5 quick thoughts from Malawi after 1 full week:
1. “Dreams becoming reality” is one of the best ways I can describe MOAM’s first ever student manager mission trip. The Lord has blessed MOAM. Every time I read my journal entry from my trip to Rwanda 2 years ago that mentions, “Starting a nonprofit that funds mission trips” (see journal entry below) – I get goosebumps. 2 years later, MOAM is accomplishing just that. What a powerful God we serve. God honors bold prayers, and bold prayers honor God. Founder of Rafiki, Rosemary Jensen said, “I had no great vision for an organization such as what exists today, and no one to guide me. I simply did the next thing that God put before me, believing that He would lead me.” I believe this also perfect describes exactly what our 100% volunteer organization has been doing since forming last May.
2. The people of Africa are still incredible. So joyful, peaceful, loving, hardworking. Meet Joffrie- He is a grounds worker here at the Rafiki Village. You will quickly come to know Joffrie as a hardworking and joyful man. What you will not so quickly learn about Joffrie is that he walks 2 hours to work every day, 2 hours home at the end of the day. Every single day. The only feasible option Joffrie may have at reducing his 4 hours of walking each day would be to purchase a bike. However, this would cost him approximately 1 month’s wages. Not exactly a feasible expense when what Joffrie and his family are doing each week is what they need to do in order to physically survive that week. If these people ever have any sort of abundance, they often strive to share it with whomever possible. Any extended family or friends of the orphans here at Rafiki were invited to a recitation held here at Rafiki last week. These individuals are some of the poorest among the poor (hence why it was not possible for them to care for the children they know here at Rafiki), yet after walking several hours to get here, some of them still showed up with rice, or manna or whatever they could scrap together to sacrifice as a sign of their gratitude to Rafiki. The Rafiki children, the “mom’s” of the children, and full time missionaries here are amazing. Incredibly inspiring to spend time with these people.
3. A graduate of Rafiki WILL one day be the President of their respective country. Rafiki may only be serving a miniscule amount (approx. 100 children/country) of the orphans that exist here in Africa, but these children ranging from 2-13 years old are literally growing into the finest individuals in the world. It is very difficult to hear the ‘stories’ of some of these children.. some found in toilets, some abandoned at hospitals, some found on the side of the road. Meeting them now, you’d never guess. The knowledge and passion these children have for God’s word and their overall education is incredible. I’ve never met more joyful individuals. Eating meals with these kids is amazing..they are so extremely authentic, thankful and courteous already, and literally retain everything they learn. The children have no shortage of great questions for us guests at each meal. I have to admit that I have been caught off guard multiple times by questions ranging from “Who is your favorite prophet” to “Who is your favorite composer?”. These are both questions the kids can debate in depth by the way. Listening to these children pray before, and after, everything we do is beyond inspiring. Every time I join one of the cottages for evening devotions, or prayer, or dinner, all I can think about is Matthew 18:20 – “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” God’s presence is so evident here at Rafiki.
4. It is a great opportunity and God-connect for MOAM to be here to lead the Sports portion of G.A.M.E.S. (the summer school phase of Rafiki’s education curriculum.) I already believe The Lord may be calling MOAM to soon lead G.A.M.E.S. at all ten Rafiki cottages. These full time missionaries are so deserving of a break, and the kids are so incredibly hungry to learn about sports and grow in all aspects of life. The Lord certainly blessed and guided MOAM’s selection of student managers. Justin (Mississippi State), Meredith (Wake Forest), and Mikey (Virginia) are incredible individuals that truly have a strong passion for growing in their Christian faith. We knew we were selecting from a great pool of candidates as we recognize student managers as some of the hardest working individuals in the United States, but it has been a true blessing to see how quickly this group has meshed and developed strong friendships. MOAM is very proud to be part of connecting these 3 with this experience, and opportunity to serve. All 3 are now even prayerfully considering longer term mission work. For further evidence of how great these 3 are – please see their blog posts.
5. I envy how ‘unplugged’ and how ‘unmaterialistic’ these people are. Sure it is much easier for them to remain this way since they are relatively ‘unconnected’ (no tv, internet, etc), but I believe this has even more to do with how grounded these children are in God’s word. Each cottage starts and ends every single day with family devotions. These children seemed to be completely focused on 4 things. #1- Serving God, #2- Loving their family, friends, and neighbor, #3-Learning, and #4- Having fun playing with others. Literally, that is it. No concerns of what they wish they had, or what is unfair about their situation, or worries about the many hurdles they may face to become the doctors, teachers, and lawyers they aspire to be. They simply live IN THE MOMENT in all that they do. The joy these kids have when someone reads them a book, or simply carries a conversation with them is unreal.