1st trip to Mtsiliza Village (feeding program and widow’s ministry)
-car ride: Nelly “Just a Dream” came on the radio. Gretchen Baldwin is here in spirit.
-Village kids put on a welcome show of traditional dances… then they made us dance. I wish I could move like a Malawian.
-The little English that the kids know is “one picture please” and the beginning verses of “Pharaoh, Pharaoh” and “Boom Chicka Boom”. I am finally back at camp.
-when we leave they all chase after the car and yell “tianana!” (see you later).
-Loveliest women on this earth.
-They immediately grab you by the hand, wrap a satinje around your waist and pull you into the dance circle.
(Hopefully internet will be strong enough for me to upload a picture, if it works, the picture posted is from the widows ministry. They wanted to be in pictures just as badly as the kids. If you can believe it, their spirits are even more beautiful then their faces. I am so blessed to work alongside these inspirational women.)
MARKET PLACE: (initiation)
The amazing race x100.
-The four US interns and 1 Malawi intern were dropped off at a random buss stop.
We had to figure out how to get to the Lilongwe market and purchase a list of food items all written in Chichewa.
-We asked a man at the buss stop to help us translate the list.
-We flagged down a minibus and squeezed into the crowded seats.
-We got dropped off somewhere outside of the city and asked for directions to the market. It was crowded and being the only white people, we stuck out way too much.
-finally we made it to the market. The best way to describe it would be to imagine the market place from Aladdin but with only enough space to walk single file. Cultural emersion to the max. A boy around 15 years old could tell we were out of place. Our Malawi intern Ella was not allowed to help us so even though the boy did not speak English, he took our list and led us around the entire market showing us the items we needed. After about 2 hours we had bartered for everything on the list with money to spare so we treated ourselves to bananas. (we skipped out on buying a chicken after realizing they only sold live chickens and no one was looking forward to carrying it on the minibus back to Njewa).
-Feeling even more like locals, we get on another minibus to head home.
-Ella taught us how to cook everything we bought like real Malawi woman. (most Malawi women live on less than a dollar a day).
-We made a Paula Dean cooking show.
-Frackson is awesome. He is one of the main guys in charge of COTN Malawi. He also picks us up for work and drives us in “The Theatre of Dreams” (a beat up van that has old window decals of a soccer program called theater of dreams).
-On Sunday we attended Frackson’s church. We were welcomed by the congregation and told to sit in the front row. After some amazing worship songs in Chichewa, the pastor calls us up to the front to sing. Uhhhhhhh what?! We all looked at each other speechless. We had nothing prepared and it felt like hours went by with us just standing in front of the entire congregation doing nothing. Finally we start to mumble the words to “Shout to the Lord”. I couldn’t recall any of the words. Instead of shouting to the Lord we were whispering lyrics and praying for it to end. Somehow we managed to finish and walked shamefully back to our wooden bench. Most embarrassing moment of my life. The elder of the church stood and thanked us for sharing then went on to say something about “Soldiers are always ready”. These soldiers still need a bit more training. We now have a go to song (Lord I lift Your Name on High).
-Next week we are going to a different church. (The services here are about 3.5 hours long)
CHITIPI: (House of Peace)
-We live in an orphanage called Chitipi. There are about 26-30 kids depending on the week.
-They grow Kasava but so far no Kasava bread (sorry Charlie Family)
-Our house parents are AMAZING.
-We are blessed to have running water and occasionally electricity. Compared to the villages we are working in, we live like kings.
-Pink lizards live on our walls. so far we have two that are regulars to our room. (I live in a room with Ella and Merry Emily. It is so great. Zoe and Abby live in the room next door.)
-Yesterday at night devotions, our house dad (Augree) informed us that rats are in the house. He told us not to freak out and to think of rats as just birds from the ground. Then he laughed hysterically and I picked up my feet from the ground to sit further back into the couch.
-On workdays, we get up and 5:30a.m., help with morning chores and getting the kids ready for school.
-we have breakfast around 7:30 (Mondays we get oatmeal called “Jungle Oats” and you can bet I’m brining some back to the states. Oh man, they are so good) everything is carbs. Rice and Nseema (mashed potatoes/jell-o type food) that you eat EVERY meal. So much for my African diet. The intern last summer gained about 10lbs each.
This is what follows breakfast:
-Morning work (teaching high school or working with Mtsiliza Widows or teaching 3-6 year olds at Big Johns)
-siesta (hour break)
-Afternoon work (Mtsiliza feeding program or Mgwayi Widows or House Visits)
-Home to Chitipi.
-Bed! ~9 or 10
Midweek Break. We get to sleep in till 8:30.
-Then we take a 3 hour solitude to be with God. I set up my hammock.
We’re reading “Out of Solitude” by Henri J.M. Nouwen (so far, I highly recommend it. It’s a short read and divided into 3 sessions)
SESSION ONE: focuses on the importance of solitude.
-We are IN this world but not OF this world.
-“In many people’s lives, there is a nearly diabolic chain in which their anxieties grow according to their successes. This dark power has driven many of the greatest artists into self-destruction.”
I think this book was definitely written with me in mind. “We are worth more than the result of our efforts”.
