One of the best parts of my morning is having the opportunity to receive a hot, high-pressure shower.  Unfortunately, most days this is not a reality.  Today I am blessed with the warmest and highest-pressure shower since we arrived here at Children of the Nation (COTN).  I am pumped up that I have a hot shower, since it is cold in the morning and I truly did not want to take a cold shower.  But, as I said, today is going to be a good day, as I am starting off with a nice hot shower.  Yes indeed!

Now it is time to go and hang out at the gazebo for my morning devotional of prayer and reading God’s word.  Today I may be preaching at church, so I am praying for God to use me to speak His words and for His purpose.  As I seek Him this morning, I find myself studying in 2 Timothy.

After breakfast, we go to the office of Somebody Cares.  When we get to the office, we are told we will be going to End Time Pentecostal Church in Mtandire village to join them in their worship experience.  Keta calls me out of the van prior to our leaving and asks me if I could preach this morning, and of course I say yes.  I trust the Spirit of God will put the words in my mouth that He wants me to speak.  When we get to the church, Edward, who will be interpreting for me, takes my backpack and leads me into the church.   The church is packed full, with standing room only in the back and out beyond the walls of the spirit filled room.  I see about 200 people as Edward instructs me to sit in the middle seat of three directly behind a table with flowers and water on the stage.  To my left is Ramsey, the lead elder, and to my right is Edward.  Behind me sit 6 other leaders in the church, anxiously waiting for a morning filled with joyful singing, clapping, dancing and the teaching of God’s word.

The 2 hour and 45 minute service begins with one of the people from the worship team enthusiastically singing praises to the Lord.  At the conclusion of the first song, the rest of the worship team along with the keyboard player begin lifting up the Lord in song, as the rest of the congregation joins in.  In between many of the songs, Ramsey interludes with words of encouragement and introduces the next song.  We continue in musical worship with Ramsey sharing and blessing us with biblical stories.  The congregation is very joyful, holding nothing back in their celebration of the Lord.  As the service continues, I pray multiple times for the Lord’s Spirit to guide me in what I will say.  Since I did not have a significant amount of time to prepare for what I would teach on today, maybe only an hour, I realize I must rely on God to facilitate His will and purpose in what I will say.  I can feel the presence of God using me to speak words of encouragement and truth from His word, as Edward assists me in translation.

It is truly a blessing having the opportunity to preach in their church.   As I speak about how we need to be strong and faithful in the Lord, I am directed to share the need for all of us to persevere in this world for the cause of Christ.  God brings me to 2 Timothy 2:1-13 as the main body of text for my sermon, which we study verse by verse.  I feel God’s Spirit directing every word as I continue for over an hour preaching His good news.  Revealing Jesus as a model of strength, I notate how He persevered in fulfilling the will of the Father, and how we should live our lives in a way that emulates Jesus.  Edward was fantastic, as he translates my words into the Chechewa language.  At the end of the message, I share the gospel of salvation through the blood of Jesus with those who do not know Christ.  I invite those both in and outside the walls of the church to come to the saving grace of Christ, and to pray the sinners pray.  I do not know if anyone accepted Christ, but I do know that hearts were stirred.  I also trust God’s perfect plan of salvation and that His message will be received.

I must say, that the nearly 3-hour service was exciting and spirit filled.  The people of Malawi sure know how to sing praises to God in heaven.  If you haven’t been to a Christian church service in Africa, you haven’t experienced a church; the church service in Malawi is spirit filled and long.  Amen!

Now that church is over, we are going to Teresa’s house for a BBQ.  We have BBQ chicken, some type of sausage or bratwurst, rolls, nsima, spicy beans, and a fruit drink made with fruit cocktail.  In Malawi, it is important to eat everything you put on your plate, including cleaning off every part of the chicken from the bone.  Here is some good counsel; do not take more than you can eat.  If it is on your plate, you eat it, like it or not!  There is no wasting of food in Malawi.  This is a wonderful time of relaxation in the backyard and playing games, but mostly just hanging out and talking.

