My heart is full. I spent another 6 weeks with these people I have come to love so dearly and could have spent 100 more. People keep asking about being back in the "real world" and Im not so sure that my American lifestyle is that. I think what is over there is real in more ways then we know how to handle real. Let me share with you a few real things that shook my world this summer.
This is Josen. He is an incredibly an funny and animated little kid. In the top picture he is sitting with my baby Andrew who just turned 4. Josen is five years old but because of extreme malnutrition he gives the appearance of a 3 year old. Since coming to Mtendere he is growing and learning to be loved. He brings so much joy even though he is still suffering the affects of his former life. Malnutrition is a real problem, and Josen is a real victim and he is really beating the odds and living to grow into a healthy young boy.
I'm learning that my friendships that I have made in Malawi are real. This summer I learned more from my friends at Mtendere then I could ever teach them. Through many afternoons of hanging out, listening to music, eating "chamanga" (roasted maize), and talking about life, real relationships grew. I hear people point out the differences in our lives so often but when I am there more often then not we are talking about the things we share in common. And those are the things that really matter in life.
I had the incredible opportunity to watch my malawian brothers and sisters and best friends minister to their community in huge ways this summer. The kids at Mtendere organized trips to local villages where they would hold youth rallies and share the gospel with whoever showed up. They brought gifts and they loved on these kids. God did amazing things and I was able to just witness this.
As I sat and watched, I began to notice the kids that were showing up for the youth rally. They were dirty, some with runny noses or strange rashes, some were taking care of younger children, many of them with ripped clothing. As I sat with a crowd around me, because many had never seen white people before, I couldn't help but realize the incredible miracle that was occurring. These were our kids...
This was the reality that most of our children knew before they were able to come to Mtendere. My friends were these kids. And now they are able to come and minister and love on these kids. In that moment I was overwhelmingly thankful that my "real world" consists of beautiful relationships with 160 amazing young Malawians that are changing their communities and changing people like me who have the privilege to sit and get to know them.