Kellen had the opportunity to lead a team of staff and students from the academy to help with the flood relief efforts. They transported donations given by academy students and their families and supporters from the States. Thank you to those of you who were able to give and most of all for all your prayers. God is good. Below is a reflection Kellen wrote on their trip:
I was tasked with leading this trip, but it would be more accurate to say that I co-led with one of our ABC graduates, Richard Maguire (also a former player of mine on the soccer team and a good friend). He is an all-around great guy: passionate about serving both God and those around him, and gifted in his ability to communicate and coordinate. With these gifts he was able to establish firm contacts with the District Commissioner’s (DC) office in Phalombe and coordinate transport for the relief items.
It was exciting to see our students and families bringing in relief items. We were able to collect quite a few things, but the bulk of what we took down to Phalombe was purchased through financial contributions in Malawi and from donors in the USA. We were able to collect and purchase enough to help 400 families. Only 48 hours before we departed, we received word that another church had donated a large chunk of money. Instead of collecting and buying 410 bags maize (110 lbs. each), we were able to buy 510! We were also able to purchase chlorine (in both powder and liquid form) that is used to sanitize water (a big challenge as a result of the flooding).
Our team was composed of four high school students, five ABC grads who now work at ABC or ABC Christian Academy, two ABC missionary staff who are parents at the academy, and four ABC Christian Academy missionaries. But we weren’t just a group of fifteen. It was a real encouragement to us knowing that our school community and supporters of ABC were praying for us around the world. God was definitely at work as we prepared: getting vehicles ready to go (at the eleventh hour no less!), connecting us to the right people at the right time, and bringing the team together.
We set out on the dirt road leading from Phalombe to Zomba and found that it had been washed out by the flooding, so we had to take a detour. This detour had its own water issues, and it was some adventurous driving. There were a few hundred people waiting for us at the school. We offloaded the items in an empty classroom and started to prepare for the distribution. Here’s what it looked like: 400 buckets, each filled with soap, a cup, two plates, a Bible, a blanket, a mosquito net, and a cooking pot. While most of us were sorting the buckets, our students were interviewing flood victims and documenting their story on camera. They each told similar stories: experiencing heavy rain for hours on end, having to leave their homes to escape flood waters, losing their homes and fields, fearing for the lives of their families.
The distribution was set up by Joseph and a local committee of village chiefs. Each chief chose which people from his village that needed help and Joseph read the names from their lists. They would come forward one by one to receive the bucket of items handed out by our team. The scene was surprisingly calm and orderly, as we had heard that many distribution sites had become chaotic and even violent with people rushing forward to receive aid. Joseph and the chiefs played a big part in this, so thank God for them.
It didn’t take long to get through all 400 of our buckets and after cleaning up we headed back to the truck carrying the maize. It was still stuck but soon after we arrived, the truck was offloaded. We were worried that this could devolve into a mad rush for food aid, but once again, it was calm and orderly. The people who had received buckets walked the two kilometers and calmly waited to receive their bag of maize. By 4pm, most of the maize had been distributed and we headed back to Phalombe and back to our accommodations in Mulanje.
Proverbs 16:9 tells us that we make plans but God directs our steps. Our trip offered proof of this text. In reflecting on the process of preparation and travel and ministry, I am catching glimpses of how God worked out countless details and graciously adjusted our plans with “mishaps” that proved to be blessings. 1) We had planned the trip a week earlier, but pushing it back allowed us to collect more goods, receive more donated money, and plan logistics better. 2) A truck that wouldn’t start in Blantyre actually saved us hours of unnecessary driving that we had planned for Saturday to visit the DC’s office. 3) Our maize truck getting stuck in the mud meant we couldn’t hand out maize at the school, but it actually simplified our distribution process. I know that God was working throughout the weekend; sorting out the things we couldn’t foresee and altering our plans in His wisdom for the good of the trip.
I could tell by their hard work and good attitudes that everyone on the team was excited and grateful to be a part of the work we did on this trip. I was so impressed by the enthusiasm and humility displayed by our students and staff. As a Christian educator, I was especially grateful that our academy students had the opportunity to speak with people who had lost everything and then be there to bless them with tangible help. My prayer is that this experience settles deep in their hearts, and that the result will be increased compassion and a desire to serve those in need with their lives for the glory of God.
I send a sincere message of thanks for your prayers and financial support of our trip. I continue to pray that God is glorified through this most recent relief effort from ABC in Malawi.