We come back to the Children of the Nation complex where we are staying around 5:30 and have down time for the evening, or so we think.  After the COTN students ate dinner, all 28 of them, we gather in the big gazebo and begin singing praises to God and dancing.  About 30 minutes into the dancing, the students line up in the middle and put on a performance of song and dance for us.  There is also a drama troupe, which perform a couple of very funny skits.  Next, we are blessed with a few testimonials about their early life and conversion as believers in Jesus.  It was a marvelous night.

I pray that your day is blessed by God and you are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Daryl Dho

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A Day At The Beach-It’s Lake Malawi Day!

Posted on August 10, 2010. Filed under: Faith, God, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , |

7-17-2010 (Saturday)

View of Lake Malawi from patio restaurant.

Lake Malawi Day

Today is a day of leisure; so I slept in until 6 AM.  I still am able to spend time with the Lord this morning with prayer and Scripture reading, because breakfast is not until 7:45.  Today is A Day At The Beach-It’s Lake Malawi Day!

Oh yes, note to self; I need to remember that our steering wheel locked up on the way back from Mngwangwa on Thursday.  It locked up because our ignition switch was broke and we had to hot wire the van. This caused the other issue with the steering wheel locking up.  The good news is that we did not go all the way off the road when our driver began to lose control.  Out!

It is just part of life here in Malawi for the drivers of cars, trucks, and vans to honk constantly, as they come upon pedestrians and people on bikes along the side of the road.  Normally, when vehicles approach pedestrians and bike riders, they move to the left side of the road, seemingly without hesitation.  This unwritten rule helps them to avoid being hit by the oncoming traffic.  Please understand, they are walking or riding in the same direction as the vehicles, so they do not see the traffic coming; hence the reason honking the horn is so important.  So here we are driving to Lake Malawi, when all of a sudden, Alan, our driver, sees a guy on a bike along the side of the road.  Alan honks at the man, but the man veers to the right instead of the left like normal.  My heart nearly stops as we just about hit the man on the bike.  Maybe it is possible the man just panicked when he heard the horn blasting, and lost his sense of direction.  It should be the law that when you here a horn, you always go to the left.  When a person looks over their right shoulder, they will most likely go right.  I am glad we didn’t hit the guy, because that would have ruined our day.

Finally, we made it to Lake Malawi.  I am changing into my shorts, so I can go in and swim in the lake.  Nobody but me wants to go swimming as they have read there are parasites in the lake.  I am going for it anyway.  So, I run down the beach and launch myself into the lake, which looks and acts like the ocean, as it is the largest lake in Africa.  The waves are crashing down on me as I swim out further into the lake/ocean.  The temperature is warm, even tropical.  Everyone thinks I am joking that the water is warm, but it truly is refreshing.

A day of relaxation at the beach.

After swimming, I go with a few others from our group to walk up and down the beach, taking some pictures.  It is a beautiful day here at the lake, and many people are hanging out on the beach.

Now we are having a wonderfully delicious buffet lunch on the patio next to beach at the Salema Beach Resort of Lake Malawi.  There is more food than we can eat here, including desserts.  I am excited to partake of this feast, as we have not been eating very well during out trip.

I brought my Frisbee along with me to Malawi so we could have some fun and maybe play with some kids.  Robin and Rachel join me on the beach to throw the Frisbee.  After a while, I invite a couple of young kids who are just hanging around on the beach to play Frisbee with us.  They do not know how to throw a Frisbee, so I start teaching them.  The first kid got it after just a couple of minutes, but teaching the other kid to throw the Frisbee straight is taking a while.  I do not give up on him, and after about an hour, he has finally learned how to throw the Frisbee very well.  This pumps me up.

Now, 2 of our drivers, Alan and James decide to go swimming in the lake.  Seeing them in the water is an invitation for me to go in also, so I am running to jump into the waves.  Oh yes, this is great.  Now I am doing a little body surfing on some of the bigger waves; yes, in the lake.  Or, is it an ocean?

On our way back to the Children of the Nation complex, we stop by and shop at 2 roadside vendor areas.  The first place was laid back and mellow, with the vendors not trying to overwhelm us too much.  The second place was a lot bigger and was loaded with people selling many different items.  This place is somewhat crazy, but fun.  I bought a conga drum to bring home with me.  After dinner, the Children of the Nation students come over to sing and dance.  I am giving them my conga drum, as I know they will have a lot more fun with it than I ever will.  They really know how to rock that conga.

