I am sure many of you have been wondering why there hasn't been an update since October. Time slipping by and an opportunity to connect with those directly involved can sometimes cause uncomfortable delays. Because I live 350 miles from Beka and the center of things, I must rely on her to provide me with information to pass on to all of you. Although there are occasionally snippets of exciting or uplifting things that are shared, the gleaning of events on Facebook and what I hear from others just isn't adequate enough to fill these pages.
It is a heart-breaking decision to have to make, but this will be my last post on this blog. Because Beka has been extremely busy with the boys, her health, and getting resettled here in the states and trying to keep close contact with Anna, communication between us has been difficult. But I don't want my inability to keep you informed here to discourage you, to cause you doubt, or to think that what God has accomplished through Anna and Beka has come to an end. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He continues to work tirelessly through Beka, Anna, and others to insure that Wongani's Hope Toddler House is completed and that the children in Malawi are provided a safe haven during their formative years. God will also be providing its supporters with other avenues to keep updated on the progress being made in Malawi. In the meantime, I'll try to catch you up to what I do know.
When they finally made it back to the states, Beka, Wongani, and Pilirani (Pete) settled into her parents' home just in time to celebrate their first Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States. I'll allow your imaginations to fill in the blanks about their reception by the family, and also the things the boys experienced during these special times. There is no doubt that all rejoiced over the ability to have all the family in one place.
After settling into their new home, Beka made a trip to her oncologist to have a mole checked and was pronounced in good health. However, as some of you already know, she contracted staph in a wound or insect bite on her hand that required minor surgery in order to speed the healing. With God's healing touch, Beka quickly recovered. Beka also saw a specialist about her back and to discuss treatment. As was mentioned in another post, the degenerative discs in her spine have caused extreme discomfort and severe headaches. Please keep her in your prayers, and pray that the doctor will offer a final solution to this problem.
I have heard that the boys are settling in quite well with their new friends. If the photos I've seen are any indication, a passel of little boys are proving that we shouldn't regard "snips and snails and puppy dog tails" as being a myth! They are inclined to explore all possibilities, and this little group is no exception.
Steve and I were able to meet Wongani and Pete at Pastor Paul's memorial service last fall. They were shy, but when I introduced Wongani to my grandson, Isaac, who is a year younger than Wongani, they shook hands like little gentlemen and spoke each others name.
Beka wrote me Wednesday night to catch me up on her little family and the happenings in Malawi. She's been very busy taking the necessary steps to get Wongani's and Pete's American citizenship status completed. It's unfortunate that our government refuses to recognize the legalities performed in Malawi so that they would automatically receive it, especially considering that Beka is a natural citizen. But, there are hurdles and legal costs that must first be faced before it can happen. I'll let Beka tell you in her own words the progress she is making:
"After meeting with an immigration lawyer, we have been advised to stay in the country for 2 years and then start a set of paperwork which will make it much easier for the boys to obtain citizenship. That means they will be here on expired visas, but it won't be a problem as long as we don't leave the country. They are not mentally or emotionally ready to return to Malawi so this is the option we are going with."
Beka and the boys made a trip to California to see her family and to introduce Wongani and Pete to the toddler house supporters, including Mr. Reisert and his students. The class had continued this year to be busy garnering much-needed funds. I would like to extend a heartfelt "thank you" to this wonderful teacher and his students and the love they have for this mission. It's people like you, Mr. Reisert and Beka's family in California that will see it to its completion.
During the trip, the boys got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time and play on the beach, and also visit the zoo.
In January of this year, Mabton Grace Brethren Church officially designated Wongani's Hope as one of their funded missions. Anna, Chifu, and Chikumbutso subsist on $300 per month. That's not much according to our standards, but some of the support they so desperately need is now being given monthly and Anna is truly grateful.
It was determined that a Board of Directors needed to be established, which was created just a few weeks ago. Youth Pastor of Mabton Grace Brethren, Caleb Schlagel, and others meet once a month so that recognition for the toddler house and the work being done there can be broadcast to the world in hopes that others will volunteer their time, talent, and resources to get it completed.
In January, Beka informed me that, as usual, the crops were planted and the animals were thriving, including three more nanny goats, bringing the total to eight, twelve rabbits, and 7 new piglets with more on the way from the other two sows. Anna also raised another 100 broilers, of which 97 survived, and sold them in the local market for a profit. However, because of the high cost of feed and poor production, most of the laying hens have been sold. Also, Luso, their cow was sold because she wasn't producing, and two yearling heifers and one wet (producing milk) cow have replaced her. Beka said, "It is exciting to have milk to sell and drink when needed."
"Naomi has not been doing well over the past month due to lack of care by her relatives. They are busy in the fields and not giving her the care she needs. We have decided to take her to the farm if they will allow. So far they haven't agreed, mostly because they realize they will no longer get extra supplies and help if Naomi is not living with them. We told them that her health and well-being is the most important thing and we are praying God will do a work in their hearts and change their minds. We don't want to see her suffer now after she has come so far. God is good and I know He will work out the whole situation."
Keep little Naomi and her family in your prayers and that, one day, she'll glorify God with her testimony.
A few months ago, Anna and Chifu contracted a bad case of malaria. It was severe enough that both had to be hospitalized. However, I heard from Jimmy Mdumka, from Ministry of Hope and who visited Anna during this time, that both are on the road to recovery. Beka reports that Anna is gradually regaining her strength, but that it was a very bad bout of malaria. Anna is facing harvest, soon, and will need all her energy to see it through. Please keep her lifted in prayer. And while you're praying, Beka has also requested prayer for more rain. Apparently, the rain hasn't been as "steady" as normal and it's needed to insure a good crop.
