If you haven’t noticed from my shameless social media updates, I’ve been in Malawi, Africa for the last two weeks visiting a dear friend. Michael has been in Malawi for the last 10 months teaching at the African Bible College in Lilongwe. I’ve been wanting to visit since the moment he first told me he was moving, and I am beyond thankful that I was actually able to make it! And it’s still a bit surreal, even as I have just ran down the small terminal to catch my flight to Johannesburg. I enjoy traveling, but even more so, I love visiting places that mean so much to people who mean much to me, and to see them in that element.
Now, if you’ll allow me to catch my breath on this plane for the next two hours and and sixteen minutes to Johannesburg, I will write a tid about my time in Malawi.
I flew from America to Africa with another great friend, Brittney. I also love not traveling alone, and though I’m glad she did not have to run to get on the plane, I wish she could have ran with me! Brittney is a fantastic traveling buddy because she is laidback like myself, and brings a delightful sense of humor into any situation-a.k.a. we giggled A LOT, mostly at things that may not have been very funny to others, but hilarious to two sleep-deprived travelers, like going to the wrong terminal and having a man give us the same directions three times, with increasing volume. “Turn RIGHT…IMMEDIATELY !” Brittney left on Friday to make it back for work today, and I, well I just wanted to stay.
They call Malawi the “Warm Heart of Africa”, and boy does it live up to its name! Michael was so quick to show us around to all of his favorite places to eat, and the market, and so many other places-and we were warmly greeted at each and every place with a smile and handshake. One of my favorite parts of this trip was getting to meet Michael’s students and watch the seniors graduate. They are beautiful people, with beautiful stories, and now they are trained in God’s Word and other education to make a difference in this world with their stories. Each of them accepted us as friends, not just of Michael, but friends of their own. There is quite an impressive community at the African Bible College. I will miss them.
Now I tell you about another favorite part of the trip. Last Sunday, the three of us drove to Nkata Bay, where we stayed for two nights at a little resort called Mayoka Village, which is really a little bit of paradise. I have never been to a clear, fresh water lake until then, and now that’s all I want!
As most of you know, I am NOT a morning person. But because the lake was so beautiful, and the mountains of Mozambique were right across the lake where the sun would come up in Malawi, and because of some still slight jetlag on Brittney and my part, the three of us woke up at 5:30 on our last morning to watch the sun rise. It was a chilly morning, with a breeze that made our arm hair stand up, but it was worth it. We paddled out on a canoe (though Michael really did most of the paddling) and we watched silently as the sun rose up over the dark, hazey mountains, into the clouds, and over the reflecting water.
No sound other than the water hitting the boat and maybe the slight rattle of our teeth from the chilly wind. This was a beautiful moment for me.
I’ve been reading Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together” on this trip, and though it’s taking me a bit to get through the first couple of chapters, I can’t stop thinking about it. In the first chapter, Bonhoeffer warns the Christian that we should be careful to not worship the community God has given us, but to worship God more because of the community given to us through Jesus Christ, and to live out that community through his abundant grace. In chapter two, Bonhoeffer talks about the day with others, and how we should worship together. He says “Morning does not belong to the individual, it belongs to the Church of the triune God, to the Christian family, to the brotherhood. ” This was my thought when we rose together early that morning. We may not have had songs or scripture, or really any words spoken out loud, but to witness God in creation together was fulfilling worship. I want to do more of that with the people God has blessed my life with.
We ended our little getaway with one last beach visit. And Brittney and I got to drive about 10 minutes each on the way back! Talk about exhilarating.
Our time together these last two weeks, though nothing short of social and outgoing, was restful and refreshing. To experience new cultures, peoples, and lands is high on my list of a good time to grow and learn. And I feel as though that has happened. The two Sunday mornings I spent at CCBC, Pastor Sandress reminded us of Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus, and the calling we have on our lives as Christians; that we have a responsibility and privilege to live out a life of love, holiness, and imitating God. I witnessed that here among the believers of Malawi, and I can say that even in these short two weeks, Malawi has warmed my heart.
And this evening I will watch the sun set over Africa from a little airplane window, with a grateful heart.
P.s. If could fly South African Airways everywhere, I would. Good people, good food, good movies, good planes. That is all. See you all soon! (a.k.a. about 36 hours!)