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)
Growth! Another Family is Joining Us and Growth in the Ministry
In the Ministry and A Family is Joining Us
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 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!
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.
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
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
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
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.