This year ELI will celebrate its 10th birthday! As we reflect on ten years of ministry, perseverance seems the best description of our journey. It began with a vision to establish libraries, literacy programs and educational opportunities that would honor God in underserved communities. In 2013 this seemed a formidable task. But God made it very clear that we should persevere to bring these these life changing resources to where there were few or none. Time and time again, He met the many needs that kept us moving forward.
We continue to be amazed at His faithfulness to us as an organization and to the people we serve. Their perseverance and amazing stories make up our Good News. In the months ahead we will share the beginnings of many of these stories with their updates. Rejoice with us at what has been accomplished through perseverance, a lot of hard work and the blessings of God. Sharing with our readers and friends is a fabulous way to celebrate our birthday and give glory to God.
The Susu farmers know very well the importance of perseverance despite enormous challenges. Four years ago, ELI supported the purchase of 20 hectares of land to house the future library and agricultural income generating projects. The hard packed land was covered with brush and had never been cultivated. Clearing the land by hand was a daunting task, but the men and women of Susu persevered. Meter by meter the land was prepared for planting.
In six months time, vegetable gardens sprouted and 100 orange trees were in place. Additional land was acquired and maize and sunflowers were planted. Banana and lemon trees flourished near to the orange grove. There were seasons of too much rain or not enough. Sometimes the laborers were few, so the planting of additional crops had to wait. There have been seasons of bountiful harvest and sometimes not. And now because of the farmer's perseverance, the oranges are producing their first fruits and the first potato field is ready to harvest.
This month, we are launching our new campaign to purchase a parcel of land for the Susu farm. ELI has been given the opportunity to purchase an additional 25 hectares (approx. 63 acres) with 150 fruit producing mango trees. These trees will provide a ready crop, and the farm truck purchased by ELI supporters will take the fruit to near and far markets. One day in the future, those persevering farmers hope to also build a Christian high school with dormitories for the girls on this parcel of land.
Will you please prayerfully consider a gift of any amount to help reach the goal of $6,000 to fund this campaign. What an encouragement it would be for these hardworking farmers as they continue working toward a better future for the Susu community.
It is almost two years since Estery, Dorothy's mother approached Jacob seeking help for her daughter. Despite many disappointments, she persevered in prayer, always seeking opportunities to help her beloved daughter. It is truly a joy to share updates with you of God's love and provision for Dorothy and her mother.
In his own words, Jacob's (EL Malawi Director) heartwarming update concerning Dorothy's journey.
“We arrived in Dima village around eight o'clock in the morning for another long visit. There was joy and excitement everywhere when the people saw us arriving. Children shouting to friends, “The books have arrived!”Mothers called their children to attend the activities offered for the day. Matthew, our regular teacher, and Bethel (a certified volunteer pre-school teacher), came to help, because we were so busy with all the children. Grace and I went to Dorothy's home to read a special book to Dorothy's mother, Estery. The book was titled, Who Was Helen Keller? We decided to visit her home so Dorothy's mother would better understand the story without disturbances, and glean lessons to help take care of Dorothy.
Estery was filled with joy as teacher Grace read the story of Hellen Keller. She felt sad when Helen was struggling with her life because of deafness. This made Estery think of the challenges Dorothy faces, as they are similar. When Grace continued reading Hellen Keller’s story, showing how she overcame some of these challenges, Estery smiled and asked more questions. Dorothy’s family is now filled with hope, knowing as she continues to learn, that she too will be able to manage some things on her own.
Estery so wanted Dorothy to hear the incredible story but she could not, so she beckoned Dorothy to her side, and hugged her as Grace finished the story. This was the best moment I have ever seen in my life, to see a mother very happy and thanking Elizabeth’s Library International for supporting her daughter beyond the mobile day activities and supporting her school as well. We thank Grace for working hard to make sure that Dorothy's life is for the better.”
Jacob also reported that Estery helps Dorothy outside of school, to practice her lessons. Estery attends school with Grace and Dorothy, and she was proud to show Jacob how she uses the ELI resources to reinforce what Dorothy learns.
The people in Dima village asked Grace to read Hellen Keller’s story to them as well. "Everyone wanted to know what happened to Helen Keller", as they connected her story to Dorothy.
Why should anyone care about the story of a blind and deaf woman who lived over 100 years ago? As Dorothy's mother listens to the true story of Helen Keller, she comes to understand what seemingly was impossible for Helen Keller, and for Dorothy, is now achievable --- the ability to communicate, to read, to have a bright future! One brief biography can breathe hope into a family and can transform a community. This thin book speaks volumes to the people of Dima Village, a place so rural that its existence is almost unknown in the USA. Yet Dima Village matters; Dorothy matters. Who Was Helen Keller speaks of the preciousness of each person, the value of each life, and the hope for each individual's future. For all we know, Dorothy may become that very symbol of hope and courage that was also embodied by Helen Keller!
- Kathleen A.
ELI Board of Directors and professional children's librarian.
ELI knows that you were encouraged to read the stories of perseverance that were highlighted this month. Throughout this coming year, we will continue to weave the stories of individuals and communities who persevered and experienced God's faithfulness. Your prayers and financial gifts were blessed by God to accomplish His purposes. In this our tenth year of serving the Lord and seeing lives changed, celebrate with us over what has been accomplished and join with us as we prepare for the future. To God be the glory.