On the last two days of the trip we left the UMC of Malawi and crossed the boarder into Zambia. The climate was much warmer, so after the long drive we relaxed and enjoyed fellowship with Chifundo, Hugo and team. Conversation went from afternoon into dinner and from dinner to devotion. Music continued to be a huge part of our day along with a mean game of spoons. The next morning we were out at 5:30am to take in the beautiful landscape and majestic animals in the South Luangwa National park. God is a true artist in providing us with such a variety of colors to observe. The drive through the park was another opportunity to relax and talk. Not only did the team use this time to further bond with each other but to also make lasting connections with Chifundo and Hugo. We also got to know a bit about our guides too. We got to hear their personal stories that once again shows the joy and spirit of the people in Africa that we’ve experienced all week long. One guide shared that he had lost his son who was attacked by a crocodile a few years ago. His story was so tragic, yet his laugh when sharing other stories was robust and full of life. He seems to be living in the knowledge that the worst thing is never the last thing and there is joy and gratitude in everyday if you are open to seeing it.
After a few Days in Zambia we returned to Malawi and had a final dinner with Pastor Francis, his wife Patricia, Joseph from the farm, Chimiso, Chifundo, Hugo and Kelly. We shared one last team debrief and devotion with our newly met brothers and sisters which was in the form of the Love Feast. Pastor Francis closed us in prayer and we ended with hugs and exchanges of emails. It is clear these relationships will continue despite distance.
We are headed home now. We were sent off with hugs, smiles and prayer. It’s a bitter sweet moment for the team that is anxious to see family but has also grown close to our team in Malawi. We’ve also gotten spoiled by the warm welcome and the resolve of those sharing their amazing joy so freely with strangers amidst their daily struggles for basic needs. As the trip comes to an end we’ve had hours on planes from Africa to Ireland and the states, giving us time to quietly reflect on all we have seen, heard and shared with the people of Malawi. What we hope you have learned from reading this blog is that the needs of the people in the villages, the refugee camp and the ZOE children are tremendous, but there is also great hope. They sing, dance, laugh and are quick to be grateful for what each day has to offer and then freely share that joy with others. Please keep them in your hearts and prayers as we continue to build a relationship with them and find ways to come along side them as they work hard for sustainable changes that lead them to days that are free from thirst, hunger and disease.