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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth's Library

Good News January & February 2024

A New Year and second decade begins for ELI!

New beginnings and love are the traditional themes associated with the months of January and February, and that is certainly true for ELI. We are excited to share stories about Bible distributions, bananas, an update on Dorothy and introduce a new and very exciting initiative with village grandmothers. We know you will be encouraged by this heartwarming venture and will want to support the many ways God is working and opening doors in Malawi & Zambia!



A New Hope For Dorothy

ELI tells the stories of many lives being transformed by the good news of the gospel and the power of literacy; the ability to read and write and to communicate effectively. Dorothy was born with deafness and lives in a very remote village where resources for sign language training are unavailable, so Dorothy’s world was silent, completely void of communication. Two years ago, Jacob (our EL Director in Malawi) told us about his encounter with Dorothy and her mother's plea for help, our hearts were especially touched, and so were yours. All of us prayed about how to help this little girl, and step by step God provided a way. You were a significant part of this journey as you read the stories and responded to support Dorothy’s needs.

In the 2023 Year End Good News, ELI reported that educational funds for Dorothy were exhausted, and Dorothy was unable to continue attending her special school. Of course disappointed, Dorothy could not understand why. At the same time, seasonal rains began and the strong winds blew the roof off the family home. Dorothy and her family took shelter in their small, smoky cooking shelter, but soon the rains leaked through the thatched roof. The entire family was cold, hungry and without hope. Dorothy’s father could not find any work as a bicycle taxi driver; especially worrying as this is the "hungry time" in Malawi where food is scarce and very expensive.

One day, as they were praying, they heard the sound of a truck stopping nearby and Jacob calling out a greeting. The truck was carrying supplies to build a new roof! ELI friends had been touched by this great need and had responded generously. The word went out and soon the village was watching this miracle and rejoicing with this destitute family. Not only did the roof repair begin, but Jacob brought groceries for a month and the good news that Dorothy's education had been funded through March. 

It was truly a joy for the ELI team to meet Dorothy during the 2023 summer. She couldn't speak, but as we looked into her eyes and she smiled, the innate intelligence was obvious. Only God, who knows our name and our days could write this story of divine love and we feel privileged to be part of this amazing story. We pray that you will continue to share this journey with us.

At the writing of this newsletter, another ELI friend funded a medical evaluation of Dorothy's deafness. Dorothy has been seen at the ABC Hearing clinic in Lilongwe and it has been clinically determined that Dorothy is totally deaf. Although this is not the diagnosis we had hoped for, ELI will continue to support sign language school for Dorothy. Please pray about generously supporting this need so Dorothy will reach her full potential and be an active member of her community.

Dorothy heard the gospel for the first time this last summer as Kathleen and Jacob "sang" Jesus Loves Me in sign language.


Grandmother's Heart

As Dorothy continues to learn sign language and life skills, the ELI team considered other ways for her to continue learning when she was not at language school. Both of Dorothy’s parents seek work opportunities everyday and there are often long periods of time when she is left alone.

Recently, Lana remembered an encounter from the July visit to Dorothy's village. The EL Malawi team set a table and chairs under a tree and unpacked books, puzzles and crafts. Within minutes, many children were busily engaged in reading and using the educational activities. Nearby, a group of women sat on the ground quietly watching the busy children. Lana walked over to them and asked if she could read them a story and they excitedly agreed. From the books displayed on the table, Lana chose a book that she knew had been donated by a retired second grade teacher - I am a Little Elephant. It is a touching story of a mother's love despite the antics of her child and the book is beautifully illustrated. The women thoroughly enjoyed the story and clapped when the book was done. Lana asked if they would like to learn to read and everyone said yes. Then the oldest woman said, "I can read. I went to a good school a long time ago." Lana asked her if she would like to read the book, and word by word, they read the book together. It was hard work, but Alefa was determined. The book was left with her to read again to other women waiting to learn.

Alefa came to Lana’s mind as the team discussed who in the village could come alongside Dorothy. Jacob discussed the idea with Dorothy's parents and Alefa and they excitedly agreed that this was a "brilliant" idea. Soon Grace and Bethel were working with Alefa to bring back forgotten skills and learn new ones. She would also learn some sign language and help Dorothy with her school lessons. There would also be puzzles and building blocks for play time to reinforce critical thinking skills. A village grandmother had a new and important responsibility!

