Since returning from our pilgrimage, we’ve been busy addressing some of the needs we discovered on our trip. Through St. David’s Simple Gifts program we raised $3,500 for the Lisuli Orphan Care Center. We’ve shipped medical supplies to the main hospital in Blantyre, and we’ve raised the $11,000 needed to build a wind-powered well in the village of Mindanti. We also have become Warm Heart International, a non-profit corporation. Among other advantages, our new status will facilitate corporate donations and allow us to apply for grant money. Finally, we’re planning another pilgrimage to Malawi for summer 2007 so that more of us can share in the life-changing partnership with our brothers and sisters in the Warm Heart of Africa.

Contact Mark Mitchell at 512-476-1027 for more information about the May 24 through June 10, 2007 Pilgrimage and the application process.

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Mission delegates at Diocean Cottage on Lake Malawi

MISSION:
To live out our faith by partnering with people in communities worldwide to help them achieve a healthier quality of life.

Warm Heart International is a community of Christian compassion raising funds and awareness for freshwater access and sanitation, medical care, orphan care and education, and youth-to-youth relationships in communities worldwide.

OUR STORY:
In 1980, James Tengatenga left his home country of Malawi for Austin, Texas, and the Seminary of the Southwest. He soon found a church home at St. David’s Episcopal Church and became an active and well-loved member of the parish. He and his wife, Josie, were married at St. David’s. When this extraordinary seminarian returned to Malawi in 1984, he took part of our heart with him. Since then St. David’s relationship with James, Josie, and the people of the Diocese of Southern Malawi has flourished.

In 1992, Mark Mitchell and Donnie Hungerford formed the Southern Malawi Outreach Committee at St. David’s under the direction of The Rev. Jim Bethell. The committee’s purpose was to foster our oneness with Bishop Tengatenga and the people he serves and to express this oneness through action.

Our first priority was to help Josie Tengatenga complete her seminary training. From 2001 to 2003 we raised around $12,000 to help with her education expenses. After Josie graduated in May 2003, our efforts were redirected toward helping to build and furnish a diocesan school. We raised $4,300 for the school and other needs through the St. David’s Pecan Street BBQ booth. In 2003-04 we also raised $670 for the Diocese of Southern Malawi through the St. David’s Simple Gifts program.

In December 2004, Bishop James and the Rev. Harry Chisale visited Austin for a week-long event called Sharing of Missions Abroad (SOMA). The conference gave us a deeper understanding and appreciation of God’s work in Malawi and generated a wave of excitement that would transform our ministry. Mark Mitchell asked James how we might best foster St. David’s relationship with the Diocese of Southern Malawi. James’ answer was direct: he asked us to come see and experience God’s love in Malawi -- its culture, hospitality, faith, history, traditions, passions, joys, sufferings, sorrows, loss, poverty, disease, and natural resources, as well as the dramatic growth of the Church and the Christian faith in the Malawian people. On the last day of James and Harry’s visit, St. David’s presented them with a check for $4,300 raised from the Fall Pecan Street Festival BBQ booth. This gift enabled our brothers and sisters in Christ to purchase a badly needed Nissan pickup truck. The truck is being used to transport workers, run errands, and handle many other tasks. According to Bishop Tengatenga, “Everyone is happy about this!” In 2004, St. David’s raised an additional $1,535 for the Diocese of Southern Malawi.

As we continued to raise funds for our Malawian brothers and sisters, we began planning to accept James’ invitation to visit in July of 2005. With the support of The Rev. Titus Presler, Dean of the Seminary of the Southwest, the Rev. David Boyd, Rector of St. David’s, and the St. David’s vestry, we prepared for our pilgrimage by raising funds, learning about our host culture, and meeting regularly to bond as a team.

From June 30 through July 17, 2005, fourteen Texas mission delegates from St. David’s traveled to Malawi. We were overwhelmed by our welcome, by the faith and joy of the people we met, and by the suffering we saw around us. We returned from Malawi changed and rendered unfit to resume life as we have known it – no more indifference, flippancies, and presumptions based on our own cultural biases and prejudice.

Our Malawi team consisted of six youth and eight adult delegates. Youth delegates included Christina Mitchell, Catie Hungerford, Lara Case, Jordan Yarbrough, Ginny Belanger, and Caitlin Gorman. Mark Mitchell, Tom Gebhard, Geoff Connor, Lee Livingston (youth director), Vance Tilton, Teresa Turner, Nancy Parish and Jennifer Reese were the adult delegates. These are a few of our Malawi pilgrims’ stories. They recount experiences that opened our eyes to a greater understanding of the overwhelming possibilities of God’s kingdom here on “this fragile earth, our island home” and what it may mean to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in Malawi, in the world abroad, and in Austin, Texas, USA.