As I reflect back on the past three weeks, one word continually comes to mind: joy. I can think of no better word to describe the experience that Malawi provided for us during our trip. Waking up to God’s incredibly beautiful creation every single day was a constant source of joy that renewed my spirit each morning. The power and mightiness of our Savior was prominently displayed in the mountains and valleys surrounding the village. The wonderful ROS (Rafiki Overseas Staff) we were able to spend time with and get to know were some of the most generous and caring people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They wanted to be sure that we were well taken care of, were spiritually sound, and that we were able to make the most of our time in Malawi. They never hesitated at taking time to show us the “sights” of the city, taking a trip to Lake Malawi, or giving us the full experience through a trip to the market and a dinner in Mzuzu. It takes a special person to do what they do on a daily basis and there is no doubt in my mind that the Lord picked them specifically for this village in Malawi. Another source of constant joy was being able to bond with each other. Coming into the trip, we didn’t know each other at all, but upon leaving the airport for our final flights, I can honestly say that I feel like I have known these people for my entire life. The Lord provided a huge blessing for us to quickly form a strong bond and be able to work together no matter what the task. We were able to have our share of laughs (pretty much all the time) over just about anything and we were able to share what was on our hearts without fear of judgment. I am so blessed for knowing these three who were willing to give of themselves so fully for the benefit of the kids in Malawi.
My ultimate source of constant joy was by far the kids. Every single morning on our way to devotions, they would all wave and yell greetings to us from their cottages. Each morning began with a “Good morning, Auntie Meredith. You’re looking nice today.” I cannot begin to put into words how those two sentences blessed me beyond measure. The genuine nature of these children was such a refreshing change from that of typical children here at home. The smiles on their faces each time I remembered their names or when we would share a laugh warmed my heart and renewed my spirit. Being able to teach them how to hold their follow through on a basketball shot, make a penalty kick in soccer, or serve a tennis ball was a wonderful experience in itself; however, the best part of that was when a child who struggled in the beginning was able to finally complete their task successfully. The pure joy on the face of a girl who finally made a basketball shot after numerous attempts or a child that was able to score a PK after missing several times was immeasurable. Being able to sit with a family at lunch and dinner each day and to learn from them was one of my favorite parts of the experience overall. The first week was mostly general get to know you questions like “What is your best color/animal/food/etc “ or “What are you going to be when you are finished with school?” However, as the kids got to know us and were more comfortable, the conversations at dinner were much more involved. I was asked about my favorite prophet and composer as well as why every person in America didn’t believe in Jesus. The hunger for knowledge in these kids is yet another source of joy for me. To hear a child say that his best subject is math or that he wants to be the president of Malawi when he grows up reminds me of the unlimited potential of these children. I fully expect each one will become successful in whichever career they choose upon graduating from Rafiki. I cannot wait to see what God uses these children to do. Their ambition brings a smile to my face every time I think about it and I wish I was able to bottle up some of their enthusiasm to share with others. There was even joy in tears during this trip. The last night of our trip, as can be expected, there were tears shed; however, the wisdom of one eleven year old boy brought the ultimate joy to my heart. One child asked if we would see each other again and he responded with the answer that of course we would – in heaven one day if not again on earth. The profoundness of that statement coming from such a young child is enough to reduce me to tears even now. I want a faith so pure and genuine as these children have. I want to wake up each and every day with the mindset of how can I serve my Jesus today. I want to be able to pray on demand and have it be as beautiful and from the heart as these kids. One of my favorite things to do is to listen to them pray. One little girl always begins her prayers with “Let us close our eyes and pray. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. You are the Alpha and Omega and the beginning and the end.” Something as simple as offering God the respect He deserves with such a small gesture is second nature to these kids. The center of their lives is our Lord and I can only pray to have a faith as strong as theirs.
The Lord is doing some unbelievable work in the country of Malawi, through Rafiki and through the kids. I cannot begin to put into words the blessings I received while there and the things that I witnessed were purely the work of the Lord. I am so very thankful to Rafiki, Managers On A Mission and our amazing God for providing the opportunity and the provision to allow me to spend part of my summer with these children. I will never again be the same and I ask that you continue to pray for the people of Malawi and the children as well as the four of us. Just because we are back home doesn’t mean our work is finished. God called us to Africa, and even though it was extremely difficult to leave, He has called us back home to use what we experienced to further His kingdom here. There is much work to be done right here in our own backyards and I have no doubt that the things we witnessed on our trip will provide us with the necessary skills to minister to those in need right here at home. I thank you all for your constant prayers, thoughts, and encouraging messages. They were much needed and reminded us of the amazing support system we have behind us. Justin spoke of having endurance in your walk with Christ during one of the devotions he led. I cannot think of a better scripture to end this post with:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured on the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful man, so you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:1-3
God may have brought our time to Malawi to an end, but He is never finished with us. I pray that we may have endurance to run the race set before us and to further His kingdom using our experiences in Africa. I will end with a call and response frequently used in the African church
Alleluia (amen) Alleluia (amen) God is good (all the time) All the time (God is good)
Meredith Holder, 2014 MOAM Student Manager Missionary