April 2014 Southern Malawi Ministry Centre Update

Along with the new 2014 year came the beginning of many activities at Iris Malawi. The Bible school hosted a month long program only for women, followed by a fourth year pastor student class who returned to finish their leadership training. Iris secondary school youth headed back to their respective boarding schools in Blantyre and the children on base continued their year of learning at the Iris Primary School. The production fields on base were planted and then with the sufficient rains, yielded a healthy harvest of cow peas. 1,300 vulnerable households were assisted with food support through the early months of the year known as ‘hunger season’. We are thankful for the many ways donors are helping to us move people out of poverty and into a more sustainable future.

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[Joanna speaking to the women’s ministry class.]

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[Masses of people who are registered to receive food support at the Iris Malawi food distribution program in Bangula.]

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[A Grandmother receiving soap and food to help with her orphaned grandchild.]

As rainy season winds down, we are into a season of building. David has been busy clearing the land for the Joe Martin Skills Training Centre. This will be our biggest building yet, and required the removal of several trees. We are thankful for friends who will arrive shortly to begin laying the foundations for this centre. Of course, the building is only the beginning. We will need a director for such an ambitious project, and many teachers to give of their time and energy in preparing young men and women to be able to contribute to their communities.

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[Our Container and vehicle storage building – phase 1, and stage? for construction of JMSTC]

Clearing the land is a good metaphor in terms of what lies ahead. This is a season of preparation for some wonderful new things. Malawian leaders are growing in confidence and courage. It is wonderful to see the Gospel take hold in their marriages, and family life, as well as in their leadership. We have some excellent training going on through ACAT, a leadership training model using small groups. Timothy Makwalo, our Bible School Director and a Commissioner for Iris Malawi, went to South Africa for the initial training. He then returned to establish a small group with 5 couples. Now each of those couples has a new small group to work with.  The focus is holistic, looking at life as a whole, including family life, leadership, and business practices. Recently the first group worked together to purchase some fabric with our logo on it. They were so popular among our church women that there will surely be another printing.

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[Timothy & Sarah Makwalo (Senior Malawi leaders of Iris Malawi) with sample of cloth project.]

Thandizo is our first Iris child to graduate from secondary school, and now we have the challenge of getting him flying. Having recently finished 6 months with YWAM’s Disciple Training School in Blantyre, he is busy working on a resume and applying for jobs. This is a hard transition, since most Malawian youth rely on their parents until they get a job, and even after that. We need to work to get our Iris children independent very quickly. Please pray for jobs for these young men and women.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ziwone and Lameck (Iris house parents) welcomed thier own bably girl into their family this month. It is an interesting dynamic with little ones needing all the love and care they need, and then older ones, who really want independence but aren't quite ready for the responsibility, and still need a lot of attention. Our secondary students come home for at least two weeks, four times a year, and we are finding the coming and going quite challenging for the community. Just when the pecking order has been re-established, they come home for a holiday and want to be 'on top' again. Please pray for humility, and genuine compassion for all of us.

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[An Iris girl caring for her new little sister.]

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[Lameck proudly loving his new daughter.]

Our Primary School has made the transition to using both the Cambridge and the Malawi curriculum. It is now using Cambridge in standards 1 and 2. Each year we will add a level. Some of the older students have been commenting about how quickly the younger ones are learning. It is exciting to see teachers integrating new learning styles and ideas. Our Standard 8's are busy preparing for their national exams at the end of May. They will need self-discipline and endurance to stay with their studies over the next several weeks.

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[Peeking through the window of standard 5 class.]

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[Iris girl on her academic journey towards becoming a doctor.]

As Malawi prepares for national elections in May, we are very grateful for this peaceful nation. There are sure to be some challenges in the months ahead no matter who wins. Please pray for peaceful and fair elections, and godly leadership for this great nation.

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[Children participating in an Iris Malawi village ministry program.]