Sunday, November 20, 2011

Letters from Malawi

I hope that all of the letters we sent have reached their recipients by now. A brief word of explanation is due though, so that you do not think too poorly of the Malawi Post Corporation. Many of the letters that were sent on 20 October, were written in mid-July. On the inside of the card there is the date when we wrote them, but they did not get sent until mid- October. We were wanting to get them all written before we sent them. We did not finish before school started and progress was quite slow thereafter until the mid-term break.

Mailing them from the Post Office was an interesting process that took over an hour. Each letter was weighed individually and then the stamps were counted off for each. Then they had to be licked and stuck on.  (Missed those sticker stamps and the fact that even if I had a stack of mail to send it would be taken care of in 10 minutes at the McConnells PO). We did not think the stamps would stay on well enough, so we added the extra step of covering them in clear tape. Aren't they pretty?:) So, sorry if what we said was a bit out of date. We love you all. Take care.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Rains Have Begun

This has been a most unusual beginning to the rainy season. People have said that it has been decades since there has been rain as early as this year. Throughout mid-late October, there were many isolated hard rains. Last year, we had a brief 30 minute shower in October, but then the "real rains" started in late November or early December.

It is so beautiful when it rains. The temperature drops afterwards and everything begins to green up again. It really is a completely different landscape.  It is also lovely to be under a tin roof when it begins! I have posted a clip of the first hard rain during a school day while the Academy is in session. This is looking out the front doors of the Admin Bldg. This happened on Tuesday 15 November. (It took about 45 minutes a piece for these clips to load. I could have used a different format, but looking at it on my computer it was so grainy that it did not seem worth posting. I am not able to tell if this will be any better. If someone with a "real" internet connection can look at this and tell me if it was worth posting, I would appreciate it. If it is not, I will probably give up trying to post videos and just stay with pictures. [I could not get the second one to load at all!] )

Please pray for the people of Malawi. Pray that the rains will be what they need for their maize crops to do well. In the last six months fuel has gone from MK256/ liter to MK380/liter ($1.46-$2.17) for petrol and about the same percentage increase  for diesel. Now most Malawians of course do not have vehicles, but many in the city use the mini-bus to get to work and they are significantly affected by the rise in the price of food due to the increase in transportation costs. During this same time Kwacha has been devalued some, not as much as the IMF and World Bank would like, but that has also had an affect on the rise of prices here recently.

Then, this past week the Parliament unanimously voted themselves an increase in their overall monthly compensation package from MK390,000 to MK 1,000,000 ($2,228-$5714)! The President said that he would only sign it if the MP's impeached his VP!

Things are getting increasingly difficult for the average Malawian. Please pray for their leaders to place the needs of their people ahead of their own personal and financial gain. This problem is not unique to Malawi, but it seems much more egregious here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I was able to help host a baby shower for one of the ladies who cleans for our school. Jean Mpata, with whom I taught last year, knows Esnart  well and wanted to give her a shower and asked if she could have it here. Showers here are usually only for first babies. Esnart got married at the beginning of last year and this year she’s welcomed little Miriam. Jean spent some of the time translating so that the ladies who teach, clean, and work in various other capacities at the school would better understand each other. I appreciate Jean.

Esnart was surprised, I think, really appreciative, and a little overwhelmed maybe. I was reminded of the blessings of the body of Christ as Jean prayed for Esnart, gave her good advice on mothering, and reminded all of us who were mothers that it is not only the physical needs, but also the spiritual needs of our children we need to see to. Jean, after all, has the wisdom of the mother of near-grown children and the close memory of a mother of a three year old. Pray for Esnart, her husband, and little Miriam.

Pray for us too. Balance is hard. We are busy and though we also spend time with Gwen and Samuel, we sometimes find it hard to just sit and talk with them. Pray for our family relationships and also, you parents who’ve been here, feel free to send along some good advice. We want to love these children in ways that build and train, bless, and point them to the Savior.

Also, will you please be in prayer for several families who are in various stages of the adoption process. It is very complicated here and, as anywhere it is hard to wait and not know what will come next, even as their hearts are already committed. I know some of you know about this first hand. Thanks for remembering them.


