Two couples are serving in Malawi through in 2017 for a year. Lewis and Lena VanAusdle arrived the first part of the year and Brennan and Michala Hilgen in February. Lewis VanAusdle is pastor of the Lilongwe, Malawi congregation. Brennan and Michala are volunteer workers helping out with the congregation and with LifeNets projects.
Washington DC, DistrictofColumbia
Washington DC, DistrictofColumbia
Our journey actually started TODAY! In doing a travel blog, I like to write days before leaving and talk about we’re going to be doing on our trip. But, there has been so much preparation and other tasks before leaving that I am just now starting to write. I write this from Dulles Airport in Washington DC between our flight from Indianapolis and almost a six hour layover to our South African Airways flight directly to Johannesburg. This is our sixth trip to Africa. Bev and I have had the opportunity of not only serving as a minister at the Feast of Tabernacles, but also with serving in a humanitarian way in some of the most impoverished countries in the world. According to the United Nations, Malawi is the third poorest country in the world with Zambia the fourth poorest. We have seen the growth of the churches in Malawi rise from one family in 1996 to more than 110 total in regular attendance. We met the first UCG members Gladstone and Alice Chonde of Lilongwe, Malawi in Mutare, Zimbabwe at the Feast of Tabernacles in 1996. They operated a basic “clinic” in Lilongwe. They worked with barely any supplies or equipment. I wrote about my talks with them on my website http://www.lifenets.org/malawi in 1996. I received a positive response from then Salt Lake City pastor Bill Jahns who offered to help send badly-needed medicine. I was then able to find a US Government Aid program that paid for shipping 40 foot twenty ton containers. We sent the first one in 1998. Much of the food and supplies was donated by various humanitarian agencies in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We were amazed how much good that did for people we knew that didn’t have much to eat, little or no medicine. In the ensuing years we were able to send two more containers, built two clinics, set up a cattle and farm program, provided orphan care, financed the drilling of water wells, made grants for livelihood development, provided scholarships for higher education and much more. All in all, we have provided well over a million dollars in aid that benefited UCG members and the community through them. We are loaded down going to Africa. New airline rules have limited us from taking as much to help people as we had in the past, but we still managed to take the following items to leave in South Central Africa. 1 Manual wheelchair. This did not count towards our luggage allowance as it’s counted as a humanitarian item. One of LifeNets major activities that is handled by my daughter-in-law Alix Kubik is donating wheelchairs. We have more than 100 chairs given us every year and we distribute them to those who need them. We try to take every opportunity when we or others travel internationally to send wheelchairs. This one was requested by pastor Bill Jahns for someone in South Africa. See more about our wheelchair program at http://www.lifenets.org/wheelchair. 2 Dell Laptop computer donated by university faculty member from Vincennes, Indiana. This is the third laptop donation we’ve had from him. It’s in top shape and in almost new condition. 3 90 pairs of eyeglasses. Most are reading glasses. 3. Long-lite flashlights. Our friends in California and Ohio donate these flashlights to LifeNets for us for those who need them. 4. Soccer balls. Through another non-profit in Indianapolis we were given more than 100 soccer balls. We have sent these to Mexico, Chile, Ghana and now taking the remainder to South Central Africa. 5. 70 Topical Bible indexes. This bound index was produced by Mark Mickelson, pastor of the Spokane, Washington church. It’s an excellent resource tool. Our church members in Malawi and Zambia have wanted resource material in addition to the Bible itself. Mark has produced this 100 page index for a cost of $3 per copy. I asked that if anyone in my two Indiana congregations wanted to donate towards a copy, to also make one available for a family in Africa and Bev and I will hand-deliver them when we go over. If you want to know more about this program, contact Mark Mickelson at email@example.com. 6. Other Bible commentaries 7. Cassette tape copies of the Myers Brothers singers. I’m not able to send this from Dulles Airport. For advanced as the airport is, there is no wireless connectivity and I am going to have to send it from Bill and Cheryl Jahns’ home in Johannesburg where we are staying after our arrival. From there we leave for Lilongwe, Malawi on Friday where we’ll be until Sunday when we fly to Blantyre. Stay with us!