Day 1 L.A. ---> Dublin --> Ethiopia --> Malawi
Well, it’s really happening. After 3 months of weekly meetings and endless preparation, we are finally boarding a plane to make the trek to Malawi, Africa. A 30 plus hour trek, to be clear.
I still don’t think it’s fully hit me, I still don’t think it’s real. I also keep randomly crying- mainly tears of joy as I’m overwhelmed by the love and support people have shown me leading up to our departure. So many people gave to me so abundantly to help me afford this trip. Some were family and close friends, others were practically strangers. I even had people donate without me asking. Like truly, people just kept giving me money! I’ve been blown away by their generosity. If that’s not proof that God’s got your back, then I don’t know what is. If I get nothing out of this trip, then that alone will have made this all worth it.
David Bokov so kindly drove me to the airport and helped me carry my huge box of supplies. I arrived at LAX to find Noah and Fran waiting outside to help me. We loaded my luggage on a cart and went inside to the rest of the team. Shortly after, Pastor Kim arrived with Pastor Erwin by her side to help her. I get so nervous around them because to me, they’re practically celebrities. They’re warriors who created a community of Christ that both saved and forever changed my life. No wonder I’m at a loss for words around them.
Once we made it to the gate, we hung out and walked around until boarding. My “travel group” consists of Noah, Tiger and Kiri- all who I love dearly. So, it was fun joking around with them as we waited. Noah is half the reason I even got so involved at Mosaic. Tiger’s name was spoken to me by God and now he’ll always be someone I cherish. And Kiri, who I’m only starting to get to know is so sweet and surprisingly adventurous.
The first flight- 9 hours to Dublin- was easy. I slept the entire time, praise the Lord for real. Martionne took his ZzzQuil too early and was half asleep as we were boarding, it was the highlight of the flight. I miraculously slept on the other two flights also, so all my anxiety over the excruciatingly long travel time was for nothing. I was so out of it that I’d start a movie and fall asleep halfway through it. Couldn’t even tell you what I attempted to watch.
After we landed in Lilongwe, we were greeted by a man named Blessings, who’s one of our main points of contact here. And yes, his real name is Blessings. That’s evidently a common name here. Along with names like Wisdom or Miracle. So, that’s just beautiful. We loaded into buses and headed to African Bible College- where we’ll be staying for the next two weeks. All of the students were waiting to greet us with Fanta Soda- which is a favorite in Malawi. Immediately after dropping our stuff at our dorms we headed to our first greeting ceremony at a tribe called Mkanda. (Yes, we’ve all been doing the Marvel ‘Wakanda’ symbol all day, even if the tribe’s name is a few letters off).
I loved the bus ride over because I sat in the very back next to four ABC students. Their English is amazing so I chatted with them about their lives, school and what they want to do after graduating. One student, Henry, who’s 27, told me all about an organization him and his friend started where they help young kids who’ve been forced to leave home because they were being abused. Henry has such a passion for these kids, you could see his heart swelling as he told me all about it.
We then got to the village and were greeted by hundreds of kids running along our bus with huge smiles on their faces. Their joy was overwhelming. When we got off the bus we were flooded by kids grabbing our hands and hanging all over us. It was madness. I was immediately engulfed in a sea of little Malawians. One older girl kept telling me about how she wanted to be a teacher. They also kept asking if California was white or black- to which I explained that we’re a bit of everything. The women and kids sang and danced for us and the chiefs welcomed us with warm speeches. All around me were wide smiles and tiny hands. It brought tears to my eyes! The bus ride home was filled with chants, games and songs and wow, it was a party!