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Hi, I'm Annie! I'm an 18 year old high school senior living with my family in Prosser, Washington. I'm a lover of God, family, coffee, fried green tomatoes, adventures, and all things Africa.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to live in Malawi, Africa and work with my family and other missionaries at Hope Village in the Chikwawa District. The two years I lived there were filled to the brim of falling in love with orphans, praying with widows, weaping for lost lives, learning a new language, suffering through extreme heat (not to mention humidity), and appreciating this life like I'd never known before.
Three years ago I left my heart in Malawi and am anxiously awaiting the day I get to return. But until then, here I sit 9,649 miles away, staring at pictures taken more than 1,095 days ago, trying not to forget the feelings and emotions Malawi gifted me with.
My dream now is to become a medical missionary and help those in need of medical assistance in the most barren of African villages. After assisting my dad in the Hope Village clinic for the two years we lived there, it seems clear that this is what God has called me to do. And I cannot wait to follow his lead!
Can I be honest with you? I often get frustrated when people ask me about Malawi and the time I spent there. I don’t get frustrated because they ask. I get frustrated because I just can’t explain it. I imagine it being like someone trying to explain what Heaven is like. There are no words or emotions that could make us comprehend the beauty and glory of God’s Kingdom. In the same way, the only way an outsider can know what the inside of Malawi is like is to be there themself. I worry, too, that I’m slowly forgetting it, that feeling. And that is frustration, if I’ve ever felt it.
Anyways, the other day when I was at the tip of my frustration, I wrote this little rant, if that’s even what you want to call it. I know it has nothing to do with the clinic or our plans while in Malawi, but I thought it’d be a nice break from all this medical talk. So, enjoy:
I often wonder if the days I spent in Malawi were the best days of my life. It’s unfathomable to me that life could get any better than it was in the Warm Heart.
And I get frustrated. I get frustrated because I have a yearning to share that reality with my loved ones. The reality where people don’t need a lot of money to say that they made it in life. The reality where kids don’t need video games to have a good time. I want my people to know the reality where God (and, yes, maybe some food and water) is all we need to have genuine happiness.
And it scares me. What if? What if those two years were the best years of my life? What if I never experience that reality again? What if those memories slip from my grasp and I never know they existed?
But then God. GOD! Ah, yes. He manages to gracefully push Himself back to the forefront of my thoughts. My oh-so-mundane thoughts. And he reminds me in His all-knowing, all-powerful way that these thoughts aren’t mine to worry about.
That giddiness of life I felt while running around barefoot on the hot and barren ground? Yep, I’ll feel it again. 100 times over again.
That uncontrollable joy I felt while worshipping His name, surrounded by dozens of Malawians, under the blistering-hot sun? Yep, I’ll feel that again, too.
That absolute contentment of having a napping toddler tied to my back? He promises I’ll know this over and over.
Oh, God. How can I be afraid when He gives me my strength???
He reminds me that right now, this.very.moment, is the best time of my life. The giddiness and joy and contentment is all around me. God is all around me. I’m learning slowly and slowly how to see my Creator in the midst of my humanness. And if I look hard enough, I can even experience my reality of Malawi right where God has me.
This is Chapananga, the village where we will be having one of our medical outreaches.
***BIG NEWS*** My parents and I are Malawi bound in t-minus 9 days!!!!!!!
And I’m so excited because we’re planning on having a little make-shift (as in most likely out of the back of our car) medical outreach right in Mada’s village (and possibly even in other villages if funds allow it)! Which not only means that we get to lather a whole village in God’s love and hopefully assist them in feeling better, but we’ll also get to smother our little man in an innumerable amount of hugs and kisses. The excitement is unreal!! If you’re imagining me doing a happy dance right now, congratulations! because you know me too well.
Believe it or not, I’m doubly excited because I’ll be able to show you what your beyond generous donations have gone and will continually be going towards. (This is the part where I imagine you happy dancing. So hop to it!) So please stay tuned as I bombard your newsfeeds with pictures and videos of how you are personally helping the Malawian people. Because I promise you, you’re donations are making a huge difference. And I can’t wait for you to see it with your own eyes.