(composed 8 October, 2011)
Sometimes when it rains, it pours--both literally and figuratively. “It’s been a week .” That’s what my dad used to say when it had been a hard one. Well it feels like it’s been a week and a half. Our water heater went out on Sunday and was finished being repaired (including some leaking through the ceiling) on Tuesday afternoon. Samuel came down with fever on Sunday night and missed three days of school (I missed two with him--just a virus). On Monday, Gwen started swim lessons again (so will Sam next week) and we discovered how crazy our Monday schedules are (if you never pray for us any other times, pray on MondaysJ). On Tuesday it rained all afternoon and night(apparently the biggest rain this early in twenty-something years). This was lovely(for me, as I have a good roof and no major building projects going on, personally)--cooled everything off. But then when I ventured out in it to do some grocery shopping, I had a problem. After my second stop, the car wouldn’t start. I called Brian, but got it going again. We missed each other (long story) and it quit again--this time in the middle of a busy road in the rain, in the dark. Thank goodness for caution lights and the LORD’s protection! I called Brian, who was out in our neighbors car and he found me, called a guy who does maintenance at the college, who helped jump it well enough to get it back to campus. (It would not be safe at all to just leave it wherever it stopped). So, someone from the college fixed it. We are so thankful for our community here. Friday was Reading Day at school--lots of fun, but a lot goes into it. In the afternoon there were a swim event at the pool, which Brian helped out with a little, and a shower at our house.
This Saturday has been most welcome. Though writing about what is hard also reminds me of what I have--hot water and power most of the time, mostly healthy children, a car, a house with a good roof, and a husband who’ll come out in the rain to help me when I’m in a jam! A lot of blessings have been poured out on me too. Hmm. To paraphrase something that Joe Novenson said, "May the LORD help me to live more in light of His provision, than my condition."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Calling All Teachers

If you have ever thought about teaching abroad in general or in Africa specifically, please continue reading.

We have a need this year for a teacher to do a maternity leave beginning in January and ending in April. This is a 4th grade class.

With regards to next year, we will have the following vacancies: all levels of pre-k to upper elementary; ESL/Special Needs; MS/HS Math and Science; HS Spanish; MS/HS English.

Any teachers who come across this, please pass it around to any others who might be interested. I am happy to answer any questions that a potential applicant might have. You never know where and how a teacher is going to find out about the opportunities here at ABC Christian Academy! I am including the link for the school website below. There is also an online application for anyone needing more information.

I appreciate your help in getting the word out!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Homecoming of Alicia Ligomeka

Dear Friends and Family,

On Wednesday September 07, the Lord brought home one of His younger servants: Alicia Ligomeka. Alicia had been a part of the ABC Christian Academy school community since preschool. She was in the third grade this year and it was the start of her fifth year at the school. Alicia was at school the previous Friday, but her mom sent a note on Monday with another student stating that Alicia was sick and would not make it to school that day. She was not able to make on Tuesday either. On Sunday night, she tested positive for malaria. On Wednesday morning about 4 AM the Lord took her home. We can be thankful that she WAS a believer. She had trusted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. However, her sudden death has been a shock and jolt to all of the school community, but especially to her mother and  classmates, many of whom had been with her since preschool.

For whatever reason, the family did not state that malaria was the cause of death, but rather tonsillitis??  (I was told this at the memorial service held at her house on Wednesday.) This does not make much sense to me. What would make sense would be that she had cerebral malaria. This is a particularly aggressive form of malaria that claimed the lives of three people from our campus or family members of people who work here last March-May. Alicia walked into a clinic/hospital on Tuesday afternoon/evening and died early Wednesday morning. Alicia was an only child and her mother is not only now childless but also a widow. Her husband died when Alicia was in Kindergarten. Please pray for Alicia's mother, Rose Ligomeka. I cannot even begin to imagine the bitterness and sorrow of soul that she is experiencing!

I would like to relate some more details from last Wednesday.

