Wednesday, July 26, 2017

First Scholarship Recipient - Crispin Phiri

Our first scholarship recipient is Cripsin Phiri.  Crispin has wanted to attend pharmacy school at Malawi College of Health Sciences since 2014 when he was first accepted.  He has been working in the ABC Clinic pharmacy as a technician for the last 10 years, and has shown real dedication and passion for the field of Pharmacology.  He was selected due to these qualities, as well as his devotion to his Christian faith, for a three year scholarship to the Malawi College of Health Sciences.

Some background about Crispin Phiri:

Crispin was born the sixth of nine children.  Of these children, only four were able to graduate from Form 4 (high school) due to school fees.  In order for Crispin to attend high school, he worked as a gardener during his school vacations to raise money.  After graduating, he applied for a gardening position at the ABC Clinic; his connection with ABC was his father, who had been working at ABC for 22 years.  Though he applied as a gardener, God had a different plan for him.  At the time, there were no gardening positions available, however the clinic needed somebody to pack medicines into pill bags in the pharmacy.  He accepted this position, and over time found that he had an interest in Pharmacology.  Over the 10 years that he has worked in the pharmacy, he has proved himself to be trustworthy, hardworking, and knowledgeable in the ABC Clinic pharmacy.  His desire is to obtain a degree in Pharmacology and return to the ABC Clinic as a Pharmacist.

The 2017 Update

Dear Family and Friends,

It is long overdue for us to update you.  We apologize for the long delay.  As many of you know, we have left Malawi to return back to Houston.  Our hearts are heavy with the goodbyes to our loved ones there, but also eager to reconnect with loved ones in America.  Since our last post, we have had our second son James Walter Hodges, named after Great Grandfathers Elmer Walter Waterhouse who passed away days after his birth and James Smith.  Life with 2 boys has been fun.  James is easy going and generally happy.  DR is loving to his younger brother, but can’t wait to wrestle with his little foe.


Kelly's patient Grace mentioned in an earlier blog - she is now
walking and talking.
The decision to leave Malawi was one of the most difficult we have had to face.  Donald was given the opportunity to take up the family business as well as faced with the progressive decline of his father with Parkinson’s disease.  Kelly loved her work at the clinic, but felt drawn to be home with her impressionable young boys.  But to leave Malawi meant leaving a life of service to a country we have come to love dearly.  For Kelly, working as a Pediatrician in such a poverty stricken country was a dream come true.  She saw God’s hand restore the sick, calm the anxious, comfort the grieving, and give hope to the fainthearted.  What a great God we serve.  Donald was placed into a teaching position and quickly had a heart for his teenage students.  He developed relationships with the students that gave him the opportunity to share God’s truths and invest in their lives.  He also started the school’s Science Fair program in 2016.  This past year, it significantly improved – there were more students involved in the fair, the projects were great, and many people from the community were able to attend and see the great work the ABC students had accomplished.  

Todd Stiles, Mzati Banda (2017 ABC Graduate), Donald

Though we are leaving Malawi physically, we will still be connected in many ways.  We have committed to hosting an annual staff appreciation dinner for the ABC Clinic.   This past year we hosted the dinner and everyone had a great time.  We have also started a scholarship program for ABC Clinic employees. 

2017 Staff Appreciation Dinner
2017 Staff Appreciation Dinner

Donald is looking at how his family’s environmental company can get involved with deforestation and other environmental issues in Malawi.  Most of all, we will always be connected with the many friends that we have made in Malawi.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Big News From Malawi!

Hello Friends and Family!

Lots of updates from the Hodges. 
Firstly, we visited America in June for close friend Lindsey Thomas' (now Schmidt) wedding.  It was a beautiful ceremony with DR as ring bearer.  We spent 4th of July with my family in Nevada, enjoying time with aging grandparents and baby cousin Daniel.

We returned to Malawi in July and Donald's brother Bill came to visit for a month.  It was a wonderful time of enjoying God's beautiful creation in Malawi; seeing wild animals, hiking mountains, and swimming in the lake.  see Bill's photographs at

I am really enjoying being back at work.  I'm excited to say that I have seen my first case of neurocysticercosis and the child is responding well to treatment.  Also, big news for the hospital: We have admitted our first baby to our nursery on CPAP.  I am so proud of our team at the hospital for doing such a great job caring for this baby.  All the glory to God for His healing hand upon this child, aptly named Malumbo, meaning "praise".  Thank you to everyone who has helped to support the purchase of the CPAP machines.  We are excited about the future of our nursery.  Please pray for the training of the nurses and medical professionals as more infants arrive in need of this specialized care.

