Greetings from Malawi!
I have mixed emotions as I write this report. The last week has gone by so fast and so many things have go on!
On Wednesday, the team piled into the back of the four-ton truck for a trip to Senga Bay. The water was very cold, so most of the team decided to not swim but relax on the beach. We had a wonderful morning relaxing by the lake and enjoying God’s creation. Then we went to the Sunbird Restaurant for lunch. Most of the team decided to get the goat steak, which they all loved! Others, on the other hand, decided to go with a cheese burger and French fries! Then it was off for shopping! The team did a very good job bartering for their gifts for family and friends. They all got different things such as drums, wood bowls, candle stick holders, carved animals and many other wonderful African treasures to remember their trip. After shopping, we returned to the base for the Boot Camp Commissioning service. The team sang and enjoyed getting to see all their hard work pay off! The Malawian youth were ready to go out and serve the Lord in Malawi!
Thursday morning we got in the truck again and headed to Liwonde National Park! After about two hours of driving on the nice paved road, it was onto the dirt and dusty road. We arrived at the park and then took a boat across the river to Mvuu Camp. The camp is beautiful and the team enjoyed sleeping in beautiful chalets with hot showers. We got to see some of Africa’s best known animals: monkeys, hippos, crocodiles, bush bucks, wart hogs and of course everyone’s favorite, elephants! We took a three-hour safari drive through the park and then had a wonderful dinner under the stars. I am sure all of you will get to see the hundreds of pictures that the team took. We also had a fantastic boat safari this morning down one of Malawi’s longest rivers that feeds from Lake Malawi.
Tomorrow is our last full day in Malawi. The team is happy and sad at the same time. Malawi has captured many of their hearts and I believe many of them have felt the tug of God on their hearts this summer. As I look at the team, I am filled with joy at what God has done in their lives. They have had their ups and down. They have grown closer to the Lord and to each other. It is an honor and blessing to be able to bring youth from North America around the world and watch the Lord work in their lives. God has done amazing things with this team and I am thankful to have been able to lead it!
I want to thank each parent for allowing their children to come with us! They have been an amazing blessing to me and to the rest of the leaders. We love them dearly and are thankful for the blessing of being able to serve them this summer! My prayer is that as you welcome them home next week, you will help them to stay strong! I believe you will see the work of our mighty Father in each of them. They have grown so much in their walks and are ready to go home and live it all out for Him! Please pray for us as we begin the long journey home. Most of the team is feeling great, but a couple were feeling a little sick after all the traveling we did. Tomorrow we are letting them sleep in and spend the day packing.
Our flight gets into DC at 8:30 AM. As soon as we have cleared customs and rechecked our bags, I will have them start making phone calls home! I
I want to end our last report with some of the testimonies from some of the team! God bless and see you soon, Josiah Frey
Lilly S – We’ve been in Malawi for over two weeks, and I’ve loved every second of it. The first part of our mission—holding clinics at various Rescue Units—is complete. I loved working at the clinics. It was amazing to show the Malawian people God’s love through games and medical care. It was a great experience, but it was also hard. It was hard to explain that we cannot perform cleft palate surgery or provide medicine to cure Down syndrome. It was hard to tell a woman who limped to the unit that we can’t heal her crippled leg or give glasses to restore her mother’s sight. It was hard to see kids with deep, infected wounds caused by witch doctors and worsened by a lack of medical care. All I could do was lift up each one in prayer, and then send him away. After the clinics, I was heartbroken. Seeing people in need and not being able to help them killed me inside. But on the way back from our last clinic, I was reminded of one of our memory verses: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16 This verse really reminded me that prayer is not a last resort, it is the greatest weapon that I have. I may not be able to help these people, but I know a Great Physician who can. He has the power to do all things and perform all miracles. All I have to do is pray.
Sofia Del Vaston – Malawi is beautiful. Every morning we take in the beautiful sunrise of many colors over Lake Malawi and marvel at God’s creation. This experience has been incredible thus far. We spent a few days in the bush at multiple Rescue Units setting up clinics, and then returned to the base where we assisted in leading the Malawi Boot Camp. Each day we were assigned to teach puppets or drama, or supervise “SB”’s (Special Blessings) or work projects. One day, when the majority of the team left to do a clinic nearby, I stayed behind and taught five drama classes throughout the day. I am not normally one to love drama, but Got gave me the energy to teach skits to each class and thoroughly enjoy it! Another day, about half of us went to a village to help Mr. Daniel teach a Sunday School. All of the sudden, in the middle of teaching them phonics, the kids all noticed something and hastily stood up and drew near to us. A member of the “Nyau” (a cult in Malawi) in full costume was passing by. It was terribly heartbreaking to see some of the young boys, whom were just learning phonics at Sunday School, run off after the cult member. Through this hard experience, God burdened my heart with the need for His love and grace in this country where witchcraft and the Nyau are a common thing. Through devotion time and Morning Glory, I have quickly learned to give everything to God, trusting His will. A verse which has spoken to me is: “Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 3:17 I dread the day we have to leave, but God is good and the mission continues far past this trip.