As we were coming out of morning devotions, Kelvin Banda, one of our new teachers, told me that one of our students had died earlier that morning. I went to my office and was met by one of our Malawian teachers who gave me more details. After praying together and discussing what and how the school should respond, we decided that we would call all of the third grade parents to let them know what has happened. We also let the parents know that there were three options for their students that day: 1 we had arranged the use of the college bus to take a group of students to the house to pay respect to and offer condolences to the mother; 2 the parents could come and pick their child up; 3 the students could stay with the other third grade teacher, Ms. Clarke, until the regular dismissal time. (I would like to state what a blessing it was to have Mwizaso Khonje, Jean Mpata, Shamiso Najira, and Sam McDonald to give counsel and assitance in dealing with this situation. The first two are Malawian teachers. Jean is the one that Scharlie taught with last year. Shamiso is a Malawian parent of one of the girls in Alicia's class. These three offered much needed culturally relevant counsel to me in terms of how best to deal with this situation. Sam is an instructor at the college and is the Head of Mission in Malawi while Dr. Paul Chinchen is on furlough. Sam's pastoral nature and presence as well as counsel were deeply appreciated!)

Mwizaso and I called all of the third grade parents to find out who was going to be able to go visit the family and who would stay at the school. While we were doing that, Jean was giving some grief counseling/spiritual comfort to the third grade classes. She was also instructing the ones that would go on what the protocol for the visit would be. Jean also had the students make some cards to take to Alicia's mother.

Just after 10 AM, we left school with about 15 or 16 students and another 10 or so meet us at the house with their parents. I drove Sam McDonald, Igna Van Rensburg--Alicia's teacher this year, and Cara Clark--Alicia's teacher from last year. Jean had already prepped the kids that she would offer some words and then pray. Then the students would sing. Then I would offer some words and pray and give her the flowers and card from the school and then we would leave. There were probably 60 or so women in the house crying and singing when we got there. We walked in and went to a side room where the mother was brought out to see us. It was overwhelming for her to see all of the children in their uniforms. We followed the protocol that Jean had coached us on and then all of the students hugged Mrs.  Ligomeka as we left. It was a very tender and solemn scene.

Once we were back outside, we--Sam and I--consulted with Shamiso and one other parent and decided that the next step was to cancel school for the day on Thursday. We were able to call Glenda Saywood--one of the secretaries--and she and Kelvin got the word out in hard copy and email to all of the students before the end of the day. Before we left, Alicia's uncle asked Sam if he would represent the school with some words at the memorial later that day. Sam of course agreed.

We got back to school and took care of a few matters. I went home for lunch and then some of us met at 1:30 to go back to the house for the memorial service. The coffin was to be taken to Zomba which is about 4-5 hours south of Lilongwe to her family's home village for the burial. Sam drove Owen to the house and I drove Cara, Jean, and Catherine Stephens. (Catherine and Owen had been Teachers Assistants in Alicia's preschool and kindergarten classes.) When we arrived at the house the women went into the house and the men sat in chairs outside of the house. (There were only three mzungus there--Sam, Cara, and me.) There was a steady stream of women coming and going out of the house because they could not all fit at one time. For the next three and half a hours there was mostly singing going on in the house, punctuated with some loud wailing. It was amazing to here them sing! There were well over 100 women in the house at once. Outside, the men were very subdued but were talking quietly and just waiting for the coffin to be brought from the mortuary. There were some chairs right out in front of the house. These were reserved for the church leaders, the village chief, and one of the grandfathers. The next row of chairs which was to the front and right of where I was seated, were filled with the uncle and other close men of the family and important members of the community.

When the coffin was brought back at about 5:30,  it was taken into the house and the crying and singing got so much louder. There was an opportunity for the men to come in and walk around the coffin and then go back out. After we were all seated again, the women began to come out of the house and were seated on the ground and then the coffin was brought out for the memorial service. (There were well over 250+ people there.) The pastor lead the singing. Then Sam gave his short word representing the Academy and Mission. He mixed his message with some Chichewa and English. However, one story he told became the main theme of the pastor's address. The story that Sam told happened in Gwen's first grade class earlier that day. Gwen's teacher, Ms. Herbst, was not sure how to tell her students so she prayed and then told them that Alicia had gone to be with Jesus in heaven and they began spontaneously clapping for her! What an incredible picture of childlike faith!

