October 2022 Iris Malawi Update
The weather in Malawi begins to cool down in April. By that I mean it drops into the 30s, and we breathe a sigh of relief. This year, Malawian farmers anxiously tended their winter crops, having lost everything in the two cyclones that devastated our region. 450 Iris churches gathered for regional Easter services for the first time in two years, and enjoyed being together again, all the sweeter for having been apart for so long. Through WhatsApp groups established during the Covid pandemic restrictions, our pastors have become more connected to each other and to the Iris Leadership, which is evident when we come together.
[Joanna preaching to the crowd in Bangula.]
[The Iris Primary School teaching staff.]
[A couple of Iris boys cheering on their team during an afternoon of games on base].
Our Visitor Centre is open again! Our first visitors came to teach our pastors and bible school staff about teaching the Bible in an oral culture, in which many of our students learn primarily by listening. The teaching was good, but this is a very challenging cultural shift and will take time to implement. We hosted a group of cyclists from Blantyre who enjoyed our Visitor Centre and took in the local sights. In August, we welcomed Surprise Sithole, an Iris International Director, to our first annual conference in 3 years. His team brought great encouragement and renewal as churches gathered from the southern region. Following the conference, a team of Iris leaders travelled north to bless and encourage the central and northern region churches for ten days. On the base, we enjoyed having Chara Lafleur back for a 6-week visit which included lots of Primary School teacher training, beautiful worship, and cooking with Chara for many of the kids.
[The theme for the church conference in Bangula was from Mark 5:36. Do not fear. Just believe.]
We have much to celebrate as several Iris graduates finished their post-secondary education. Tembo graduated with a Degree in Accounting, Tatenda with a Diploma in Community Development, Enida with a Diploma in Journalism, and Mwayiwathu with a Diploma in Education. We will soon celebrate Charity’s Diploma in Accounting and Idah’s Diploma in Tourism. These are exciting and challenging days. Jobs are scarce, and our Iris graduates need to be courageous and aggressive in seeking employment. It is a wonderful thing to see 9 Iris graduates working and showing themselves faithful and honest in their work.
[Some of graduating Iris ‘kids’, now all grown up. We are very proud of them.]
Hunger is very evident in many regions in Malawi this year, including the south. Many families are living off one meal a day and need assistance. With the gift of MannaPack meals provided through cooperating organizations including Iris Ministries Canada, we have been able to share over half a million meals over the last few months. We were also able to provide winter seeds to 6,110 families. The support group for children with Cerebral Palsy has now grown to 106 families, all of whom receive monthly support in food and clothing. The Children of Hope Program currently supports 23 families, who receive monthly support in food, uniforms, soap, and medical assistance. There are hundreds of others who are cared for through the Iris feeding program, with numbers increasing weekly because of the current food security crisis.
[Children receiving a cooked meal at the Iris feeding program in Bangula.]
[Providing encouragement and training for mom’s who care for a child with disabilities.]