September 2014 Southern Malawi Ministry Update


[Iris girl awakens early, together with the other members of her home to begin harvesting maize that they had planted three months earlier.]

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As we gather in the crops at this time of year, we are reminded of the many harvests of this year. Every Childrens’ Home family plants and tends a field, and so the joy in harvest is definitely shared. Each child knows that they will eat the work of their hands.  What a sense of accomplishment, from planting to harvest, to shelling, to milling, to cooking pot!

The theme for our four day church conference this year was ‘Fan the Flame.’ It was wonderful to have our Iris International Directors, Rolland Baker, and Suprise Sithole, join us for the occasion.

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[The Iris plane arrives from Pemba - 'surrounded'.]

Our church members shared their harvest with us. Everyone brought some maize and some Malawi Kwacha to contribute to the cost of the conference. This is a harvest of a different kind, evidence of maturity in the church. hose who came paid their own way and came by truck, bicycle, or boat, while some walked as far as 20kms. Having paid a great price, those who came were attentive and responsive.

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[Close to 3,000 people attended the Iris church conference held in August in Bangula.]

As members returned to their homes, it was good to be able to promise a visit. Three of our commissioners together with visiting graduates from the Iris Pemba Mission School travelled over 2,000 kms during a two week trip reaching some of the Iris churches in the central and northern regions of Malawi. They travelled as far as Chitipa, the most northern community in Malawi, near the Zambia border. Timothy reported that some of the churches showed remarkable growth since last years Northern Outreach.

Our Iris Primary School flourishes in spite of challenges. Alison Walker, together with a team of national teachers, is doing a great job creatively challenging students to grow and succeed. This year’s innovations include a 4/5 split class to push a few late starters ahead, and encourage a few stragglers, the introduction of some new students from the community, and parent/teacher interviews. With more students coming from outside the base, we are excited about the potential for influencing families in the community.

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[The Iris Primary School September 2014.]

Our secondary students are also on the road to maturity. Two students out of 23 will graduate this year, and we look forward to equipping them to become more independent, leaving the Iris nest. Together we will need wisdom to know how best to encourage them forward, either into further education or employment opportunities. 22 of our students are attending the same school, and learning to support one another in a new environment. This is certainly a season of growth for them.

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[The Iris Secondary students prior to their departure to boarding school in September 2014.]

The Joe Martin Skills Training Centre is underway, and cannot be finished soon enough. We are thankful for a team of Malawian bricklayers headed by Philemon who have now poured the foundation, and a concrete floor, and are now erecting walls. We are also thankful for those who have come to give leadership to the construction such as David Dyck, Paul Craig, Matthew Smith, and Gerry Laing. We still await the provision of a leader for this important ‘next level’ in industrial skill training.

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[Construction on the JMSTC continues … this photo shows the stage of work as of September 26, 2014.]

Timothy Makwalo and a team of nationals and missionaries welcomed a new group of students at the Bible school earlier this month, the majority being first year students who are receiving their very first Bible training. Since many support themselves and their families through farming, training in “Farming God’s Way” is an important part of their education at Iris. This method of farming continues to dominate the agricultural programs at Iris Africa Malawi. The students learn theory from instructors and demonstrations, but also will have hands on experience as they continue to reside at the Iris base during their 11-12 week term of Bible school. People who follow the principles of Farming God’s Way are certain to increase their yield and increase the quality of the soil.

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[Missionary Kevin Loten, together with translator Patrick lead the 2nd year student class.]

So, while we harvest this year’s crop, we are also in the midst of many sowing projects, preparing for a harvest in character and leadership. There is evidence of growth in the churches and among our students, from primary to secondary to Bible School, but there is definitely room for growth and expansion. Thank you for partnering with us to bring in a great harvest.