After the pastor spoke, there was another song and then about 6:15 PM the coffin was loaded into the hearse and the family members that were travelling in the two buses all loaded up and left for Zomba. It was going to be a very late night on the road.

There was certainly a subdued feeling on our campus Friday, but everyone seemed to be hanging in there.

Please continue to pray for Alicia's mother and family and friends as well as our school community.

(As we were walking to the house for the memorial service, Sam told me that this was probably the most significant ministry that I had been involved in so far in Malawi. The importance of funerals and showing respect, support, and solidarity with the family and community during such a time is of incredible importance in Malawian culture. I consider it to have been a blessing to participate in this ceremony even though I felt quite awkward and could not understand everything that was going on around me. I had the chance to let this mother of one of my students know that I loved her and wanted to help bear her grief and mourning in whatever feeble way I could.)

Below are some pictures of Alicia and her classmates from last year.

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Days of School

The Drs. Wong and Dr. E would be proud

Friday night has come and we are EXHASUTED (so much so that I can no longer spell :)) We have already seen many things that are encouraging. My teachers are off to a good start. I have only heard one say that the week has been hard. The others were tired by today, but had a very positive first week.  We have 313 students. GOD is GOOD!

Gwen and Samuel have done so well. Gwen loves her First Grade teacher, Ms. Herbst. Samuel is enjoying Ms. Chris and Mr. Gray. With the exception of today, they both woke up and got dressed with out any promptings from mom and dad. (Samuel stayed home with a fever today. Kind of hard because it was the first Chapel day).

Scharlie is easing into middle school and is glad to find she can still do math. (Many thanks to Mrs. Sherer, Mrs. Sandifer, Mrs. Nance, and Mr. Good and a whole lot of elementary folks too, I guess:) I'm finding too, though, that there was at least one lesson learned in Kindergarten that I'm very thankful for: Do not procrastinate! (Momma, I can hear you laughing. It only took 33 years)! Thanks for prayers. It has been a busy week, but a good one. And we're glad it is started. The three weeks before almost did us in!

Does that look like a family that is ready for school or what!

Samuel and his buddy JJ on their way to school

Our very own First Grader!

