Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Well yesterday we woke up in Malawi and 20 hours of plane riding later... here we are back in Atlanta. My mom and Luke's parents were waiting for us and it was a great feeling to see them at the baggage claim! We are up to our eyeballs in laundry but through all the craziness of today we have been overcome by a feeling of gratitude. God has truly been good to us during this past month- especially when we think about all of our travelling to and around and from Malawi. We are so thankful to be home, but even more thankful for the friends we met over there. We are processing everything a mile a minute- and again thankful for friends here with whom we can share and process this trip. So if you are in Atlanta- come around so we can give you a big hug and tell you a story! And we want to know what's been going with yall too!

love, js and luke

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We have indeed been blessed in our short stay here in Mzuzu. We have really enjoyed our time at the Crisis Nursery, and we know it will be really difficult to say good-bye to all of the infants and toddlers this afternoon. We see how many of them, especially the older ones, have all developed such unique and wonderful personalities. The Hellers have told us how difficult it can be once these babies start walking, and it is time to take them back to the villages. On the one hand, it is a joyful occasion, as these babies in most cases are going back to family members who love them and want to provide for them. Sometimes, however, the families (and the entire villages) are so poor that you know the child has little chance of being adequately nourished, clothed, and cared for. We all feel strongly that the babies should go back to their families, but it is difficult when you know the villages are so full of children that the babies’ chances of receiving individual attention and loving attention are slim.

Yesterday I (Luke) went with Jim McGill, the water and sanitation coordinator for the Presbyterian Synod in Livingstonia, on an all-day tour of various latrines, water pumps, and other sanitation devices. I am sure that all of you in the US are so jealous that I got to spend all day looking down at latrines in grass huts! In all honesty, it was pretty interesting for me to see how many of the new latrines and sanitation projects are coordinated by local schools and communities. Each primary and secondary school in this district have a sanitation committee that encourages proper hygiene and promotes proper use of the new latrines. Many of the new latrines are ingenuitive designs, whereby you mix ash and soil with the human waste to create an excellent fertilizer. The latrines then essentially become a compost, where after a year the fertilizer can be used to improve crops and increase yields. We saw some latrine systems that really were being tended to well, while we saw others that were being neglected. We discovered that while non-profit organizations and churches can install compost latrines and clean water pumps all day long, ultimately the success of this technology depends on strong leadership in the communities and the communities’ willingness to take ownership in it.

This morning we went with an Irish missionary woman who has organized a Montessori school here in Mzuzu. She is the Education coordinator for the Livingstonia Presbyterian synod, based here in Mzuzu. It was amazing to see the stark contrast between the supplies and resources in this Montessori school and the lack of supplies in most of the village nursery schools. They had all of the geometrical shapes, patterns, puzzles, letters, and words that I remember from my time at Montessori way back when! It was also refreshing to talk with an educator here in Malawi who is really committed to child-centered learning and bringing this to the 300 village nursery schools under the synod’s supervision. (Quite a big job!)

(Jan Scott typing now…)
We leave Mzuzu tomorrow for Lilongwe and like Luke said, we will definitely be sad to leave. We have met some wonderful people- including a longtime partner and friend of Myers Park Pres in Charlotte (my home church). Rev Highson Gondwe is the pastor at a big Presbyterian church in Mzuzu and we had a wonderful visit with him over tea on Tuesday. He sends his love to everyone at MPPC! (especially the Tuckers and Lydia, the apple pie lady ) He actually got to meet both of my brothers last summer- so that was fun!

We also met up with Owen, a driver for the synod who has driven many of our friends- especially from Myers Park. He was so excited to take us to his home to meet his family. Martha, a woman from Peachtree Pres, visited Malawi almost 10 years ago and was so touched by her friendship with Owen that she has helped him build a house for his family. He took us in every room and was so proud of his home- as he should be. After spending just a few hours with him, we could see why he was so special. God has certainly blessed us with wonderful people like this here- what a gift!

