As many of you know this past summer I spent 8 weeks in Malawi, Africa serving as an intern with an organization called Children of the Nations. As you read further you will see ways that my heart has forever been changed because of this experience. It is a journey of losing myself and finding Christ in the eyes of the poor and orphaned. I have come to realize that this was not just a 2 month vacation, but that I am now responsible for what I have seen. I am now in the process of taking what I know and applying it to my world here. Please join me in this as I become more aware of the hurts in Africa and search for other ways to serve at home. I pray that this website will not only be informative, but also encouraging. Thank you for visiting!
God Bless!!

Karin :)

Encouraging Words of God

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" Ephesians 3:20
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Support Future Projects!

Over the summer I had the opportunity to serve alongside a previous intern who is now working full time in Malawi for COTN. Christopher Adare has a unique passion for Malawi's children and shared some special project ideas with us. Some of these include a sunflower garden and oil press, a COTN youth retreat, job shadowing, and educational visits which will directly affect the futures of the kids I grew to know and love. Please continue reading to learn more about Chris' vision for the coming year as well as taking a look at his website found in the "Please Visit" section of my blog.

23 Oct. 2008
Dear COTN Supporters,

I have been a part of Children of the Nations’ ministry to the orphaned and destitute children in Malawi for nearly three years. In September, I returned to the States after spending 15 months working with children in the villages and orphans’ homes. During my time in Malawi, God taught me a lot about how He calls servants, and me specifically. I discovered the challenges that Malawians face, and I feel that I am responsible to them and to God to serve them in every way that I can. As a part of that calling, I will be returning to Malawi in January 2009 for an indefinite stay, to live and work side by side with Malawians as we seek to improve the communities and glorify God.

I will be organizing three primary projects for the next year, and recruiting college students from around Malawi to implement them. The first is a Youth Retreat that will take teenagers out of their everyday lives in the villages and orphans’ homes to relax, reflect, and hear from some of Malawi’s strongest Christian leaders. The second project is to arrange educational and vocational visits to broaden the perspectives and ambitions of COTN children to break the cycle of poverty. In the third project, I will work with agriculture students to design and market agro-technologies for the village farmer, such as a manual oil-press, beehive and centrifuge, and universal peanut sheller. The specific objectives of this project are to improve nutrition and reduce labor demands on children and women.

In order to do these activities and others, I will need to raise the money to finance them. I ask that you pray for me and for Malawi, and consider whether you can make a contribution. As I am planning these activities, I am humbled to know that I do nothing except through the grace and strength of Christ. I hope you will take a moment to reflect on your calling and how you might impact the lives of destitute children, though you may never meet them in this lifetime.

For the Children,
Christopher Adare

To read more about my work in Malawi, see photos, and contribute to the ministry go online to my website: www.asatayike.org

You can also mail contributions made payable to “Children of the Nations” to:
COTN, c/o Christopher Adare
1112 E. Woodcrest Ct.
Spokane, WA 99208
(a tax receipt will be mailed to you)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Exhausted after 3 days of travel and no sleep...

Hello America!

After a tear-filled take-off and a grand total of 39 hours of flight time plus lay-overs I'm finally home! As we were flying out of Malawi it was difficult flying over the vilages and realizing that my time there was over and that I don't know when or if I will be coming back. It was hard having to say goodbye to my fellow interns/friends as we all had to go our seperate ways from London to the States. However, I'm glad we made it back safely and that after 3 days I was able to sleep in a bed and take a nice shower (it was a refreshing change to have hot water and pressure!!) My sister welcomed me at LAX yesterday with my favorite spring flowers and some snacks that I have missed. It was great to see her, but it's hard to be excited about being home. A huge part of me didn't want to land because I knew I was going to miss the Malawian culture right away. The first thing I noticed was how big, loud, and fast everything was around me. It's going to be hard to adjust to it all.