Dressed for success

Friday, August 19, 2011

Malawi Update Vol. 4

August, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
Brian and I celebrated our 11th Anniversary last week (though it was on the 15th of July). We had dinner out (a nice treat) and a long conversation about the Lord and how He mercifully works on us, usually in ways we don’t expect, definitely ways we would not choose. As usual, though, He knows better than to let us choose. He loves us too much. He loves us too much not to give us the experiences that will grow us in Him. I will be honest, this year has not been hard in the ways I expected. I expected to make more material sacrifices. While there have been some, in mild ways here, I think God knew these were areas where I would grit my teeth, bear it and even possibly feel more holy for going without. Instead I have not been allowed to feel holy at all and have been tested in areas most dear, most significantly, my family and my time. As I struggle with these changes I would not have sought, I begin to see their value. I have seen sin in my life that I might not have otherwise. It’s amazing to me that God can use and sharpen tools at the same time. But maybe it’s not so strange--both scrape away parts of the tool. If I sound a bit scraped up, don’t feel sorry for me. (I’m sure I have done enough of that for myself and will again). Right before we left for Africa our dear friend Nicholas Ireland, who spent several years as a missionary teacher in Romania related something his team leader there told him. This is not a direct quote, but it was something like, “God doesn’t take you to a mission field to ‘enrich’ your life. It is His mission to break you, so He can re-make you.” It is my belief that we all have mission fields as Christians. I know that everyone God calls he makes new, and therefore more useful. So, rejoice with me that God is continuing a good work in me. He can do that anywhere, but He’s chosen to do it here for now. Thank you so much for your prayers for us this year. I cannot tell you what a comfort the knowledge of them has been. 
We also celebrated the first anniversary of our coming to Africa. We are thankful to be here, though we have not stopped missing you badly (and will not). We are about to start another school year. It will be different. Brian will continue to be headmaster and will still teach one class. I am going to be teaching 7th, 8th, and 9th  Grade Math. I am excited about this change, but also apprehensive. It will be another busy year. Gwen and Samuel will both be going to school. Please pray for us. Pray too, for other new and returning teachers and students. 
Since our last update, we have had our first--and we trust not our last  (hint, hint)--visitor to Malawi. Brian's mom was here for the month of June. So many things to give praise for about this time. Mom had no trouble at all coming or going. (On the way back she got to travel as far as Washington D.C. with Dan Trumble fellow ABC missionary and financial controller at the College). We got to take her to Lake Malawi and for a one day/night safari to Liwonde National Park in the Southern Region of Malawi.  This was a lot of fun and we still need to post some pictures from that time. It was so nice to get to share life here with someone from home. Mom was around for the last weeks of school and saw us "in action" before things lightened up a bit for the long holiday. (Long holiday is a compromise because I always want to call it Summer Break when it is really Winter Break here. It just sounds too strange to say Winter Break in July and August!)  Mom had lots of Gwen and Samuel time, and she also got to relax and watch them play with their friends. We have been acutely missing home as of late. So, it was nice to have a little bit of home here in Africa. Shortly after mom arrived, so did the first container. I believe this was earlier than it has ever come before. Along with getting Academy supplies that were inventoried and distributed for the coming school year, Gwen and Samuel also got their bikes. This was a blessing too because they have had the whole break to ride them. If there are any reading this that have even the briefest knowledge of my time growing up BMX bike racing, you will know how it thrills my heart to see both of my children riding around on their bikes!  We also were able to open the boxes that my mom, dad, and brother sent us while my mom was here.
During the Long Holiday, there are mission teams that come and stay on ABC's campus to do work here and with other missions in and around Lilongwe. (Since there are always a number of ABC folks that are gone for the "Summer," so things can feel a bit like a ghost town without the College and Academy in session.) One of those teams was from Washington State and they conducted a VBS here on campus and one in the village across the street. Gwen and Samuel really enjoyed the lessons and singing. Two of the girls, Jordan and Gabby, Gwen connected with and cried when they left. Probably the  biggest event to take place on campus was the Evangelism Explosion training that went on for two weeks in July. I am not certain, but I believe there were over a hundred delegates in attendance. While most of the participants were from Malawi, there were over 10 other African countries represented! Many of these worshipped at IBF with us and they greatly enhanced the singing and “amening” during the sermon. 
Another item to give praise for is our new/used gas "cooker" or stove. Brian's mom took up a collection for us to get a new stove because of the decrepit status of our current one. Also, with a gas one, we can still cook when the power goes out, which is happening more frequently. A brand new one would have been very expensive and still relatively poor quality. We found a Bosch stove  on Lilongwe Chat, which is the Malawian version of Craig's List. We were so thankful! Just a reminder of the goodness and provision of God even in the little details of life. 
Brian took some time off in July, but due to the fuel situation we just stayed here in Lilongwe. We are homebodies so that did not bother us much:). 
Well, school starts on Monday. I have been working on bulletin boards and lesson plans. All around preparations are being made-- desks being painted, things being repaired, families coming in to see which teachers their children have, buying uniforms-- there is so much that goes into the start of a school year. Please pray for us to be ready. Brian's been the part-time financial person over the break, which has taken a lot of time. Pray for him as he is teaching on the book of John in his Bible class with older students as well as his work as Headmaster. Please pray for me as I make the jump back to middle school (a bit higher than I have been before). Pray for all of us to have a good year, and also especially for new teachers. 
Brian's administrative assistant, Khambile Msonthi (shown here with Brian--both in “traditional” dress--on International Day), leaves to study in the States for a year at RTS in Jackson, MS. Pray for her safety as she leaves Thursday as well as for her to have a very productive time of study. The arrangements for her replacement have fallen through at the last minute. Pray for us to get someone quickly that will capably fill her position! (Update at posting, position filled today!!!)
Also, Malawi needs prayer. There is still some unrest. Pray for peace, for cool heads so that there can be dialogue, for people to do what they know is right (even in large groups), for wisdom for leaders to lead in a Godly manner. The demonstrations set for August 17 were cancelled because of dialogue being held. We know that God has answered the prayers of so many of His people both here in Malawi and around the world. What a blessing! Thank you for praying.
Love and Thankfulness,
Brian, Scharlie, Gwen, and Samuel