Did I mention Mouse on a Stick yet: wild mice caught, boiled and roasted, then put on a shish kabob type stick.  Around here, it is fine dining.  Tyler, Lynn, and Hollie all eat the Mouse on a Stick.  Tyler says it tastes like chicken.  I am not going to find out if that is true or not.

The "Younger Generation" hangin' out!

Well, we just past a truck pulled over on the side of the road with about 25-30 people piled into the back.  There were so many people piled into the back, they were hanging over the side.  We have all decided that Alan drives way too fast.  If I do not make it back from Malawi, it will most likely be because I was killed in a car crash.  At times, it is a little scary on these winding narrow roads, especially when we are going 145 KM per hour (90 MPH) in a loaded van with no seat belts.  For me, I can only deal with this situation through faith in the Lord.  God, please keep us safe, we have a lot of work to do in your kingdom.

Thank you Lord for a relaxing day, A Day At The Beach-It Was Lake Malawi Day!

May God bless you all in your lives.

Daryl Dho

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Dancing in the Street

Posted on August 6, 2010. Filed under: Children, Creation, God, Salvation, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , , , |

This is Dancing With the Stars in Malawi

I know it has been several days since I wrote, but I had some other responsibilities to attend to.  But don’t worry, here is the next segment of my journey from Malawi.
7-16-2010 (Friday)

Chatimba

We are having a little different experience this morning at the office of Somebody Cares for our devotional time.  Keta decided it was time for us to play some games as a team-building event.  We are playing 30 Seconds and Pictionary before leaving out on our trip to the village.  I am having a lot of fun, but it is obvious Keta plays all of the time, as she is the best and is crushing the rest of us.

Our journey to Chatimba is quite long today.  We get to village and receive an awesome welcome from the people of the village and even Chief Chatimba, as everyone is Dancing in the Street. Other than Somebody Cares vehicles, only cow powered carts and bikes will be coming through, so it’s cool to be Dancing in the Street.  Most of us are dancing with the women who were having a great time.  Unfortunately, the men do not normally dance with the women, which is a bit of a bummer.  But today, Chief Chatimba decided to dance with us, so I am dancing with him too; it is a blast.  He is very excited to participate with everyone in this celebration of life.  Dancing with the Malawian people is such a joy, as they truly get into it with all their heart.  None of the other men danced; oh well.

Afterwards, half of the group went to the village gardens.  One of the gardens they went to see was the widow’s garden, which apparently was in its beginning stages.  They told me it was beautiful, and that Chief Chatimba was excited to show our group all they had accomplished in the growing of their garden.  They are growing tomatoes, herbs, and mustard greens, which are a main part of their diet here.  Many people in our group love the mustard greens, but I do not.  I have been eating them, but let me say it this way; I do not want to have them after we go home.  Chief Chatimba also showed the group a tree that every part of it is used, wasting nothing.  They use parts of the tree for relish and others to enhance the flavor of nsima.   We see banana trees all around us throughout this region, which is nice to see.  Also, there have a pond with fish in it they eat.

I am going with several in our group to the school, where about 500 kids learn English and many other things.  As we arrive, several of the children show us what they have learned, including sharing how they can speak English.

Joe, a local volunteer intern with Somebody Cares, and I are taking about 200 of the older kids outside to play some games and to teach them about God.  I teach them the story of creation and the fall, and of how Jesus was in God’s plans for our salvation.  Joe translates for me, as I do not speak their language yet.  After the lesson, I invite those who do not know Jesus to come to a saving faith in the Lord. I pray for those who do not know him to come to Christ.  After we pray, Joe asks them to raise their hand if they accepted Jesus as their savior.  Praise God, about 100 raise their hands, sharing they have accepted Jesus as their savior.  Alleluia.

It’s time for lunch with Chief Chatimba and Theresa in the chief’s house.  What a treat, as he even provided soda for us.  Now I know why I brought my bottle top remover.  He has the nicest house I have seen in any village we have been in, as he even has some furniture.

