Her words were stark, straight, and cold. There will be no ventilators. Stay in place, try your best, pray hard. The British doctor, our friend and fellow church member, shared these words with us as we made an action plan for our family a) to stay healthy, and b) understand what to do in case something changes. All 6 of us have asthma which means we are particularly vulnerable. It was hard not to be afraid or at least concerned. In the last number of weeks we have seen countless expats and missionaries leaving the country. As we've watched them trickle out, we thought, "Should we go?" However, there was never a doubt in our minds that we should stay, that this is home, that this is where we need to be. In many ways, we feel we are being missionaries in Africa for the first time. I can remember reading about missions history; the faithful who loaded their basic life necessities, including their own coffins, onto a ship setting sail for the other side of the Atlantic, knowing full well they would not return home. At this point, there are no flights out of the country other than the repatriation flight organized by the American government at the cost of $3,000 USD per one-way ticket. We are here. We are staying. We need your prayers.
Here's a quick update on each of our various programs:
1) Lilongwe Hope Academy
Schools were closed by the government of Malawi on March 30th. VOH has followed their directions and have closed our primary school and preschool until further notice from the government of Malawi.
2) Feeding Program
VOH children receive porridge every day at school. The closing of school has meant that the feeding program has also had to stop. We are now distributing 1 kg porridge each week to each child and following all WHO guidelines on social distancing.
3) Health Care
Children are still able to continue accessing regular health care needs via the clinic that VOH partners with in the community of Kauma.
4) The Children's Home
Eight children live in full-time residential care at VOH Malawi's children's home. Along with food provisions, two of the six have gone home to extended family members during this time.
This month, Jasper turned 11 years old and Hazel turned 9 years old!
Daphne lost her top tooth (with mom's help!) and Finley is enjoying his freedom.
First, faith. Then, provision.
Sometimes, it's about taking the step before seeing the ground. It's about planting the seed before tasting the harvest. It's about saying yes because you haven't yet heard, "No". It's terrifying, it's overwhelming, it's possibly exhilarating. At VOH Malawi our monthly budget for porridge is 1.5 kg per child. However, it's almost impossible to send home 1.5 kg per child, per month and expect that only the VOH child will eat it. Food is a community experience; families eat from the same dish at meals and there is no "my", only "our". So at VOH we started distributing 1 kg of uncooked porridge per week for the children to take home and eat safely in their own houses. This has nearly tripled our porridge budget because we've gone from 1.5 kg per month to 1 kg per week. As missionaries we do have those "crazy stories" of hearing from God on one or two occasions but then we also have those incredible testimonies of provision after hearing from Him! In the last week, we have received donations of nearly $3,000 towards the budget to keep up this porridge distribution! Thank you to those who have given and if you are interested to give, please click below to donate. Choose "Other" and specify in the comments: VOH Malawi Porridge. To give you an idea of expense, it usually costs VOH Malawi $475 CAD per month for our porridge budget and it now costs $1,310 CAD per month to maintain 1 kg per child per week.
As we've watched them trickle out, we thought, "Should we go?" However, there was never a doubt in our minds that we should stay, that this is home, that this is where we need to be.
HEALTH: For all VOH families and staff along with the Walton family.
PROVISION: For continued needs arising during this crisis.
PEACE: For our hearts and minds as much about the future is unknown.
UNITY: We are now homeschooling parents due to our children's school closing. (#sendhelp)
WISDOM: For government leaders who are making decisions about a pending lock-down in a country where most people spend their daily wage on their daily meal.
Please consider donating to our work and ministry at Village of Hope Malawi and receive a tax receipt for your kindness. We are grateful for your consideration and generosity!