Join with us in giving thanks!                         Please pray for
-Academy has all postions filled                        -Spiritual growth of our family
-Safe travels and visit with Brian’s mom        -Continued peace in times of 
-Good times togehter as a family                       political and economic uncertainty
-Good health                                                          -Gospel work in and around Malawi
-Continued prayer and financial support       -Helathy balance of work and family
-Wonderful staff                                                    -Continued good health
                                                                                  -Soft hearts for new and returning students

Financial Support may be sent to:
African Bible Colleges OR Online at:
P. O. Box 103
Clinton, MS 39060
Please put Carlisles in memo of check

Thursday, August 4, 2011

One Year in Malawi

One year; 12 months; 365 days; 8,760 hours; 525,600 minutes-- Okay, you get the point, we've been here a while. We've not travelled more than 250 miles from our doorstep since we arrived. In our next news letter (yes there will be one, thanks for your patience), there will be more on how we are thinking about our time here, one year into it. But for now, a few pictures of our trip to Lake Malawi, which is the only beach our children have ever seen. Brian re-claimed a day off from a vacation day that he had to work. We asked people at school about places to stay that were not too far and were cheap. A co-worker shared this winner, so we spent one night. It was a great opportunity to spend some time as a family-- play, climb, splash, talk, collect shells, and just be together. We took food and kept things really simple. When we first drove in it looked kind of sketchy, but the cottage where we were was fine, old, but clean. And the beach--well, have a look!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Unrest in Malawi

Dear Family and Friends,

Just wanted to give you a quick update on the situation here in Lilongwe, Malawi. There were demonstrations and some violence and looting here in Lilongwe, but matters were worse in Mzuzu (northern region) and Blantyre (southern region) than they were here. Things were quiet once dark fell on Lilongwe. I am the campus radio liaison with the US Embassy and I was in radio communication with them throughout the day and we had extra security posted at each gate and round the walls for about 36 hours. There was no danger or trouble where we are. The campus was safe and secure all day and night. I am writing on Thursday morning and I believe that things have quieted that people can go to work and be out their business here in Lilongwe anyway.

As great as are economic and political needs are in Lilongwe the spiritual needs are far greater! I am sure that is the same for back home. Please pray for the work of the Gospel here in Malawi. We are praying for the States.

P.S. It has come to my attention that some foreign media outlets are trying to spin the events here as some sort of ground swell for "homosexual rights" or xenophobia (anti-foreigners). This is could not be further from the truth. There are significant and systemic issues here at all levels of society and that is what people are trying to bring attention to.

Grace and Peace,

Brian and Scharlie

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Talking with Samuel Shaba

Last Friday afternoon, while I was working on lesson plans, Samuel Shaba came into my office to sit down and drink some coffee with me. Samuel is a first year student at African Bible College. We met sometime in August or September and have had many brief conversations around campus. Right before the Easter Break he told me about going up to his home village with Dr. Larry Brown--one of the professors at the college--and two other students to show the Jesus movie and preach on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter. I told him that I would be praying for the time and would like to hear how it went.

Well, we finally had the chance to talk. They were able to show the Jesus film and preach numerous times and he said that the people were hungry. Mzimba is the area Samuel grew up in. He has been wanting to go back to his village and preach for awhile. He says that there is such a need to have Gospel preaching in his area. There are churches, but there is not much sound teaching/preaching in the churches. On Easter morning he had the opportunity to preach to over 1,000 people without any amplification. 

