SPRINT Malawi 2012

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What SPRINT’s all about

Hello, friends!

For just a few hours tomorrow afternoon we’ll have only two SPRINT students outside the United States, marking today as a mid-point in SPRINT’s summer.  (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).

 

I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief.  Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.

 

University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years.  Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.

 

Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.

 

It’s important for us to connect students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions.  To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.

 

Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application.  Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation.  However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.

 

To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home.  The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application.  You might find this sample article interesting:  In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.

 

Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer.  If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or owen@spu.edu.

 

Owen Sallee

SPRINT Advisor

Recap of the Final Week

First off, sorry about the lateness of this blog post—we’ve been safely home (or in the United States, at least) since last Thursday night, and the traveling home went MUCH smoother than the trip there. Due to our limited Internet access at the end of the trip, we never got the chance to give an update as to what happened on the last week of the trip. For those who are interested, here is a summary of our final days in Malawi:

Picking up where we left off on Tuesday, we had the afternoon off to relax and play with the kids. Some of us went to watch the older girls practice Netball (or Netty ball), which is basketball with parts of ultimate Frisbee, for the upcoming tournament on Saturday. The rest of the team joined some of the children from the houses to work at their local garden, helping water the plants. That night was the first time the power went out. We had dinner by candlelight, which gave us an excuse to take goofy, romantic pictures. With dinner finished, the power came back on, and our team split up into our pairs and went to our designated houses to do devotionals with the families. We shared Scripture passages, personal testimonies, and even fun worship songs for our devotions. Afterwards, some of the children would escort us back to our guesthouse because it was dark by then. This was really just an excuse to pile into our living room and hang out, but our team enjoyed it until it was time for the kids to head home.

Wednesday morning looked very similar as we worked at the clinic with Charity until noon again. Our team is slowly becoming more efficient with taking in patients and learning how to genuinely express our care for them even with the language barrier. In the afternoon, Charity had planned a field trip for us to visit Kasungu District Hospital. We received an extremely thorough and in-depth tour from the chief nurse. She took us into the ARV clinic where HIV/AIDS patients receive treatment; the maternity ward where many women were in labor or had just given birth; as well as the men’s ward, the women’s ward, the pediatric ward, the kitchen, the mortuary, the laboratory and the Under-five clinic. We got to see every square inch of the hospital, and it was eye opening to see how many patients were squeezed into a pretty small area. Since many of us plan on working in hospital settings one day, it was very beneficial to get to see what a hospital in a developing country looks like. On Wednesday and Friday evenings, we have devotionals with the all the children together at the carport (an old, open-air garage). Half of our team prepared a lesson that was accompanied with some worship. We really enjoyed having the opportunity to lead these devotionals as it was a way to encourage the children and parents. At this point, some of the kids were beginning to really open up to us, which made our time with them much livelier and fun.

Again, we did the same work Thursday morning by helping Charity in Clinic. Charity has been a true blessing to have here in Chiwengo. She is very humble and encouraging to our team as well as very eager to ensure that our team is well taken care of. On Thursday afternoon, we led Child Evangelism at the carport. We played some big group games with the kids, and then taught them the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. Afterwards, the older boys invited Daniel, Bryan, and Alford to practice soccer for the upcoming tournament on Saturday. Just like Tuesday night, our team split up after dinner and went to different children homes to lead devotions.

On Friday morning, we worked at the clinic, but this was our last time helping out there. We all really enjoyed the pace of the clinic and the hands-on experience we gained, especially for those on the team who want to become nurses and doctors. Overall, we were able to see a little over 280 patients which is amazing for the short amount of time we had. Similar to the previous day’s activities in the afternoon, our team led Child Evangelism at the carport. Originally, we were scheduled to do it at a nearby village so that children from the village could hear the message, but instead they were invited to come to carport. We played games like Simon Says and other silly ones like one called NonPogo. The lesson we prepared went over the story of Jesus and the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him from the roof of the house. We had the kids reenact the story, which they enjoyed. As you can figure out, our schedule in Chiwengo was pretty consistent day-to-day so in the evening we joined the kids in the carport to have devotions where we talked about the story of Esther.

