The Warm Heart of Africa

Malawi- The Warm Heart of Africa


19 million total population

10 million people under 18 years of age

1.6 million orphaned or vulnerable children

1 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS

50% of the population lives below the poverty line

25% of the population lives in extreme poverty

Despite the obstacles, God has ALWAYS called and empowered His people to change existing spiritual and socio-economic conditions through committed prayer and action. The Malawi Montessori Project began as an initiative to bring a Christian Montessori School Model to Malawi.

Education is one of the 7 pillars of society. We are here to positively impact the education system of the nation. “The child is both the hope and promise for mankind.” -Dr. Maria Montessori¬† We believe that the Montessori philosophy and methodology, in its purest form, honors both the child, the family, and the teacher and allows for all to reach their full potential.

Through the eyes of Christ, we see children as our greatest gift and our greatest example.

“Let the little children come to Me…for of such is the kingdom of God.” Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” -Mark 10:14-15.

“Therefore whoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”- Matthew 18:4-5

May we always value and care for the gift God has given us.

Missing All of You! Please pray for Lakeside Team -Depart 4/27

Dear Friends and Family,

Love you guys! Miss you! The countdown has begun (8 weeks), but Jesus says, “Finish Strong!” so Mary O’Neill and I are conducting one more Leadership and Montessori Teacher Training workshop for leaders in education and the orphan care system in late May-early June. We are either crazy or committed or a little of both! I miss you all. I am looking forward to coming home, but also grieving leaving a country that has become my second home.

I am so looking forward to seeing my Lakeside friends coming to Blantyre May 2nd! Yahoo! I can’t wait to see their beautiful faces! Pam, Cindy, Debbie, Kelsey, Peggy, and Mark, thank you! I am praying for you all. For your protection, provision, and that God will reveal His unique purpose for your journey of faith. If you are reading this right now, please say a prayer for the Lakeside team.

The internet is too slow to upload pictures today. I really want to show you all our 3 classroom school! It so rocks! The teachers are going strong. Last week we studied birds and they did a beautiful job teaching and differentiating the curriculum for three levels of learning! When I return I am going to raise funds for Tisu Mwanza and Gladys Mnunkha Banda’s Montessori credentials. They are eager to complete the formal coursework.

Thank you to the Antioch Montessori Charter for the awesome letters!!! They loved your drawings and the Malawian flags. We are writing you back and sending more pictures. Our children are so amazed at seeing your faces and hearing about your lives in America. They are eagerly responding to all your excellent questions too! Boy, you all are great letter writers! You better thank your teachers for their awesome teaching today! I told the kids that you were sending books and they are so grateful and excited!!! Thank you Kathy Astrata! You are the best ever!

Thank you Eileen (and the Girl Scouts!) and all you Montessorians (And Tee and Mom)for helping with the Montessori materials that are going into the Team’s luggage next week. Now that we are three classrooms we are really in need of some more math materials. Kim Yeager, you would have been so proud of me today. I gave the fraction lesson to one of the classes with the Yeager precision and joy. I thought, “I have turned into Kim Yeager.” Yahoo! And Kim, we love the bird cultural materials you made! I watched with a heart filled with joy today while one of our four year olds, Veronica, completed the three-part matching.

Blessings to everyone, especially one of my prayer warriors, whose heart is forever for the mission- Annie Holt!

Love, Maribeth
John 15:8 Bear Fruit!

Thanks 4 the Prayers! Leadership & Teacher Training Going Gr8!

Dear Friends and Family,

I miss you! Thank you for your prayers! The Leadership and Montessori Teacher Training this week is simply amazing! We have 40 participants- a mixture of community based orphan care center directors and teachers and private school teachers. The word has gone out and we have many teachers and business leaders asking for the training! What a blessing! Five of our participants are paying clients and the waiting list is growing. So much is needed for the future of education for this country and there is such an opportunity to make a difference. I was so proud of my team as they presented Montessori practical life, sensorial, and math lessons this past two days. There is great joy and energy at our training this week and for me great peace, which is totally from God.