BUT I'm soooo thankful for Mexican food!! I had a fabulous burito and chips and salsa for dinner last night and it never tasted so good! Haha. Then I forced myself to stay up until 7 and woke up at 6 this morning. I don't think I have ever slept so hard!! After enjoying a cold bowl of cereal for breakfast, catching up on some Olympic highlights, and eating a scrumptious turkey sandwich and fresh fruit for lunch, my sister and I ran a couple of errands. I hopped into my car for the first time and it was sooo weird to drive (not to mention on the right side of the road haha). It was filthy so my sister paid for me to get it washed and an oil change! I'm holding off on filling up my tank until tomorrow.. I didn't miss the gas prices that's for sure!! Tomorrow morning after another good night's rest I'm driving back down to San Diego to settle in to my new apartment. It will be nice to have a little over a week to get prepared to go back to school since I start after Labor Day this year! My parents just booked a flight for my sister and I to come home that weekend so the 4 of us can spend some time together and I can share about my trip, show pictures, and distribute gifts as well as getting much anticpated hugs and kisses from my parents :)

Thank you for all your prayers and for the warm welcome home! Please continue to pray for me as I begin to process my summer and get used to my surroundings. I hope to talk to you soon! Please don't hesitate to give me a call if I don't give you one first :) I will let you know when my pictures are ready to post. Love you all!!


Friday, August 15, 2008

The end is near.. :(

Hello!! I am so sorry I haven't posted in almost 2 weeks! Lots of things have been going on, but I decided to wake up early this morning to post my last update before going home... I can't believe that time has come!! Last week was our last week of ministry.. it's been hard to think that I don't know if I will ever be able to enter these villages again. They have been home to me for the past 2 months and it was an emotional time saying goodbye to my family. Giving my thanks and farewells to the widows last Thursday was a cry-fest, but of course it was mixed with singing and dancing. I love those women sooooo much!!!

The Tuesday before saying goodbye the girls and I decided to put our foot washing idea from the beginning of the summer into action. Rachel read from John 13 which is the story of when Jesus washed His disciples feet in oder to show them that He came to serve not to be served. It was a powerful experience that I haven't been able to put into words as the five of us knelt down and served our sisters. Tears filled my eyes as I prayed over each woman as I pictured Jesus in that moment. Scripture has never felt that alive to me!

On Monday we had to say goodbye to the kids in Mgwayi.... I am going to miss playing with them! They have taught me a lot and I love them dearly, but we were advised not to cry in front of them because they wouldn't understand, so we tried our best to leave them with smiling faces (which isn't too hard because I can't help but smile around them). As we were walking back home with our usual trail of kids with us we reached the spot where we had to part. I was walking with my favorite girls Christina and Angela who are best friends along with their older brothers Yamikani and Gift who are also best friends. The girls and I didn't want to let go and stop hugging, but Gift tenderly and protectivley pulled his sister away, looked at me and said, "It's time for you to go now". He was right.. even though it was hard to hear, but my time with them was over. Gift then told me that they will praying for me to come back to Malawi and someday for them to visit me in my country. I was amazed by the strength of this 13 year old boy and the love he has for his fatherless sister. I told both boys what great brothers they were to my precious friends! Gift asked if I could pray for them and I said "Of course I will!", so he nudged the 3 others and they all clasped their hands and closed their eyes (I didn't realize they wanted to right that second!) It was a powerful moment and an awesome reflection of God's work as I walked away knowing that He is still with them after I leave.

As if all these goodbyes weren't enough, we then had to see the National interns off as they go back to school. I am going to miss hanging out with my Malawian friends!! It's not the same around here without them... they are not only a blast to hang out with but none of our ministry would've taken place without their hard work and translation assistance!!

On Wednesday morning we left for Safari in Zambia and got back last night (Friday). It was sooooooooo amazing!!! The country is beautiful and the animals are magnificant!! (and of course there is nothing like an offroading adventure in the African wilderness! HAHA) We saw lions, giraffes, zebras, hippos, and tons of monkeys and elephants (even in our camp!!) We were exhausted after 4 rides in a day and a half, but we got to see the sun rise and set as we had coffee and biscuits (God's colors are sooo beautiful!!) It was a blast and I can't wait to share pictures and video.