After lunch, Trinity, Sidney, Tyler and I decide to play soccer with some of the teens until it is time to go. Just like many of the World Cup games the score ended up 0-0.  Wow, I feel like a pro.  LOL.

Before we leave Chatimba, we have time for one last dance.  Wow, the people of Malawi like to sing, dance, and clap their hands a lot.  The chief grabs my hand and into the circle we go with all the women.  I am having a great time with all of these beautiful people.

On the way back to the office of Somebody Cares, Tyler, Chelsea, and Lynn decide to stop and buy some Mouse on a Stick from one of the roadside vendors, and then they took the plunge and ate some; oh wow bud!

To conclude a great day we are having a rolling blackout.  This seems to be a daily occurrence, and provides us with the lack of electrical resources so that we can have a candlelight dinner.  How cool is that!

Have a blessed day,

Daryl Dho

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Enter At Your Own Risk, But What Is The Alternative?

Posted on August 2, 2010. Filed under: Children, God, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , |

Some of my young friends in Malawi

Okay, here is another installment of my mission trip journal.

7-15-2010 (Thursday)

Upon our arrival in Mngwangwa, approximately 75 women greet us with singing and dancing.  Everywhere we go, we are greeted with singing, clapping, and dancing, which is such a huge part of their culture.  I am amazed at how all of the villages are so in sync with other in this area of their lives.  Most of the songs and dances are the same at each village.  They do not have TV’s, because there is not any electricity, they do not have a book of these dances that I know of, they do not have cars, and it is a long way between villages.  How do they all know the same dances and songs?  It is a mystery to me, but I like it.  The young girls in our group like to dance also, and some of them I think may be part Malawian, because they rock at this dancing stuff. Praise the Lord!

Today there are not many kids at the Community Center when we arrive, which is unusual compared to some of the other villages we have gone to.  The few kids that were here seem a little afraid.  I wonder why?

Now we are at the old Community Center, about a mile from the new center.  There are about 25 men and 25 women who are local Pastors, Elders, Deacons, and lay leaders from the local churches.  They have come here prepared to sing, dance, worship, pray, and be taught God’s word.  The leaders here today are tomorrow’s future in Mngwangwa.  It is awesome to see so many of these young people here ready to learn and get better equipped for service in God’s kingdom.  Praise the Lord!

I am blessed today to be able to preach to these pastors and leaders, and am prepared by God’s Holy Spirit to bring on the gospel.  Today God has lead me to teach about having the characteristics of Jesus in our lives, about putting off our old self and putting on our new self as we become born again into the body of Christ. I am teaching from Colossians 3:1-17, John 14:26; 15:12; 17:4,6,25, and Matt 5,6,7.  I am relying totally on the Holy Spirit to teach through me as I only had 10 minutes to prepare prior to leaving the office of Somebody Cares, where I was told I would be teaching today.  9 minutes of that 10 was spent in prayer, the other 1 minute God lead me to today’s Scripture for the lesson.  Praise the Lord!

After teaching for about an hour, we are going to where the counselors are helping many of the local women.  After hanging around there for a while, I decide to take some of the kids with me for a walk.  I started with about 10-12 kids, walking to the Somebody Cares Community Center.  Now we are at the Community Center, and we decide to turn around and walked back.  Oh wow bud, now I have about 30 kids with me for the return trip, where did they come from?  Upon my return to the top of the hill, Trinity & Andy decides to join us for a walk back to the Community Center; I am getting dizzy.  Andy decides to leave Trinity & I on our own with the kids, which has now swelled to a number of between 60-70.  We are doing it again, but this time when we get back, we had to go and the kids didn’t want to leave, so we got one of the local Pastors to tell the children goodbye for us. One little girl held my hand the entire time, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Praise the Lord!

Another great thing just happened; about 180 women were given exams & new panties by our medical staff. Wow, and Praise the Lord!

Everywhere we go we see goats, what is up with that?  Also, there are chickens and cows running around everywhere, with no fences.  I wonder how they know where they live? 

Hmmmm.

Another thing I noticed today.  There are partially finished brick houses all over Lilongwe.  I asked why and was told they build them as they have money.  So, they buy some land, then get some money for some bricks, build a little, and then wait for more money.

Hmmmm.

