Our Vision

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P.O. Box 620170, Kalomo, Zambia
Our vision is to bring the love of Jesus Christ to the children of Zambia through physical and spiritual means.Our hearts longing is to empower the local church and village community to meet the great need of the many orphans and widows through the development of an orphanage.(Psalm 68:5-6a)

Saturday, February 13, 2021

January/ February 2021 Update

The Sweerins

As mentioned in our previous update another family has joined us here at Mission of Love.  Let us introduce them to you a little more.

Nathan and Melanie Sweerin come from Cedar Falls, Iowa with their four children Natalie (8), Clayton (6), Lilly (5), and Hannah (2). They have a long history of involvement with Mission of Love serving here short term on several occasions and being actively involved in praying for us and supporting the ministry and school during their time in the States.

Nate is a general handyman with experience in construction and building.  He has been a great help with fixing vehicles, and doing general maintenance and improvements at the school, children's home and around the missions base.  He also has a gift and passion for discipling and is busy building relationships with the local men, and actively seeing what doors God will open in regards to that.  

Melanie has a background in elementary education and will be assisting with the oversight, training, and training of the school here.  Already she has helped with the implementation of a spelling/ English program, and has facilitated many days of training and encouragement for the teachers.  We are blessed that the teachers have such a close bond and Melanie is building strong relationships with them.  Even though she is also busy homeschooling her own children she has been helping in ways that Amber does not have the time and availability to do.


Their children are blessings to be around and have overcome some large hurdles in their transition here, such as not being around large dogs before, and they are adapting well with eating the local food and handling the bugs that come along with being here in the rainy season (ie. insects and worms).  They are a joy and all the kids at the children's home love having these new friends around that are always eager to play.

With their arrival we are excited with all that God has already done and look forward to all that He will continue to do.  If you want to learn more about them feel free to follow them on their blog at nathanandmelaniesweerin.blogspot.com

School Has Started 
After much uncertainty about school reopening dates due to the new COVID outbreak in South Africa/Zambia school has officially started.  The teachers have been more than ready for the past month and after having missed more than 5 months last year, both pupils and teachers are very happy and eager to have this opportunity once again.  The children at our home were extra excited to receive their Christmas gifts of new backpacks, school supplies, and small treats.

One change we had was Sanford, our oldest at the Children's Home in Mukamba who made the big transition to our home in Kalomo for schooling.  While he will be missed here, town will give him more opportunity to pass his grade 7 exams and get exposure to English in school and in the town.  He is a bright young man that we wish God's best for in terms of schooling and developing from boy to a teenager, to a young man.


Rainy Season Blessings and Challenges

What a difference this rainy season has been from last.  Already we have received more than 750ml which is tons for this area!  That's great news for the 5 hectares of maize, 6 of sunflower, and1/2 a hectare of sweet potatoes that we planted are all are looking great.  We have had to work extra however to prevent a big army worm invasion this area is experiencing and to keep the weeds from taking over.


The rain has also been great for our mangoes, increasing the water levels here and filling up the local dam that Jako and villagers have been working hard on, the rain is starting to prevent big challenges with the roads. 

Currently they are still "travelable" with great skill and the right vehicles but as the ground underneath these clay and mud roads continue to soften and the flood rivers continue to rise, we would appreciate prayers for continued protection over the vehicles as getting stuck, especially in a flowing riverbed, can have severe consequences for the vehicles.

We are so thankful for the provision of the "Green Giant" 2.5ton Hino Double Cab that so many donated to make possible last year, especially as that has been the only vehicle working most of last year.  In fact, we have put on more than 20,000km on the clock since we received in last March and almost all of those have been hard, off road, heavily loaded miles. It has handled these rainy season challenges like a champ but Jako has been working hard to get the Prajero and Land Rover up and running again so that the Hino can have a bit of a sabbatical.



Maintenance on these vehicles this time of year is a lot and very expensive but without one there will be no supplies for us, the ministry and the children's home, no way to bring oil and other grains to town to sell, no vehicle to help with medical emergencies, and no way for us to have "contact" with the outside world.  Sometime we are the only vehicle running in the area.



Prayer Requests

God has been so good to us these past few months and as we celebrate all that God has done please pray with us for the following
- for the right amount of rain that will produce good crops for us and the community (too much at the wrong time could cause everything to rot or go bad)
- for protection for the vehicles and wisdom for the drivers, especially Jako on these roads
- for the preschool and primary school - for the community to work hand in hand with the teachers and the ministry to make the school the best it can be
- As we all adapt to being a larger community of 11 here at the missions base, please continue to keep them and all of us together as we get used to this normal of doing daily life and ministry together.

