Delivering on the MMP Goals through Partnership

Dear Friends and Family,

Bono, the lead singer for U-2, and a person committed to ending extreme poverty and AIDS in our world (see www.one.org), was interviewed two years ago at the Leadership Summit televised at Lakeside Church in Folsom. He was interviewed by Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Church, who is his friend and also a man committed to being Christ in action and word in the midst of the AIDS Pandemic. When Bill Hybels asked Bono how churches get involved, Bono said, Bless what God is already blessing. He was refering to many of the organizations and leaders God had already sent to Africa and other places impacted by AIDS to serve those in need, like the orphans.

The teachers in our recent training are from five orphan care centers that serve orphans, living with guardians within the community of Ndirande. This week I visited two to the three Chifundo Orphan Care Centers run by the Prespretarian Church. These three centers (three of seven in the area) are
serve 70-300 children each, 2-5 years of age. They provide breakfast and lunch, love, Christian teaching and songs, and prepare the children for school. The are community based organizations and they raise their own crops to feed the children and employ those within the community to assist with this. They provide Home Based Care training for volunteers who minister to those who are sick within the community. They visit the children within their homes regularly for accountability and guardian support. They have boards made up of community members and sollict the help and participation of the children’s guardians. What they are doing is working and even though they are working with very few resources, they are very effective. They maximize what God has given them. Their goals are clear and they have healthy systematic ways of meeting these goals in an atmosphere of love, respect and community.

I had the opportunity to spend time at two of the centers this week. The Malawi Montessori Project has two goals: to educate the future leaders of Malawi and to train and resource an educational community. I did not make up these goals for MMP. God put these two specific goals on my heart and confirmed them through my collegues, Kim Yeager and Laura Witwer. God has the most amazing way of bringing people together in relationship to deliver on His agenda. God has brought us into relationship with the Chifundo Orphan Care Centers so that we could expand what is possible for the orphans of Ndirande. Please see the pictures below. You will see the teachers that participated in our trainings. If you want to make a difference for orphans, I know who is doing it and how you can help.
If you are a Montessori teacher (especially the 2 1/2-6 credentialed), come to Malawi to train! If you can’t come send me additional Montessori materials or money to make materials here.

Thank you to my family and friends! It is because of all of you that I am here!!! Please pray for Heather Kreiser and Sandy Listberger who leave SFO on Oct 5th and arrive in Blantyre on Tuesday, October 7th. I have a great schedule for them! Please pray that God will reveal all the He wants to see in Acts III Church Malawi, the Malawi Montessori Project, and here in Ndirande.

Love, Maribeth

Blessings to My Friends and Family!

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for your prayers and love! Beautiful things are happening! I look forward to the surprise visit from Heather Kreiser and Sandy Listberger, from Lakeside Church, arriving in Malawi on October 7th. Please pray for their preparation and safety. I can’t wait to cook my favorite Malawian foods for them- including roasted ground nuts! My amazing friends, Annie Holt and Pam Loomis, plus many other of those crazy compassionate women are hosting a garage sale for Acts III Global Ministries, Malawi at 953 Palmer Circle in Folsom, California 95630 on Saturday, September 27th. Please show up to donate items or shop til you drop. 100% of the purchases go to Acts III. Ladies! You completely inspire me and I’m praying!

We finish our last week of the quarter this week! Pics of the kids doing plein air water color are below. We finished session three of four sessions of the Montessori Teacher Training and Material Development this Friday for the orphan care workers. They are deeply grateful for the training and materials. The session was supposed to end at 4 p.m. but they all stayed until 5:30 p.m. to complete their materials.

Peace and Love to you all!
Love, Maribeth

Great Pictures for You All- They are worth a 1,000 words!

Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you for all your love and prayers! I really do feel them all the way over here in Malawi! Thank you for your financial support that is delivering on my dreams and others. We began our first of four Friday trainings for the community development workers at three local orphan care centers: Chifundo I, 2, and 3, right here in Ndirande. I can walk to each center. Chifundo means “Mercy” in Chichewa. At the end of the Montessori training on how to teach Practical Skills, these women said the most beautiful things to Tisu, Gladys, and I. With tears in her eyes one woman said she has been praying that someone would come and teach them how to teach the children and now God has answered her prayers. That made me cry! Their gratitude was so inspiring! The teacher to child ratio at these centers is approximately 40 or 50 to one and the social, academic and spiritual needs of these children are so great. The town of Ndirande is a town of great poverty and addiction. These women are doing the best they can for these needy children with very little supplies. Not only has God called us to train these teachers but to encourage them and express our acknowledgement for their work.

