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Archive for September, 2018

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Sunrise on the road to the game reserve. Safari time!

Saturday began early (4:00 am) to be ready for Pastor Chilemba to pick us up at 5:00 in order to make the drive to the Majente African Reserve in the mountains for us to see the elephants. We got started just ten minutes or so late, we had hoped to get the first tour, but even though we arrived at eight o’clock, we had to wait until ten. Joey had spoken with people who had gone a few days before and they said that they took the late tour and saw nothing. We hung out at the lodge for the next two hours. The lodge is fantastic. It offered a pool, a restaurant with thatched roof, a museum, British toilets, etc.

A little quiet time waiting for safari guide.

Finally, Jimmy, our guide loaded us up into the safari Land Cruiser with graduated seating. I had to have a ladder to get into the front seat. Joey, Ian, Pastor Chilemba, John Chilemba and Philip Chilemba sat in the higher seats behind. With low expectations we scanned along the road a came upon a herd of Gazelle! They are beautiful creatures that walk single file. Over the next few miles we saw a lot of Gazelle.

We saw Nyala, a zebra and water buck. We passed some monkeys and saw some wild boars and a baboon. We were pretty happy because we didn’t think we would see much when our guide took us along the river to show us a bunch of Hippos sunning themselves, then we saw two huge crocodiles across the Shire River. Not far from the crocs was a HUGE elephant tearing down a tree. Even though he was across the wide river, he was HUGE. Farther down, there was a family of elephants, yet they were still across the river.

We went back inland and saw more wild boars and gazelle. Then it was the sight we had all been waiting for — face to face with an elephant!

Close encounter with an elephant. We saw five … four across the river.

Nyala

Gazelles walk single file.

On the safari!

Lunch at the lodge and long drive home filled out the day.

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“So I sent for you immediately and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us” (Acts 10:33).

It is a humbling experience and we are all growing through it, the teachers and the students alike. Would God have it any other way?

It’s Friday night. What better time to hold an appreciation dinner for our wonderful translators?

Day 5 of Classes

Today is Friday and the end of the first week of the Bible School.

David teaches two classes today to the First Year Students. That is one hundred and seven students from either Malawi, who speak Chichewa, or from Mozambique,who speak Portuguese. This means that whatever you speak is translated into two languages. He is excited to be teaching an International Bible School with multiple translators. Until now, he has been teaching only the small class of thirty four Returning Graduates, and in that class there is only one translator because they all understand Chichewa, even the few of them that are from Mozambique.

Ian and I have warned him that two translators slow things down and you have to trim your class content a lot and he has done that. The Portuguese translator we had Thursday cannot stand very long at all and he does not understand any English, only Chichewa, so he must wait for the English to Chichewa translation before he can translate.

This class is called Your Identity In Christ. David will skip directly to the how to affirm another person section, which is the best part.

The idea seems simple enough. He has chosen 32 verses in the Bible that are promises about who we are in Christ Jesus. This is a sample:
• I am Jesus’s friend (John 15:15)
• I am made whole in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:10)
• I am victorious (Philippians 4:13)
• I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
• I am set free in Christ Jesus (Galatians 5:1)
• The devil runs from me when I resist him in the name of Jesus (James 4:7)
• I am chosen by God and holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
• I am forgiven (Romans 8:1)
• I am important (John 3:16)
• I am created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27)
• I am cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7)
• I am special (Isaiah 51:16)

David makes certain that they can see each others’ nametags in order to personalize the Scriptures. He gives the following example for the class. “John Chilemba is Jesus’s friend.” Then there would be the Chichewa translation. After that everyone affirms that John Chilemba is Jesus’s friend in Chichewa. Then we get the Portuguese translation. Everyone tries to affirm that John Chilemba is Jesus’ friend in Portuguese. Now everyone tries to affirm their partner. There are some affirmations, but a lot of confusion

After some discussion, the problem is explained to David. Many people have partnered with friends they have made at the conference from the other country, and while they have been learning a few words of each others language at meals, they do not know enough to do this exercise.

The great news is that networking between nations has been happening through the power of the Holy Spirit and their natural curiosity about each other.

However, for the exercise, we must rearrange the partners and the chairs again. In the end, the students have each been encouraged by these personal promises from the Bible.

David teaching the affirmation class.

During this time Ian is teaching the Returning Graduates a class on “Jesus casts out Demons”. Ian gives examples of times Jesus cast out demons. He is preparing them for Vicki’s class this afternoon when she will teach them that Jesus has given them the power to cast out demons in His name.