-Tapiwa is 9 years old. She loves worship music. She has an amazing smile. When you don’t think her smile could be any bigger, start singing and prepare to be amazed. Tapiwa is non-verbal and cannot walk on her own. She usually sits quietly on the couch rubbing her hands together. I love sitting with her. She puts up with me singing to her and because she is always smiling, I tell myself she doesn’t mind my voice. This week, while sitting and singing by Tapiwa, she began rocking her body to lean in towards me and sit closer. She again surprised me with her ability to smile even bigger. She started making joyful mumbles and then it happened. Her hands laid still. She was no longer diligently rubbing them together. She looked up at me and in her eyes was a glimpse of Jesus. This girl is amazing and I am so blessed to live with her this summer.
*Dean Waldron, you would adore this girl.
-On Thursdays, the four US interns walk to Magui Village and split up with our translators to work alongside our designated village families. Ella and I are paired with a 30 year old woman and her 3 children. On the first visit, I found out that the mom is HIV positive. COTN was able to provide her with milk for her youngest daughter Faith. I do not know if any of the kids have HIV. The family lives in one small mud room. It’s about the size of my room at the co-op but instead of one person living there, there are five. (Malawi is one of the top 4 poorest countries). After making pipe cleaner bracelets with the family and number of villagers who came to see what the “azungu” (white person) was up to, I walked with the mother to draw water from the well. The women in the village draw water three times a day. They are amazing. Before leaving the family, the mother instructs me to bring a wrap for my head next time. She’s going to trust me to carry the larger water bucket. I am already feeling the pressure.
-I’ve been thinking about my Magui family a lot. I don’t think I will ever forget hearing the mother say that she has no future. I want to help her. I often question how much good we are actually doing here in Malawi. The money it took to get here could have fed so many hungry stomachs. I talked to the team at breakfast and expressed my doubts. God was hearing them too. Right after we ate we had an hour to be alone and do devos. Instead of picking up my devo book, I felt the need to grab my favorite book, “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. Reading it for the second time (after loosing my loved annotated copy) I picked up where I left off. To my surprise, it was the chapter about the summer Shane spent in Calcutta. God was answering my doubts. It felt like I was highlighting every word. Sitting in my hammock in Malawi, Africa, the chapter took on an entire new meaning and was more relatable then ever. It seemed that every time a question entered my mind, it was answered by the next sentence in the book.
-Shane had amazingly gotten a hold of Mother Teresa and explained to her that he and a friend wanted to visit her for 2-3 months. “That’s a long time” said Mother Teresa “….come.”
-“We got there, I thought we were crazy, and then I saw that there were dozens of people from all over the world who had come to join the work, ordinary radicals just trying to figure out how to lover better.” After reading that, I instantly felt comforted. I can already tell that Jesus is using Malawi to teach me how to love better.
-“We are called not to be successful but to be faithful” Mother Teresa
-“We can do no great things, just small things with great love.” Mother Teresa
-“…What had lasting significance were not the miracles themselves but Jesus’ love. Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, and then a few years later, Lazarus died again. Jesus healed the sick, but they eventually caught some other disease. He fed thousands, and the next day they were hungry again. BUT WE REMEMBER HIS LOVE. It wasn’t that Jesus healed a leper but that he touched a leper, because no one touched lepers. AND THE INCREDIBLE THING ABOUT THAT LOVE IS THAT IT NOW LIVED INSIDE OF US.” Shane Claiborne
-“…for I knew we could not end poverty until we took a careful look at wealth… I learned from the lepers that leprosy is a disease of numbness… To treat it, we would dig out or dissect the scarred tissue until the person could feel again. As I left Calcutta, it occurred to me that I was returning to a land of lepers, a land of people who had forgotten how to feel, how to laugh, how to cry, a land haunted by numbness. Could we learn how to feel again?” Shane Claiborne
I am in Malawi to learn how to feel. I am not in Malawi to perform miracles but to learn how to better exemplify the love of Christ.
-“Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” Jesus
The Devil brings different struggles:
-to many, it is poverty, violence, and disease. I am learning that these people often know Jesus the best, for they have to live by faith alone.
-to others, the struggle is riches and comfort. This may be even more dangerous because people are blind to their need for Jesus Christ.
We came to minister to the poor but really they are the ones bringing us closer to Christ. It is the rich who need open hearts and new eyes to see their need for the Truth.
*It’s our job to do the loving.
It’s Gods job to do the saving.
I just wrote a ton. This is me trying to make up for 2 weeks without internet.
I hope I’m not missing too much on the bachelorette.
From here on out we should be getting Internet once a week.
*mom/dad there is talk about getting to call you guys once around our half-way point.(minutes are pretty expensive) Of course plans are always changing around here but I’m praying I’ll get to talk to you both via phone in 2.5 weeks or so (:
The only thing that would make living in Malawi better is if my family was here.
“Unless our identity is hid in God, we will never know who we are or what we are to do. Our first act must be prayer”
If you can, please pray for my team. That we would remain healthy and happy in community with one another. That we would have listening hearts. That we would be open to God’s plan for us and seek his will in all we do. And that we would not become desensitized to the overwhelming need for love here in Malawi.
Thank you. Love you.