So now it's just us... 20 Americans hanging out in Africa... not quite sure what to make of our experiences... and unable to believe that we will be home in less than a week! I think I only feel ready to go home because I know I have to, but if I was to stay another few months I would be completely fine with it! But, I am excited to see you all and hear all about the last 2 months of your lives! Among the group we have thousands of pictures which will be so great to share, and I hope they can come close to what Malawi is!

Well that's my last post for my time here, but stay tuned for post-trip thoughts and pictures! Thank you for reading! We leave today for Lake Malawi to have a relaxing vacation and some defriefing before we take off early Tuesday morning for the States. I love you all! Thank you sooooo much for your support and prayers and for getting me here!!!!! See you next week :)

Love, K

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

His presence made known

Hello again ☺ I hope your first week of August is going well! How on earth did that happen??? AHHHH… anywho… I’m sorry this post is later than usual… I was planning on updating you all on Sunday, but then I was able to call my Mama for her Birthday!! We sang her a song and then I passed her around so everyone could say hi. Then I got to chat online with my sister instead! It was a great surprise even though I got kicked offline about 10 times and had to wait about 30 seconds for each message to send haha. I have about an hour before our intern meeting… just enough time to catch you up from last week! Here’s a few highlights:

On Tuesday we had all the widows bring their children so that we could take family pictures for them. Since we can’t get them printed here, we are planning to send them back as a gift after we leave. Not only was it special for them, but it was also helpful for us so that we can have each woman’s picture and name to use for future prayers and memories. We then made an announcement for them to bring a plate with them on Thursday because we wanted to serve them lunch. They were sooooo excited (what’s new? Haha) and the afternoon was finished off with usual singing and dancing!

Our normal schedule for Thursday is to spend the morning with the widows and then come back for lunch and a siesta before we go back in the afternoon. This Thursday, however, we stayed behind in the morning to prepare lunch for all the women. We purchased rice, beans, and greens from the market in order to feed over 40 women. It was quite a process since the beans have to soak overnight and the rice has to be sifted for rocks, but luckily the cooks helped us with the quantities. We arrived at noon and as we walked in with our 3 pots the women surrounded us with singing and dancing because they were so excited and thankful. After about 8 songs or so, I had prepared an encouraging word and blessing to share since it was my week to lead Bible study. I thanked them for allowing us to serve them in this way because they always serve us. I shared my love for long meals with friends because of the fellowship that goes along with it, along with Jesus’ love for community that they exemplify so well. I read Romans 15:5-6 which says, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. I reminded them that the most important thing we have in common is our love for Christ and thanked them for showing us a deeper sense of His love in the way they serve us and each other. As we were serving food we were worried that we wouldn’t have enough for everyone, but we just kept praying for God to provide and make it stretch. Everyone was served a substantial helping and about half of the women were able to come back for more!!! We enjoyed an amazing time of fellowship and eating (with our hands of course! Malawian style….) and I can’t even describe the presence of God that I felt in that room. The most amazing thing to me as I reflect on the day is the women’s response to it. Up until that point all we have “done” is sit with them and fail at knitting, most of the time not being able to communicate. Yet, this was the first time we “did” something by bringing them food, and their graciousness and joy was exactly the same as every other time we have spent with them. Their hearts are amazing and I have learned so much from them!

On Friday we did a photo scavenger hunt in Mgwayi where we broke up into teams and wandered around the village taking as many pictures we could of things on the list. The kids loved it!! Well anything that involves a camera is pretty much always successful!

On Sunday the COTN country director (aka: a bigwig around town), Yobe Lungu, took a few of us with him to his church in the morning. It was from 7-9 am and then he had to go preach at another church at 10. He is seriously the most genuine and loving man of God I have ever met! He is so intentional with his time and always seeks us out to say hello and see how we are doing. During the service, even though it was in English, he was explaining a few of the traditions that were going on and then during the offering he handed the 3 of us some money to put in so that we could all walk up together and drop it in the basket. We were introduced to the church (a Malawian tradition) and was welcomed with a song of course! Even though he had somewhere to be we never felt like we were wasting his time or we had to rush. We left church at 9:15 and still had to be driven back so that Yobe could arrive to church on time. Yet, on the way home we stopped to sit down and have a cup of tea and a little chat! Haha we were cracking up… that would never happen in the States! Needless to say he showed up a little late but that’s completely acceptable when entertaining friends!

