After the team left on May 25th, it was just us, Nate and Melanie again. (Well and many short term guests that happened our way : ) During this time Nate was instrumental in helping Jako build a generator room, build and plaster a septic tank, assemble furniture, fix broken vehicles, do plumbing, construction and various other odd jobs around our house and the orphanage. On top of that he also helped Melanie teach English and Bible Stories to the children and aided us in hosting the many visitors we had this year. Never one to just sit and do nothing, Nate was often found doing whatever needed doing without even being asked – whether that consisted of chopping firewood, starting a campfire, working on miscellaneous work projects,or even pitching in with dinner or dishes. He and Charles built a good relationship working together every day and it was neat to see the relationships that he had developed last year with the villagers flourish this year. To see the smiles on the faces of locals like Francis and Obie when they ran up to give him hugs spoke volumes. On a personal note it was great to see how much Nate had grown and matured in the past year as evidenced in the way that he was able to witness and talk to the locals in a bold and confident yet friendly and non-threatening kind of way. What a blessing he was and we look forward to see all that God has in store for this young man.
Melanie, on the other hand, having never been to Africa before, jumped right in like she was a pro. From the first few days she helped wherever she could and went to great efforts to learn how to do anything that might need doing whether that might mean washing dishes, stoking the donkey, helping with laundry, chopping firewood, pumping water, starting a fire, entertaining Jakob, or any of the other various things that often needed doing just to live out here. And on top of all that she willingly took on the huge task of teaching the kids at the orphanage Bible stories as well as English. And all this without a set curriculum. Trying to pick up from where Jenny left off she had to had to develop her own plans and directions and she did great! Talk about being thrown into the fire! The kids however loved her and progressed amazingly under her direction and guidance. She always made her time with them fun but instructional as well and now every time we hear the children with their much improved English we smile as we think of her.
She also helped organize the library, worked in the orchard, sorted through donations for the orphanage and tackled the task of leading weekly children’s church at the local village church so not only did the orphanage kids come to love her but most of the village kids as well. Her biggest help however came when we got our first little newborn into the orphanage. Baby Genesis.
June 21st was a memorable day for us here at Mission of Love. One that we will not forget for a long time. That was the day that Genesis Matalikilo, our newest little addition, arrived on our doorsteps. With the mom being severely mentally ill and an unknown father, we had been preparing for her eventual arrival for the past few months but did not expect it to be this early. Being born on June 17th, she was born approximately 5 – 6 weeks early and by the time that she was brought to us at 4 days of age the only nutrition that she had had since she was born was a bit of ground peanuts that the family had tried to feed her. When we saw her she was soo tiny and looked so frail. From the best we could tell she weighed in at about 4 lbs. and was nothing but skin and bones. Thanks to a friend, Dr. Christa in Kalomo who gave us advise on how to care for such a premature baby without an NICU unit. We did what we could, prayed that she would make it, and rejoiced when she drank her first few sips from a bottle. With Amber still busy caring for Jakob (6 months old at the time) Melanie was instrumental in helping with the feedings (hourly at the beginning- then down to 2/3 hours even at night) and doing skin to skin contact to keep her body temperature up during our winter. Mom was thought to have syphilis so I (Jako) had to give her penicillin injections for 10 days and considering she was nothing but skin and bones, it was not an easy job – especially for my heart. At first she was so tiny she couldn’t even cry – just let out a little whimper when I stuck her but by the end of the course it was nice to hear how her lungs had developed by the loud cries that filled the room.
Later we found out that the mom was HIV positive and about 2 weeks after delivering little Genesis mother passed away. I believe that God in His goodness knew exactly how long she needed to be inside her mom and when she needed to be out; hence the name Genesis – God knowing her, caring for her, and providing her from the beginning. He even lead Amber to pump and store some of her own breast milk for her arrival and a provided a donation of baby girl clothes to show up not long before she arrived. God definitely knew what we (and she) needed in advance, long before we ever did and His faithfulness and provision never ceases to amaze us.
