The New Living Translation of Proverbs 20:24 reads, "The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?" I don't think there could be a more applicable passage for the past two months.
On 28 August Carly boarded a plane to South Africa. She was picked up from the airport at 1am by the first hero of our story, Rolf Hagemann. Rolf and his family work for an organization called 3D- outreach which is an organization designed to help support missionaries. For example, maybe a 36 week pregnant lady just needs a place to stay while she bides her time waiting on her newest little nugget to be born…If you want to learn more about Rolf and his team, here is a link to their website, http://www.3d-outreach.com. So, thanks to 3-D outreach we had a place to stay for the first month. The organization uses a home in Benoni, South Africa as their main office. The best part of all was that Rolf, his wife Tarryn, and their two children Amy and Taylor (see picture) lived within walking distance and knew where all the good playgrounds were in the neighborhood.
Ellie and I joined Carly in early September after cramming in a few more meetings and events, and then the waiting began. In the moment, all the waiting was really difficult because we just wanted to meet Miriam. But looking back on the time, we are very appreciative of the series of adventures we got to take and the good times spent together as a family in preparation for this new season of life.
And then the day came… on Monday September 23, 2019, at 11:39pm Miriam Rose Brady made her entrance into the world. We had scheduled to deliver at Genesis Maternity clinic in Saxonwold in Johannesburg. It was a wonderful experience and the birth itself went very smoothly. Carly went from "I think it's time" to "Baby!" in less than six hours.
Since Ellie was with us, the hospital was kind enough to prepare our recovery room with an extra bed while Carly was laboring. This way I was able to put Ellie to bed and then still make it back to the labor room for the delivery (barely!) We wanted to wake Ellie up, but as you can imagine the whole experience was a bit stressful on her. So we decided to let her sleep through the night. When she woke up the next morning we introduced her to her new baby sister. If you ask Ellie about the birth story it goes like this, “I went to bed and when I woke up Miriam was there. She snuck out in the night - just like that!” 🤷♂️
On October 1st we drove our little family of four to the airport to pick up Carly’s parents. They were worn out and jet-lagged as you can imagine, but they were also incredibly excited to see all three of the Brady ladies. Ellie still says it was one of the best days ever. For one week we all lived on top of each other in the little Airbnb we had moved into immediately following Miriam's arrival. We had Ellie’s birthday, went for daily walks/hikes, and generally just enjoyed each other’s company.
Then it got frustrating....the American Embassy is painfully understaffed so processes (like getting an appointment to get Miriam's passport) which are advertised online to take 2-3 weeks now take 4-6 weeks. So we hoped to bring Carly's parents to Malawi at the end of their three weeks, but instead we had to scramble and find last minute housing for all six of us.
Then God swooped in. When looking for an Airbnb, you don't get to know much about the people you're renting from. But when we found this beautiful little thatched roof cottage in Johannesburg South...we bit - hook line and sinker. In our first week there we got the news we would need to stay for almost two additional weeks. However, our hosts (Angus and Christine) were former missionaries in the Philippines. They invited us over for dinner one night and we sat up till almost midnight telling stories of God's faithfulness - and eating pounds of meat that Angus cooked on the grill. They were AMAZING hosts - they even allowed us to extend our stay FOR FREE!! Unbelievable - divine provision. Oh...and did I mention that Christine is a physician...who lived over seas...and raised her kids in different parts of the world. How awesome is our God?!
When we got back to Malawi - I hit the ground running! Literally less than 24 hours after I was back, I found myself speaking and running mixers at a city wide youth group surrounded by over 60 high schoolers - with the majority of them coming from the international schools I've been spending so much time with.
Also, within our first two weeks back our church put on a Christian Hip-Hop youth outreach event which was attended by over 2000 local kids between the ages of 10 - 25, and then I had to opportunity to preach on a Sunday morning. It has been amazing to see the way God is using Flood Church and Young Life in the city of Blantyre. In our next newsletter, I will unpack the details of this partnership a little more, but for now - let's just praise God for what He's doing!
January 2020 will be our first time back in the US as a family since arriving here in Malawi. Ellie is so excited to see her grandparents and cousins, and we are hoping to see as many of you as possible. Here are a few dates / opportunities for you to connect with me / us:
Jan 11 - 14 // Columbia, SC and Riverbend Church
Jan 14 - 16 // Wirt Co and Parkersburg WV area
Jan 17 - 19 // Nashville, TN -- *more details on this below*
Jan 20 - 22 // Teays Valley, WV and event at River Ridge Church
Jan 22 - 26 // Wirt Co and Williamstown First Baptist Church
Jan 27 - 31 // Lewisburg, WV area
If you're around these parts during these dates, we would love to see you! So just reply to this email and let's get something scheduled :-)!!!
Whew, that was a lot to cover, and there's actually a lot more to say, but we will wrap things up for now. Please respond and let us know if you're available to make the trip to Nashville or if you're going to be around any of the cities/areas I've listed on the itinerary. We will be sending you another newsletter soon with more ministry updates and some financial details. It's so bizarre to be nearing the end of our first year in Malawi, but we have only begun to scratch the surface of what we feel like God is calling us to here in this city.
Eat some extra turkey and pumpkin pie for us at the Thanksgiving table next week, and let us know how we can be praying for you as well. We love you guys and are so so SO thankful for each of you.
All Glory be to Christ,
Zack, Carly, Ellie Jo, and Miriam Rose