Not sure how internet will be in Lilongwe, so this may be our last post until we are back home in Atlanta on Tuesday morning! (Bring on the Chic Fil A! Kidding… kind of…) Keep checking if you’d like, as we hope to post a few more pictures once we are back home. We are still processing this whole experience. The time has gone by quickly, but we also feel like we have experienced so much! God has absolutely stirred our hearts (sometimes shaken them up!) and we feel truly blessed to have spent a month here in Malawi. We are sad to leave but we are really excited to come home and see all of you and share!

Blessings sweet friends!

xo, js (and luke)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


My cute, darling, adorable, baby sister sent these today. Do y'all see why Madonna keeps stealing them? Thought so.

the [last] 2 are from when we took some on a walk- the nannies tied junior on to me with a chitenzie- very malawian :)
the [first] 2 are quite typical- us being tackled by several babies as soon as we sit down. the babies usually win...
thanks bro!!!


Monday, July 13, 2009

More pics

JS's descriptions:
1. Luke doing an impromptu puppet show at an orphan nursery school
2. women and children waiting for the Ekwendeni Hospital mobile medical clinic (where they weigh babies, get vaccinations, etc. ) And we think we have to wait for a long time to see the doctor! Luke got to assist these mobile clinics in both Ekwendeni and Embangeni. Because the hospital serves an area of over 600 square km, these mobile clinics are essential for reaching women in the most remote villages.

...And I've been promised crisis nursery pictures tomorrow! All you baby lovers get ready.

Ministry of Hope

Hello all!

We made it to Mzuzu and the Lord has yet again provided some wonderful people to take care of us during this last week in Malawi! I can't believe we head home just one week from today!

We got to Mzuzu Friday night- we left Ekwendeni a bit early because not much happens on Saturdays at the hospital. The McGills (Presbyterian missionaries) had invited us to church in Mzuzu on Sunday so we decided to go ahead and move on to Mzuzu. Debbie Chase, another Presbyterian missionary who teaches at the Ekwendeni seminary, picked us up and took us to dinner Friday night. It was such a blessing to process some of the past 3 weeks with her over chicken and rice. This weekend we also took advantage of the proximity to beautiful Lake Malawi and take a day trip on Saturday. It was amazing- it felt like a day at the beach. We wont tell you all the details of how we got there and back... lets just say it involved a van, circa 1992, packed with 20 people and a door falling off the whole way back to Mzuzu.

One Sunday we joined to McGills for church with their six sweet children and then Luke led a Bible study for the Gideons in the afternoon. He did a great job and the men really seemed to enjoy it- they didn't want to let Luke leave!

Sunday night the McGills invited us to come to a dinner they were having to welcome some Scottish missionaries back to Malawi. It was a wonderful chance to meet many missionaries- from the US and other places that we have been emailing with all winter. We were so encouraged by all the wonderful people we met! These people are certainly called by God to be here doing what they do- teaching, preaching, healing, leading- whatever! It was really nice to spend time with them.

Today was our first day at the Crisis Nursery. It is such a special place. I think Luke explained it a bit, but most of the babies have lost one or both parents, and the nursery takes care of the babies until they are healthy and a family member is able to come and care for them again. The nursery does follow up visits to make sure the children are being cared for by their relatives. A few are HIV positive, but all are healthy. The wonderful nannies this morning were telling us each baby's story. There are 2 sets of twins, and Prisca, one nanny, told us one set of twins came in so tiny- just bones she said. Their mother had died and their father was in such mourning and he thought the twins would die too so he wanted nothing to do with them. They spent 3 weeks in the hospital and were slowly nursed back to health. Today they are happy and giggly and this morning they were clapping along when we were singing songs. Now, Prisca told us, their father comes back once a month (on family visit days) and wont leave- he cant wait to get them back! The newest child is a one month old baby girl who was found in a pit latrine- can you imagine?!? She was totally abandoned! By God's grace she was unharmed and healthy. Thank God for this place! I'm so glad we will spend our last week here- This organization is called "Ministry of Hope" for a reason.

Love to all!

ps- I learned how to change a cloth diaper today. Woohoo!

