When I’m not busy sleeping or indulging in in-flight entertainment as I fly over a particularly large piece of ocean, I can be bothered staring or reflecting. Sometimes there is no difference between the two. I have voted this flight from Johannesburg to Sydney the second worst flight pattern I’ve ever taken for distance and length of time (12:00 hours). It’s second only to the reverse flight pattern I took on the way here: Sydney to Johannesburg (14:20), longer if your plane wants to suntan on the tarmac for awhile (15:40).
I’ve got another 10:15 hours to reflect and stare a bit before I pray myself to sleep. Here’s what I’m thinking about…
Two weeks is really no time at all in the scheme of life. But when it’s happening, when I’m having about two dozen memorable moments every day, it feels like I’ve gained an eternity’s worth of experiences.
Visiting Malawi is weird on your psyche because everything moves fast and slow. Time is not such an important concept as commitment, or dedication. Same as efficiency is not is of such importance as tradition, and perfection to beauty. Dear Malawi, you are not like New Zealand or the U.S. in any way but one: There are people who make all things happen. Thank you for gifting me these amazing people who made my two weeks beautiful, wonderful, incredible.
Lipiri ADP team
Patricia (#450): I love Patricia so much. I find it hard to express how meaningful it was for me to spend so much time with her. Patricia is the sponsorship coordinator for the Dowa District ADP’s–there are three she taught me to properly announce, as she taught me a million other things, too, about Lipiri ADP (funded by New Zealand sponsors, where I spent my last week). Patricia is Malawi’s teacher for me. She epitomises everything you’d remember in your favourite teacher: her smile, her passion, her commitment, her grasp on life and learning, and an express-ability to give and receive love. I love you, Patricia!
Henry (#451): The second compadre in our small crew that was together every day is Henry. Any time now or in the future that I think of Henry, I’ll hear his laugh – a sort of high pitched heheehee through gritted teeth and a shining smile. He’s got that rare gift of making anything a bit more fun. Maybe he’s working hard, maybe he’s hardly working… Henry is a great time. Like Patricia he is clearly passionate about his work. If you didn’t know otherwise he might be a very quiet man – quietly humble, quietly confident, quietly rooting for you to beat poverty. But I feel lucky because I figured out a Snickers and a cameraman are all you need to bring out the best in Henry. And… he reeks of community development experience. For me, Henry is Malawi’s laugh.
Allan (#452): Every good crew needs a driver. But isn’t it far better when you’re driver also has combat skills? And battering skills to get you the lowest price on avocado? And a keen eye for the most sweet and juicy tangerines sold on the long road out to Mponela? < That’s Allan! When he’s driving he’s telling me stories or teaching me Chichewa. When he’s not driving he lending a hand in some extraordinarily helpful way. Plus, Allan is full of this peaceful joy that I admired and fascinated over. Allan is Malawi’s joy.
Rejoice (#453): Rejoice has that name you want to sing whenever you say it — which I did, a lot. Rejoice is my Malawian BFF. She’s 26, newly-wed by nine months, and is oozing with passion. Of course, I love her for all of this. I didn’t get to spend every day with Rejoice because she was busy hosting and facilitating workshops on early childhood development and maternal health. But she would call me on Patricia’s phone in the afternoon and say hi. On my last day at the World Vision district office Rejoice chatted for a bit of an hour. Before I left she gave me the nicest gift, and I’ll never forget her for it. Also… Rejoice taught me Chichewa 🙂
Michael (#454): The man who brought us all together in Malawi… Michael Hobbs. Thank you for being a unanimous decision of the MicroFlicks finalist panel. Without your extraordinary work and talent this trip could not have happened. But also, you’re one of the most easy-going, kind, and creative people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Thank you for this. Thank you, too, for the amazing mark you’ve left on Malawi and the Lipiri ADP team who raved about your (and your camera’s) presence. I will remember this trip forever, thanks to you and the videos you’re creating. I believe from them, Malawians and New Zealanders will be changed for the better.
Jon (#455): Having Jon (from VisionFund U.S.) on this trip was like a little gift from home for me. That’s totally weird, I know. But I had the chance to talk about Puyallup, and Tacoma, The Spaghetti Factory (which Jon mistakenly does not like), and the Daffodil Parade. I get to talk about none of that with friends and colleagues here because none of it is familiar or that interesting. But when it’s with a friend (I’d definitely consider Jon a friend) from those same places it doesn’t have to be interesting to talk about. Thanks, Jon, for putting this trip together, for welcoming me from the beginning, for being ridiculously easy to hang out with, for having a smoking hot wife whom you so obviously love more than the world, and for the courtesy laughs at all my stupid jokes. Cheers.
(Disco) David (#456): David has got this way of saying “yes” like nobody I know; it is the best “yes” you will have ever heard. He’s also got mad tiring fixing skills, a lovely wife, a great laugh, and disco skills 🙂 Thanks, David, for the incredible hosting and driving and tobacco-pointing-out you did. I miss you already.
ADP Committee (#457): For organising my schedule, for letting me meet you, for welcoming me into the homes of amazing families in your community, for your unwavering faith, for your dedication and commitment to your families and neighbours, for your integrity, for leading the community development process in a way I never knew existed… Your story and lives are what our supporters need to hear, and I will promise to tell as many as I can.
Also, a huge thank you to Chicogdi ADP staff (#458) who hosted me for a day. I will be thinking of you lots and the work before you. Thank you for your kindness, your knowledge, and your dedication.
You are beautiful. I will forever be grateful for having spent time with you. The things I have learned and the laughs I had, the things I saw, the people I shook hands with and sat in their homes, your trees and your animals and your sky… I will never forget. You and your families are in my heart forever.
- Check out my other post from Malawi: Recipe for breaking the cycle of poverty, as I saw it
- Michael’s latest post: Team Malawi soon to part
- Jon’s latest post: MicroFlicks Malawi Final Thoughts