Firstly, we know this is a long newsletter, but please take 10 minutes to read what God has done and is still doing. Hello everybody Can you remember the song that was sung often in church: “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after You.” ? This is how it's now in Mufulira, Zambia. The earth yearns for water and as you walk the dust rises up like Johson's & Jonhson's baby powder. At any time it's between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius, but the trees are budding and the first mangoes are are showing up. The locals say the warm month are still ahead, October, but with it comes rains and life. Who can choose the thougths of God ? Isn't He wonderful ? Zehandi looks back at 2009 in Mufulira, Zambia. We experience the grace and miracles of God as we travelled here with all the things that happened in Livingston. We see God's hand of grace in the people to whom He introduced us here so that we won't be so lonely. We say farewell to Danie with a song in our hearts and tears in our eyes since he's relationship to God was restored. We adopt Patricia (a 21 year old orphan, and don't think for one second the pain and spirit of abandonment is less since she's older.) With our arrival GMI (Grace ministries International) expressed their wish that the projects and church operates independently. By putting systems and structures in place in the first few months here, we can say that the church, lodge, school and the feeding schemes are now independent. Through this the church was able to identify problem areas themselves and we were able to bring changes to the leadership. Amongst these are a new spirit filled pastor that stepped in and we can already see the growth and change in the church through he's example of service. During our stay several people approached us to be a part of the dreams that lived in their hearts. This is how we became involved in the “Ichtus farm” project. The need was to establish a farm as a mission station to serve the community. And so our difficult task began of clearing the bushes, building a relationship with the community and getting them involved. By the end of the year: We have been providing food for between 40 and 80 people. Daily bible study for between 40 and 80 women. Discipleship with the workers. Vegetable garden grown. People baptized and healed by God. People saved by God. But the biggest goal was reached with the help of God, that people would realise that the changes in their community would start with the transformation within themselves and as they live out this transformation. To see this process through we trained six people to operate independently and to stoke the fire that was started. They will report to us and a local church leader. One thing we realised is that the needs are so big in Zambia that if you take your eyes off of your calling for a moment, you'll be busy with good works and not what God had planned. This is probably the most important lesson we learnt this year. We spent almost all of August in Kabwe and attended three conferences. Firstly we took the teachers of Grace ministries to a a teachers conference. They were so excited that they asked this to become an annual event. Secondly we attended the “Pro-Christo/OM Africa Mission Conference”. The people there were excellent. We learnt alot and met many new people. We had the privilege of talking to George Verwer (founder of OM). We definitely left as better people. We also realised that there are so many social problems in the world and that God can use these issues to reach people with His love and grace. Thirdly we also attended Grace church's "first annual Church conference" and wow, the nationals had to organize it themselves and it was a huge success. There were a few logistical problems, but who could have guessed that more than 1000 people would come. Their speaker was pastor Tim Heath from America. Through he's practical examples he spoke into peoples lives. The kids really enjoyed it since at any given point there were 15 missionary children on the grounds. On tshe day before our departure Tim Heath took some missionaries out for the day and equipped us with the word of God. What a stream of living water. In between all this we had the one meeting after another. It's like the girl who was asked what her dad does. “He holds meetings”, was her reply. In the weeks before the conference, we struggled with the thought of whether it was really necessary to struggle on by ourselves. Could we not add more value if we didn't have to deal with mountain of official government paperwork such as drivers permits etc. We also realised that we need a sounding board and be part of a body. With these thoughts in our hearts several speakers touched on these subjects. The speakers laid emphasis on the fact that we should drop our nonsense and work together, because while were fighting people are dying without God ! In this time Dan Moyer (Africa Director of GMI) approached us and asked us whether we could work together again on the grounds of the work that we did in and around Mufulira and the fact that Tim en Debbie (who was on a visit home and who's ministry we were looking after) would be coming back on 17 October. And that GMI needs a family in Senga Bay in Malawi to start a new ministry. So after lots of talks and prayer, Johan went on a scouting mission to Malawi. After he's return we spent a lot of time in prayer and talks with the sending team. With Joshua 22:1-6 we realised that our pioneering work at Ichtus farm is finished and that Ichtus ministries along with the disciples will be able to carry on the work that was started. So we can move on. Can you believe we're one month short of being here for a whole year ? We were so busy that the time flew and we feel a little sad leaving this place, but are looking forward to the visit to South Africa. We'll spend a lot of time with the support team on the plans forward as well as reporting back. If the Lord wills it we'll leave here on October 1 and return to Malawi to take hands with GMI any time between 28 November and 7 December. We'll be in Pretoria for two weeks to receive training in areas that we consider will better our ministry. So if anybody wants us to come to their home group, please contact: Marikie Merifield - firstname.lastname@example.org / Cell: 0824431571 Dirk vd Merwe - email@example.com / Cell : 082 396 336 Please pray with us for: Safety on the roads and at border posts. Home and home group visits. Finances for the trip and provisions for 2010. That we can rest and visit friends and family. Preparations for the new leg of the trip. Blessings !! PS Just a bit of humor: Just before we left Kabwe I attended a women's conference that was hosted by a group of Australian women. It was their first time here and didn't realise that things gets lost in translation if you're not clear. One of the woman said that she put a towel in the bathroom since she's trusting God for a man to raise her 4 children with her to the whole congregation. Only the translator said that she put a child in the bathroom as an act of faith.