Blog: September 2015
UPI's Director of Special Projects, Margaret Wooten, recently led a vision trip to Malawi. She took a team of UPI supporters to visit our ministries, meet our executive directors, and witness the work we are doing in "The Warm Heart of Africa." Read on to hear from one of the team members.
We have been home about 36 hours and I have not yet adjusted to the time zones. I am exhausted by 10 pm and awake at 2 and 4 am and up by 5! The house is quiet and it is the perfect time to try and capture the thoughts swirling around my head. I am struggling to find the right words to sum up the last 10 days. To say it was amazing (while true) does not really convey any content. How do you boil down hundreds of interactions, memories, and snapshots into dinner conversations or a Facebook post or an Instagram picture. I want to capture the beauty of the people, the elegance of women who walk with water on their head and a baby strapped to their back, the incredible sunsets that each day called us to stop and marvel at the layers of red and orange and give thanks to the God who created it. How do you explain children who walk miles to school each day? Class sizes of 50 or 75 or 100? Leaders who work all day and then take children into their homes and share the food from their table? At dinner the first night one of the leaders asks, “ why did you come”? A very reasonable question but one that I struggle to answer. To see Vanessa and Tio? To understand Margaret’s work? Because I felt called?
Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa and its people embrace and embody it. We are welcomed everywhere we go and I smile as I think of the children who took my hand to show me their classroom or teach me the steps to a dance or who pronounced words over and over so I could understand the words to a song. The girls at Safehaven proudly showed us their new bedrooms and the signs they have made for their doors. I am struck by the fact that the doors are all open. Back at home, my world is filled with closed doors, fences, cars with rolled up windows and garages. It is easy to feel alone and disconnected. At one of the ministries we played a game called “Mingle, Mingle, Mingle.” 250 children and the 10 of us wander around the school yard “mingling” until the leader calls out a number and then you must rush to get in groups of that number. The first call was “two” and a small girl grabs me and holds on tight. As we stand there laughing and hugging I think this is why I came... to connect …with the leaders, the children, the ministries. Mark 16:15 says we should “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” I went into the world of Malawi and a 6 year old preached the gospel to me. I will be forever grateful!
--Teresa Wooten, 2015 vision trip team member