It was great to hear his passion and desire to reach the people in his home area. Samuel already has one Bible College degree and has been a pastor, but the training he is receiving at ABC is far above what he has already had. We talked and drank coffee for about 2 hours. We also talked about cultural differences and similarities. We--Scharlie and I--have not had that many opportunities to get to know the college students. I am glad that Samuel is a first year student and that I am a first year headmaster. I think we will have many more conversations in the future. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Malawi Update Vol. 3

May, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Our Easter Break is almost over. It has been nice. We have had a chance to talk to a few people on skype, which is good. It is not until you get to talk to a few folks from home that you realize how much you miss people. This has been the busiest second semester we have every experienced! And we have not yet made it to the last month of school! While you are in the work mode, here as anywhere, it is easy to get consumed with the day-to-day and neglect less pressing but more important matters. Some of those matters are taking enough time for family and individual “rest”--rest of course comes in various forms--time with God, physical rest, seeking out new relationships and keeping in touch with friends and family back home.

There have been some moments of repose. I (Brian) get to come home for lunch each day for an hour. (I usually make it home on time). This has been a tremendous blessing. We eat and then usually get to read something together and then put Gwen and Samuel down for their naps. We finished the Chronicles of Narnia, which was wonderful.

Another set of books that we have read together this year is called the Sprit Flyer Series. Our friend, Chris McCartney, gave us the first one in the series years ago. We were able to borrow the others from some neighbors and read them all to the children. They were a fun read, but a little intense at times for small children. The books talk about being able to see the “deeper world.” By this is meant the spiritual world. The way the author talks about and illustrates the effects of sin on believers and unbelievers alike, made for many good talks afterwards with Gwen and Samuel. The “deeper world” is all around us, whether we are back home in the States or here in Lilongwe. It seems though, that the “deeper world” is less subtle here in some ways. There have been a number of deaths from malaria that have touched the ABC community since January.

Death is a very real and very common visitor here. It is the last enemy to be conquered. As we have just celebrated Easter, it has been a good reminder to me that death is real, but it is not the end. Christ’s death opened the way for his resurrection and it is through his resurrection that we know his death was sufficient! In a recent conversation with Mwizaso Khonje--Middle School Bible teacher--about her grandmother’s funeral that she had just returned from, we talked about Christianity in Africa. The following is the gist of what she said.

“There is a frequently repeated phrase that, ‘In Africa, Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep.’ There is some truth to this statement. BUT all we have is Christ! When the rains do not come on time and the harvest does not come in, there is no one to give us food. The government cannot help us. Our families are poor and in the same shape as we are. When our loved ones are sick and do not have access to medical care or cannot afford it we pray and that is all we can do. We are dependent on Christ for everything. So maybe Christianity in Africa is shallow in some respects, but I am afraid of what will happen if we continue to experience ‘progress’ in the form of Westernization and higher standards of living. What will become of our dependence on Christ? Will that understanding of dependence decrease and be replaced by dependency on self, the economy or some other god?”

We have definitely been reminded more frequently that there are many things that are not in our hands. That’s not a comfortable thing to remember at times, and yet ultimately it is the greatest comfort. Nothing happens without purpose. God is always working, even when I’m frightened for a student who has malaria, or I have to wait in line for “petrol” for an hour, someone mentions that the pharmacies are “out” of various medicines, or even just begin to think about the amount of need that is here that I cannot touch. He is at work when all the things we typically lean on or take for granted are gone or fail. He is reminding us that He is all-sufficient. We may lean on lots of things, but we must not depend on them. At the end of the day, we like African Christians, must say, “All we have is Christ!” But we can’t say that as if it means that we have something very small. Having Christ, our greatest need is met, along with many others. Praise God for this great truth and for the many joys he gives us along the way.

Since the last letter we sent, we have been having, as mentioned before, a very busy semester. It has not been a bad semester, though it has been stressful. Some of the highlights of the semester were Spiritual Emphasis Week at the College and Gospel Emphasis Week at the Academy. We were able to host the college’s speaker, Rev. Vince Woods, and his family for a meal and attend one of the worship services. During the Gospel Emphasis week at the Academy, we focused on Christ’s work for us. Some of the college students came and taught lessons and songs. We talk about the gospel in class all the time, but we were really taking time for more discussion and trying to communicate it in various ways.

