This week, I asked my volunteers to share the highlight of their year. Of course, I need to answer the question to, and I said my trip to the Carolinas and the Barn. But you guys? I forgot about Malawi.
Malawi seems to have both happened yesterday and happened a million years ago. It caused a seismic shift in my heart and my faith, and I can recall the sights and smells and tastes sharply. At the same time, it feels somehow foggy, very much like a dream that you’ve forgotten until someone says something that triggers the memory. But the memory keeps being triggered: day after day, meal after meal, prayer after prayer.
When I do think back on the trip, I often picture our team, gathered in the Gazebo at COTN’s Njewa Ministry Center. It sits right in the middle of the compound, surrounded on all sides by the huts in which we stayed and lots of pretty landscaping.
Our days both started and ended in the gazebo. In the mornings, we’d gather alongside the COTN staff for devotions and worship. In the evenings after dinner, we would debrief from the day by sharing highs and lows and stories, very often crying but laughing just as much.
It’s where, I think, our team became a team, learning to trust one another. It’s where I first shared the stories about Fotunate, Stephen, and Happy. It’s where we celebrated with our teachers when our seminar was over, and it’s where we ate lunch with the children we sponsor.
In my mind’s eye, that gazebo feels safe and warm and somehow full of adventure. I can’t wait for the day I get to sit on those benches again.