Saturday, August 2, 2014

Breaking the Ice

It's time.

I've been hiding from the brunt of social media for as long as possible, posting a bit here and a little there but mostly remaining aloof. I don't know how many people liked the last thing I posted. I don't recall seeing any recent cat memes or articles with "The last one really got me" in the title. I don't know what's going on in everyone's cyber lives. And I love you all, but that's wonderful.

Have I ever told you that I love my city when it rains?

The monsoon sunset over Tucson

Tucson River Walk
Just as a pause, tonight was one of those deeply endearing Tucson summer rains. It was overcast all day, with thunderstorms rolling through. The evening was impossible to resist.

Anyway.

I realize that a world of change has happened since I last wrote at the beginning of June, just preparing to put my merry self on a plane and land in Malawi, Africa to go "do stuff." I read my words then and know just as I knew then that I did not know exactly what I was in for. And by "in for" I mean wonderful things. It seems impossible to look at the last month and a half and pull out just one or two little blog-worthy posts.

Tucson again...
The whole experience was simply inundating, as such things ought to be. I laughed at having left my "real" camera at home. I had mused before I left that it would be better without the distraction. I would build real relationships. Sitting on the plane home, fighting back genuine tears of sadness at leaving our new friends, I laughed wryly that this is what I got for it.

But Malawi was wonderful, to say the least. Christians will be familiar with the "mountaintop experience," and to be fair, I sort of expected that. Sometimes I feel that we inadvertently go to faraway places as if we will find Jesus there. But in Malawi I came to the stark reality that Jesus is with us, regardless of where we are. Which is to say that if he's not a part of our life in one place, a change of location will not inherently change that. And vice versa. But Malawi actually wasn't a mountaintop for me. It was…surprisingly everyday, and I did not expect that. In some ways, it was as if I had always seen the maize merchants on the side of the road, or visited mud brick houses, or danced with 100 children. Rather, I saw that Malawians are people, and the Malawian church is made up of…people. Beautiful, joyful, fun, enduring, loving people. But people all the same. And while it sounds simplistic, this comforted me for the ails I see at home. Americans are not hopeless. We're just human.

People are often most excited to know what we did while we were there. To say in brief, we partnered with a fully Malawian organization in Lilongwe called Somebody Cares. Alongside their highly capable team, we went into the villages surrounding Lilongwe each day to help repair widows' homes that had been damaged during the wet season (by re-roofing or re-mudding floors). We helped the livestock program by preparing pig feed and building a pig sty in their training center. We got to accompany the Home Based Care team in visiting HIV positive individuals in the peri-urban slums, praying with them and taking care of their household chores. And we (always) got to play with hundreds of beaming brown little children whose smiles I never want to forget. Somebody Cares is really making a deep impact in Malawi, which is encouraging to see in a place replete with NGOs. For fun updates and more about who they are, check out the link above, or see the "Somebody Cares Ministries" Facebook page.

I think Malawi has affected me much more deeply in the stewing and soaking upon my return. Even while we were there, it made me uncomfortable that we had so much. That we could eat such full meals when we returned to our hotel in the evening. That we could have Pineapple Fanta just because. These were the times I put down my fork. Or in other cases, picked it up and tried to eat every last morsel on my plate out of respect for our village friends. This only made me sick, unfortunately. But now that I am home, in the comfort and serenity that surround American life, with time to really sit and process the beautiful journey I got to be part of…the experience has only deepened.

Suffice it to say, I have a lot more to share. I just wanted to break the ice on this whole internet thing. While I've posted disturbingly American and normal things on Facebook from time to time - shards and remnants of my normal American life - I've really hid from sharing the good stuff. Just because I don't want it to be over with the stroke of a pen. I don't want writing about Africa to be an excuse to file it neatly away into my past.

I'll leave you for now with a little highlight reel that I put together. Thank you so much for making this trip a reality for me. If I have not thanked you personally, (I'm sorry!) and keep checking your mailbox.

More stories to come!


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