For the second class period, Joey is teaching the Returning Graduates about “Learning to hear God Speak” and Ian is back with the First Year students to help David with his Walking with the Lord skit.

The students all love Ian and they like having him play the part of Jesus. The skit is about how once we are saved, we try to walk with the Lord. However, sometimes we get distracted by the troubles of this world and worry and carry burdens that we were never intended to carry. There are bags of burdens all over the stage. David starts out walking with Jesus (Ian). After a little while he picks up a bag, but is still walking with Jesus (Ian). Pretty soon David picked up more bags, is all hunched over and not following Jesus anymore. Jesus (Ian) keeps trying to get David’s attention, but he just keeps picking up more bags. The more Ian tries to get David’s attention the more the class laughs (as intended). Finally, David notices Jesus (Ian) and lets Him take all the bags and then David is again walking with the Lord.

All of this setup is to get to the main point of the lesson, as we walk with the Lord, we not only do the good works he has planned in advance for us to do, but we become more like Jesus and sin becomes less appealing. We begin to see other people as Jesus sees them.

All of our lessons are directed to big and encouraging ideas like this, so this is only one example of how the classes are designed.

After another delicious lunch at Pastor Chilemba’s house we have a short rest before the afternoon sessions.

Joey gets his chance with the First year students and teaches about Wise King Solomon. They have previously learned about Weak King Saul and Brave King David. After teaching First Year he agrees with our David that it is a fantastic experience.

Meanwhile, Vicki is teaching the Returning Graduates about how Jesus Christ has given them the authority to cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Vicki teaching under a tree again because it is to hot inside for the students to stay awake. The power is out and that means the small classroom has no fans to bring in fresh air. David and Ian went to the store with Pastor Phillip to buy water. He found a store with 16 big bottles of water and took them to our rooms. We have been drinking a lot of water recently and bought all they had.

Vicki teaching under the trees because of the heat.

Later that day, David and Ian were hanging out on the porch by the street when a van got stuck and a small man and young boy struggled to get the car up the incline and back onto the street. Ian dashed to the rescue and soon the van was back on the road. White people are guests here in Nsanje and the people carry our bags everywhere we go, we are waited on constantly. We just imagine the story these people will tell at supper tonight. We got stuck in front of the World Bible Church and suddenly this huge strong white man appeared out of nowhere and pushed the van back up onto the street like it was a toy. Who knows, perhaps they will come to church Sunday to see what is happening at World Bible Church.

Ian pushes the van out of the ditch.

All one hundred forty-one students are together for the anointing with oil session. Vicki teaches them how Moses anointed Aaron and his sons for service by anointing there right ear lobe, right thumb, and right toe. When Vicki announces they will each get their own bottle of anointing oil there are huge cheers. They are so grateful for every gift they receive. Then she describes how to use this oil to anoint a person for healing (James 5:14-16).

We anoint each of them for service as pastors and deacons in the service of our Lord Jesus. We set up an assembly line with Ian putting a drop of oil on the right ear lobe as he says “We anoint you in the name of the Father”, then David puts oil on their right thumb and says “and the Son”, then Joey anoints their right toe and says “and the Holy Spirit”. Then Vicki gives them their own bottle of Anointing Oil and they sit back down and put their shoes back on.

The line moves quickly and in no time we encourage them to anoint someone else that the Lord has placed on their heart. While the praise team plays “I surrender all”, we also go around anointing people. It is all a huge blessing. Several pictures follow.

As in interesting aside, we did not have enough bottles of oil when we began handing them out. Vicki continued to hand out the oils and God provided. There were 12 bottles of anointing oil left, reminding Vicki of the 12 baskets of leftovers after the miraculous feeding of the 5000.

Students annointing each other.

Students annointing each other.

That wraps up week one.

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Some days are so busy that I didn’t write much of an update, but as someone once said, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Just for fun, today’s update will be done in just pictures and captions.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” (an American idiom).

Jesus replied, “Go back and tell John the Baptist what you hear and what you see”
(Matthew 9:33).

Day 4 of Classes
Today is Thursday.

Students notice the step into the small classroom is uncomfortable for me, so they built a second step. So helpful! I never mentioned it to them, they just saw David help me up that step earlier in the day.

Joey teaching while Ian reviews for his next class. Today they taught Joshua, Gideon, Weak King Saul and Brave King David.

David loved watching the African Guinea Hens. He’s never seen them in America! You can see that the African ones have unique markings.