Keila Pieters – Oh, what to say about Malawi? Everything and nothing mushed together in a giant bowl of cabbage salad (a food we eat quite often). I feel like a whole lifetime has passed since I left my house more than forty days ago. Everything? Everything has happened to me, I’ve hugged sweet little orphans, I’ve eaten the typical ‘nsima’, I’ve ridden in a jam-packed truck over bumpy roads, I’ve played every game in the book and sung every song I know to entertain small children, I’ve run an obstacle course in a skirt, and I’ve made so many priceless friends. Nothing? I brought little along from home and hope to take back nothing, no tattered clothes, no doubts or fear I might have had, and no regrets from the past. I have learned so much during this time. I have grown so much closer to God than I have ever felt in the past. Everything we have experienced as a team has just strengthened us as individuals. When I get back home, I want to remember this time and change who I was into what I am now. God has shown me so many of his wonders and miracles and the least I can do is tell other people about him. Running clinics and playing with kids were only part of our work. Speaking to and encouraging both fellow team members and Malawians has also been our job. I will never, ever forget Malawi and the people here. Never will I forget the pinks and blues of the sunrises or the sound of monkeys jumping on the roof. But more than that, I will never forget the miracle of existence and the blessing of serving our King with all my heart. And the closer we get to the end, the sadder I am to leave. I believe my heart is lost in Africa. “Fear thou not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 14:10
Jordan Bland – Since I’ve been here in Malawi, I’ve experienced many fun and exciting events and occurrences I’ve helped and met many interesting locals. I have personally gotten to play with children, give glasses to the elderly, meet chiefs, eat local food, shop at a Malawian market with goat heads and sewage running through the shops, judge and run an obstacle course, talk with local BMT students, and visit rural villages in the bush. I’ve gotten to do all these things while growing closer to my team members, leaders, and most importantly, to God.
Annika Heaps – It is difficult to choose just one way in which I have seen God in Malawi. He has fulfilled His promises to be constantly present, to keep our team in His fortress of protection, and to fill each of us with His power (especially his healing power). When I was at home, I would write “Devotions” on my to do list but many days I would not get around to it. Sometimes I would read a verse, which spoke to my heart and other days I would just read the Bible, but not learn much. However, on my trip with Teen Missions, God has amazed me each day. Each time I sit down to do devotions, the LORD has spoken to me in new ways and made my time spent with Him rich. As my excitement for the LORD has grown. I have been able to fully understand the importance of evangelism. Gods gif of salvation is amazing news. No only are we saved but we can receive His love, Strength, peace and joy (just a few of his many promises to those who seek Him). I thank God for giving me these experiences in Malawi of the culture, and of His glorious presence and handy work. Luke 8:15 “Not the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a good crop.”
Anna Wermer – Greetings, friends and family of my fellow team members. My name is Anna and this is my second Teen Missions team. These past two and a half weeks have been the best of my life. Living out in the bush was wonderful; there were so many fantastic children who filled my time with joy. I have a strong passion for the kids here in Malawi. Seeing the severe wounds and infections that the native children constantly suffer from was heart breaking. In particular, the worst and most heartbreaking injuries were due to the ministrations of a native witch doctor. The people of the bush villages are very poor and often lack the means to acquire proper medical treatment at a hospital. Since they cannot go the conventional route, the people of the bush often go to a witch doctor for help. Native witch doctors do not base any of their “healing” practices on proper medicine, rather they use potentially demonic rituals in an attempt to stir up spiritual assistance in their efforts. These rituals often result in cutting of the patient’s body or the application of an unsanitary substance to wounds that can cause infection. At home, always go to the hospital when I’m sick or have severe cuts. I had never really though that it was a big deal to go to the hospital but now that I’m here in Malawi, I’ve realized the things I take for granted back at home. This experience has taught me that the Gospel is greatly needed here and that things such as food clothes and other materialistic items are taken for granted in the U.S. It has taught me to be thankful for everything God has given me instead of focusing on things I don not has.