On Saturday we got to do something we had wanted to do ever since arriving in Kasungu—we got to hike Nguluyanawambe, a beautiful hill/”mountain” visible from most places in Kasungu. Charity arranged for a flatbed truck to take us, as well as any children who wanted to join. We paid for the truck out of our team funds (less than $60 total for a huge truck). This didn’t seem like a huge deal to us, but we were greatly thanked for making is possible for the children to have another excursion, since there aren’t normally enough funds for them to be able to go places very often—it was a great blessing for us to be able to make that possible. It was fun to hike with the kids and watch most of them scurry up the mountain in no time at all. We even got to see some monkeys in their natural habitat! We spent about two hours on top of the mountain, where we took in the gorgeous view, had a time for devotions, ate snacks and hung out with our Malawian friends. It was an amazing day trip, and wonderful that we were able to take our friends along on the hike with us.

On Sunday morning we split up in terms of going to church—the girls went to the Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church, while the boys went to the Presbyterian Church.  The boys mainly observed the service and got to introduce themselves at the end, while the girls were asked to be a bit more involved in the service, helping to lead some worship songs as well as sharing with the congregation. On Sunday afternoon we simply spent time with kids.

Monday was our last full day at Chiwengo. We joined them in a day of fasting, which was both meaningful and difficult, as we spent a lot of time with kids that day, so it was hard to have the energy to interact with them at times. The fasting went until 4pm, and we were amazed at how much it meant to them that we were willing to take part in the fasting with them. Various prayer services took place throughout the day, most of which we joined them for.

On Tuesday we said our goodbyes at Chiwengo after attending a farewell ceremony, and then we were off to Lake Malawi! We ate lunch by the lake and then went swimming and played in the waves. We then went to a local market by the lake to buy souvenirs. We got to barter at this market, which we all enjoyed to different degrees… On Tuesday night we were taken out for pizza, as that is a COTN tradition to take teams there on the last night of the trip. We had eaten almost no dairy products during the entire four weeks there, so no one was feeling great after eating so much pizza at once.

Wednesday morning was bittersweet, and we sadly said goodbyes to all of our friends at Njewa before heading off to the airport. It’s hard to believe that this was under a week ago. A common thing we heard was “We hope you come back!” which was both flattering and hard to hear, because it’s hard to know if we’ll ever have the opportunity to return, as much as I’m sure all of us would love to.

Our trip to Malawi was something we’ll all be processing constantly throughout these next few months, as it has really made an impact on all of us, and changed us after everything we’ve seen and everyone we’ve met. Thank you to everyone who has supported us, prayed for us, and eagerly awaited our blog posts to see what we’ve been up to! God has done amazing things in us and through us, and we rest assured knowing that he’ll continue to work in our lives, as well as the lives of everyone whom we met in Malawi.ImageImage

Home soon

Hello, friends!

After a month in Malawi the team will return to the States July 19. As you prepare to receive them, here are some things I hope you’ll think about to help the team make the most of this trip.

For those of you meeting students at the airport, here’s flight information:

Gretchen, Olena and Sarah return to Seattle on July 19 on KLM/Delta 6033 at 11:40 am.

Bryan returns to Kansas City on July 20 on United 5853 at 12:24 am.

Daniel and Mariel arrive in New York on July 19 on KLM 6071 at 12:50 pm.

As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives. It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:

· Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,

· Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,

· Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,

· And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.

It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives. The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing gathering in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.

I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories. Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time. We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account.

I’ve mailed team members some discussion questions and a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship (www.kristafoundation.org), to help them think through their experience as they move forward. If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these materials with your student.

Thanks for your support of students on this team! Please let me know if you have questions.

Owen.

Update from Kasungu

Hello from Kasungu! It’s hard to believe that we only have 8 more days here. We are spending our last week and a half at Chiwengo village which is a set of 4 children homes. We will be working with the nurse as well as just spending time with the children. It’s a wonderful place to be, as each of the homes has a set of parents and feels just like a family.

Since we haven’t had much internet access recently, here is an update on what we have been up to this past week:

On Thursday we taught a hygiene workshop to 5th and 6th graders in the village of Chilombo, which is where we originally did our cultural immersion on our first full day here. We divided the lesson into 3 main categories: brushing teeth, bathing and covering wounds. From what we could tell, it went great and the kids were great listeners and very receptive to what we had to say. Also, we were privileged enough to be able to distribute hygiene packs to nearly all these kids, containing things like soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, shampoo, bandaids and washcloths. We tried to liven up the lessons with tooth models and giant toothbrushes borrowed from a dentist, as well as skits and songs. After presenting the hygiene workshops we got to meet with the school’s headmaster, where we learned that the school of 600 children only has five teachers. We then got to play games with children in the schoolyard and help pass out soap to children who are registered in the Children of the Nations program. All in all, it was a great opportunity to visit this school and meet the headmaster and students there, and to see what primary school is like in Malawi.

