"Who built the ark? Noah, Noah! Who built the ark? Brother Noah built the ark!"
Stanley doing his reading. Rebecca has dubbed Stanley as one of her very favorite children at Rafiki. Some would call him the "class clown." He is always hyper, always crazy, always getting into trouble, but his is so darling and so brilliantly smart. This is the child that gave Nick his nickname of "Uncle Trumpet." His standard one teacher thinks he'll be the next president of Malawi. :-) We love Stanley!
Just about each child painted his or her own square, and some shared. This ark is entirely like Noah's, but isn't it precious?
On our very last day we took a walk with some of the kids around the fence. The picture above is Rebecca with some of the children. It is really good for them to see the people outside of the fence once in a while. While we were on the walk there was a really touching moment that was not captured on film: some of the kids found a pile of branches that had been cut down, and the branches were laden with dried berries. They were so excited to have these little treasures! They were prancing around and playing when on the other side of the fence a group of children walked past. One Rafiki child ran up to the fence and silently extended his arm through the chain links to offer a branch to the child outside of the fence. The little girl took the branch, smiled, and walked on, eating the berries. It was so beautiful and simple. Just when you think we understand these Raiki kids they do something like that!
Some women outside of the fence during our walk.
Nick also took the chance to "slash" the grass on his last day. Here is a video of Nick and Kennan, a national worker, so that you can get a feel for slashing. Keep in mind that these guys do this 6 days a week, from about 7:00am until late in the afternoon.
Our last day with the kitchen staff, Martin is next to Nick and Dickson is next to Rebecca. Speaking of working hard, these guys cook all of the meals from scratch, then wash each and every dish by hand.
A last hug with our favorite babies: Uchizi (with Nick) and Sipiwe (with Rebecca)
Some of the Mamas and Aunties singing to their children after coming home from a wedding on Saturday.
On the road from Mzuzu to to Lilongwe.
So... how do you sum up a month spent in Africa, experiencing and participating in such a foreign but fantastic culture? Can we ever truly tell you all how wonderful the children were, or how deep is the joy of the Malawian people? Or will our pictures and videos - factions of fractions of our time here - impart upon you the beauty of this troubled but magnificent nation? Probably not fully. But we do pray that you have been able to get a small taste of the things we have seen and done, and that you will see that God has richly blessed these people with a spirit of joy and strength, despite the many challenges they face. They struggle each day to survive, and end each evening in thanksgiving with song and dance. God has worked through us during this month to shape our hearts and bend them towards these orphans, who are just as much children of God as we are. He has knit them in their mother's wombs, just as he has done for us, and has plans for them that are so far above our thoughts and plans. God is good. God is powerful and sovereign, and He holds these children and Mamas and workers in the palm of His hands. We thanks and praise God for blessing us with this experience, and for blessing us with you and your support. May God richly bless you and be ever nearer to your heart with each passing day. Usiku Uweme! (Good night!)
Nick and Rebecca DelVillano