Archive for the ‘Malawi’ Category

Out Of Africa

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Brenda and Perry Jansen

This summation is probably for my benefit as I reflect on the incredible experience Steve and I had In Malawi and South Africa.  Safari’s are not glamorous but folk who dedicate their lives to helping others are rock stars! They are the people who captured my heart on this God-led journey.

Dr. Perry Jansen: visionary, doctor,awesome guitarist, expert in AIDS and tropical diseases, Man of God, Caring father, colleague to many, and funny.

Brenda: devoted Mom and helpmate, tender and focused heart, hostess, musical,anchor.

Nate: bright student, college bound, passionate worship leader, great guitarist, kind big brother, huge potential.

Jansen Family

Erin: emerging woman, playful kid, good writer, great big sister, sweet tooth.

Olivia: small voice, big smile, large heart, pixie, chocolate bundle of joy and delight.

Blessing: phenomenal natural talent, dependable, quiet, polite, appreciative. Bird painter extraordinaire.

Donald:  supportive friend, gracious, focused ladder climber.

Anna, Miriam, Joseph, Lester, Ida, Lucy, Octavius, Grant, John Hamilton, John Fielder, Cory, Elizabeth, Stalkers, Colleen, Maxwell, Agnes, the kids of Takambe, nurses in frilly caps, Blue-gingham girls, the 4:30 ambulance pile-in, Chijenzes, ironed shirts, short ties, and the miracles God brought about to pass every single day.

Blessing and Donald

Things I wont miss:  Goats, potholes, crumbling roads, cold showers, bicycles, smoke, power outages, no internet, pushy vendors, extreme poverty, flying for 26 hours, converting kwatcha$, nsima.

Things I did miss or will miss:  Family at home, new friends in  Malawi, wine, big salads, servants, the warmth of the people, power outages (hey candlelight is nice) the African worship, people with passion, childrens’  faces, visiting, tv-less, early nights, early mornings, MASH episodes.

Dick and Charlotte Day

In Zomba we now have fond memories of Moira and Steve Chimombo, Dick and Charlotte Day, Windeson’s cooking, Winston, Ben, Jean,Irene, Isabel,Catherine, Faith the villages of Simyoni, Kawiya,  Makundula, the Mponda School and Zomba Central Hospital.

And we took the love of wonderful folk who donated panties, time, baby caps, pencils, quilts, stencils and funds to make it all happen,  and PRAYER and those who offered it up that kept us safe and healthy!! and a husband who shared a passion and humbly served others. Love him even more.

Thank you Editor, you keep me grounded and connected.

What a journey!


Kruger, South Africa

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

We made it to the Blantyre Airport for the twice a week plane to Jo’berg.  It’s quite an event when the plane touches down, refuels and heads back to Johannesburg.

A two hour flight, one way cost us each $595. But no competition will do that.  We are Safari bound.

We are picked up at the airport by Len and Esta, our guides.  For the next 4 days we will be together as they drive, cook and escort us through Kruger park.  A 6 hour drive just to get to the park.

Here come the animals.

Zomba Central Hospital

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

What a special opportunity to visit the “Kangaroo Ward” here.  Because of no incubators etc, preemies and super small infants are bound flesh to flesh to their moms where they stay up to a month in this heated ward.  Skin, heartbeat, breath all make a huge difference in the survival rate.  The US has even noted the exceptional success.

So we had hats and booties to give out, which they insisted be put on them. That was very touching for me.  There was even a set of twins and the grandmother was the volunteer to help the mom with the skin to skin.

The regular maternity ward had at least 40 babies and moms, in the same bed with family members camped out around them bringing meals. That was gimme, gimme, hands out stretched.   Not comfortable!

Then came the Malnutrition Ward where neglected infants and toddlers are cared for in a last ditch effort to escape the inevitable.  Some were swollen and therefore looked well-fed, but that’s just a condition associated with malnutrition. And one sight I will never erase from my mind was  a toddler covered with purple lesions…lips…eye sockets…and he was just whimpering with such pleading eyes.   The last throes of AIDS.