On Friday we had to get up very early to get ready and leave for the mobile clinic in Gusu—which is 1 ½ hours north of Lilongwe—that was put on by the African Bible College Clinic. We met up with the rest of the staff that would be helping out over the weekend. In total we had 80 people on staff that was comprised of various teams. We arrived at the village at 8 am and had the clinic functional and operating at 10 am. The process of the clinic consisted of patients going through triage where they had their vitals taken and chief complaints were documented. Then the patients were directed to meet with a doctor to receive a diagnosis and then either medication or a lab test. Some team members got to give tests for malaria while others administered iron supplements and de-worming pills and took vitals. We had a giant tent setup for triage and then in the three schoolrooms we had the pharmacy and two doctor’s offices (adults and pediatrics). Overall, the clinic was able to help close to 900 registered patients over the course of one day. It was a great opportunity for us to practice some hands-on work as well as gain invaluable insight as to how to properly care for others. It was an exhausting day since there is a language barrier, which meant having to do charades to get patients to understand that we needed to put a thermometer under their armpit.

On Saturday, some of us helped with taking vital signs of the remaining patients. Then there was a soccer tournament between seven teams from surrounding villages competing for the grand prize of hosting the clinic in their village next year. In between games there was a live concert put on by a Malawian Christian hiphop group. It was strange to have a day devoted mainly to entertainment, but we could see that these things were also beneficial to people from nearby villages.

Sunday was a transition day; we returned to Njewa (in Lilongwe) to shower, eat lunch and repack and then headed north to Kasungu, to Chiwengo Children’s Home, which is where we’ll be for the remainder of the trip. That night we got to visit three of the four children homes and meet the houseparents, aunties (assistant parents), and most of the children. We had dinner with the parents (it was nearly 9pm by this point) and then went to bed. We had Monday off so that we could rest and gear up for our last week here at Chiwengo. We spent the day journaling, doing laundry (by hand of course, since there is no running water here) and reflecting on the past few weeks together.

 On Tuesday, we started the morning by having team devotions. It was nice to finally have a chance to sit together as a team and talk about the weekend. We are staying at the guesthouse in Chiwengo which is very nice. It is a Western style house that has a living room (We have a couch!), dining room, two rooms (one for boys and one for girls), a courtyard that connects to the other part of the house, restroom, and kitchen. As mentioned, there is no running water so we have to haul water from a nearby pump in order to do things like cook, take “bucket baths,” and fill the toilet tank. We have two extra team members with us who are Malawian interns from COTN. Alford is interested in becoming a doctor so it has been great to have him join us here. Mirriam grew up in Chiwengo so it is nice to have her here as she knows the daily chores and routine here as well as she helps with cooking. After breakfast, we helped Charity (COTN’s nurse) operate the clinic in Chiwengo We did tasks like taking vitals and chief complaints for the patients. We have the afternoon off so we are preparing devotions that we will be sharing at the houses in the evenings. Tomorrow we will be going with Charity into town to tour the general hospital.

Thank you so much for your prayers and continued interest in what we are up to, and we will try to keep you as updated as much as we can.

-Team Malawi

Engaging the Malawian Culture!

Greetings from Olena and Mariel!  We are all soaking in another beautiful week in Malawi :)

On Saturday, we rode to the village of Mtsiliza to learn more about the Widow’s Ministry there.  We were greeted by 20 beautiful women who proudly displayed an array of Chitenje skirts, colorful bags, and hand-crafted jewelry that we could purchase.  The money from the products sold goes to the women as a source of income for them and their families.  It was wonderful to see these women who previously had no hope for the future, but now have hope in Jesus Christ and His provision!  After we got back, we said goodbye to some of our new friends, a team of girls from Atlanta who were here to work with the widows and teach them new projects!  After lunch, we journeyed over to Chitipi Children’s Home once again to play soccer and other games with the children.  It was great to see the kids again and get to connect with the amazing staff there.