In Zambia, Kenneth was driving the Susu Farm truck down the challenging road from the market town of Kabwe to the Susu Farm. There were many tasks scheduled for that day at the farm and he was in a hurry. Just before the last right hand turn onto the road with the biggest potholes, an older woman and several children waved him down. Kenneth said that he didn't want to stop, but this was obviously a village grandmother and courtesy and respect of elders is still important in that culture. To Kenneth's surprise, she lived in a village that he passed by driving to Susu but had never visited. Grandmother Elizabeth explained that she had heard about the Susu Community Library and she and the children wanted to visit. This was not on Kenneth's schedule, but he said ok. Within minutes, more children appeared and Kenneth took the truck filled with children on their first field trip to the library. Elizabeth has a heart for the children, who often cannot attend school or church. There are no Bibles or other books in the village and she does the best she can as a story teller, but she longs for books to read to her children.

Kenneth brought a children's Bible and other story books to Elizabeth's home. The following day, children came in the morning and evening for Bible reading and other stories. Soon the mothers, who want to learn to read and write themselves, also joined the classes.

As the ELI teams shared the stories of Alefa and Elizabeth, a new initiative to share the gospel and literacy programs at the village level was born. ELI is so very excited to announce the launch of A Grandmother's Heart.

Our African teams will identify literate grandmothers with a heart to teach Bible stories and basic literacy skills to the children and adults in their communities. They will be given local language and children's Bibles, storybooks and basic start up supplies (blackboards, tables & chairs, notebooks & pencils).

Oscar, the Susu librarian writes, "An African grandmother is well known and respected for her caring and sweet heart. She is loved by everyone in the community and her presence brings joy and happiness. It is considered a great blessing to have her warmth, she cannot be replaced. Our grandmothers keep secrets, tell nice stories, make delicious meals and give wise and sound encouragement."

ELI seeks your prayers for our Grandmother's Heart initiative. We are convinced that loving village grandmothers with caring hearts; equipped with Bibles will be an effective and strategic child evangelism outreach. We look forward to sharing the many anticipated stories these grandmothers will share.

This last Christmas, a church in Monterey CA wanted to involve their young children in a mission outreach. Calvary Kids learned that many children in rural Malawi or Zambia have few opportunities to read a Bible or hear the wonderful stories about Jesus and they were invited to pray for these children and purchase a children's Bible to share. Thanks to this outreach and other adults who heard about this need, almost 100 children's Bibles will be sent in April's book box shipment!



Susu Farm

The Susu farmers worked tirelessly last November, in anticipation of the seasonal rains, they planted large fields of maize, sunflowers and beans. The crops began growing well and the farmers were expecting excellent harvests, but by mid January no rain had fallen. Drought came to central Zambia, and farmers watched their precious crops die. At Susu, the farmers hoped and prayed that the small stream on their property would continue to provide needed water for the banana trees. When the stream completely dried up, long pipes were laid all the way to the river, and water was pumped to the trees, but with no rain, the water level in the river dropped significantly. A well was needed immediately and everyone in the ELI family began praying. God answered that prayer with funds to drill a new borehole. The water drilling company quickly left Kabwe and drove to the Susu Farm working late into the night. Cheers and clapping were offered in praise as they struck water around midnight. The next day the Susu farmers busily began laying pipe and clearing the brush off a nearby seven meter high anthill, where the water storage tank will be placed. With insufficient funds to purchase a tank stand, a tall anthill will do the work for now. 

The following day a huge rainstorm fell on the Susu farm and saved the entire banana plantation - all 7,500 trees. Now there is time to carefully complete the pipe and storage tank installation and decide what new crops can be planted to alleviate the food shortage the community will experience later this year. Please remember in prayer the Zambian farmers; that God will bring sufficient rains for a good harvest.

A grateful thanks to our prayer and financial partners. We know you are blessed and encouraged as you read the stories of your investment in ELI. We continue to pray for new monthly supporters that will allow our existing programs to flourish and also expand the Grandmother's Heart program in both Zambia and Malawi. We continue to pray and seek funds for Dorothy's education. Our hope is she will continue school without interruption and that one day she graduates from high school or even college.

As always, one time gifts of any amount are appreciated. It's time for the next book box shipment, would you like to sponsor a box or two? May the Lord bless you.

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