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.