Sunday, we attended Flood Church again and returned to Njewa for what we thought would be a peaceful day of rest. What followed wasn’t quite what we had planned!  Gretchen, Sarah, Olena, and Mariel were all invited by one of the COTN matrons to attend a Malawian Bridal Shower across town on Malawi’s army base.  It was a blast! The bride came in dancing, and hordes of colorfully clad women came up in waves to literally “shower” Kwacha bills on the bride and into baskets.  Women from the bride’s church also came up to give her advice on subjects ranging from communication, to dealing with the in-laws, to nutrition and HIV/AIDS prevention.  It was a beautiful celebration of love and marriage, and we all felt so blessed to be able to share in that cultural experience with the Malawian people!  After returning that night, we took a spontaneous run to 7-11 (yes, those exist here!) with Jeremiah, one of the cooks, for some filtered water and snacks.

Monday and Tuesday were spent with a team from Summit Church in Orlando, Florida, in Mgwayi village working on the community center there!  It was great to get to know the other team better and to be able to play with the children more! The girls also got to take an adventure to another village for more bricks, which involved piling into the back of a flatbed truck and traveling on the highway as well as some rutted backcountry roads. Talk about bumpy! It was a little frightening at times, but the important thing is that we all made it back alive! ;)

Today, wednesday the 4th, was spent in Mgwayi village taking photos of the COTN children to update their sponsorship profiles! It was a great opportunity to get to interact with the very children that are being impacted by the love and support of COTN!

That’s all we have for now, but we’ll be sure to keep you all updated as we get to experience even more amazing ways that God is moving here in Malawi.  Thank you SO very much for all the love and support!

with love,

Mariel, Olena, and the rest of us!

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Most of us in the van! Sarah wasn’t quite there yet… Sorry!

p.s. quick correction- our friend and interpreter Alford is a volunteer, not a gap student. He is attending Kamuzu Academy and studying to become a doctor :) sorry for the typo!

Our Week at the ABC Clinic

Today was our last of 5 days helping out and learning at the African Bible College Clinic. We all got exposed to a variety of different areas within the clinic, including the work of the doctors and nurses, as well as the lab and pharmacy.

Daniel, Olena and Mariel followed the doctors and clinical officers at the community and private sides of the clinic. It was very interesting to see medicine being practiced in the different context of Malawian culture. The community side consisted of patients that were unable to afford basic medical care. These patients came in with various conditions from common colds to malaria, machete wounds, and abscesses. The clinical officers took histories, prescribed medicine, and advised for further action as they asked questions and listened to the patients’ stories. The community side of the clinic showed the definite need for basic healthcare while those who came to the private side of the clinic were able to afford private appointments. We’ve learned a lot not only about practicing medicine but the culture and unique stories of the people.

Bryan was able to enjoy God’s surprising provision when he found out that an engineer worked at the Clinic, heading several projects. On Wednesday, Bryan went with a small team from the clinic and a group called E3 international that is a engineering group focused on village development. The group drove up to a small village called Gusu which is  1 ½ hours north where E3 is putting in a well that will supply the local school with water. The team toured the area and took some data where the well was punched. A shipment of solar panels is en route from the States to power a pump that will supply the water. This has been an amazing experience for Bryan as he has had the privilege of talking to two engineers about the myriad of things that go into undertaking a project. As well, Bryan got to go shopping around town for a temporary pump for the well as well as draw up schematics for the piping system of the well.

Gretchen has gotten the opportunity to know many of the nurses and got to take a lot of vital signs! A lot of what the nurses at the clinic do is draw blood for testing for various diseases, but they also provide treatment to patients at the “ward,” which is basically a building for overnight patient stays. Most patients are here for malaria—it was astounding to see how many cases of this were present even though this is the winter season where mosquito populations are the lowest.

Sarah has done a little of everything, from working with nurses one day, to working in the pharmacy, shadowing a doctor, and her favorite—helping out in the lab.

Yesterday the girls (Gretchen, Sarah, Mariel and Olena) got the opportunity to travel along with a mobile epilepsy clinic in which doctors met with patients to update treatment plans and prescribe medications. Some patients walked for as many as five hours to get there. In addition, food provisions were passed out for all, especially children who were malnourished and underweight. Even though we only helped in small ways, it was amazing for us to be involved in an opportunity like this and to witness the ways in which ABC Clinic aims to provide treatment, as well as food, for those who desperately need it.