Oh, important detail; today was Trinity’s birthday.  Praise the Lord!

I know today I may be including some strange observations, but hey, they are my observations, so they go in my journal.  Think about this when you are enjoying a nice luxury toilet in the United States.  Community toilets in Malawi are very challenging to use, as they are only a hole in the ground surrounded by 3 or 3 1/2 walls, no door, and only about 4-5 feet tall. I would not want to go #2, or be a girl.

Maybe there should be the following sign:

Enter At Your Own Risk

But What Is The Alternative?

Praise the Lord.

Have a blessed day,

Daryl Dho

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Its Cold Outside, So Here Is A New Blanket

Posted on August 1, 2010. Filed under: God, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , |

Here are thoughts from my journal today while in Malawi.

7-14-2010 (Wednesday)

Driving down the dirt road to Chikudzulire this morning brings with it a lot of dust into our van, making it difficult to breath.  But, as we drive into the Somebody Cares Community Center, thoughts of the dust disappear.  Turning into the Community Center we encountered 70-80 women and 30 children singing and dancing their hearts out for us as a welcoming ceremony.  It is so much fun watching them give all they got for God, and wow are they good.  They clap, dance and sing for 20-30 minutes, as many of our group join in on the fun.

We immediately split up into groups, some went to the local garden, some began the medical clinic for the sick, and others began to work with the young children.  The youth group went with 5 of us to the garden.  We hike about a quarter of a mile, down a hill and through the brush.  When we arrive at the garden, Edward gave us instructions to dip watering buckets into a watering hole and water the garden.  While we are watering the garden, the children continue to sing songs of praise to our heavenly Father.  We water the garden, nearly emptying the watering hole, but will refill for tomorrows task.  Allowing the youth to take a day off from the labor of the garden is not only good for them, but also warms my heart as I see the gratitude on their faces.  They are happy we supported and served them in this manner.  Upon completion of the watering activity, we hike back up the hill towards the community center.

At the top of the hill, Edward split us up into groups with the children and youth.  Some of young girls in our group paint the fingernails of the local youth girls.  I think they are painting over 130 sets of fingernails.  I’m sure this is making the young female girls feel very feminine.  After finishing their nails, the youth girls begin to sing for what seems like hours.

I am working with the youth leaders in a bible study for the male youth group.  It is a pleasure to read scripture and teach them about God’s word.  The youth group is so attentive as we read and learn together along with two of the youth leaders doing translation of their Bible.  It was a great time, and I sensed that many of the young boys really were grasping a greater knowledge about Jesus.  We read from Acts and Romans chapter.

Turning around towards the Community Center, I am pleased to see many of the women who participate in the programs are being given new blankets.  Many of the youth who have been involved in the centers programs are also given blankets.  Seeing their eyes glow as they squeeze their new blankets close to their bodies brings joy to my heart.  For the women and youth who received their new blankets, it is a rare occurrence, and one they are very grateful for.

It’s nearing the end of the day, and a few of the kids are playing soccer on the playground field with Tyler, so I join in.  Back in the early 90’s I played this game when I was coaching Casandra’s team, but I am not very good.  We are still having fun playing, and after a while, I wear out and decide to play Frisbee with some other kids.  I am having a good time teaching these kids how to throw the Frisbee.  Some of them get it easier than others; I don’t think they have ever seen a Frisbee before.  We have been playing for about an hour.  I’m tired, but content with the day.

Today was exhausting but glorious.

Have a blessed day,

Daryl Dho

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Children Are A Blessing

Posted on July 31, 2010. Filed under: Children, Creation, God, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , , |

Children having fun today on jungle gym and swings.7-13-2010 (Tuesday)

Last night, we moved to where we will be living for the next 12 days.  We are staying at the Children of the Nation facility, which is outside Lilongwe.  Children of the Nations assists disadvantaged teenage children and young adults, giving them an education and an opportunity to better their situation in life.  The most important aspect of their teaching is to raise these young people as believers in Jesus Christ.