Zomba Day #4

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Our visit to Makundula wasn’t quite as joyous because 2 Gogos had died over the weekend and their mourning is extensive — you gotta get ’em in the ground within 48 hours as there is no embalming.

We did see the pre-school where we read and sang. We left our goodies to be given another day.

Then we thoroughly enjoyed sitting thru a “Why Wait” class taught at Mponda School (1050 kids thru 8th grade).  The 70 kids in this class actively participated with Isabel about being special and waiting to give yourself to one person. There was singing and dancing and even with 3 to a desk, they were so well behaved.  The boys got pencils and the teenage girls got panties (several went right to the bathroom to put them on under their required uniforms).  We Have learned that many drop out due to lack of a pencil or no underwear.  REALLY.

Training Day

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Steve and I had the privilege of being part of a training day at Kawiya Village outside of  Zomba. We knew to bring head scarves and panties to distribute and you would have thought is was Christmas!!! The singing and dancing that the Gogos did with their new bandanas ( tied all sorts of ways) and the children, many who immediately put on their new underwear.

We prepared and ate lunch with the village and presented knit quilts to the 2 chiefs. We were there about 5 hours.

Soy Grinding

As we were leaving and hugging and singing and dancing, a Gogo in tears thanked us and said ” the Love of God brought you here.” And I’m thinking in my mind,  “wait a minute, lots of planning, lots of money, and lots of sacrifice got us to that crazy place.”  But in an instant, I was shown a bigger picture.  Because I love the Lord, retired, joined SEEDS, see others putting their faith in action, decided to step out, had Partners in Hope and Gogos capture my heart (and it catching many of you)…Yes, I joined her in tears because God loved me enough to bring me there.

Define Gogos

Friday, September 24th, 2010

A Gogo was an old widowed lady with little standing in the community who is also draining its resources.

A Gogo NOW (thanks to the work of Gogo Grandmothers) is a woman who has joined a support group, is raising orphaned grandchildren and is learning to plant,process and eat soy for the additional nutrition it supplies over the current crop of maize.  They are now very important ladies who have been adopted by many  U.S. churches that have formed a Gogo support group.

I am so proud to be a member of, whose members voted to send their first International grant to Gogo to provide the seed, fertilizer, trainers, and staff to launch their “Seeds of Joy” project.   Just a coincidence we have Seed as part of our name?

Old Goat

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Steve and I bought a goat to add to the soy feast with the Gogos at KawiyaVillage. Yes the goats provide milk, meat and garbage disposing, but what gets my goat (sorry) is no one is herding them and they look like they are gonna wander out on the road in front of our vehicle.

Oh, and it tastes like beef with a lot of gristle.

Log Walkers

Friday, September 24th, 2010

I can see where some of this country might have been a jungle, once upon a time.  But with people using wood for all cooking, boiling water and heat, if you are a tree your days are numbered.

Atop Zomba Plateau, the heavy forestation is being methodically stripped.  People make the long walk up the mountain with machete and ax and poach trees of all sizes and then place the logs on their heads and return home.

It is against the law, but there is no one to enforce the laws and they do make the trek at dawn and dusk.

Travel To Kruger

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Leaving Zomba for a 2 hour drive and 2 hour flight to Jo’berg and a 6 hour drive to Kruger for a 4 day Safari.  Pray for travel mercies in this crazy country! It will be a long day 🙂

Simyoni Village Art Project

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The first  Gogo village we got to visit was Simyoni where a multi-purpose room was awaiting our painting. They had asked for volunteer help and 30 youth were ready and waiting.

I had taken with me 50 butterflies to be painted with the paints and brushes, and when I didn’t find them appropriate in Lilongwe, I wondered if I was bringing them back home unused.

WRONG, the good Lord knew they were for here. All of these kids (teens) had never painted, held a brush, or participated in anything artsy! They soooo got into it! At times it was overwhelming when they all wanted to paint on the walls, but we corralled their enthusiasm and got the job done from 10-4pm.

Steve and I returned on Sunday to glue the butterflies to the wall and seal all the work.  The quality suffered, but they all took ownership. What a lesson!  A gift from Leslie Lewis – in memory of her mom – helped to complete this building.  What a legacy!