This weekend we will get some time to rest, but we will also be returning to three places where we have been previously. Tomorrow we will revisit the Crisis Nursery and Chitipi Children’s Home, and on Sunday we will attend Flood Church again.

We’re all done at ABC Clinic now, but we’ll be working with some of the same doctors, nurses and other staff members  next weekend as we help our with a two-day mobile clinic in the village of Gusu.

Thank you so much for all of your continued prayers during this time. We are so blessed to be so supported as we seek after God’s will for us here. We will try to update again soon.

-Gretchen, Bryan & Daniel (and the rest of the team)

We killed a chicken!

Muli Bwanji!

We first wanted to let you know that we are sorry for not being able to update this blog sooner! Our Internet accessibility is very limited, but we will try to fill you in more frequently with our daily adventures.

Our day began on Friday with attending the daily devotions with the rest of the staff and children of Children of the Nations (COTN) in the assembly hall in the Njewa compound, which is where we are staying for the first 3 weeks. The gap students led the program. These students are in the COTN program but just finished high school and are waiting to go college. They put on a quick skit and led worship, and then the staff had us introduce ourselves to the kids.

In the afternoon, we left The Village (the area we stay in at Njewa) to go to a village called Chilombo that was 45 minutes away where we did a cultural immersion. First, we went to a nearby market that was a food bazaar where we went on a scavenger hunt to buy food supplies for a family that we would be staying with for the rest of the day. We were each paired with a gap student who would help translate, given 2500 Kwachas (around $10), and a list of groceries in Chichewa. It was a very amazing experience that let us gain a glimpse of what was needed for an average Malawian family to be sustained for a week. Some of the items on our list included vegetables, flour, oil, fish, and a chicken. With our plethora of food items, we headed to Chilombo. We split off and head to our separate families in the community with our translator. After taking time to meet the whole family, we were all tasked with helping out with different chores that the family did on a daily basis in order for us to gain a deeper cultural understanding so we can better relate to those we will be serving throughout the trip. In the middle of our chores, we returned to the chief’s house to have lunch that was pizza because the food prepared for us back at Njewa was accidentally spilled en route. Our tasks involved drawing water from the nearby well, hand-washing laundry, cleaning, preparing food, and KILLING A CHICKEN. That’s right, each of us killed the chicken we bought at the market and prepared it for the family. Suffice to say, it was an unforgettable experience for all of us. We finished preparing a traditional Malawian meal with our families with is nsima (Malawian staple food that is a corn meal paste). Our stay at Chilombo ended with saying long good byes to the families that we grew very close to in the short amount of time we had together.

On Saturday, we went to Mgwayi village that is only a 5-minute walk away in the morning to help with construction of the community center that COTN was building. By construction work, it actually ended up being the kids taking over all the work which included moving bricks and shoveling gravel. The children were very elated to work with us so we gladly accepted the help even though we weren’t exactly efficient. We finished early so we had plenty of time to play games with the children.

In the afternoon, we went to Chitipi that is a children’s home run by COTN that housed displaced children that needed full-time care. The home felt very much like a family with a mom and dad that took care of 27 kids with the help of some aunties. We had tour of the grounds that included the house, a block of classrooms, and a farm that COTN uses to supply their compounds. The kids put on a welcoming program that was filled with traditional Malawian song and dance. The parents and kids were extremely welcoming, and we enjoyed getting to play with the kids as we will be visiting them next week. During the welcome program, all of the kids introduced themselves and said their hopes for future occupations, which included being a lawyer, pilot, doctor, nurse, and teacher. The father said it was a blessing to have us visit as we were role models to the children, encouraging them to pursue their dreams.

On Sunday, the team and a number of the COTN staff attended Flood Church, a westernized church that seemed very familiar. The praise and sermon were in English and the team generally thought it was just like a Sunday Service back in the States. However, it was interesting how the message gave us another glimpse into Malawian culture and how drinking alcohol and partying is frowned upon. T he service was actually held in a Chinese restaurant and half of the congregation was Caucasian.

During the second half of the day, we visited Crisis Nursery; a ministry in which babies from newborns to one-year-olds who were unable to be supported by their families are nursed by nannies until they are in good enough health to return to their villages or be adopted. We had the opportunity to hold and play with these children as we gained a better picture of how God is working through this ministry. We were able to hear the unfortunate stories of the babies and see how Crisis Nursery gives them a second chance. All of the babies we loved upon were happy and well-taken care of. It was very encouraging to see how the ministry’s vision is not only a distant goal but actually a present reality.