I woke up around 4:30 this morning.  It is cold here compared to the 115-degree days back in Phoenix, as it is probably around 40 degrees here.  I don’t want to wake up Tyler, my roommate, so I am using the flashlight App on my iPhone.  As I depart the room to go and brush my teeth in the bathroom, I attempt to shut off the flashlight App on my phone.  In doing so, I am looking down, not forward, and walk directly into a tree with my forehead.  To my defense, the tree was directly in the middle of the sidewalk, so I am not completely at fault.

Today was a fantastic day in the village of Chikudzulire.  Started the day at the Somebody Cares office this morning at 7:30 for God calisthenics, which included prayer, singing, prayer, and more singing.  I believe the Holy Spirit of God enjoys dwelling at the offices of Somebody Cares, for the level of faith of the staff and attending missionaries is high.

It’s time to leave, so we need to go and get into the vans.  One of my fellow team members just asked me what happened to my head.  They said I have a large bump on my head and it is bleeding.  So, I looked into the mirror, oops they are correct.  I guess this is my first battle wound in Africa.  Hopefully nobody will laugh at me today, as it is a little embarrassing.

The medical team (Robin, Stephanie, Lynn and Rachel) is going to Ngona to provide checkups and administer medicine to sick people in the village.  As they arrive in Ngona and set up for the clinic, they are overwhelmed by the people lining up to see the doctors.  By the end of the afternoon, they have given medical assistance to 40 people.  The doctors also took the time to listen to the devastating personal life stories of some of the adults they had treated.  I believe these doctors will never forget many of those whom they gave aid too today.  The experience has given them a sense of accomplishment and a sense of despair, as there are too many sick people for them to care for.  Now we are blessed by the doctors’ return, as the entire medical team shares with us some of the stories of the day.

I am still amazed at the number of people who ride their bikes everywhere.  They ride them not just to get themselves around, but also to carry goods and supplies for sale to other villages and the market place.  Some of the riders have attached wood sticks to their bikes in order to stack up large quantities of wood, sugar cane, and other goods to sell at the market place.  I am amazed as I just saw a guy with a stack of wood on a bike that looks to be 6 or 7 feet high.  I question how they even balance themselves while driving down the road.  Vehicles fly by the bicyclists so fast and within inches of the rider’s; I am amazed at how they don’t even flinch.  Apparently, this is just a normal occurrence in their lives, so, no big deal!  A staff member told me that when a car hits a bicyclist or pedestrian along the roadside, the person driving the car is responsible for the medical bills of the injured person.  I hope we don’t hit anyone, because our driver is flying down the road.  I am not even sure if the wheels are on the ground.

This is so cool, we are in a remote area, and the little children are so excited to see us driving by.  Apparently they do not see people driving by very often, especially “azungus” (white people).  They are coming out running, waving, and screaming things out loud as we speed through their neighborhood.  The children seem to be amused by anything they would not normally see or experience in their lives.  This is one of my favorite things I have seen so far.  I love these kids.  Most of these children have so little; I guess any little change or something new or different can have a huge impact on their lives.

We are now arriving at the Somebody Cares Community Center in Chikudzulire.  Children come to the Center from many of the surrounding 46 villages that make up the Chikudzulire zone.  They gather for instruction, fun, porridge, and hope.  Basically, the community center is a daycare for the parents to send the children.  Most importantly, the Community Center provides one meal for the children Monday through Friday, so they at least receive one meal everyday.  About 50 children are in a classroom now, and are reciting the Alphabet Song.  It is joyful to watch these children, who are probably between the ages of 2-6, learning the alphabet among their peers.  As a means of encouragement, when one of the students completes the Alphabet Song, the others clap for their fellow classmate.

Outside children are running around the complex, and playing on the swings and monkey bars.  Up until a year ago, when the playground was built, the children had never seen a swing or monkey bar.  But, now a year later, many of the children have become quite proficient at using the playground apparatus, but not all.  I am going to teach some of the children that don’t know how to swing to use their legs, and how to swing back and forth, so they too can have some fun.  There are many of these children helping other children to play and learn.  I am surprised how the children share; how the older children help the younger ones enjoy playing, and how they want others to enjoy what they are enjoying.  Seeing this makes me feel good.