Vicki moves the Gift of Prophecy class outside because there is no power. In late afternoon the small class room is too hot without the fan!

David teaching Sermon Prep and Practice Class, using skits and costumes.

This shows the top of a mosquito net in one of the small rooms that sleep four men.


The same room showing two mats, the bottom of one net, and the students’ bags.

Two women and two men cook for all the students.

They also wash all the dishes!

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“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34 NKJV).

Rolling power outages impact businesses, which is part of the reason handouts are delayed. It is hard to make copies without power to run the copiers. In addition, Pastor Chilemba’s son, John, who supervises and directs the copying process has been drafted as a translator and he spends all day as a translator and must work with the copy center in the evening.

Beginning day three of Bible School. David suggested that we rearrange the schedule for today by combining three classes into two morning sessions. Then since both classes were already planned to be combined for the last main class session, the Returning Students will have had all their classes and can join the First Year class early and get an extra class session. This eliminated the need for one translator all afternoon and frees up John from translating to give him daytime hours to finish supervising the copying.

Changing the schedule didn’t affect us much. Ian did a great job teaching about Jacob. It’s a long and convoluted story and he only went ten minutes over time.

In the opening session I asked how many had cell phones. Half of the students raised their hands. I asked how many had computers and no one held up their hand. I asked how many had access to a computer and only one hand went up.

Later we had an issue with supplying the extra students with materials. We had sent some money personally to buy presents for the translators, but that plan fell through, so that money is now available to buy the extra school supplies for the increased number of students.

After lunch, we discussed this with Pastor Chilemba, and he agreed to use that money to by the extra pens and notebooks and other supplies needed for the extra students. God had this all worked out in advance, the money was here, we just had not understood what it was for. By the end of the day, all the students had their school supplies. That was a huge relief!

After lunch Ian taught the entire one hundred forty student body about Moses and the Exodus. In the meantime David was supposed to be with John at the copy shop sorting out the copies problem. Later I found out that they didn’t even go because just before they were leaving, the shop owner called John and said they had no power and could not do anything. So the joke is on David and his planning, but he does have a good talk with John and things are actually going well. The students are getting the handouts after the class, the students pay attention in class, but they have handouts to take home when they need to refer to them later. As with everything else – it really is no problem.

David teaching about Old Testament priests. John Chilemba is translating.

Later today Manual stepped up to translate. Abraham had to go to the hospital because his son came down with malaria. Please pray for them. Pastor Chilemba took Mama Chilemba to the hospital this morning to check the cast on her arm. All checked out OK, but please continue to pray for quick healing.

We registered our 141st student today. Please praise God for the people signing up. At he final session we used the inflated globes to show how far we had come to be here. Afterward, we bounced the balls through the 141 pastors for five minutes. They loved it! Ian and Joey bring much energy and excitement into play and the pastors are enjoying fun games and activities at the end of a hard day.

On the home front, we have more power outages than last year. We had asked for a refrigerator and got a freezer so I have been trying to regulate it by unplugging it from time to time. I left it plugged in because we haven’t had power and the power went on after we left yesterday. We got home and the power was off again, but all our drinks, snacks, cheese, and yogurt were frozen solid. And yet it was so hot that a cold shower was welcome!

Kids posing in front of the church, the one on the left is Phillip Chilemba’s Daughter. Phillip is Pastor Chilemba’s Son and one of the Pastors of the New Big Church.

Joey blowing up the globe.

Just another day in the 1st year classroom.

New students getting materials.

A quick update on Translator Abraham’s son, he is out of the hospital and doing fine. It seems he had an asthma attack. So many things get lost in translation! He really is fine now.

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Joey teaching advanced class with Pastor Samuel translating.

Today we start having ten sessions of classes per day. The Returning Student class that meets in the small classroom is smaller than expected, which is fortunate because that room is hot and crowded with just 33 students. 40 would have fit, but the extra breathing room is nice, and the smaller class size allows more interaction. Joey and David are the main teachers for this small group. They are determined to find out more about the students and learn more about life for a village pastor in Malawi and not just teach. We have already visited two small rural churches, one in Blantyre and one in Nsanje. We viewed the inside of houses and walked through the villages.