On June 29th – we had the added blessing of adding another member to our team for a month and a half. Erin Costello, a young college student from Florida, proved to be a trooper and a definite added blessing to us and the ministry. Arriving only a week or so after we received little Genesis, Melanie taught her the ropes of what needed to be done and she quickly stepped up to the plate, doing whatever was necessary and giving Melanie a bit of respite pitching in with the night feedings and giving her time to plan and teach the kids during the day. Erin was a joy to have around and especially loved spending time with the housemothers, speaking into their lives, encouraging them, and playing with and teaching the children. After Nate and Melanie left she was able to keep the teaching going for a while and help keep the progress going of the library as well. She was a great at doing any of the odd and end jobs that needed doing, helping direct and lead things when the FBC team was here, and even blessed us by watching Jakob at times so that Amber could tend to other ministry needs.
But I think the biggest help that Melanie and Erin gave was in caring for baby Genesis.Due to her small size and constant tending to we kept Genesis here at our house for the first two weeks and then slowly began transitioning her to the Orphanage house bit by bit. Although the house mothers were good with children, Rachel (who we decided would care for Genesis) had never had a child of her own before and none of the mothers there were experienced with bottle feeding, formula feeding, or the needs of such a premature baby. Melanie and Erin were great at supervising feeding after feeding, teaching them how to interpret her cries, how to tell when she was full, how to burp her and bathe her, and just making sure that they were comfortable with her and knowledgeable about how to care for her. They were also great at sorting through the baby donations to make sure that they had all they needed for her. So thank you Melanie and Erin – this precious little baby is doing well because of your watch care, love and sleepless nights.
Other Winter Visitors (May – August)
Apart from the three wonderful longer term volunteers that God blessed us with this year, we were also blessed by many other visitors.
Early May we were unexpectedly blessed to have an expedition team from Overland Mission literally show up in our driveway. While they were originally planning on doing ministry in another part of the chieftainship, God had other plans for this team to do some ministering, village to village evangelism and teaching to the orphanage children. In fact, the day that they arrived Amber had heard from the house mothers that the children were refusing to sleep in their bed at night afraid of some spirit or ghost that the kids had been seeing (a lady dressed in white). Instead they were all sleeping huddled together in fear in the main room. After explaining the situation to the visiting team they went up to the house to tell the children an encouraging Bible story about the power of God and pray for them. After they did, the kids have been sleeping in their own room without fear ever since : )
In June Jako’s mom visited for a week and apart from getting to spend some much needed time with Jakob, she also got to see firsthand all the progress that has been made here since her last visit a few years ago – before there were kids in the orphanage and when we were still living in a tent. She is always such a trooper, even when roughing it in the bush and we and Jakob loved having her around.
June also saw us receive a team from Dutch Reformed Church of Wonderpark , South Africa for a few days. While their original intent was only to spend a day or so with us God intervened (once again) to extend their stay a bit longer allowing them to help us with shoveling manure from our goat and cattle pen to use for the orchard. It was especially nice for me to be able to have some people from my home culture to speak Afrikaans with, braai with, and just fellowship with.
Fellow missionary friends of ours, Rob and Christa Murphy not only came out to visit and do some First Aide training for our house mothers in June but also lent us some of their summer/African winter Interns. Gretchen and Sharon came out to lend a hand in June and then Gretchen returned with Tori, Shannon, Katrina, and Kat for a week in July. Tori also made a repeat appearance in August.
Last but not least, Griet and Braam LeRoux made a visit out to us in Mid August so that Griet could begin to teach our housemothers how to sew. Griet is a wonderful seamstress and teacher and we were impressed to see all that the housemothers could make after only two days of teaching. A shirt, bag, and Bible cover! Our hope is that the mothers can eventually make the children’s school uniforms and teach the children a trade as well. Tailoring is Zambia is a skill that is highly prized for both men and women alike.
Thanks to all our winter helpers, both long and short term but thanks be to God the most, for providing the means to make all of it happen. May God bless all of you for the efforts here. Thanks for making a difference in this part of the world.
P.S. If anybody is wondering there is still TONS of things that need doing, help, or maintenance around here so if God is calling you to come and serve, just drop us a line so we can be in communication : )
Thank you for your support and love.
Jako, Amber and Jakob Joubert
Mission of Love Community Orphanage