SPRINT Malawi 2012

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Archive for the month “June, 2012”

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.


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.


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!


Flight update

Here’s a quick note from the team:

We are on the same flight just 24 hours later. We are leaving Nairobi on June 21st on flight kq 724 at 8:25 and arriving in lilongwe on June 21st at 12:15

We’ll keep you updated!

At the hotel!

Here’s an emailed update. They’re doing well with this change in plans.



Hi Owen,
This is Gretchen on Olena’s phone. We got to the hotel safely and are doing just fine-hotel is entirely free and we get breakfast and are currently having our free (very late) dinner at the hotel.

The info about the flight tomorrow is a little fuzzy but they told us to be back by 10:30 and I think we’ll be leaving around 1. So we’re probably gonna leave the hotel via bus really early like before 8, to be on the safe side. We are doing completely fine other than being slightly tired and frustrated so tell parents not to worry! Thanks!

-Gretchen and the rest of the team

Amsterdam update

The team has been delayed in Amsterdam – the cargo door on their plane wouldn’t close correctly. KLM Airlines has put the group up in a hotel – they’ll fly on to Nairobi in about 12 hours (1 pm in Amsterdam).

I’ll keep you updated.


Goedemorgen from Amsterdam!!

Hallo everyone!  Just a quick update to say that we have safely arrived in Amsterdam and are currently enjoying an 8-hour layover before heading off to Nairobi, Kenya! Our flight went very smoothly, and the people around us were even kind enough to let us all sit together (although they may have realized their mistake soon after takeoff… A few of us had the “travel giggles!”). After a few cheesy in-flight movies and some lukewarm pasta, we dozed off to the sweet sound of crying babies.  It’s currently 3:15 pm here, but 6:15 am in Seattle!  Needless to say, our internal clocks are a little whacked.  Thankfully, we found some free recliners in the airport and we have another long flight to Nairobi ahead of us!

Thanks to everyone who came to the airport to send us off, as well as all of the friends and family who have been praying! We really appreciate it, and I can’t wait to see how God will move through us and within us to change our hearts as we serve the beautiful people of Malawi!


Mariel, Sarah, Bryan, Olena, Gretchen, and Daniel

They’re off!

This afternoon all six members of the Malawi team flew out of SeaTac Airport, bound for Lilongwe, Malawi. Over the next four weeks the team will support a variety of projects around two homes for orphans operated by Children of the Nations.

In the picture the team is joined by Janet, who will spend the next several months in Malawi as a COTN intern.

We’ll post another update when the team reaches their destination! In the meantime, please contact me with questions or concerns: owen@SPU.edu or (206) 427-1296.



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