Thank you again for all your thoughts and prayers! This current week is our last week of ministry which is going to be a lot harder than I originally thought! I have been blessed with amazing relationships and a deep love for the people here that it will be hard to leave. Please pray that God will continue to lead me in His will and that I would be open to what else He wants to teach me with my little time left here. Please pray that our goodbyes would be blessed and for our physical and spiritual health. I love you and miss you! See you in 2 weeks ☺

Love, K

Sunday, July 27, 2008

So this one time when I was in Malawi...

Hello everyone!!! How's America? Well, Africa is nice.. thanks for asking :)
Haha but really.. I hope you are all doing well! Miss you! Let me catch you up a bit on my week...

The kids just finished their second trimester of school so they have a few weeks off until they go back to finish out their year. In this break time we now have the opportunity to tutor at Chitipi (one of COTN's children homes) in order to catch some kids up so they can pass the exams and move forward. Chitipi is just up the road and houses  around 30 sponsored children who have been pulled out of their village. It's awesome to see God's transformation in their lives in comparison to the village kids that we spend most of our time loving on throughout the week. So I am now part of the teaching team which goes on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Me and another intern work with 5 kids in standard 5 (5th grade) with the ages ranging from 10-14. They are pretty far behind according to standards in the States, but we are doing our best to help them with what we can. We have a small time of devotions in the beginning, then move into math, then have a play break, then work on English and reading. Monday was a struggle for me because we went not knowing what kids we were going to be working with or what we would be teaching them. The kids were really shy and unmotivated and it was difficult considering the differing skill levels. I've only done one-on-one tutoring in the past, so this was definitley going to be a challenge. One of the girls, Modesto, didn't smile the whole time and wouldn't even say goodbye to me. I felt really discouraged because I didn't know how to relate to her and I could see that she was being teased because she's really far behind and wasn't understanding. I felt like the whole day was a failure and had no idea how I was going to relate to these kids, since I had never struggled with school before (let alone the other issues they have faced growing up). I was getting nervous about going back on Wednesday so I prayed continuously for God to give me His strength, energy, patience, and creativity and to use me to reach these kids and be excited about learning. Wednesday came and compared to Monday it was night and day. I came up with a tons of simple math games we could do to get them motivated, they were all smiling and laughing and retaining the information that I was getting so frustrated with on Monday. The same girl from Monday gave me a big hug when we left and I can't wait to go back tomorrow :) God is good! Mom and Dad I don't know how you guys do it day in and day out... teaching is HARD!!! I love you both!!

On Thursday at the widows' ministry one of my friends Wezzie gave me her hat as a gift!! All the women made matching green crocheted hats that they wear as a uniform and she let me where hers on Tuesday. They are so silly, but I love it! At first I thought she was just letting me wear it again, but then she said, "No my friend... it's a gift.. for YOU!!! You can take a piece of me home and share with your friends and family." That room is always filled with so much love. So now I'm trying to learn how to make one from my friend Christina, but all we do is laugh because I can't understand her directions and so far I've only done 3 stitches on my own... it's so hard!

On Friday we had our weekly game day in Mgwayi (the village behind us) and a couple of the national interns started organizing a dance contest with the kids. We created a beat and then cheered for the best dancers. It was the funniest thing ever! Then all the kids pulled some of us "azungus" up there to show our moves and battle against the remaining kids. Of course I was one of them because I never turn down a good dance party! Haha. All the kids were cheering for us and then surrounded us with a big group hug at the end.

Last night (Saturday) was such a relaxing evening and made me feel like I was home. The power went out at dinner (which is pretty much an everyday occurence) so all of us girls hung out at the duplex (the staff house which is really cozy). We lit some candles and played the guitar and chatted while we waited for the power to come back on. When it did we popped some popcorn over the stove and baked cookies. We then got a projector and watched the Holiday on one of the walls while we cozied up on the big cozy couches. It was a great girls night and I haven't felt that cozy in a long time! It made me miss home even though I'm not ready to go back yet...