It is now the end of the afternoon.  I have played with the kids for hours, and I am worn out.  I am not sure if playing with them on the swings and monkey bars was the most fun, or teaching them stories about God with Joe as my interpreter.  I know this for sure; these kids have touched my heart today.  What a joy it is to see their beautiful smiles beaming for all to see.  These innocent children just need an opportunity, an opportunity to live life, an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to have food and water, and an opportunity to know true joy from our creator.  I am beginning to understand how the ministry of Somebody Cares is giving them an opportunity to live longer and with hope.  What a HUGE BLESSING today was for me.  Thank you God!!

See you tomorrow as I continue in my journal of our mission trip to Malawi.

Amen

Look for an opportunity to share your life with someone else today.

Daryl Dho

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A Contrast of Joy and Sadness

Posted on July 30, 2010. Filed under: Children, God, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , |

Here is my account of our first full day in Malawi.

7-12-2010 (Monday)

5AM and the Muslim Synagogue nearby loudly plays the morning “Call to Prayer”.  Voices echo throughout the surrounding neighborhood for miles.  Hearing the prayer call for those who believe in the Muslim faith gives me a stronger conviction of why we are here in the first place.  We are here to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world.  I pray for our mission, I pray for those we will encounter today, and I pray that God will use us in a mighty way for the fulfillment of His will and purpose.

Later birds sing through my bedroom window. The echo from the song of the birds on this crisp morning gives glorious evidence of God’s masterful creation.  The marvelous sounds coming from the birds become louder and more pleasing to my ear as I go outside to listen.  It is like a concert of creation as the birds fill many large trees in the compound with their song.

I notice a man who guards the gate of the compound where we stay.  I walk over to talk with him about how great it is for us to experience God’s creation.  He is not able to understand very much English, but can still comprehend some of what I say as I point to the birds in the trees above.  I establish through my conversation we have a mutual appreciation for the bird’s song.

As is typical in Malawi, the power goes off without any notice and for unknown reasons.  Today, the power turns off during the morning hours while many take showers, and the cooks prepare breakfast.  The facility has some backup generators and is able to make a wonderful meal of potatoes, Malawian sausage, bread, eggs, pineapple, bananas, papaya, and oranges.  This would be our last meal with this much fruit for a while.  It is a tasty way to start the day, although I do not have any eggs or sausage.

After breakfast we drive in vans to the office of Somebody Cares for prayer and orientation.  People are everywhere, walking and riding their bicycles up the hill and down, to the left and to the right they go, hurrying to begin their daily routines.  Most of the Malawian people do not have cars for transportation, so the alternative are either walking or riding bikes, and they do it constantly.

We arrive and the staff of Somebody Cares is engaging in an outcry of prayer to the Lord.  Scripture tells us in Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  In the world of darkness whereby the staff at Somebody Cares does God’s work, it is important they go to God almighty with all of their prayers and petitions, as only He will hear all our prayers.  The seriousness and conviction concerning the ability of God to hear our prayers is not something the staff takes lightly as they continue for a long periods.  After prayer a man leads us in song, giving glory to God in the highest.  Singing and dancing with faces smiling wide, sharing the love they have for the Lord with us.

Half of the team spends the rest of morning separating the medicine for distribution, which will happen sometime later this week, while the rest of us relax at the Somebody Cares offices.  We enjoy conversation and get to know each other a little better. We play guitar and sing worship songs. I slowly let the experience absorb into my soul, overwhelming though it may be. We are adjusting to the Malawian way of doing things, which is a little slower and not always in a hurry to get to the next task.  This is a little challenging for me, but I am adjusting.

Now is our first chance to venture out into the local villages.  First, we go to the village of Ngona, about 30 minutes outside of Lilongwe.  They call this area a slum, and for good reason, as the level of poverty among the villages was unlike any I have seen in my entire life.  But in poverty, there can still be joy.  We arrive in town, and about 40 women we singing, dancing, and praying to the Lord God Almighty.  It is exciting to experience their joy in the moment as they all bustle with excitement for the Lord.  We all disembark from our vans and the women dance in a circle, coming to each of us while they danced to shake our hands.  The sincerity of their joy is evident in their simultaneous singing, laughter, and love on display.  We participate with them in dance and song, as the sound echoes through the fields and into the village below.