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Pics from the Farmers

Everybody's favorite older brother here, again. JS sent me these this morning. Check out JS's very appropriate duds in the first 2 pictures. Who said anything about a comfort zone?!? I think they got some pictures mixed up (there is supposed to be a hiking picture from July 4th, which was traded for the ATL shirt on the little boy with Luke). However, I think that one is some of the students she worked with in Embangweni. The mass of children in somewhat of a circle is a Duck, Duck, Goose game! It's from an orphan nursery school (see the post below). From personal experience, I know that JS and Luke's mere presence is like a magnet for every child within 10 miles to come running up to them. It might make playing DDG a little tricky, but all the more fun. Enjoy!

The Faces of AIDS

Hi Friends!

Just taking advantage of the good internet connection here in Ekwendeni. Yesterday we had a pretty intense day where we looked AIDS right in the face. We traveled out into the community with the director of the AIDS program for the hospital- Esther. This woman wears many hats at the hospital, and wears them well. The AIDS programs that she coordinates includes an orphan care program, a home based care program (visiting patients at home), youth education, and HIV testing. She also has to play business woman, and raise funds for these programs. Government pays for some things- like selective drugs and testing, but that only goes so far.

We piled in a truck and headed out to get feed for the pigs (a fund raising part of the program) from the maize mill. Believe it or not, we are getting pretty familiar with maize mills here in Malawi. Then we headed out to a tiny village- 30 minutes down really bumpy, dusty roads (again, we are getting really familiar with these as well...). We arrived in a village with about 5 mud huts and met Green, a man living with HIV. He invited us inside his house- no bigger than a small bathroom in the US. We went in with Webster, who runs the Home Based Care program. Webster explained that this man had contracted HIV 3 years ago and was having reactiong to the ARV drugs. He has some skin rashes and was having difficulty even standing up, but was actually doing better- and was walking with a homemade cane. He told Webster he was feeling no pain, but he was trying to renovate the roof of his house because it leaked in the rainy season. Webster told us the Home Based Care program was helping him fix his roof because they knew when he died, his 3 young children would need to be looked after. I couldn’t even imagine those preparations. Webster also advised him to come back to the hospital in one month to be checked out. Again- I cant even imagine his journey to the hospital- walking down those dusty roads for hours, hoping someone picks him up. As we sat there in his tiny hut, hearing about how he shares it with his 3 children and young wife, I realized that this was what AIDS looks like. A man, only 34, trying to prepare his home for his small children that he will inevitably leave behind. And his wife- dutifully cleaning his wounds and cooking for him and her children, knowing what is coming. And yet, God is using this man Green- he volunteers to keep the pigs that the AIDS program sells for fundraising. He was so proud of them and we took many pictures. Luke asked me what I was thinking when we left- and all I could think about was how we complaining about our small house in Atlanta.

From there we went to see a nursery school- mixed with orphans and non orphans (so as not to discriminate). Every village that the hospital serves has a one of these orphan nursery schools- over 300! These children were so happy and full of life, you might forget that most of them have experienced so much death already. But Esther pointed out several that had been badly burned, blaming the lack of supervision after their parents have gone. The community really does step in and take care of the orphans, as most of the teachers are volunteers. And at the nursery school they get at least one nutritious meal a day. The teachers keep the children busy with songs, dancing, games, counting, ABC reciting—all kinds of activities. Esther said the aim is to keep their mind off the sadness in their lives. But I kept thinking about how lonely the nights must be- with no one to tuck them in or say their prayers with them. Please pray for the orphans, and pray for a cure for this horrible disease.

Tomorrow we leave for Mzuzu to spend our week in the Crisis Nursery. I am excited to get back to those precious babies! What joy and hope there is in a baby’s face! Jim and Jodi McGill (Presbyterian missionaries who we met in Atlanta) and their 6 children have invited us for dinner Sunday night. Luke has also scored yet another teaching engagement with the Gideons in Mzuzu- word is out on the Divinity grad in town! We are also looking forward to connecting with other friends and friends of friends in Mzuzu- I think it will be a great week to end our time here. We miss everyone and appreciate your prayers so much!

xo, js (and luke)

ps- We heard the internet is great in Mzuzu so we hope to send lots of pictures there!