We had reached a point of frustration concerning Malawi construction costs. Our initial budget for an African style home was $10K. Proposals were coming in from builders and material suppliers totaling over $20K. It felt like we were beating our heads against the wall. Prince proposed that we stop striving and pray that the Lord would reveal what He wants to pursue. Therefore, we waited and prayed....
In the meantime, Prince Kampomo traveled by minibus (private/public transportation) from Blantyre to Chikwawa to visit with the local pastors and talk about pending construction with leaders in the Mpangeti village. After completing his meetings he started out on the road expecting to catch a minibus heading back to Blantyre. Unfortunately, no minibuses were available or had capacity. Therefore, his only option was to walk back to Blantyre.
The distance to Blantyre is approximately 53 kilometers on the M1 (see the interactive Google map below). That distance can be driven in a little over 1 hour. An adult can walk about 4 kilometers per hour. Therefore, it was going to take Prince about 13 hours to walk the distance. What??? I do not know about you, but 13 hours of walking in those conditions is not highly appealing to us in the west. However, it is very common to see people walking long distances along the M1.
Miraculously, a pickup truck driving on the M1 slowed down and stopped to pick Prince up. The driver claimed that he did not pick up hitchhikers in Malawi because of the risk (high risk of robbery/injury). He told Prince that he made an exception because "something" told him he should stop. They exchanged pleasantries and chatted as they drove down the road.
The driver, Mr. Idi, asked what Prince was doing in Chikwawa. Prince explained that he was visiting the Mpangeti village where we are going to build a foster home for double orphans. Mr. Idi was intrigued. He asked why Prince will build a house for orphans. Prince explained that there are quite a few orphans in the village who need an opportunity to succeed in life. Mr. Idi nodded and thought for a few minutes. He then asked the classic African question. He asked "what is in it for you?".
Prince mulled over in his head how he would respond. At this point Prince did not know the background, religion or business of Mr. Idi. Prince explained that there is nothing in it for himself. He told Mr. Idi. that Orphan Shade is a nonprofit NGO in Malawi whose mission was to care for the orphans. Mr Idi was further intrigued.
Mr. Idi then announced that he is a builder. His business is construction of schools and other government buildings. He also explained that he is a practicing Muslim who grew up in a village near Chikwawa. He quoted several verses from the Quran as if to establish his faith to Prince. The conversation was getting very interesting. Mr. Idi advised Prince that he would like to be involved in this project. He said that he would like to build the home in Mpangeti. Wow! What just happened?
Mr. Idi asked Prince to send the building plans to him and that he would respond with a proposal that would cost less than any of our offers. He explained that he maintains his own materials and that he could produce cement blocks on site with one of his crews (see image below). Approximately 80% of the construction cost is associated with materials. Prince agreed and thanked Mr Idi for his offer and for the ride.
Fast forward to March. Mr. Idi has proposed to build the house at a cost of approximately $13K. He has also proposed to use local labor in the village to keep cost down and incorporate people in the village in the project. We are now working through the commercial details (contract, scope of work and timing). We hope to start producing concrete blocks on the construction site in the village in April. Miracles do happen.....
What was the lesson here? The Lord called us to this challenging work. Therefore, He is committed to supply our needs along the way. Additionally, there is no value in getting upset and worrying when things are not going as planned. Two scriptures that come to mind are:
Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 3:20 & 21 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen".