A heartwarming mission trip to Malawi
by Charlotte Observer
Please come with us on a mission trip. This is a trip to Malawi, a nation in southern Africa.
It is a beautiful day and our flight is about to touchdown. We can see thatched roofs through the trees around the airport. The landing strip is about the size of a football field.
The team of Mission 4 Jesus, a group of people from Union County and the surrounding region, has a tight schedule. Our first stop is to view the planned site for Widow Orphan Home at Chidziwira Village. It will provide shelter for both widows and orphans. At least two meals a day will be provided and the idea is the widows will have children to love and the children will have loving mothers.
The ground is purchased and they are ready to begin building.
AIDS and other diseases have reduced the male population and left many widows and orphans.
Then, we visit the first of the villages, Kamiza in Lumbadzi. We pass out the first of the care packs and sing our team song. Then one of us gives a testimony and small devotion.
The care packs contain ground corn, soap, salt, sugar, Neosporin, Vapor Rub, cough drops, pocket crosses, Vaseline, aspirin, and gospel tracts in the Malawi language.
The next morning, we hop right out of bed to be ready for devotions at 6:30, and by 8 o'clock, we're at the Mom's Orphan Day Care and have time to play with the children and make animal balloons.
These 70 children receive two meals each day, education, clothes, shoes and medicine.
A few hours later we are at the first of four hospitals. At each hospital, we sing, visit, give a testimony and pass out care packs to the patients and staff. Then we leave 110-pound bags of corn for hospital use. Corn is the staple food of the Malawi people.
Corn is ground into meal and prepared as porridge with water and sugar, or nsmia, which has a dough-like consistency. We also deliver medicine and supplies.
Sometimes Gezell Fleming shares her amazing testimony of how God healed her and delivered her from cancer. Each day or night, we assemble bags of corn and fertilizer, and put together care bags. It's hard, heavy work. We count in tons, not pounds.
Sunday is very special. At 8 a.m., we attend our first African Church service at Lumbadzi Presbyterian Church. This is the church of one of the founders of Ministry 4 Jesus, Laison Jailosi, and now his son, Hasting. The younger Jailosi spent two years in the U.S. and in 2006 stayed in Union County. He is in charge of many of the projects in Malawi.
Missions 4 Jesus began in 2004 when God led Sam Helms, Hasting Jailosi and Marvin Tarlton to help the starving villagers of Lilongwe, Malawi.
In the afternoon, we meet at the Katola School Grounds for the Gospel Crusade. We had a combined Malawi and American worship band with special music, testimonies and sermons. At this school, 625 students receive at least one meal a day. Samaritans International, also founded in Union County, co-operates with this program.
On Monday, we start the Shoe of Hope ministry in combination with the Samaritans Feet organization. Also we have a large medical clinic and food distribution.
Many people, especially from Union County, shared in preparation for this day. There are 1,500 pairs of shoes. The Unionville Baptist Church has been supportive for years and many of the projects completed were done with their help.
We will never be able to forget the scene.
Schoolchildren waited for shoes. Hundreds wait patiently, in lines so long you could barely see the end, for medical care.
Marvin Tarlton spoke of the first child to get his new shoes. The children lined up and were given wrist bands to identify them.
They were photographed and then taken to get shoes.
They were fitted, and their feet were washed. While each child's feet were being washed, they prayed with the person washing their feet and were told the plan of salvation.
The first child, a boy, had his feet washed, socks put on and then his own brand new shoes. It was the first time he had ever had shoes on his feet, and he came out of the building, not quite knowing how to walk in these new shoes. He was beaming.
While this was going on, 50 yards away, two lines had formed for the medical teams.
One line was for the dentist, Dr. Uvoh Onoriobe from Charlotte. He coordinated all the clinics. More than 100 children and adults had teeth pulled and hundreds received fillings. He was assisted by Tina Blake of Stanfield. Dr. Onoriobe is the founder of Samaritan's Feet.
At a young age a stranger gave him a pair of shoes. He was very poor, and no one had ever helped before. This encouraged him to depend on the Lord.
He became a good basketball player, was signed by the Oklahoma Sooners and came to the U.S.
The physicians treated more than 1,000 people. Dr.
Awajimoror Isotu and Dr. Daniel Okoie are from Nigeria and represent Pro Health International. The doctors were assisted by Roger Curlee of Stanfield, who is an EMT and did the blood work.
At the same time, the food distribution was continuing. Many were coming for bags of seed corn so they could grow their own food, also fertilizer as the ground is so poor.
They are given this in addition to bags of ground corn, loaves of bread and care bags. At the end of this very busy day, we found our stock running low.
A woman arrived with five children. They had walked a very long way and all the mother could do was stretch her hands out to us. We could not explain, so the woman and her children got on their knees to us.
We had to scramble and put together some food. We did have a sack of corn meal and a loaf of bread. The sight of this small lady putting that bag of corn meal on her head and the baby on top of that, saying thank you the best she knew how and turning to travel the same miles back, will never be forgotten.