Thanks for reading about my weekly highlights! I am continuing to pray for you all back home :) Please continue to pray for me as I am beginning to see the end of my time here. I want God to continue to show me the people that He wants me to deepen relationships with, as well as the people who just need to know who He is. Please pray for patience and flexibility, since many things don't go the way I envision them to. Mostly, I just want to be fully present and open to His will for me here. I love you all! Talk to you again soon :)


Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's already been halfway!

I wish I could keep you all updated more frequently since there is so much I want to share! Limited communication is so hard because I went to tell you everything!! But I'm going to try my best to describe my experience so it feels like you are here too :) Just keep in mind that once again internet connection is unpredictable.. haha
* side note: We made another blog for the whole entire team and we are trying to post on it more frequently so feel free to check it out at malawi2008interns.blogspot.com It has more information of our weekly schedule which  might be hard for me to include on mine.
With that said here are a couple highlights from my week:
The widows' ministry is going well and I have been feeling more connected the more time we spend with them. Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated days with these women. In the mornings we visit their homes where they teach us true Malawian chores like bucketing water from the well (yes I have carried a bucket on my head.... not as easy as it looks hahaha), washing dishes, washing laundry, building cooking fires, sweeping inside the house, and mudding floors (this is my favorite.. we mix mud and spread it on the floors to fill in some holes and have a clean finish.. when it dries it looks like a brand new floor!) In the afternoons we come back to help them with their projects to sell in the COTN store back at the compound. It's been hilarious trying to learn how to knit! And mom I wish I would've paid more attention to your sewing skills.. you would love it! They use antique foot peddle Singers and are super fast and talented. Tons of beautiful fabrics.. don't worry I'm bringing some stuff home to share :) This Tuesday was my favorite day with them.. We literally spent 2 and a half hours dancing! Even the older ones were getting down super low! hahahaha I was dying laughing! Malawians are all born with rhythm and amazing voices.. I don't know how that happens.. but it's not really something to learn (believe me I've tried hahahaha). I feel like we have reached the stage where the women are comfortable being with us and now I am praying that we can form a deeper realtionship by hearing their stories and sharing my own. Language barriers have definitley prolonged the process, but in that time God has taught me how to listen and to be present. I never realized how rewarding it is to just take part in what He is already doing and observe His simple joy and love :)
Another highlight was when we went to Mgwayi on Friday for our outreach program. Mondays are spent giving a message, Wednesdays are small group discussion, and Fridays are game day. I was in a weird funk for a couple days before just feeling useless and frustrated and missing the comforts of home. As we were walking into the village I was praying for God to give me energy because I had none whatsoever (I know hard to believe.. haha), all I wanted to do was start the weekend early and just relax. As we entered 2 of my favorite little girls (Christina and Angela) ran to me screaming my name, "Auntie Kaylin!!!!!" They were so excited to play with me and it was refreshing to see their smiles. It was a perfect picture as God's prescence was known with the sun shining perfectly through the clouds as I scooped these girls up! My energy was immediatley filled and even though I couldn't understand a word they were saying we spent the whole day singing and laughing and dancing! God has been showing me that sometimes words just complicate things and get in the way of experiencing what a laugh or smile truely means. His love is so simple.. all He wants is us.. nothing else... and it was displayed perfectly in Christina and Angela. I felt like I was looking in the eyes of Jesus where I was completely known without saying anything and felt no shame letting go and being exactly who He has made me to be. God is GOOD!! 
I miss you all!!!!!!
I'm glad this post could be longer... it's part of our lazy Sunday routine :)
Love you all!!!
Until next time.... Tionana!!!

A couple pictures so that you really know I'm here :)

Picture 1 (sorry I can't make it verticle...) Here I am with one of the widows Mrs. Harry and 2 of her children Febby (who I am holding) and her son (I am forgetting his name right now...). It took them a while to warm up to me but now Mrs. Harry greets me with a huge everytime and by the end of the day I can get Febby smiling and laughing. 
Picture 2: This is a tickle fest in Mgwayi (the village right behind us) and I am in the process of falling over. Christina (on the right) loves to wear my sunglasses and laughs so hard when I have her look through my prescription glasses. They don't really understand the difference so it's funny to see their reactions.