This is a Montessori Material Development Workshop. The teachers are going to make sandpaper letters and numbers, the tabletop number rods, spindle boxes, etc. With only $70.00 we had a carpenter make 770+ 5 x 5 blocks for the letters and 14 sets of the tabletop number rods. Thank you to all my Montessori Teacher Trainers that visited! I want you to know that Tisu and Gladys trained these teachers on Friday and it was beautiful to see them share about the Prepared Environment, the Montessori Materials and Montessori Teaching Philosophy. I was amazed at their knowledge and ability to demonstrate it!

Somebody have a garage sale and buy me some more wood, would you? (smile) May Jesus rock your world in the BIGGEST of ways this week. May He challenge you to love beyond your capacities. James 2:14-17 He said it, now go do it! Love, Maribeth

Love and Learning: Acts III Montessori School

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for your prayers and love! The children are learning respect, responsibility, and how to care for themselves and the world around them! We are a Christian Montessori School here at Acts III and the children are being taught to love people beyond their own capacities. Galatians 5:23 They made watercolor pictures for two sick women in the community and we delivered them on Friday. One of the women in particular was so touched by the children’s gift. This is what Montessori education is all about. And this is what it is to love God.

Here are some pictures of our learning! Music is a huge part of the culture of Malawi. The children’s favorite song is “This Little Light of Mine”. I make up songs for everything, which brings great humor to my teaching assistants! The Malawian National Anthem is beautiful. We sing it each morning. It goes like this: “Oh God bless our land of Malawi. Keep it a land of peace. Put down each and every enemy: hunger, disease, envy. Join our hearts together each and everyone so that we will be free from fear. And bless our leaders each and everyone and mother Malawi.”

Every time I sing this I am so moved, because I am committed to this. Our teacher training begins September 5th and run for four consecutive Fridays. We will present Montessori materials and philosophy to orphan care workers and teachers. We will have them make materials to bring back to the children they serve here in the community of Ndirande. Please pray for us. There are many threats to children here. Sickness, poverty, and people who would take advantage of them. Ndirande is a town with many bars and people escape hunger and sadness in various ways. Children are in danger in many ways. Please pray for the completion of the Children’s Home. Construction is ongoing, but if we do not finish before the rainy season (mid November) construction will be halted. Continued funding is needed to finish. Please go to www.acts3.org to see the construction pictures. I’d love to see children have a safe home for Christmas.

Seems like that would be the biggest gift of all. At our school we continue to lay the foundation of the larger school that will exist when the 96 orphans are living here. Our first class of students will be the leaders as we add new children to the school. They love school!

Thank you for all you are doing! I feel your prayers and love all the way in Malawi

I am truly blessed!

Dear Friends and Family,

I am truly blessed! Thank you to the beautiful and powerful Malawi Acts III Impact Team that demonstrated such bold love and unwavering commitment to travel with me to Blantyre, Malawi. My heart is full of gratitude for your love in action! The Malawi Montessori School has been established and will begin teaching children in two weeks. I hope to hire two women, Tisu (as a teacher) and Gladys (as a teaching assistant) this week. I observed them teaching the pastor’s children at our school yesterday and I was overwhelmed by their love, gentleness, and true effectiveness as teachers. Team! They remembered even the smallest nuiances and details of Montessori teaching. You all would have been so proud! We begin with the pastor’s children (15 students) and then begin to add children who are orphaned. Many of the pastors and members of this community have adopted children, both their relatives children and other children off the street. That is the spirit of this community. They see a need and they seek to make a difference, even with the smallest amount of personal resources.

Due to the effectiveness of our teacher training, there is a great demand for continued training. Teacher and orphan care center workers would like teacher training, English Language Development Instruction, and computer instruction. I am actively recruiting! Let me say this again. I am actively taking names of those committed to making a difference here in Blantyre, Malawi and the beautiful township of Ndirande. Dates to consider: October, Dec-Jan, March-April or mid June.

We accomplished the establishment of the school and six intensive days of teacher training because of partnership, team, and lots of prayer.