We have been speaking this week about what is necessary for great leadership. We are teaching them how to lead and produce results. We are teaching them how to develop a business plan, marketing strategies, communication skills, staffing, accountability, budgeting, etc. We are teaching them how to develop income generating activities for their centers to be self-sustainable. In everything we are sharing this week the message that Jesus wants to say to the participants is “Rise Up and Lead!” We are encouraging and training them them to share the training with others, to open their own centers and nursery schools, to begin to make goals in life, and to keep their promises. I will put up pictures this weekend.

I miss you all! I wish you a beautiful Easter! I am in awe at what God is doing here. I can see Him move and orchestrate events and relationships. My heart is full that I can see these things. He has opened the eyes of my heart. Love, Maribeth

Thank You All For Your Love & Support!

Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you for all you are doing for me! I wish you could see the children’s learning first hand. It is so amazing! And for you Montessorians- Our head teacher, Tisu Mwanza, is designing the Montessori Word Building Language Series in Chichewa! It is so remarkable! Now the children will be learning to read and write in Chichewa as fast as they are learning English. Our children love school and demonstrate great independence, responsibility, and caring and confidence. We feel so blessed to be providing a great education and a loving learning environment to the neediest of children. We are expanding the school in April and adding children. Our teacher internship weeks are very fruitful. We are holding the next leadership and teaching workshop for a new set of community based orphan centers the week of April 6th. Then we will give their orphan care workers/teachers a week of teacher internship at our school to help them retain what they have learned. We are continuing to work with the Presbyterian Community Based Orphan Care Centers to help them develop new ways (IGAs=Income Generating Activities) to bring in money to fund their feeding and educational programs. We are going to give them a educational training on how to use a chalkboard to teach children and then give them three chalkboards per center. The Lakeside Team that is coming in May is donating money for chalkboards and shelves. You guys rock!!!

The Malawi Montessori Project has two goals: to teach the future leaders of Malawi and to support, resource and train those working with the orphaned and vulnerable children of Blantyre, Malawi.

If you would like to help in any way, please contact me by email or send a check to Attention Gina, Lakeside Church, 745 Oak Avenue, Folsom California 95630. Please write Malawi Montessori Project-Maribeth in the Memo Line. All donations are tax deductible and I promise to multiply what you give.

You can also donate used or new Montessori materials or make materials for us! (graphic matching jobs, cards and counters to 10, math memory games, etc.) books with African kids would be a plus too! The team in May can transport them. Be assured that you will be making a difference for the children of Ndirande (our town) and Blantrye (our city) Malawi. You can count on it!

We would appreciate prayers for our Lakeside team coming May 2nd. For their protection and provision. For the future of our school and training center. That Jesus would prosper the work of our hands. And that we would grow along with the children in faith and love. Great things are possible when you have a great God.
Peace, Maribeth
Can’t get pics on blog today. Will post pics next time!

Running for Jesus in Malawi! Lots of Pictures! Check them out!

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for all your prayers and support! I am blessed and deeply grateful! To run the race you have to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” and run with endurance! Read Hebrews
12:1-2. We keep moving forward despite the challenges and keep focusing on what God is doing. I encourage you all to not let any failure or obstacle stop you from what God wants to do in you and through you. He is the “the author and finisher of our faith…” And He keeps His promises. He will deliver, because that is what great Dads do. They keep their promises. I hope these pictures remind you of what is truly important in life. I am praying for you!

Love, Mary

Praying for Big Things to Happen!

Dear Friends and Family,

I am very blessed by all the teaching supplies, books (especially about conservation) art materials, etc you sent and most importantly your prayers, phone calls and love! I cannot believe that I will be landing back in California on June 23rd. This is a time of waiting and a time of action for us here. And I would appreciate your prayers for all of it.

