April 2018 Sarah Masson Update
It’s hard to explain and verbalize what life is like in this district of Malawi, but I will try to give you a glimpse into life here! Every day is fluid and you can start the day with a schedule of duties, but end the day having done a whole other set of more pressing, unplanned and urgent duties. I do my best to stick to my scheduled times and meetings, but sometimes life events like funerals, hospital visits, boarding secondary school students, a child’s uniform shorts tear that needs sewing, visitor airport arrivals and departures, earthquakes, heavy rains, extreme winds and heat etc change things up! The list of daily surprises and changes to schedule and challenges goes on and on, and it is (in fact) an unusual day when I don’t have to rework the timing of a meeting or re-schedule a certain program. I realize that this lifestyle is not for every personality, but thankfully I do love the challenge! I’ve started drawing again and I’ve been enjoying getting lost in art with God.
[Sarah wearing her Iris 'hat'!]
Since September 2017 I have been intentionally meeting with and leading a group of our young adults who have finished secondary school. I’ve been calling them up to their potential in life. I’ve also been helping them navigate their education options after they finish secondary school in Malawi. We’ve set high expectations for their behaviour, character, and attitudes for them when they graduate. We are working with new initiatives that we hope will see them working as responsible young adults in jobs around the area and the country, and that will create even better educational opportunities in their future. Education in Malawi continues to be a challenging area to navigate, as our Western standard and rights for education look completely different. Please continue to pray for education in Malawi; pray for a curriculum and teaching method change for mathematics, and please continue to pray that our less academically inclined children will find a pathway in life that leads them to be earners and contributors as well.
[Sarah's post-secondary class.]
I have been teaching at some of our bible school courses at Iris Malawi on and off.The photo below shows my translator Kevin, doing his job so that the students understand my English.
[Kevin is checking on students in in with students in college.]
[A bible school class.]
Recently I’ve started teaching English to a few trainees who are learning how to use computers at a new data centre project here in Bangula. I currently have 8 students that I am assisting to move further into their workplace environment with the use of the English language, while they learn computers for the first time.
It’s been a hard season for some of our youth as they are growing up and many are experiencing anxiety about their futures, and about their losses in life. Our students are experiencing some significant social and cultural challenges when they go to boarding school (as do many when they go to university), but with boarding school they are leaving the nest that much sooner. Each school has different dynamics and challenges. I’ve been talking them through dealing with a lot of those uncomfortable changes and how to rely on God for their strength each day.
We have been to a couple of funerals this year for some our youth who have lost now the only remaining and willing relative to care for them when they lost their parents. I attended the funeral of a grandma of two of our children. She was a woman of God who seemingly had nothing physical to offer in terms of things, but she offered these children shelter, as much food as she could find, and most importantly she let them know that she loved them more than herself, feeding them before herself. She lived very sacrificially. These two young children were brought into our Iris Malawi care 10 years ago and have been here ever since, because of the personal sacrifice of their grandmother. Their extended family relied on her for support, love, and care immeasurably. She attended our church conferences once a year and made sure that she could see her grandchildren as often as possible.
[Investing in our kids as they grow. Grasshopper delight!]
I’m continuously in awe of our youth! They have surpassed so many obstacles in life. We definitely have moments where we ask ourselves, ‘God, how? How will these kids better their futures? Are we doing enough?’ The Lord gently, and sometimes starkly, reminds us that these children are in His hands! God can correct, heal, bring work opportunities, bring the right visitors for the right seasons… and HE DOES! God is the healer, leader and life changer. Please pray for creative solutions for the house parents, and management for decisions considering the future of our children and youth.
In the photos below, I am showing you a comparison from 7 years ago until now. It was in September 2011 that God spoke to me about being ‘a constant’ in the lives of our children, and especially youth. For me that meant that I would be here longer term to show that in a place that has so many people coming and going all the time, with so many losses and deaths in their families, that I would be as stable and as constant for these children as I could be as long as our Heavenly Father would allow. I’m super proud of who this young man is becoming.
[Photo taken September 2011.]
[Current picture of same 'little' (?) boy.]