Zac Frye – My time in Malawi with TMI has been an incredible adventure filled with innumerable moments that I will hold onto forever. While there have been many powerful moments, there was one moment in particular that really impacted me. When our team was holding a medical and eyeglass clinic at the Boyle Orphan Rescue Unit in Dedza I was approached by a Malawian woman and her daughter. The woman’s daughter was in a horrid state; her head was covered in fungal growths and she had a cleft pallet. While I did know how to handle the fungal growths, I was unsure what I was supposed to do about her facial deformity. So, I brought the young girl to our leader Mr. Josiah. His face immediately expressed concern and sympathy for the young girl as he told me that she would become a social outcast if she could not get the requisite surgery to fix it. Then Mr. Josiah got down on one knee, put his hand on the young girl, looked her in the eye, and told her that she was beautiful. That small yet powerful remark filled me with emotion and brought tears to my eyes; at that moment I could just picture God creating that little girl out of his divine and perfect image. What I had just witnessed reminded me that no matter how any of us appear on a superficial level, we are all a masterpiece of God and those like that little girl are the most beautiful in His eyes.
Anna Headlee – Malawi is dream like, being here so long feels like a summer just disappeared. We gave our summer to God, He has taken it and made it more beautiful than reality. Squatties, broken showers, and cockroaches would be the least beautiful thing if it weren’t for the glory and beauty of God. Psalm 66:1-2 “Shout joyful praises to God, all the Earth! Sing about the glory of His name! Tell the world how glorious He is.” Being here after almost a year of fundraising is all for God. Sleeping with cockroaches and scrubbing the back of a truck would have meant nothing if we did it without the presence of God. But being in that presence we looked at it as working for God because everything we do should glorify God. Even when we do the things we didn’t sign up for, serving the Lord by providing medical care, eyeglasses, and company for the orphans, and many other children. So many relationships were built with the people we met, and each one helps our relationship with Christ to be strengthened. Praise Him always, for He is so glorious and everything in Him is beautiful.
Ben Valkema – Malawi has been great, watching my new team grow, going out to the Rescue Units, and running the African Boot Camp. All of the activities and work we have done has all been a blessing, and has enabled me to see where in my life I need to grow and mature. God has shown His love everyday to our team, He has given us daily strength and good food. He has also given us great leaders who care about our safety, our spiritual growth, and our stomachs. I am so glad God has placed me on this team because it has been a great help in transforming me into a man of God.
Jackson Kim – While our time at the Chipoka Boot Camp has been fantastic, the period in which we spent out in the bush really impacted me. This is the first time I have been immersed in a society in which the standards of cleanliness and childcare are so incredibly low. It was painful to work in the medical section of our clinics and have to see the seemingly endless waves of malnourished, injured, and fungus infested children. On top of such atrocities those children often lacked one or both of their original parents and were forced to live with neglectful guardians who often declined to properly feed or clean them. Treating these children was always a double-edged sword for me: on one hand I was happy that I could be of even the slightest service to them, but on the other hand I felt despair because I knew that most of them were in a living situation in which they would not receive the proper long term care that they required; there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a young child with a wound that would be fine if his parent or guardian would just help keep it clean, but then have to live with the knowledge that it will most likely be left alone to become infected and potentially life threatening because that parent or guardian just won’t put in the necessary effort. People always say we should value the food, clothing, and other luxuries of our lives because we are just so much more materially blessed than someone in a situation similar to that of the children we treated in the bush, but what most people don’t acknowledge is that we are also more paternally blessed and for that we should be most thankful. Now, I will always hold in my heart that God has not only given me material luxuries that many others lack, but more importantly that He has blessed me with parents and many other individuals around me who care about my well being.
Lily Fahs – This summer, I was struck by the realization that I am privileged to even be allowed a relationship with God. It is a gift to simply serve the King of Kings, and to bring others to know Him. This idea really hit home while I was at Sonrise Palms Matron Unit, where we were running our last clinic of the summer. I asked my translator, Mercy, if the old man I had just given a pair of glasses to would let me pray for him. To my surprise, she told me no. “This man here,” she said, “He is needing to hear the gospel.” She looked at me expectantly. And so I took a deep breath and began. I made it as simple as possible, not wanting to confuse either my translator or the old man. To my surprise, ten minutes later he prayed and accepted the Lord. It didn’t take long. He didn’t need some big theological argument or a thirty-minute sermon. He just needed someone willing to tell him about Jesus. And I knew, I knew from the start, that it wasn’t something about me that caused him to come to the Lord. This man was waiting, and I just happened to be there. It could have been anyone, but because I was there, and because I was willing, God allowed me to be His witness. The fact that the Lord Almighty, the God described in such majesty in Isaiah 6, permitted me to do something like that for Him, completely humbles me. This mission trip, and this ten-minute conversation in particular, changed my view of service. It isn’t me somehow “letting” God use me. It’s GOD, graciously allowing me to bring Him glory. And I can’t imagine a greater privilege.