We are waiting for God to direct us to the purpose of this Acts III site and building. Is it to be a Christian Leadership and Training Center? Is it to continue to be a school and training center for teachers? If either of these is the case, it will greatly bless the orphans of Ndirande by training up leaders that will make a difference for the children. Leadership and Discipleship is the key. I believe we are waiting on God’s team that He is calling to fulfill the vision for this building and land. So please pray for people to hear God’s call and respond. We are strategically located on a hill with a magnificent view of Ndirande and the Ndirande mountains. We are strategically within walking distance to multiple centers that feed and provide an educational setting for these 2 1/2 to 6 year olds orphans and vulnerable children. We have God’s chosen location for His purpose. Isaiah 2:1-4. Matthew 28:18-20. But what does God intend? The question is not whether or not this site will make a difference for the widows and orphans. It already is. So please pray for all hearts and mind to be aligned with the vision. Please pray that we will be listening to the Holy Spirit in every decision we make.

I am waiting for God to tell me what is next in my life. So I would appreciate prayers. I am a better doer than a waiter. (smile) We finished the accountability visitations to the seven Presbyterian Community Based Orphan Care Centers this week. They put into action so many of our suggestions and saw the fruit of their labor. They were completely inspired by what they had achieved in two weeks. The positive spirit of the centers, the unity of the staffs, and the tangible evidence of their improvements was easy to see. Mary O’Neill and I were completely amazed. We will be holding another Leadership and Teacher Training the week of March 23rd for additional centers.

Beginning Monday, we are starting a Teacher Training Internship Program, where we have invited the previously trained orphan care workers to come and spend a week with us and the kids at the school. A practical experience of teaching. We hope to hire another teacher for our staff at Malawi Montessori School. We had an inspection/visitation by the Regional Department of Education here in Blantyre and they were delighted with our curriculum and how we are aligning the Montessori Curriculum to the Malawian Teaching Standards. They also were impressed with Tisu and Gladys’s credentials and professionalism. I had the department come out when I was gone. Tisu is the administrator now and Gladys is operating as the head teacher and will train the next two teachers. My focus has turned to setting them up for success when I leave and the orphan care workers and their training. Empowering the existing orphan care centers of Ndirande by assisting them to elevate their standard of care and educational environment is a priority. They are so appreciative for the partnership too!

All that said, the one thing that really brings me great joy and life is looking into the faces of the children. When I look into a child’s eyes, it is as if I am looking into heaven itself. Our children are becoming the leaders Christ intends them to be. We are taking the children at our school to Chifundo III Orphan Care Center on Friday to teach their kids our science songs. We began our Keep Malawi Clean program formally within the town of Ndirande last week, where we marched, chanted, sang, and cleaned up our road and the path to the creek. We read the kids Genesis I and we decided to respect the world God gave us. We started a movement (smile). We are hoping it catches on!

I love you and miss you all!!! I will be home soon!

Peace and Love, Maribeth

Pastor Jeff’s Visit

It was a blessing to have Jeff visit! Thank you everyone who prayed for him and supported him. Thank you Heather, Nathanael, Bryce, and Joel for all the clothes, shoes, cars and candy! The pastors and their families were thrilled to get all the items! I admit I ate a few pieces of candy, but hey Kreiser boys, I figure if I can jump on a trampoline with you for hours, I have earned a few chocolate bars! We like things with lots of sugar here in Malawi. Thank you guys for having such generous hearts!!!

I want to let you all know, especially those at Lakeside, that Jeff worked really, really, really hard for the full two days that he visited. My church family here got every little bit of wisdom and training that they could. He led a leadership training on church growth and administration for the pastors and leaders at our Ndirande Acts III Church and it was exceptional from all reports! But what Jeff will be remembered for in the minds and hearts of my church family here is his great love, encouragement, knowledge of scripture and commitment to prayer. “For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14 Thank you for listening and responding to the Holy Spirit in ministering to my church family here. Thank you Jeff, my true brother in Christ, for blessing those I love. It is truly the most beautiful gift! Here are some pics of his trip. Love, Maribeth P.S. Having tec problems. More pics to come! Sorry only two pre-Jeff pics.

