September 2011 Southern Malawi Ministry Centre Update

"Everything is overshadowed by the death of one of our missionaries here at Iris. One of our missionaries, Daryl Martin, got too close to some elephants and paid with his life. Still, something amazing happened in the midst of elephants charging, autopsy, wake, service of memory, and burial. All 75 of our Iris children who live on site in 5 homes have lost both parents. They have suffered loss compounded by rejection and abandonment. The children suffered another loss, and yet this time they are older and able to process. There was great wailing and crying. Our wake was not quiet or contained. It was loud and messy. Children sat by the coffin shuddering out their pain. Somehow this loss made space for other grief, grief long hidden and ignored, grief stuffed away into the crevices of an otherwise happy life.  

"Although my heart was breaking for my loss, I (Joanna) felt there was goodness in the process. There was a gift given in the going. These were tears that had long waited to be shed. When grief is passed through, there is a harvest of maturity. We know that we have lost, but we find that we can go on. For us the going on means caring for the children.

 [Rebekah, saying goodbye]

"Our 65 children have homes to live in, Malawian house parents who love and care for them, a school on our property in which they learn well, soap, and a toothbrush and toothpaste. They eat three times a day, and they receive medical care when they need it. This sounds so basic, but it is the making of a good life. There is space for creativity in their lives, as well as dreams. When you struggle to find food morning and night, there is no energy to create. When today is too difficult, tomorrow is scary, and so dreams are lost.

"Fifty men and women come to work each day on our Iris base. Some are carpenters, some builders, some cleaners, some teachers, some bricklayers, and some plumbers. Each worker has improved in their skill in their time on our base. Each worker takes home pay to feed and clothe their families.  

"Outside our base with children’s homes, schools, fish farm and fields, there are many families whom we are able to help with food, soap and school uniforms. There are others who are able to attend high school because we help with school fees. There are 3,000 families who receive some extra food to help them through the month. There are families with houses built by their community but facilitated by Iris. There are wells that work now. There are churches throughout the country that extend the work of caring for orphans and widows.  

"In this way we keep going."