There is a beautiful song that plays on the radio. It is my favorite. It goes like this. “I believe that love is the answer. I believe that love will find the way.” Love in action is the key to making a difference for the future of these children and this community.

Thank you to my beautiful team and to all of our sponsors! Thank you to my amazing friends and family that remind me of who I am. Peace and love from Malawi! I promise pictures of our new teacher and assistant soon. Meredith, the team has pics of our teacher graduation and the team upon completion of the project. Can you add one or two?

New Pictures from School

Dear Friends and Family,
Take a look at these new pictures from Monday, July 7 of the teacher training here in Malawi. Eileen began instruction in Language Arts in the morning using the sandpaper letters created here in Malawi. Malawi sand! Kim Yeager completed the afternoon with the colorful Botany curriculum she created specifically for Malawi. She gathered flowers, roots, etc from the Children’s Home grounds for her hands-on science instruction. Ladies, never have I seen such loving and creative instruction! Rose, Caitlyn, Kim, and Eileen are preparing for more Language Arts, Zoology, Geology, and Ecology today and tomorrow! Love, your very grateful and outrageously inspired Team Leader, Maribeth P.S. Kim Z, if the President of Malawi comes to the official opening in Oct. you and the girls better come! (smile)

P.S. Everyone is busy creating materials and supporting the training using their special gifts! More pics later!

Malawi Montessori Teacher Training

Dear Family and Friends,
This is one of the most beautiful things we have ever been honored to be a part of! We alternate between crying, laughing, and bursting out with outrageous joy. We are feel honored to be a part of the creation of this Montessori school and to have the opportunity to train these committed teachers.

The classroom is complete and we have finished three days of intensive teacher training. Laura, Lindsay and I taught practical life, sensorial, and math the first three days and Rose, Kim and Eileen will teach cultural studies and language arts next week. We have 14 teachers in the training and each day since we have begun more teachers have come. We have had to turn them away, some in tears, because they hadn’t been clear about the start time.

We promised another training sometime in September or October. Do you hear that my Montessori teaching friends??? My public school teaching friends??? I am not training alone, so you better visit! Resource a school, an educational community, and hang out with me in Malawi, Africa. Hey, I can’t think of a better way for you to spend a couple weeks in September, December, April, or early June. I am taking sign ups right now! Each person on the team is using their special gifts and contributing so much. Brice, Josh, and Josh Yeager are building and wrecking things, depending upon the project (smile). Patty, Rose, and Caitlyn have been irreplaceable as our set up crew. Sarah and Jean have orchestrated all the tasks behind the scene that it takes to put on a six day training. They have prepared the environment, greeted and built relationships with all the teachers, and prepared the meals.

There is such a hunger for teacher training here. Our Malawian teachers in training are so focused, taking detailed notes, and participating fully in all the lessons. I have been shocked at the speed and accuracy of their learning. I still cannot believe we are here, that we brought an entire Montessori classroom with us in our luggage, that we have set it up at the orphanage and are now training in this beautiful classroom. As I type this I am completely moved by how extraordinary this is and the magnitude of what is being accomplished in such a short time. You are all part of this accomplishment. I will share a couple of memories from the training and then you can see the pictures below.

On Thursday we shared some songs that we sing with the children during circle. Then we asked the Malawian teachers in training if they would like to share some traditional songs with us. One of the teachers had Josh’s guitar that he brought and began to lead everyone in song. In 10 seconds we were all on our feet, singing and dancing around the entire classroom to the most heavenly music I have ever heard. I looked at Laura and we both started to cry. Music comes out of their souls here. It was as if the angels in heaven were singing. We sang, clapped, laughed, and danced for 15 minutes together- one community, one people- we became family in that moment. We love you all! We thank you for supporting us to make a difference for these children and our Montessori teacher in training.
Love,Maribeth
P.S. Part of our team went on a short Safari to see the beauty of Malawi. We will add pics soon.

Our Beautiful Malawi Adventure

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for all your love, support, and encouragement! We are having the adventure of our lives and experiencing the most remarkable things! Our interactions with the children and families here in Malawi is changing our hearts and minds. Everyone here on staff at the Acts III Children’s Home has supported us greatly in accomplishing our goals. The classroom is half way completed and we start teacher training with 8 women on Wednesday.

Our classroom is beautiful, with hand-made shelves, colorful mats on the floor, Malawian baskets holding all the Montessori materials. We forgot our sandpaper numerals, so Lindsay, with the help of our carpenter, is making a set. Kim Yeager, who made all the Montessori cultural curriculum, bought beads to make more colored-bead stairs for math even before we left.

