steve's updates

And no one could have predicted the ...

It was very late Friday afternoon, almost evening, while we were stuck in a horrible traffic jam in Dar es Salaam that we got a message from Festo that was as perplexing as it was angering: the director of the primary school met with the 22 people whose farms and forests had been destroyed in the fire which had consumed 20 acres of our forests on the college land -- and basically announced that it had been decided that there would be no compensation for anyone -- that the primary school had nothing to give in the face of such enormous destruction.

The fires were out of control

We got the first report of the fire while we were in the bus traveling across Malawi -- a short 140 character phone message written in a hurry to say that there was fire out at the college and the call had made made to ask our students to come quickly all the way from Madisi to try to save the buildings The messages that came in on our phone were increasingly alarming; the forests at the college were burning and the fires were out of control. I felt sick at heart.

My excitement grows ...

We've completed our long drive aross the country all the way to the Tanzania-Malawi border. Tomorrow morning Godfrey, Emmanueli, Justin and I will cross the border on foot. Our plan will be then to take what they tell us is an all-day long bus ride to Lilongwe, we'll spend the night there, and then on Friday we'll take another bus to Zomba. That is where we hope to meet up with Davies and hear all that he and the others have planned as they have thought and prayed about the future of Village Schools Malawi. My excitement grows ...

The rest of the story

I have vague memories of a man named Paul Harvey, known I think for his voice on the radio, and the way he let the world in on what he always called "the rest of the story". I thought of him today. Because something really wonderful happened today -- yet another school opened, our nineteeth, this time in the Tanzanian village of Myunga, tucked away near the Zambian border. The people of the village know of the day that Francis arrived for the very first time in their village. They know of how he worked methodically with them month after month to make bricks and haul stones.

Three pictures from Tanzania

Susan just sent me these two pictures of the bus. Abeli (left) spent the last three weeks literally "sleeping with the bus" in the city of Makambako to rush the repairs along and then after all of the work was finished late Saturday evening, he drove it home to Madisi in the middle of the night. He was the one who found the owner of the bus in Makambako that was being sold for parts after its engine was totally destroyed.

One of those wonderful moments in life

Gradutation ceremonies are for the graduates. And, in a very real sense, for their parents.

An extremely thankful heart that we were all alive

While driving yesterday we almost had a head-collision with a seriously speeding tanker truck which came way too fast around a curve on a hill and on the down slope seemed certain to wipe us out. I am very thankful that I was not driving because I don't think I would have had within me the ability to do what Emmanueli did and to choose wisely and quickly and to get us safely out of the way on that narrow mountain road that seemingly offered us no place to hide. We felt the whoosh of the force of the air shake the car as that tanker truck just barely made it past us.

On pins and needles

At 4am this morning Emmanueli left with our "other bus" (the one that didn't have an accident!) full of children and adults from the villages around Madisi to take them to a special hospital in the capital city of Dar es Salaam that has promised to provide not only free surgeries to all of them because they are handicapped, but will also provide lodging and care for the children and their care-givers.

Better than good news

Saturday morning, Abeli finally got the legal documents allowing him to move our ruined bus from the city of Mafinga 60 miles away to the city of Makambako where we felt we had the best opportunity of having quality work done to repair Huruma after the accident. Our students have given generously of their funds, we have received so many emails with offers of help, many checks have already come in to help us, and many, many people have written to say that they were praying.

A huge quantity of coins

I have often wondered what Paul felt in his own heart when he was there amongst the Christians in the Macedonian churches, and as he puts it, "out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy, and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.