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Showing posts from April, 2009

"I was in prison and you visited me."

Fr Paul in Uganda sent the following report (and photos) on visiting prisoners at the Mambugu Government prison in Uganda:

Last Sunday we visited, prayed and ate with the prisoners in our neighbourhood, numbering 150. It was great to visit our brothers and sisters in the prison and so moving to listen to their stories.

Above all they asked for our prayers promising to be renewed in Christ after fulfilling their sentence. It was touching and re-assuring to remember Jesus' words:
I was hungry, you gave me to eat, naked you clothed me, sick and imprisoned, you visited me.

Raising the Roof in the Rain

We received several email messages from Fr.Paul Bigirwa, head of the Hope Centre Clinic we support in Uganda, regarding progress on 'raising the roof.' Our limited funds were received (enough to purchase supplies and start the work).

Dear Tom (and Michael):

Thanks so much for your messages and support to the Health Centre. We are very grateful for the contribution.

The work is in progress (even in the rain).

Unfortunately, Julius is down with Malaria, maybe his body is also tired, he has moved a lot and worked tirelessly in these last days to implement the project before the rains intensify, and indeed has done a commendable job.

I remain hopeful that we shall meet the target.

I will send you the pictures tonight.

Fr. Paul

Rice Distributed to Hope Home

Here is the WorldHope Corps Report from the UMC Church HopeHome program for March 2009:

UMC Church building in Mzuzu



FEB – MARCH 2009

[Note: US $1.00 = 139MK Malawi currency]

INCOME MK 276,000.00


Fees for Exams
Bicycle repairs
Admin. Costs
Medical care
Calculators for student

1. Note that we had MK82 000.00 for blanket, as a gift from Malawi Missionary conference as a way of supporting the Hope Homes initiative. This raises our expenditure index.

2. We have a number of students taking exams in June in Accounting and Business Management and we have just paid their exams fees.

3. As for the expenditure of Bob Robbin’s Account with Esnat’s children, it will come next week since we have one more event with them. After that the account will be completely exhausted.

4. We had…

The Light of Easter

My favorite professor at Yale, Henri Nouwen (God rest his soul), helped me understand that I don't need to know God's Plan for my life (as if there were only one customized plan and blueprint for my life that I either find and fulfill or lose and have to settle for second best). We may not see the whole path ahead, but God gives us enough light to take the next step. In times of change and difficulty, it's good to remember the Jesus shows us the way, one step at a time. And Easter can be a bright time when we see clearly what we need to see and do.

My Easter gift to you who follow my blog is a sermon quote by one of my spiritual mentors, Henri Nouwen:

"Easter season is a time of hope. There still fear, there still is a painful awareness of sinfulness, but there also is light breaking through. Something new is happening, something that goes beyond the changing moods of our life. We can be joyful or sad, optimistic or pessimistic, tranquil or angry, but the solid str…

Stations of the Cross in West Salem, NC

Thursday in West Salem, NC

The Shalom Project, Inc.—a community development initiative of Green Street United Methodist Church in West Salem—was the site I visited today. Eileen Ayuso is the Executive Director of the non-profit, and Rev. Kelly Carpenter is the Pastor of the host church and leader of the shalom team. Together, they gave me a tour of the neighborhood and explained their plans for shalom.

Located in West Salem and focused on making improvements in the Peters Creek Parkway area for local residents and businesses, the project started with 30 volunteers cleaning-up of the cluttered creek and roadside, which earned considerable community goodwill. Now the community partnership is focused on beautifying the corridor, ensuring a healthy stream water flow, assisting local businesses and residents with economic development, providing resources to transient and resident populations, and participating in community planning and improvements for the benefit of all.

The West Salem S…

"Living Good, Feeling Good" in Charlotte

Wednesday in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte Communities of Shalom began in 1997 after three shalom teams were trained and equipped by the national network, one of which is still active. The focus of Thomasboro Community of Shalom continues to be on improving the health and welfare of residents living in seven communities in the city of Charlotte. In 2006, the organization received a $360,000 grant from the NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund to assist in reducing disparities in health among minority and under-served populations in the State. The Shalom coalition implemented a “Living Good Feeling Good” door-to-door campaign for cardiovascular disease and diabetes prevention, “Hope Works” to improve economic and health status, as well as several other community health interventions and promotions targeting vulnerable children, youth and seniors.

I met this morning with Mike Collins, Conference Shalom Coordinator, Renee Jones, Executive Director of Thomasboro Community of Shalom, Sonia Crawle…

Reinventing the Hand Well

Dinner in Wilmington, NC

Local resident, Marilyn Meares, invited several of us over to her house for dinner tonight to discuss how best to work together to find a more cost-effective way to drill boreholes and install pumps that won’t break down so easily in the interest of safe, local and sustainable community wells.

Jock Brandis and Jeff Rose of The Fully Belly Project, and Jesse Stowell and Jen (Marilyn's adult children who are into wind technologies), Chappy, my wife Rebecca, and myself…all have at least one thing in common: we want to provide appropriate well-digging technology for Malawi. This was our discussion during dinner.

Chappy and Marilyn agreed to develop a business plan for the implementation of a locally run enterprise whose end goal would be to increase the number of wells and provide employment and training opportunities for many. Jess and Jen offered to do some research on how to fabricate the equipment necessary to construct hand operated, cable percussion, wel…

Full Belly Wells?

Monday in Wilmington, NC

After breakfast at Chappy’s favorite coffee house, a walk around town, and lunch with the local United Methodist pastor who was interested in expanding his church’s mission in Africa, we visited The Full Belly Project—a nonprofit group that designs and distributes simple technology for income-generating agricultural devices to improve life in developing countries.

Founder Jock Brandis is the inventor of the Universal Peanut Sheller which was featured on CNN after it won the Civic Ventures 2008 Purpose Prize of $100,000.

Jock gave us a tour his facilities and we watched how his team are literally engineering answers to problems in food production, sanitation and potable water supply specifically for application in third world situations.

For example, Full Belly developed a simple hand washing station that uses very little water but would do so much to curb the spread of disease within the villages. It is constructed of an old truck t…

Holy Week in North Carolina 2009

Sunday in Wilmington, NC

Since it is Spring Break for Megan and Holy Week break from classes for Rebecca and me, we decided to all go ‘shaloming” in Western North Carolina where I need to visit four of our newly trained shalom teams, and check on the production of a well-digging kit and peanut sheller for Malawi. Why not make it a family road trip? So we planned a trip from Wilmington on the East coast to Asheville in Western NC.

First Stop: Wilmington, NC

We flew from Newark to Wilmington where Chappy Valente (a long-time friend who traveled to Malawi with me last year) met us at the airport. Chappy lives and works as a artist (see his “Road to Mzuzu” painting in my October 1, 2008 blog post) and has a deep desire to return to Malawi to develop a well-digging business.

Downtown Wilmington near the River is a gorgeous 19th century American reconstruction period town. And Wrightville Beach is a great place to walk for miles on clean sand, in cool water, under a warm sun, with no crowd…