Malumbo and Mommy ready to go home

The biggest news is:  We're having a boy!!  I'm due December 19th with our second son.  Due to travelling restrictions, we will be returning to the US in November in order to deliver the baby in Houston.  We are excited about this new addition to our family and ask for prayer through the transition time.  After the baby is born, we plan to return to Malawi in January for Donald to start back at school.

We feel so blessed to be able to serve here in Malawi and thank God for his constant care for our family and our ministry here.  Thank you to all our supporters who have made it possible for us to serve in this way to further God's kingdom and the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Donald Update

The last time we posted an update on here was around Christmas time.  Obviously, much has happened since then.  We would like to apologize for the hiatus, it is something we will work on improving.  As mentioned in our newsletter last month, Kelly and I are going to be posting separate blog updates to catch you up on everything that is going on.  This second semester has been quite eventful for me at the ABC Academy.  After arriving back from our Christmas break, I was given another science class, Physical Science, because one of the upper school teachers did not return.  This means I am teaching all sciences from 8th - 12th grade, which has demanded a lot of my time.  That being said, I am really enjoying teaching and love it when you can see the kids start to understand topics.  One of the highlights of their year in science, so I am told, was when we made homemade ice cream in Ziploc bags.

During March, the Malawian National Swim Gala (Tournament) was held at the Academy, which was awesome.  Kids from all over Malawi came to race, and the Vice President made an appearance.  It was quite a stressful time for Kelly and I due to the amount of hours I had to put into preparing everything for the sound system to run properly. Below is a picture of our setup next to the pool, as well as our ABC swim team!

The latest event we did with the school was Writing Week, where we split the upper school into three groups and took them out to different missionary projects in the village to help them see how God is working in these people's lives.  It was great to hear from some of the students regarding how eye-opening these experiences were and how their passion for the Lord was revitalized.  The photo below is of some of the kids we visited in one of the villages - we are teaching them how to play Heads-Up Seven-Up!

There are two upcoming events with the school that are very demanding, but very exciting as well.  The ABC Ballet is an annual event that is highly regarded here in Lilongwe, and I will be running the lighting and sound for the event (yikes!).  Also, the first Science Fair is coming up.  As you can imagine, I was not the most popular teacher when I told all the students from 7th grade up that they would have to do a big project, including a report.  I have kind of shot myself in the foot here due to the amount of reading I am having to do for these projects!  I am really looking forward to seeing what the students have come up with, and I would like to see the Science Fair become an annual event the kids look forward to.

Everything is going very well here, and it is awesome how God is using the teachers at ABC.  My schedule has been pretty crazy this year, but I am loving it.  Please keep the students in your prayers that they can finish the school year strong and that I can do so as well!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Christmas Letter 2015

Dear Friends and Family,
2015 has been a new and inspiring year for the Hodges family.  We started out the year moving to Malawi, Africa to work as missionaries at African Bible College of Malawi.  The transition went pretty smoothly considering all it entailed.  We brought 6 trunks from Houston with personal belongings and Samaritan’s Purse had sent a container with housing items that we had purchased the previous June.  We both started our respective jobs as Pediatrician and teacher right away.  We were blessed with a nanny, Joyce Banda, who came to us as a daughter of a long time employee on campus.   Also, within the first week of our arrival, our long acquainted friend Wells came to us asking to work as our house help.  They have been an enormous blessing in our lives.  DR is thriving and has made many friends in our neighborhood.  He is talking and running and learning to swim.  He loves animals and balls of every sort. 
Kelly is really enjoying her work.  She is working at the ABC clinic and Children’s ward.  She sees children from many cultures; Malawian, Pakistani, Korean, Egyptian, Irish, Indian, French, Lebanese,  Afrikaans, and American.  The clinic is known for its excellent care throughout the city, so many foreign aid workers visit the clinic. The maladies range from colds and ear infections to pneumonia and severe malaria.  The hospital also has a thriving OB service that often asks Kelly to check on unwell newborns.  Her latest endeavor is to obtain several low cost bubble CPAP machines for neonates with respiratory problems.  The current system is to send these patients to the central referral hospital where these machines are available, but the nursing care ratio is something like 1:20 infants.  God has really provided a perfect time for this as Emily, a NICU nurse from Seattle, has just arrived for a year term.  Kelly really loves the Christian clinic environment and gets along well with her colleagues and nurses. 
Donald has become the ABC Mr. Do-it –all.  He is teaching Physics, Chemistry, and Math, as well as running the sound system for school functions including weekly chapel, monthly movie nights,  and the amazing Christmas program.  He is also volunteering his time to map out the water lines on campus to help with maintenance and to try to improve water supply to the campus.  The campus is now installing 4 new water tanks as a project to help with consistent water distribution on campus.  Donald is making several contacts in the civil engineering community also and hoping to have an impact in the future with projects like well rig design and hydroelectric energy production.
We have joined a church called International Bible Fellowship (IBF) that preaches God’s word.   It has been great to grow to know many of the people at the church and an inspiration to see so many people that God is using here in Malawi.  We have been blessed to be a part of the youth ministry at our pastor’s home (right next door). 