On day two, David planned an easy class called “Who am I” and taught 30 powerful verses and how to use them to encourage themselves and others. Then he told them how he was saved and got 7 volunteers to tell how they were saved. More than half were saved by attending a crusade, which is also the method Pastor Chilemba uses. They are as effective in Africa today as they were during the great awakening in America 100 years ago when great American Evangelists like Billy Sunday and D. L. Moody had huge evangelistic crusades. Billy Graham followed in their footsteps and soon became a mighty force for God in the 1940’s and beyond. God is always at work and now He is working powerfully in Malawi and Mozambique. His name is indeed being exalted.

Many unexpected changes occurred, but both the teachers and the students adapted well to the surprises. For example, there were permanent markers mixed in with the dry erase markers, so we accidentally wrote on one whiteboard with a permanent marker and could not use it. However, since Nsanje has grown, over lunchtime someone went and found the local equivalent of Goof-off and removed the “permanent” while we were at lunch – no big deal.

In the small classroom, the stick up white board material we brought with us from America would not stick to one of the walls we wanted to put it on, so no big deal, suddenly everyone grabs there chairs and benches and the room is rearranged. No one in Malawi is stressed by changes, this is Africa and changes are expected and part of the fun. As a team we are learning this attitude too. Once we realize that we are not disappointing the students when things do not go as planned, we relax into the flow that is Africa, and the ride is actually fun.

Praise the Lord for this extraordinary life changing mission — life changing for both students and teachers. Pray for protection, wisdom, guidance for us. We thank God for all of you. The church here prays for all of you.

Cooking maize for student lunches.

Joey teaches how pastors can create a thunderstorm effect in the ‘new big church’ by clicking their fingers.

Ian teaches and John Chilemba translates for first year students.

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“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests by made known to God ; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Joey stopped by this morning to tell me that he and Ian had met some people staying here from Resurrection Fellowship, Loveland, Colorado. They were here on a mission, but leaving this morning. It was great to have a brush with people from home working here to glorify the Lord. I didn’t get to talk with them, but Joey and Ian ate breakfast with them. Joey met the local pastor, Pastor Rogers, and he said he would see us at the World Bible Church annual conference. The missionaries had come from Uganda and I don’t know if they were on their way home or not, but they had a definite mission here in Nsanje.

Pastors line up to register.

After David and I had breakfast we anxiously awaited Pastor Chilemba’s arrival. Registration was to begin at eight o’clock and the van didn’t arrive until after nine. Pastor Chilemba had opted not to set up last night even though I did all I could to try to convince him that we needed to get ready. But pastors were arriving from Mozambique and Malawi and he was very distracted. So we had not set up, registration would begin over an hour late, and what else could go wrong? We expect at least double the students we taught last year. I tried not to stress out.

Then John said he needed to ‘have a word’ with me. Turns out the Bibles we thought were already here in Nsanje are still in Blantyre and Pastor Chilemba went to get them. That’s at least a six hour drive. In addition, the copies for our classes haven’t been completed and the books we so carefully designed a month ago are incomplete —ok — non-existent. (Sigh.)

Pastor Chilemba told us (through John) that they had hired a car to take us to Bible school, then to lunch, then to hotel, then back to Bible school. The car turned out to be the car belonging to the copy shop owner with Philip (Pastor Chilemba’s oldest son) driving. Philip is thinking about getting his driver’s license. Yikes! But then he did mention that he had permission from the local constabulary to drive us.

When we got to the church all the pastors were singing praises to the Lord and dancing. The music was very loud and celebratory! Once inside, we found that because of the loud music, the only way to hear for registration and hand out glasses would be to set up outside the church. There was some delay, but once we got started registration went very well. Abraham (translator) helped Ian and I fill out name tags and certificates while another translator helped David and Joey fit people with glasses. Many of the new pastors are from Mozambique.

Everyone was registered and we were to begin by 11:45. We registered 136 attendees. We began by reading the King of Glory books and got another curve ball! Now we had one translator for Chichewa, and one following in Portuguese!~ This first day would take twice as long because of the added language!! We have over 50 new students from Mozambique. People in Mozambique speak Portuguese!

Joey came up with a brilliant idea to separate and have the two languages taught simultaneously, thus bringing us back to our original schedule. John (Pastor Chilemba’s son) said the problem was… that it would seem to the people from Mozambique that they were being separated from the crowd. And so . . .we continued with our original schedule — first English, then Chichewa, then Portuguese! Our translators are amazing!

Mussa and a friend fill out name tags while we fill out their certificates. My attempt at efficiency.

L-R, Ian, Vicki, Abraham, at registration table.

Joey helps fit proper glasses.

Almost ready to start. Notice the dirt floor. We still have some work to do in order to finish the new big church.