A Week of Miracles and Great Learning!

Thank you for your prayers! We delivered on a remarkable training for the Presbyterian Community Based Orphan Care Center directors and teachers. It was one amazing day after another. There is no way to explain the spirit of the training, the fullness of the learning, nor the events that transpired except for the presence of God. And our recognition ceremony on Friday was filled with joy and a spirit of great accomplishment for the participants and all of us trainers (Mary O’Neill, Tisu Mwanza, Gladys Mnunkha Banda and I).

Mary O’Neill (Montessori preschool owner and leader in organizational empowerment) brought a much needed leadership, accountability, vision casting and team building aspect to the Montessori training and leadership development workshop. I redesigned the presentations for all the Montessori academic areas for greater application and accountability. We had each center create a mission statement page called “Mission Statement- This is What We Believe” for each section we presented. They completed the workshop with 10 + pages ( to hang on their center walls) explaining what they are committed to in teaching children, health and safety, communication, curriculum design and planning, management, etc. We requested a high level of participation in our week and we gave the center directors a list of actions to complete by our center visits on Feb 10th & 11th.

We have been approached to present and work with other teaching staffs and community based orphan care center staffs. We are all praying about the direction God wants to take this.

Our school is growing and we are out of room! The electricity has been going out this week and because we are inside the building it is very dark so we operate with candles. We are praying about what is next for the Malawi Montessori Project School and Teacher Training Center. We are waiting on God. There are many things He is saying about the future of the Malawi Montessori Project but I am waiting on Him to confirm the direction we are to take. Psalm 62: 1-2 More details next week for sure. Have great pics from the outstanding week, but cannot put them up for some reason! Next blog will just be pics. Love, Maribeth

Christmas Ya Bwino!

Dear Friends and Family,

I love you! I miss you! You are in my heart and prayers this Christmas! Thank you for all your encouragement- letters, phone calls, and packages! Every little thing you do there is magnified 1,000 times here. I am here because of your love, support and commitment! It is rainy and warm here. One hour the loudest rain storm you have ever heard moves through and the next hour it is sunny. For the beautiful team coming from Lakeside Jan. 12th., Stephanie, Leo and Jeff, bring your umbrellas! The Malawian raindrops are huge! But we are very happy because everything is growing in our garden! (Picture below of our garden and the hardest worker in all of Malawi, our groundskeeper and guard, Weta Weta.)

It seems that each week if not twice a week I say, “This is the most important moment!” And then the next day I have to retract that and say, “No, truly this is the most fulfilling moment.” Last Friday and this past Sunday were two of those moments. Our Christmas and end of the year celebration for the children last Friday consisted of a huge pot of bean soup, cheese puffs and an art activity, which may not seem very exciting from American standards, but the children loved it! (See pictures below.) Food equals love here. Feeding people is an expression of love. Jesus knew the value of a good meal. Matthew 14:16 – 21 You don’t need any bling, bling or sparkle here to make a difference, just some food and fun. Each day at school we provide a small snack for the children, that we purchase from two parents, who are widows. They make money to support their families and the children have food for their brains. (smile) We are receiving lots of visitors to our school. There are wealthy parents that would like to pay us to have their child attend. But Jesus said, This will be free. So we are only taking kids of need and our church members children. We cannot expand the school until the school building is constructed. We are praying for the funds to complete the Chidren’s Home and School. We would like to use the school as a Montessori Training College also, so that we can multiply the difference by training teachers and orphan care workers.