Today was the first day of our involvement with African Bible College (ABC) Community Clinic. Our team was joined by Alford, one of the wonderful gap students who is planning to study medicine in Malawi. We were divided by our particular fields of interest and assigned to various health care providers. Our two nursing students, Gretchen and Sarah, spent majority of the time taking vitals of patients, in which many showed symptoms of Malaria. Olena, a pre-medicine student, shadowed a doctor from Alabama as he saw and diagnosed patients. She was also able to visit the main hospital with a tuberculosis patient. Alford and Daniel, the other pre-medicine students, each shadowed a Malawian clinical officer who also saw and diagnosed patients. Bryan, the engineer student, helped lab technicians record results from full blood counts and Malaria tests into logbooks and sent the information to the doctors and clinical officers. The day at the clinic ended with a surprise as Alford and Daniel were able to scrub up and witness a live C-Section.

The team has been stretched and consistently amazed at the work being done here. Although we’re still dealing with jet-lag and side effects of anti-Malaria pills, we are pushing through strengthened by love and provisions. We humbly ask for your further prayers toward our team and the people of Malawi. We look forward to further participating in God’s work here.

Blessings,

Team Malawi

They’ve arrived!

Sorry about the delay in getting this message sent, we have been nonstop busy since arriving in-country! Our flight from Nairobi got in around 12:15 and after getting through customs we were warmly greeted by Henry as well as several others from COTN. Two bags didn’t make it through yet, but other than that the rest of traveling went well.

After arriving at Njewa around 2:30pm they served us lunch and then we were quickly ushered back into the COTN van and we went to one of the nearby villages where the children and the village’s widows program put on a welcome ceremony for us. The room was packed with happy, smiling children who all wanted to meet us — definitely made us forget the jetlag from our 3 long days of travel.

The children recited Bible verses, sang, and some danced for us — and then they had us dance with them in front of quite a large crowd, something we hadn’t expected but were happy to join in with :) I don’t think any of us were expecting to be so warmly greeted so soon in the trip, it was really an amazing experience, and just within about two hours of arriving!

After getting back we met with Henry for a quick orientation, and we’ll be eating dinner at 6:30pm and then resting for the rest of the night. Tomorrow we will be doing a cultural immersion in the village of Chilombo, so we’ll get to spend all day with families, go to the market with them and cook dinner together.

There is a LOT to take in and many new faces to TRY and remember, and we’re all pretty overwhelmed but we are so excited to finally be here, and loving it so far!

Zikomo (thank you) and modalisto (blessings),

Gretchen, Olena, Bryan, Daniel, Mariel & Sarah

Ready to board

The team emailed this evening to report that they’re boarding their final flight – from Nairobi, Kenya to Lilongwe, Malawi after an overnight stay at the Nairobi Safari Club, a five-star hotel! (KLM Airlines paid for this stay too.).

The real work will start when the group reaches Lilongwe just after noon in Malawi, around 3 AM Seattle time. I’ll update you soon after they arrive.

Owen.

Update from Nairobi

The team’s in-flight as I’m posting this, but here’s another update from Gretchen.  They’ll reach Lilongwe tomorrow at 12:15 local time, 3:15 AM Seattle time.

Hi Owen, Sorry that this is in the form of facebook, I couldn’t get email to load on my iPod touch. Anyway, not sure if we will have Internet in Nairobi so just letting you know that when we arrive there tonight around 10pm we will most likely be able to stay in a hotel for the night because we were told that KLM will probably sponsor another night for us before we fly out at 8:25 the next morning. We won’t be arriving until 12:15 in Lilongwe because the plane has to stop in Lusaka. :( but the end is in sight! We’re currently waiting for the security and boarding process to begin for our 1pm flight to Nairobi.

It’s been great having Janet the COTN intern leader with us because she has been able to tell us a lot about what to expect in country. We have been practicing Chichewa as well and have even met a few people from Malawi. We also recognize that there a lot worse things that could happen, so even though it’s a bummer that we’re missing an entire day there it is helping us get used to being flexible as Malawians apparently tend to be quite flex with time.

The new flight number to Lilongwe is KQ 724. Flight to Nairobi is the same flight, just pushed way back.

 

I’ll keep you updated!

Owen.

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