Students registered and waiting for first class to begin. Notice white boards are not on the wall yet. Yes, still setting up. Class is about to begin, a little late, but all is well. It’s Africa!

“In that day you will say:‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted’ ” (Isaiah 12:4).

At the end of this first day of school we had a team wrap up session. We all agreed that the classes are really fun, the students are a joy to teach, they are all eager to learn and just plain delightful to be with. Everyone in Malawi is friendly. It is culture shock to see God glorified on every corner. Everywhere God’s name is being proclaimed. People in Malawi boldly love Jesus. All of us feel sad that America has changed.

There are sixteen more students than expected, so we ran out of supplies, but the students are sharing and we will work all that out tomnorrow. Everyone is so gracious. The King of Glory class went well. Everyone enjoyed it along with the daily raffle for small prizes that we have at the end of the day.

Ian and Joey bring a welcome energy and excitement for the pastors. They are doing a terrific job of teaching and interacting with students using powerful examples and tools. In addition, they come up with fun games and activities to share during joint sessions. We all look forward to classes we will be teaching tomorrow.

Nsanje is growing and the hotel is nicer that last year. There are more stores and markets. However, the electrical company has not been able to keep up with the growth, so there are rolling blackouts of 2, 4, 6, 8 or more hours at a time. You never know when they will happen or how long they last. I don’t have hot water or any water pressure from the shower. But it’s okay. This is Africa, so we just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Please thank God and pray for continued protection and blessings.

The King of Glory class went for three sessions. A powerful book!

Ian teaching children a different way to whistle.

Telling children good-bye. Time for class. The girl on the right is Philip’s daughter.

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It is our first Saturday in Nsanje, July 28, 2018. We arrived at the new big church in the morning after eating breakfast in our rooms. Workers are madly finishing the outside front porch. As soon as we drove up, Mama Chilemba welcomed us. She had a cast on her arm, so I think she broke it. John said no, it’s just a sprain, but I don’t think you put a cast on a sprain. Things often get lost in translation. She was very cheerful and looked good considering her accident. She fell at a friend’s house near the church three nights before.

Finishing touches on the front entrance.

Since it was so dark last night we got another tour of the ‘new big church’ which we found very interesting. When we first walked in I had glanced over at the concrete stage and cringed. I said to David, “I’ll never get up those stairs.” There were two steps from eight to ten inches tall, and I knew I couldn’t get up them. It was a concern, but I didn’t say anthing to the pastor. After we toured the church, all of us went out to a smaller building to inspect the room where David and Joey would be teaching the advanced students most of the time. Only a few minutes later we walked back into the ‘new big church’ (as they call it). To my amazement the two steps up to the stage were now four small doable steps! I mean, it could not have been more than fifteen minutes! Evidently someone noticed my concern and took care of it.

Outside the church Joey, Ian, David, and John (Pastor Chilemba’s son) showed the children how to play rock, paper, scissors. It was a blessing to watch them interface with these precious children. The game was also new to John, but he caught on quickly.

Rock, paper, scissors.

Next they play head and shoulders, knees and toes!

Ian, Joey, John and children playing Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes!

Later we visited Nyamithuthu, a small village outside Nsanje. Pastor Mthyola is the pastor. The congregation had their church service today instead of Sunday because we were here. First they sang praises to the Lord, then prayed. Pastor Chilemba invited each of us to speak for a couple of minutes. After that I got another surprise. Yes, Pastor Chilemba announced that I would now give them a message from the Word of God. Praise God, He is giving me experiences I did not expect! I didn’t have time to panic. God never fails and I did a short teaching on John, chapter one, where John talks about God giving us the right to become His children.

The children’s choir sings for their congregation in this tiny church. You can see Ian in the background.

After a beautiful church service we were invited to stay for lunch. I’ve never eaten rice with my fingers, but didn’t take long to master that talent! Lunch ended and the guys took a tour of a home in the small settlement. They met several people along the way. Pastor Mussa Sheha and John Chilemba led the tour ending up at the Shire River.

At the Shire River. L-R, Joey, John, Mussa, and Ian.

I visited with several pastors wives while the guys did the tour. Once we got back to Nsanje we spent time preparing for Sunday and getting used to our accomodations.

Joey plays catch with Elisha, our dear, sweet, hotel employee.


Joey and Ian teaching hotel employee to play catch.

I’m so pleased to see all the interaction with local people. God’s love is a beautiful thing to share! Blessings.

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