On a family note, Gwen is reading more and more. She is getting ridiculously tall (it seems to us) and has decided she likes her hair long. She is improving her bike-riding skills and perfecting her tree-climbing skills. She would rather play outside with her friends than eat (though she’s doing plenty of that as well, growing all the time). Samuel has learned to write “SAM.” He is looking like a boy who will soon be four! (How DID that happen so fast)? He is developing a good sense of humor and also improving his tree-climbing skills. Our neighbor calls them her monkeys because they spend so much time in her trees. (Her trees are taller than ours).☺ The two of them play at being animals frequently. Any morning you might be greeted with, “I’m a rabbit today,” or some variation on that. Their funny thing right now is for one of them to say to the other, “Pretend I am a baby (elephant, hippo, rabbit, dog, etc.) and you found me. I have a broken foot (leg, arm, etc.) and no home or family. Ask your mom and dad if I can stay with you.” Then one of them will come with this story, begging to keep the poor lost, lame creature. We always consent, very glad that so far there have been no scenarios with real animals. They continue to be good friends, for which we are very thankful.

We are fine. Neither Brian nor I have grown any bigger, thankfully. ☺ The four of us were able to take a little trip over the break, finally seeing “the other Africa” as Samuel says. He means Africa as he expected it to be from the pictures we showed him when we were talking about coming--wild and full of animals. Poor kid, he didn’t know we would live on a campus in a city. (We should have shown different pictures). We had a nice time and got to hear elephants eating the trees outside our door at 2:00am! We also saw more stars than we have ever seen--really beautiful. (Look for a future blog post about our trip).

Please pray:
-for our family: continued health; spiritual growth and maturity; time together
-for Brian’s mom, Clara Carlisle, to have safe travels as she is coming to visit us for the month of June.
-that we can finish our first school year strong
-for the work of the Gospel in the lives of our students
-that the Academy will have the teachers needed for next year (any third or fifth grade (or other) teachers available for a year or two)???
-for Brian as his responsibilities change slightly next year with the Superintendent and Assistant Headmaster will be on furlough for a year.
-for Scharlie, as she will be making a change from teaching kindergarten to teaching 7th, 8th, and 9th grade Math.
-for all the new teachers coming and people returning from furlough to have a smooth transition
-for College and Academy graduates
-continued prayer and financial support
-courage and opportunity to share the Gospel

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for nine months and are about to finish our first school year. We give thanks to God for the work He has called us to here and for the provision He has made for us. Thanks for being a part of that!


Brian, Scharlie, Gwen and Samuel

Financial Support may be sent to:
African Bible Colleges OR Online at:
P. O. Box 103
Clinton, MS 39060

Please put Carlisles in memo of check

Monday, January 3, 2011

Catching Up a Bit

In Malawi, every night is a camp "in."

First day of Kindergarten and Headmastering

A familiar face

New friends and neighbors

View of the Malawian countryside on our first road trip

Mount Soche as seen from our hotel in Blantyre

"You can take the boy out of the country..."

Malawi has great playgrounds!

Lake Malawi


"I look like a real Malawian."

Puttin' up the tree, workin' up a sweat

Naughty or nice???

Who knew Brian could take a picture this good!!!!

"Yeah! Noah's Awk"

"I fought the law and the law won..." (If you want to know more, you will have to email and ask me about it.)

"AHHH" (Refreshment brought to you by Coke)

If you can explain this one to us, please email!!???

Brian with "the big rock"

A nice day for a hike

"Brother" and "Sistuw" (Hard to write the way Sam pronounces his words.)

A day that met expectations

This breakfast brought to you by Cotton Hills Farm. (The grits are in the bowl!)

Who knew monkeys lived on campus at ABC?!

We have been wanting to post some pictures for a while. These pictures were taken throughout our first 5 months here. We hope you enjoyed them!