Steve, Jako and Theuns preparing some of our home raised meat


Happy Family Visit
Happy Family Visit for one of our babies

Thanks for all your love, prayers and support and for joining us on the journey.  Our God is Faithful!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Growth! Another Family is Joining Us and Growth in the Ministry

 

Growth

In the Ministry and A Family is Joining Us

Growth

Growth is healthy and happens in many ways. It comes slowly at times and in big spurts.  Often it's exciting.  Growth brings big milestones but can also be bittersweet. When growth is natural and healthy its a reason to celebrate.  This year God we have seen God's blessing of growth on His ministry here in many different ways.


Our Children

Our kids growing up fast!  With a large group now between the ages of 8- 10 they have been able to do so many things that they haven't before and are great at helping the younger ones learn new things as well. 

Highlights of the past year include bicycling as a group together (16km round trip) to a neighboring school, frequent sleepovers, playing soccer against "teams" of other village children, excavating deep holes to see what they can discover (which did yield a very old piece of pottery), chopping firewood and starting their own campfires, building a mini village out of leftover bricks and termite mud, making wire cars, and camping in the cattle field. 

They have learned important skills such as hand sewing and mending, cooking over both gas and campfires, setting up tents, face painting, building and engineering (Kinex and Legos), making rugs from rags, and have proved to be a great help at different work projects all around the ministry.  With so many things happening around here there are lots of eyes watching, observing and learning all that they can. 

Jakob is very proud that he is now able to drive the small tractor on his own (just here around the property) and has proved so good at driving that the staff even ask him to help reverse the tractor for them at times.  The children all love the adventure of collecting firewood, doing sand and brick runs, and helping in whatever ways they can.

One big milestone has been to have some of our past children, now young adults living in the villages, return to help in various parts of the ministry.  Prohead is now "working" for us in the garden and Pamela comes a few times each year to mend the kids clothing and make school uniforms.  This year she was even able to make 20 custom mosquito nets for all the different beds.  What a blessing!

 
to see more photos of the children and ministry visit our album at https://photos.app.goo.gl/Xp8Re4BQNiQ9552RA
 
Blessed but Bittersweet Reunions

However as growth occurs, sometimes it can be bittersweet. Such is the case of our three toddlers who were joyously reunited with their extended family this year.


While many of our children come to stay with us until they are teenagers, in certain cases where one parent is still alive, we make a special agreement to take them in on a temporary care basis.  Seeing them grow from tiny, helpless babies to laughing, silly, rambunctious toddlers has brought such joy to us.  While we knew that these three precious ones were only "ours- in our arms" for a time, it was quite an experience having ALL THREE of them transition home within just a few months of each other.


Though our hearts ached at "our" loss, it was amazing to see God's answer to prayer as he worked in the hearts of these todders, preparing them with excitement for the family that had been longing for them for so long, while also working in the hearts of the mothers and children here who will be missing them so.  Turning over the care of a baby that you have loved for so long and trusting them to another is never easy but we know that God is the one who started this good work in them and who will CONTINUE it

Thankfully in the midst of the "bittersweet", God provided us with ample encouragement as He sent several of our past babies (now age 4-6) to stop by for a visit - all healthy and doing so well!  In we now have 10 babies who we have loved and cared for "temporarily" that have been successfully and happily reunited with their biological family. God is so good!


More Buildings and Self Sufficiency

Earlier in the year we were able to purchase a larger oil press which not only allows us and the community the ease of turning our sunflower into much needed cooking oil but also has provided an opportunity to sell the oil in town.  This project along with our pig, cow, goat and sheep projects all help to cover some of the operating costs of the ministry and also help us to provide employment for a few in the village.
Recent building projects include a new maize storage shed, mini volunteer house, methane gas system, and a new kitchen dining area that will be big enough for our family, Theuns, the Sweerins, and any other volunteers to sit and eat together.  While some of these projects are completed and other are still in the works, the buildings here are definitely growing as well as the number of people from the community that we have been hiring to help with these projects.  In the villages paid work is difficult to find and even piece work helps to provide food for a family.
  

 

   Green Growth - Vegetables, Rain, and God's Blessing

One big project that we've really invested in lately has been creating a large vegetable garden.  It look a lot of work to set up, especially with a drip irrigation system but now it is providing a bountiful abundance of tomatoes, onions, okra, baby marrow, butternut, chives, cabbages, rape, carrots, green beans, and watermelon.  The children love picking fresh carrots for snacks and the community is thankful to have the opportunity to buy fresh vegetables daily.


Praise God that this year the vegetation growth is starting early as the rains have already started to fall.  We have never seen the grass this green at the beginning and middle of November and now well into December.  In fact, the community dam project that Jako and crew have been helping with is now holding water and a lot of it, enough even that we have been able to bring the children to swim in it!  What a blessing for such a water poor area.   We are so thankful after facing almost complete drought last year and are trusting God for a good rainy season and crop harvest.  This month we already planted sweet potatoes and cow peas near the children's home as well as 5 hectares of maize in our field.  We hope to plant the remaining 4 hectares of sunflower in January.