With Kim and Rose’s energy, we should be setting up four classrooms (smile). Here are some of the things I will never forget.

Watching Caitlin and Rose interact with about 15 young Malawian children outside the Children’s Home gate at dusk. Caitlin had the children draw pictures in her journal and write their names. Rose took pictures and showed the children what they looked like. (We have never seen a mirror yet. Many children have never seen their own face.) As the sun set, Rose brought out glow sticks-neon red, green, blue, yellow- and handed them to the children. You would have thought we had given them money. They laughed and waved them in the air in the dark. So grateful for the little gift.

I will never forget Lindsay and I running down the dirt path (my first jog in Malawi). Weaving through bikers, cars, and women carrying huge baskets of sugar cane. What a brave soul you are Lindsay! Thanks! No one exercises in Malawi, because their whole day is spent in hard labour. Yet they are the most gracious and grateful people. I will never forget Josh Yeager and his interactions with Gabrielle, the three year old son of Bosco, one of our pastors overseeing the project. A gentle hand upon his little shoulder. His gentleness, love, and guidance was so moving. You are a great big brother, Josh! I am so proud of you. Josh Jolly and Brice, laughing and hanging out 24/7 and hanging off the side of every truck-Eating sugar cane everywhere we go and still having room for pizza and icecream! No to mention all your hard work moving bricks and bringing sand up from the river. Patty Underwood reading the book of Joshua outloud to me when I was lying in my bed with a backache. Falling asleep to Joshua. Patty, you are the most beautiful soul! Thank you for all your acts of love.

The team planting a garden at the top of the property. The expressions on Jean, Eileen, Laura, and Sarah’s face as we walked through the town of NDirande( our neighboring town)and talked and laughed with the throngs of kids that surrounded us. Beautiful children, six year olds, carrying their baby sisters and brothers,so thin,with torn clothing and no shoes. They did not want anything, but to be with us. That was their joy. Their names- Owen, Charles, Gift, Promise, Esther, etc. There are 20,000+ orphans in NDirande. It is heart breaking when you see their beautiful smiles. Seems to me like we can do more in America to make a difference for children everywhere. We have accomplished much so far as a team.

Our plans for the next week is to finish the classroom, begin teacher training on Wednesday (6 days in all), visit schools in the surrounding area, go out to the children on the street and put on plays and do puppet theater, and start soccer games. Everyone in this community has made us feel so welcomed.

Thank you to all our American family and friends for your love and prayers. We seek to make you proud and accomplish much for the children.

Love, A Proud Team Leader, Maribeth

We Have Arrived!

Dear Friends and Family,

We have arrived safely and in great spirits to Blantyre, Malawi! After a 34 hour journey, we spent our first night in the Children’s Home sleeping under blue nets and listening to the sounds of Africa. We were welcomed warmly. Randy and the pastors loaded our 36+ pieces of luggage with school materials on a flatbed truck to journey to the Children Home. The boys in our group had the thrilling experience of riding on the back on the top of the luggage. We are grateful that all of our luggage arrived safely.

The Children’s Home is still under construction, but it is beautiful and well-designed. Our rooms were decorated warmly with woven grass mats, baskets, candles, and African fabric window coverings. We feel completely at home! Today we had a walking tour of NDirande, the village nextdoor to the Children’s Home. We walked along winding dirt paths with simple brick homes. The smell of burning wood and spices from the open market filled the air. The children flocked around us and giggled at seeing their pictures in our cameras. Their great joy and gratefulness despite their poor conditions, moved us to tears. We practiced our Chichewa. The children loved it and laughed at our attempts to speak their language. We hope to have a picture for youshortly.

So many remarkable people made this trip possible for us! THANK YOU! We are taking you on this journey with us. We will be setting up the classroom this week and we have eight teachers so far interested in being trained next week. The weather is a beautiful 70 degrees and sunny.

If you would like to contact us, please call one of our two cell phone numbers (between 6 a.m.-7 a.m. California time) 011-265-5-700-290 or 011-265-9-432-036. Please check with your long distance carrier before call. It will cost you between $1-$6 per minute depending upon your long distance carrier. Or you can post your comments here on our blog!

Love,
The Malawi Montessori Project Team