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Sunday, June 22, 2014

100's Come to Christ & 6 Water Wells Installed in Africa! By Nathan Giles

Our Team

Somewhere between the brief 30-minute post travel nap under a mosquito net and the slap of Cima patties hitting our dinner plates, we heard it again, “Hey guys, you’re in Africa”! Pastor Carlos’ 7th or 8th subtle reminder of our dramatic change in location.  It seemed a bit obvious, but even then, most of us were still unsure of what to expect. We settled in, to the best of our abilities, and began our first night eating with our Malawian hosts. Amos and his son Wonderful, along with friends Zuze and Blessings, would be our hosts, guides and translators throughout our trip. After finishing our meal (and for some of us our first encounter with the now infamous Cima, a doughy-mashed potato like substance made from corn and void of any taste), we retired to our beds, hoping to get some rest in anticipation of the next day.

After a brief breakfast and devotional in the morning, we realized that the water-pumps we were familiar with were not the ones we would be installing. Instead, we had a different model that required a little ingenuity and patience on everyone’s part. We split up into our smaller teams and headed to our villages. We worked quickly, focused on our task, but were pulled away for a meal prepared by the villages. It caused an instant change of focus for many of us. We had somehow forgotten that we had, after all, come to Malawi for the people, not just some manual labor. We ate and listened as leaders told us what our obedience to God’s call meant to them and what they planned to do in the future. This was only the first of many experiences that spoke to us as a whole. 

By sundown on day one, we had completed two wells and despite much difficulty, made progress on a third. The two teams who had finished met up to show the Jesus film in one of the villages. Before the film began, we were again sat down at a table to enjoy another meal while the voices of at least 100 children sang, some sitting and some dancing. As the film began, the crowd grew to around 700 by the end. Scott, one of the men on our team, gave a summary of the movie and our need for a savior. He then presented those in the crowd with the opportunity to begin a new life in Christ. Throughout the crowd, hands raised and around a third of the crowd made commitments, accepting Jesus as their savior. 

Scott Byers, Tom Thomas, & Carlos Sales

Nathan Giles

The following day, we completed three wells in addition to finishing the one from our first day. That night, we were able to show the Jesus film in another village, and again, we shared the gospel at its conclusion. The two nights of sharing the gospel in large groups were a great reminder that no matter how comfortable you are, no matter how eloquently you speak, no matter how young in your faith you may be, it is what God does with the hearts of those who hear that draws his sons and daughters to Him. He only asks that we speak. On this second night, we watched as another wave of men, women, and children gave their lives to Christ. Later that night we packed our bags and prepared to travel to Nkhoma where we would meet with World Vision and some of the team’s sponsored children.
We showed the Jesus Film to about 1,500 people. Nathan sharing the Gospel.

Dave Heiliger

Scott Byers, Art Mendoza, & Mike Westbrook after installing a water well.

I had the pleasure of meeting Janette, a 16 year old girl who lives with her grandmother in a small village in the Nkhoma district. She and the other children gathered around us, marveling at the sight of themselves on our cameras. Johnny, another one of our team, talked with Janette and her grandmother for a short while with a surrounding sea of smiles. What happened at the end of the visit was, for me, the most humbling event of the trip. Janette’s grandmother left briefly and returned with a chicken, a gift for our group. The constant, unhesitant generosity we saw has become the greatest example in my life of generosity. In a circumstance where having a meal every day is not necessarily guaranteed, or even expected in many cases, this woman gave.  It reminded me of Paul's writing in Philippians 4. He thanked the church of Philippi, a city heavily burdened with poverty, for giving to his ministry even when he had what he needed. We had no need for a chicken, but her gift was meant to feed a ministry and allow us to continue our work above and beyond what we had done on this trip. The chicken, because we had a five hour van ride ahead, found a new owner with the World Vision staff.

Carlos with one of his sponsored children, Stella, and her family.

Nathan giving a village a soccer ball after installing their water well. 

Carlos visiting another one of his sponsored children, Lackson.

The next morning we awoke in Monkey bay, ready for our final well installation. When we sat down to breakfast, we found out that the location of the final well was no more than a puddle at the bottom of a shallow hole. Wonderful and Blessings, our Malawian partners, explained to the village what was needed to complete the project in the future. It was very difficult to leave the task incomplete. Instead, we spent the morning in a devotional and took some time to discuss solutions to problems we encountered with the wells and how to better plan these projects in the future. We then headed to Zomba where we met Hamilton Yassin.

At Monkey Bay, debriefing our water well projects and future strategy.
(Art, Tom, Carlos, Scott, Mike, Nathan, & Dave. Johnny taking pic.)

Hamilton, a friend of Pastor Carlos, has completed seminary at the Zomba School of Theology. We were blessed with so many opportunities while visiting. First, the school offered us a house to stay in at the top of Mount Zomba, the highest point in the district at 6,700 feet. Then, the next morning before church, we met the principal who told us about the school’s history and upcoming plans. Johnny Koyle was given the opportunity to speak at church with the help of Hamilton’s translation. He shared a bit of his past, his struggles, and his imperfections, and how he was saved by God’s grace. After the service, we had lunch at the home of one of the church staff members. Once again, we were amazed by the hospitality we were shown. For dinner, we met the pastors, including Hamilton, where everyone gave a short summary of themselves, their families, and faith. This day, I experienced the greatest sense of community within the church that I have ever known. There was an obvious excitement and passion for furthering God’s kingdom that transcends the barriers of distance, language, and culture.

Johnny Koyle preaching at our Sunday morning church service. 

The final leg of our trip began with yet another long van ride in which we enjoyed each other’s company with little room, if any, to spare. The next two days, we spent sorting through everything we had seen, done, and felt on the trip, all while enjoying a bit of God’s creation. Elephants, baboons, monkeys, warthogs, impalas, water bucks, crocodiles, hippos, and plenty of birds I will never be able to name. All excellent reminders of how great God is. We took the time to talk, reflect, and learn more about one another and deepen our relationships with God. This time allowed us to gather our thoughts and experiences from the trip and explore ways we can maintain the “mountain top” type experience we were on once we returned to the states.

We are blessed to have all of our team members back safely and our families safe despite the dangers brought on by the fires in North County during our absence. Thank you to all who prayed for us and the work we were doing. Although it was a trip of firsts for many of us, we believe that it is a launching point for further trips and projects in the future. We hope that you will continue in your support, and that you'll consider joining us on a future trip.

(Dave, Art, Nathan, Johnny, Mike, Carlos, Tom & Scott)

1 comment:



Thank you for your words of encouragement. The Sales Family