Spiritual Growth

Every Sunday morning, the children run to load on the back of our "new to us truck" and pile on for the journey to the local village church that Obey - one of our first employees leads.  The kids spend an hour or so in a local lead children's church and then Jako teaches a Bible Study from the Firm Foundation series for all to enjoy.  Often times the children are invited up afterwards to sing a song or recite Bible Verses they have learned.

We all look forward to Sundays and it has been amazing to see the growth that is happening in the people in the church, their understanding of God's character and who He is, the children's understanding of the Bible, and seeing lives being changed in a real and true way, bit by bit..

 Another Family - The Sweerins - Have Joined Us! 

One of our most exciting pieces of news is that the Sweerins, arrived here in Zambia, Nov. 19th to join us here in ministry.  They have a long history of involvement with Mission of Love and we are so excited to have them and their 4 children here. Nate has a gift of being an all around handyman and a discipler of souls while Melanie has a background and love of education.  Their children are beautiful gifts from God and we look forward to seeing how God is going to use each and every one of them here. 

Please pray for them as they transition from their life in Iowa to making a home here and all of us here as we all adjust to doing ministry and life together. If you want to follow their adventures here you can visit nathanandmelaniesweerin.blogspot.com


Covid, and Other Challenges

Many people have asked how Covid has affected us here and we are so blessed that it's impact has been much less here than many places in the world.  Our schools here did close from April to September and we had to limit our travels and activities for a while (ie no church as per government regulations) but our affect here in the village was relatively minimal.  The children were still able to run around and play mask free and we thank God that no one here became seriously sick.  One of the biggest effects that it had on us was with the border closures, the availability of things that are made outside of Zambia (like formula, vehicle parts, building supplies, medicine) were scarce and sometimes almost impossible to find but yet God made a way for us to procure all that was needed.  

With the borders being closed, we were not able to have any friends or teams come help from outside the country and this is the longest that we have gone without seeing Jako's family in South Africa but those sacrifices seems small compared to what so many others have had to go through.  We have seen God's hand of provision through it all.

One of our biggest challenges has been our vehicles this year.  Due to the difficult road conditions and all of our vehicles being old and well used, all 3 were experiencing major difficulties, mostly with their engines.  But in a miracle that only God could preform, in just a few months, funds were donated for a great "new to us" 2.5 Ton, 4x4 Hino Double Cab!!!  There were so many ways that God worked to get us this "just right" vehicle all the way from Japan and not only did it clear customs just a week or so before the border closed, our last working vehicle literally broke down on the way back form picking it up and had to be towed by it!  What a tremendous blessing this new vehicle has been.  Thanks so much to everyone who gave so sacrificially to make this happen. 


 Growth and Grace Amidst Personal Health Challenges

Over the years, our family has had it's share of chronic health challenges.  It seems our bodies are not as sturdy as the locals.  We struggle in different ways with allergies, migraines, asthma, Amber with bad knees and Jako with serious back and neck issues but this year we had quite a health scare with Jakob.

Earlier this year he started experiencing lots of back and body pain, had swollen lymph nodes and an elevated HDL (which showed muscle or tissue being damaged/ broken down).  This continued for months and pain meds did little to alleviate the pain. At times, even small simple touches or bumps were excruciating.  What a challenge for a boy who lives for playing and being active.  Praise God for medical insurance and facilities in Lusaka that were able to do various testing over several months including a lymph node biopsy and bone marrow aspiration that ruled out cancer.  We are so thankful that while Jakob is still experiencing some pain he is so much better than he was earlier in the year.  Doctors seem to think it is some infection that went to his bones or joints that will hopefully work its way out with treatment.  While no one wishes to see their child suffer, through this experience we have experienced God bringing growth to us all, especially Jakob in the way that we trust God for our healing and needs, even when answers don't come as quick and conveniently as we had hoped and in the blessing and lessons that we receive on the way. 

Thanksgiving and Looking Forward

None of this would have been possible without God's grace and the faithful prayers, support, and gifts from people being willing to sacrifice and stand in the gap.  Seeing God's miraculous hand of provision this year, in the good times and the hard times, gives us confidence to know that He who started this work is more than faithful to complete it.  


As we look forward to 2021 we wonder what God will do in and through the work here.

As we praise God for His faithfulness in so many ways we ask for your prayers in the following

- continued health for all of us, staff, mothers, and children

- grace and provision for the Sweerin's transition/ adjustment to life here

- financial and physical provisions (funds and people) to help cover costs of operations, maintenance and fixing vehicles, maintenance of our solar power system, and new projects

- continued spiritual growth and unity among all here, staff, mothers, children, and community.

 

Don't forget...... to see more photos of the children and ministry visit our album at https://photos.app.goo.gl/Xp8Re4BQNiQ9552RA

Priase Be to God!