We are so thankful to God for the many blessings we have received this last year.  Special thanks to all of our supporters, both prayer and financial, we wouldn’t be able to do this ministry without you.  May God bless you and may you find Christ this Christmas!

The Hodges

Friday, October 30, 2015

Our New Friend Saina

When I (Kelly) was a kid, my mom used to pick up Midori, a mentally handicapped woman, regularly and take her out around town to keep her company.  We would run errands and go shopping.  The event always included a stop for ice cream at Dairy Queen.  I never truly grasped why my mom would do this every week, but over time I grew to look forward to it.  Now, in Africa, we have had a similar opportunity.  Every other Thursday, a group of doctors and I go out to Area 25 to the Children of Blessing's (COBT) Epilepsy Clinic. Around 300 patients diagnosed with epilepsy are enrolled in the program; we see approximately 40 each week. (To learn more about COBT, see the video and link below.)

During a few of my recent visits, I have gotten to know a young girl named Saina.  She is an orphan who has been afflicted with a mental disability and epilepsy her entire life, and who has been abused in the past.  Her body is marked with scars from a time when she fell into a cooking fire during one of her seizures.  She is a wonderful girl who finds joy in everything she is doing and is very affectionate.  Our family decided to invite Saina to our home on Fridays to get to know her better and pamper her a little bit.  Some of the things we take her out to do include: shopping for clothes and school supplies, reading books at the school library, going to get ice cream, and relaxing by the pool. We are so blessed to have house help that have a heart for the Lord and enjoy hanging out with Saina as well. They have been a tremendous help with translating for us since Saina only speaks Chichewa. We have had the pleasure of spending time with her for the past 2 months, and I am starting to understand my mom's heart in what she was doing when I was a kid.  Spending time with the less fortunate and who some deem an outcast due to things out of their control brings a joy of the Lord that is hard to describe. Our whole family is seeing how awesome God's love is and how it shows up so clearly when we are moving in His will outside of our comfort zone.  Comfort is something we as American's crave, and I feel it has caused us to shy away from loving on those who are less fortunate.  I am so thankful that my mom taught me at a young age that handicapped people are God's created children with a desire to be loved.  DR is starting to look forward to having Saina over and on Friday's will wake up saying "Saina?  Saina here?"  It is adorable, and brings Donald and I great joy in knowing that he is learning what my mom taught me.

Children of Blessing Trust Website:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A BIG Thank You!

It has been a while since we posted.  July was a very active (and very good!) month for us.  We cannot say enough how blessed we are for God's love and providence.  To kick off the month, we were able to attend the US Embassy's 4th of July party.  Turned out to be a bit more formal than what we are used to for the 4th, but it was a huge blessing!  Many of the program managers for aid organizations were there, including the CDC, USAID, and the Peace Corps.  It was awesome to learn about the programs they have here and how they are trying to help the Malawian people.

Shortly following the 4th of July, Kelly's dad and step-mom came to visit for a week.  Luckily they were just coming from a week in Amsterdam, so no jet lag!  It was great for us to see them and show them where we are living.  They really enjoyed seeing where Kelly works and the people she is working with.  We took them to Liwonde National Park, where we spent a night and got to go on two safari game drives.  It was also great having DR spend quality time with his grandparents.  By the end of the week he new them by name and would always ask for "Merme" and "Poppey" (pronounced "Potty" by DR).

In between Kelly's parents visiting and Donald's parents visiting, the container shipped by ABC arrived.  It was such a blessing to receive the five boxes of donations our home church, Rice Temple Baptist Church, sent on the container for us!  We cannot express how loved we felt when we received so many gifts.  If you sent something to us, thank you SO much for supporting us!

Towards the end of the month, Donald's parents came to visit us as well.  They came for two and a half weeks, which allowed us some time to travel around Malawi a bit more.  We actually visited our neighboring country, Zambia, to visit the South Luangwa National Park.  We also took them to Liwonde National Park in Malawi and the Zomba Plateau.  Donald's mom loves birding, and these places are very rich with different species, so it was a blast for her to sightsee.  Donald's parents were able to spend lots of quality time with DR.  It was awesome to see them reconnect and for Donald's parents to see how much DR has grown.

July was a crazy and wonderful month for us here in Malawi!  It was amazing to see our family and such a blessing to receive so many donations from our church back at home.  The amount of love we felt from our friends and family, and especially from God, was more than what we can put into words.  Once again, thank you for your support and for showing an interest in what God is using us for here in The Warm Heart of Africa!