This is slightly (perhaps severely) beside the point of the Africa trip... but can I just say that as of right now, I'm feeling like the world is my oyster? Ahh there is just so much that I can do and so many places that I can go in life that I am really excited for these next 5 years! A few things I wish to fit in include: Joshua Wilderness Institute, Doctors Without Borders, and somehow it would be ideal if I could work in JAM Africa! Okay, moving on!! :)
Monday May 17th -- Home Based Care in Mgona (the slums).
5:45 came bright and early on Monday morning! We got dressed, packed a lunch, prepared for the day, and finished breakfast before 7, and were ready for pickup by 7:15. Linda, a care pastor from City of Grace church in Mesa (used to be Word of Grace), was our driver the entire time and picked us up every morning. She had been in Malawi for 3 months and focused on raising awareness of rape and establishing rape trauma/crisis groups. She is an amazing lady! At 7:15 on the dot, there was a honk at the gate and we all loaded up and headed for the Somebody Cares headquarters. Once there, we joined all of the staff for what quickly became one of my favorite parts of the trip ~ morning prayer, worship and devotion. I loved it!
After prayer and praise that lasted more than an hour, we were given an orientation by Steve, with Visionledd. The best way I could describe Visionledd is a glorified middle man. Vision led had 2 components (to the best of my understanding) -- a representative from the US (Karl) and a representative from Africa (Steve) together, they match up a church from the States and an organization in Africa. Hence they made the introduction of Mission Community Church to Somebody Cares. On top of that, they are really neat people! Steve and his wife Kathy even fed us one night! Moving on, Steve gave us a wonderful orientation into Malawian traditions, culture and the "what not to do's"!!
From there, we headed out to Mgona for a day of Home Based Care. Somebody Cares has trained several (I believe almost 500) HBC volunteers to look after people, to care for people, in their own villages. It involves seeking out the sick and dying, laying hands on them and praying for them, encouraging them with a word from the Bible, cleaning their home (which was often a small brick hut with a thatched roof), caring for the person (be it bathing or whatever they need) and making sure their kids are well. Talk about a humbling experience!
This was the first day that I was truly hit with poverty. I followed the team (unfortunately I had left my camera in the car -- so I don't have any pictures of Mgona to share with you :( but I will post pictures of what the Country looks like!) into 11 different huts and loved every moment of it! The majority of the people we saw were suffering from AIDS or Tuberculosis. I had a difficult time with this!
Coming fresh off the grill from nursing school, I knew that one cough can infect 50 with TB. I felt paralyzed by the fear of contracting this disease, especially while being in a foreign country. My mind was racing and I then thought of 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear." I remembered a story that Gerhard, of JAM Africa, had shared with me of praying for the healing of a woman with TB. A few months later, she was healed and began sharing the name of Jesus who had healed her. I thought of these things and realized that my fear was a roadblock. It was keeping me from truly loving the person who was infected. and kept my focus on the disease rather than on the God who wished to use me to demonstrate love to the sick. It was then that I made the decision to step out in faith, recognizing that I could still very well get sick, and love with all I had. It was exhilarating.
I really enjoyed praying over the women, and it quickly became my job to fetch clean water! Talk about a hoot! I would draw up water from the nearby well and when the pale was full, I began carrying it back to the hut. The local women started laughing at me, and quickly came to my aid. They lifted the container onto my head and we all began to giggle! I, the Azungu (white person), then sloshed water all over myself before finally arriving back at the hut! Another memory that I treasure was of the 2 girls that I first shook hands with. They greeted me in their language and were so honored that I would stop to shake their hands, that they dropped to their knees. I went weak in mine and teared up. They hadn't touched a white person before, and I had yet to have my heart touched like that before. Oh the memories that were made :)
This day ended with a cold shower (that had never felt so good), stir fried vegetables at a local restaurant and the sorting of over 3,000 pairs of glasses which lasted into the wee hours of the night. I went to bed exhausted, after having already been stretched by just day one!