The second miraculous moment came this past Sunday . A team of seven of us from the Ndirande church and two of our pastors, Abusa Brown and Abusa Maini began our hospital ministry program. We traveled together by minibus to Queen’s Hospital and visited two wards. We had fasted Wednesday and Saturday as a team in preparation for Sunday. These two wards had about 50-60 patients each in beds and some people on the floor, since there are not hospial beds for all of them. We entered the men’s ward ( in which someone had just died and been removed.)and Pastor Maini introduced our team and explained that we were here to encourage them and pray for him. First we sang praise and worship songs and I watched as the faces full of suffering and despair brighten with hope. In this moment in my mind I heard these words. “And the Light of Hope has come into the darkness.” The patients began to sing and clap with us. Worship here is warfare. These people know how to sing and do battle in the spiritual realm. Then Pastor Maini began the most powerful sermon I have seen him deliver yet. Lead by the Holy Spirit, he spoke the powerful truth of the gospel and the promise of healing for those who have accepted the Healer. These Pastors do not mess around. They know the truth and they share it with honesty, clarity and power. Pastor Brown then asked if there were any people who wanted to accept Christ and at least seven hands went up. We then walked around the room in twos and prayed for the patients. The gift of healing is something you have to be open to receiving. Many people were open. In the women’s ward it was the same. Let me tell you that everything we have done up to now pales in comparison to the ground we took back for Jesus this day. We will be going every other week on Sunday. As Christians we have the most powerful and life transforming gift: grace through Jesus Christ. Why are we not sharing it more boldly?

Peace and Love and Merry Christmas from Malawi, Love Maribeth

May the Peace of Christmas Settle in Your Soul

Dear Friends and Family,
Philippians 4:6-7 and 19. God reminded me this week that I just need to ask Him for what I need. So I keep asking and He keeps delivering. (Great Pictures Below)

Thank you for all your prayers, gifts of love, and financial support! We have one more week of school before we go on Christmas Break (until January 17th). This is the end of our school year in Malawi. The children have been demonstrating the most outstanding leadership and progress within the classroom. Tisu and Gladys are completing report cards and holding Parent Teacher Conferences. These women are simply amazing! God has shown me that these women need the honor and privilege of earning their 2 1/2 to 6 year old Montessori Credential. We have been planning for my departure in June and I have been handing over responsibilities to them: lesson planning, assessment, report cards conferences, etc. These two women do not have a college degree, but God has given them intention, motivation, intelligence, love, creativity and focus.

This past week Glady’s planned all the cultural lessons for Zoology. We studied fish anatomy. She was brilliant! Creating a song and dance to help the students remember the different parts of a fish. We have small classroom fish, but she brought in dried and fresh fish for the students to study. Our cat, Pang Ono Pang Ono, is our classroom mammal. She participated in our study of the fish too. (See pictures.) The kids adore her and she is very gentle. By chance Pastor Kalima caught a very large crab in the creek and the children loved watching it eat part of our fish. Needless to say our classroom smelled for two days, but the learning opportunities were maximized!

The week of January 12th, Tisu, Gladys, Mary O’Neill (a Montessori teacher and owner of three Montessori preschools here in Blantyre) and I will be holding a training for the Orphan Care Workers and Directors of the seven Chifundo (which means “Mercy” in Chichewa) Orphan Day Centers. We would love your prayers! And not that anyone is asking, but here is my Christmas Wishlist:

That you all would know the powerful and gracefilled love of God.
That all of you would know how much I love you and how grateful I am for you in my life.
And finally, that people would continue to come forward saying, “The children of Malawi matter to me too.” and invest in the Malawi Montessori Project so that we can continue to invest in the lives of these children.

If you want to donate this Christmas, please send your tax deductible donation to Lakeside Church. Attention Gina, Lakeside Church, 745 Oak Avenue Parkway, Folsom, California, 95630. Please put Malawi Montessori Project- Maribeth in the Memo line.

I promise through prayer and hardwork to maximize your donation to provide a better education for the orphans of Ndirande. You can count on it!

Peace and Love,