A New Chapter Begins
On August 10, 2013, Beka married the love of her life, Caleb who, as mentioned before, is the Youth Pastor at Mabton Grace Brethren Church. Following their honeymoon in California, the new couple settled Wongani, Pete, and Caleb's daughter, Desi, in their new home in Mabton, Washington. Desi is also attending school with the boys and some friends in Bickleton.
...and they certainly are a beautiful family!
May the LORD richly bless the Schlegels with His grace and guidance throughout their lives!
The Future of Wongani's Hope
"Hope." It speaks volumes, doesn't it? We all hope for certain things, whether it be material or personal. But the greatest hope we can desire is that which is promised by Jesus Christ. He has never failed us in the past. Nor will He fail us in the future. Wongani's Hope Toddler House will be built in order that His Gospel of salvation may be presented to the children of Malawi, who will carry it out from the gates to their families and friends.
The spread of the Gospel is God's main purpose and reason for building the toddler house. Malawians face hardships we can only imagine. Their lives are troubled with poverty, disease, hunger, and death. But there is One Who sees their tears and understands their heartaches, and He's reaching out to them through His faithful servants who are willing to travel that hard road and offer Malawians true Hope.
God is looking for the faithful few who will join Beka and Anna and continue to work towards the completion of the haven He has begun in Malawi. He could build it without our help, but God desires that all of us lend a hand, whether it's through our generous donations, our time, or our talent. Each penny that is given goes directly towards the building of the toddler house. There are no administrative costs. No overhead costs, or unnecessary spending on frivolities. All of it - and I mean ALL of it - is used to complete what God has begun.
The newly formed Board of Directors are providing a newsletter to all of you who are following, watching, and supporting Wongani's Hope. I pray that, each month, or however often it is sent out, that you take it before the LORD and ask Him to continue to bless the work being done in Malawi, Africa on His behalf, and that He will receive the due honor and glory He so richly deserves.
Life has a way of changing direction and causing us to wonder if God intends us to stay on the path we've been following, or if He has other things in mind. And when this happens, the first place we go is to His throne on our knees. I know the silence I've experienced has taken me there, and I know that Beka has been there, as well.
What does the future hold for the project, for Anna, and for Beka now that she has a new family to consider? The boys won't be able to travel back to Malawi with her because of the visa situation, and that will eliminate the opportunity she had in the past for lengthy stays, not to mention the cost of flying all of them would be a huge burden and drain on their limited funds. Beka explained the best way she could her thoughts about this:
"Honestly, I am doing a lot of praying, too, because I don't know God's plans for us, especially when it comes to Malawi. I will most definitely be involved, and still travel back and forth, but it seems God may be shifting things a bit. I have mostly done the work in Malawi and just traveled to the U.S. for medical purposes and fundraising, but the more I pray about it the more it seems God may want me doing more of the work from here and less in Malawi. The project will remain my main focus and I know God is still calling me to be involved, I am just not exactly sure what that looks like yet."
All of us, at one time or another, have taken our petitions before God and found that the answer didn't come as quickly as we would have hoped. We want it now, not later, especially when the problem, trial, or burden never seems to ease. Those are the times we need to be diligent and go to our knees and directly into His Word to seek an answer, and to receive the comfort and be granted the patience He freely gives when we ask.
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." ~ Heb 4:16 ESV
As long as we remember and believe that He will never forsake us, regardless of the circumstances and what may come, and that His timing is perfect, an answer will be given. We may not receive the answer we want, but we know that what God determines will be for our better good. I hope you will join Beka and myself in prayer for God's continued guidance, and for the future success of Wongani's Hope.
It has been a tremendous privilege to be a part of the beginning of Wongani's Hope. My husband, Steve, and I count it a great blessing to have met Beka and to have shared her heart and desires with all of you. Through her, we have come to vicariously know Anna, Chifu, Sandi, Keith, Linle and the rest of Anna's family and village. There are many we would have loved to personally meet, but we know that one day we finally will as we all unite together in glory.
I also came to know and love Jimmy Mdumuka, a good friend of Beka who works for Ministry of Hope - another worthwhile and God-honoring mission - his wife, Doris, and their beautiful son, Precious. And all through Facebook! Who would have thought! Yewo, Jimmy, for having the patience to teach me a little dab of Chitumbuka. I don't know if I'll ever be able to completely grasp it, but your dogged determination and persistence in making me learn is much appreciated. Perhaps one day Steve and I will be able to afford the trip and take you up on your offer to come there, stay with you, and "see the orphans of Malawi." To meet you, your family, and those at Ministry of Hope is one of our greatest desires, including a wonderful opportunity to truly learn your language face-to-face.
Thank you to everyone for faithfully visiting this blog. It was my dream that it would do what it was intended to accomplish: spread the "hope" and garner support for the wonderful people half a world away who desperately need Jesus Christ. I truly pray that I've met that requirement and succeeded in introducing to you what has proven to be a blessing for all of us.
Steve and I will continue to support Wongani's Hope through prayer and giving what we can. I've even suggested to Beka that, possibly, the posts on this blog could be transferred to a new website. Whatever avenue is made available, I pray you will make the effort to keep up-to-date on the toddler house, give what you can, and share God's glorious work for the people of Malawi, Africa.
To Jesus Christ, our God, our Savior, and Faithful Friend, may ALL the glory and ALL the honor be given through the work of this mission.
(taken from Mazgu ya Ciuta - 1996; Matthew6:9-13)
Uadada vitu mwa va kucanya,
Litumbikike zina linu.
Ufumu winu wize.
Khumbo linu licitike
pano pasi, nga nkucanya.
Mutipe lero kurya kwitu kwa lero.
Ndipo mutigowokere mateu yitu,
umo nase tavagowokerera va mateu vitu.
Ndipo mungatitoreranga mu kuyezgeka,
kweni mutitaske kwa Muheni.