Next, we divide into groups to venture out into the village to visit sick women and children.  We go to the homes of mothers and their children who had been struck with AIDS and TB.  Although it is difficult to see them in their suffering conditions, prayers for healing and the peace of Jesus is brought to them.  I ask one of the Somebody Cares staff members if those we encounter are believers in Jesus, and the answer is yes.

The devastation and suffering these women and families experience in their lives is overwhelming to see.   Their physical well-being and condition is so terrible due to illness and poverty, it is nearly unbearable to be witness to. Although my heart is tearing inside from seeing the devastation that disease and poverty create, I am blessed with the joy of watching the smiles on the young children’s faces.  When I compare this world to the living standards I have grown accustom to for nearly 50 years in America, it seems desolate and unbearable.  Even so, the children seem as happy as any I can recall seeing throughout my life.  Maybe they see hope in potential change, giving them a source of pleasure?  The children smile, laugh, and run around in and out of the village, playing with each other, caring for each other, and sharing their lives together.  For some, they have nothing else but the joy they have in their hearts.  For many today, there is a sense of unknown; a wonder whether or not they will have a next meal, or whether today will be their last.

We play with the children, teach them about things Jesus said, and raise them up into the air, optimistically giving them hope for a brighter tomorrow.  Although I am sure we bring joy to them amongst their sadness in life, these young beautiful creations of God give me something I will never ever forget; they share absolute genuine joy to us who encounter them.  They give me a gift I will never lose; they give me a glimpse of God, an understanding who God is in a little person of His creation.  God loves each and every one of us, including these little Malawian children.

What I see this first day in Malawi will change my perspective on life and the world forever, and I shall never be the same.

In the evening at night I cry.

May God bless your day,

Daryl Dho

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Arriving in Malawi

Posted on July 29, 2010. Filed under: Glory, God, VISION AFRICA-2010 JULY MISSION TRIP | Tags: , , |

The following is my journal of our July 2010 Mission trip to Malawi.  There were 19 willing servants of our mighty God who went to bring medicine, counsel, teachings, comfort, friendship, love, and compassion to the women, children and men we met in the villages we visited.  To God be the glory.

7-11-2010 (Sunday)

It has been an exciting, exhausting, breathtaking, and sleepless last 48 hours, as we have finally completed our journey to Malawi.  Now we must rest for the evening in order to be properly prepared for tomorrows first day as God’s hands and feet and ministers of encouragement and hope.

It seems as if the evil one is always attempting to sidetrack God’s work, and our adventure to Malawi was no exception.  Today was especially crazy because of how our expedition took a left turn and near miss in Johannesburg.  Upon our arrival in South Africa, it was necessary for us to get all of our checked luggage from the baggage claim carousel, plus our carryon luggage prior to checking in and boarding our flight on South Africa Airlines to Malawi.  It was part of our agreement with the airlines that each person would be able to check in 3 pieces of luggage plus have 2 carryon bags.  Those in charge the boarding and checking area of South African Airlines told us we could only have 2 pieces plus 1 carryon, charging us additional fees and nearly preventing us enough time to make our connecting flight.  It seems as if the airline can change their mind if they choose to, of course without any notice.  But in the end, God wins and we make our connection.

When we arrived in Lilongwe, Keta from Somebody Cares, the mission organization we are working with, met us with several drivers to take us to the location where we would be staying for one evening.  Our driver navigated through the streets of Lilongwe a little fast for my taste, as we nearly hit several individuals who were walking, on a bicycle, or driving down the road in a different vehicle.  It was a little unnerving, but I was in his country now, and I’m sure this won’t be the only thing that is different.

Making our way to the location where we were lodging that first day, I observed the following:

1. Drive way too fast; and crazy.
2. Drive too close to others.
3. Women carrying huge bundles of goods on their head; which is totally amazing.
4. People walking and riding bikes everywhere, because they do not have cars.
5. People looking around and observing all that is around them while walking, ride a bike, or driving.
6. Old beautiful trees and green plants throughout the city.
7. Billboard signs either deteriorating or no longer in use.
8. Children playing outdoors; this must not be ARIZONA!

See you tomorrow for our first full day in Malawi.

May God Bless Your Day,

Daryl Dho

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