On a side note, our plan as of right now for the medical outreach is to arrive in Chapananga (Mada’s village) with a bountiful of malaria testing kits and treatments, antibiotic creams, antifungal creams, aspirin, and bandages; basically everything we Americans have at the tip of our fingers, but all things that require riding a bicycle for 8 hours in 115 degree weather for the Malawians to obtain…if the “local” hospital even has them in stock.
So, here’s where you come in. If I can get 100 people to donate just $20 each, we’d have enough donations to help treat an entire village during these medical outreaches! Therefore, if you’re feeling compelled, please feel free to press the donate button!! Trust me, I know how tempting it is. Like I said before, I promise to take as many photos and videos as my camera memory will permit of all the babies, tots, teens, parents, and grandparents your donations have affected. There’s nothing like seeing the faces of those God has allowed you to bless because of all He has blessed you with.
For those who didn’t get the chance to read my previous post, here’s a short recap:
The baby in this picture is named Madalitso, which means "blessing" in the language of Malawi. His mom died when he was a year old. His 9-year old sister took care of him because relatives said they could not afford to feed another mouth. His sister begged for food every day. She carried Baby Mada on her back. She cried for her dead mommy. As is often the case in Malawi, there was no father around.
And so the story continues…
Their Father in heaven was around, though; He knew whom to send.
First, He sent Madalitso's aunt. She came to look for the children months after their mom was buried. When she found them, her heart sank. They were starving. They had no clothes but the ones they wore. They were not attending school. The worst part, Mada was near death. At 16 months old, he weighed just 9 pounds. His picture on the left speaks volumes.
Next, He sent donors through Hope Village and the Hope Village Clinic. The aunt found out about Hope Village and made a 6-hour bike ride to the southern district of Chikhwawa. "I don't know what to do for him," was her plea when we first met her.
She feared time was running out for Madalitso. We took one look at his fragility and wept. With days, we had donation after donation to help nurse this baby back to life.
And thus began the Baby Mada transformation. Because he was so severely malnourished, his immune system was crushed. He was tormented with chronic malaria, endless ear and chest infections, parasitic worms, relentless diarrhea and fevers. His health was our daily battle.
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
In just 9 months, this 9-pound skeletal frame became a chubby, healthy toddler (pictured on the right). The miracle? Hope Village Clinic through the help of sponsors who funded his one-year treatment; Prayers, and lots of them; And organic super foods like the dried moringa leaf we used daily at the clinic as a nutritional supplement.
Mada was a blessing in more ways than his Malawian name. He lived with me and my family for one year, while God worked a miraculous transformation in front of our very eyes.
Do you have a heart for babies? Perhaps God can use you to transform more babies like Madalitso at the Hope Village Clinic. It only takes a click ;)
Madalitso at 1.5 years, weighing only 9 pounds. Makes my heart ache every time I see it.
Madalitso. A story most of you have heard over and over and over again (#sorrynotsorry ). You’d be surprised how hard it is to keep a story that lived with us for one year and became a part of our family just to ourselves, so forgive me and my parents if we’ve mentioned it one too many times in the past. But for those of you who don’t know our Mada story, where have you been??? Lucky for you, you’ve stopped at the right blog.
One of my favorite aspects of the Hope Village Clinic is the help they give to malnourished babies. In effect, I’m OVER THE MOON that I get to help raise funds for so many infants that get carried into the clinic by a mom, dad, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, etc. looking for some kind of help. ANY kind of help. For most, these babies are at death’s door due to a lack of the proper nutrition needed for them to thrive. In Malawi, malnutrition most commonly occurs because so few villagers do not have enough to eat. Just like our Madalitso.
At 16-months old, a severely malnourished baby was brought to the Hope Village Clinic by his aunt and uncle. He was barely 9 pounds. That’s how much I weighed at birth! His name was Madalitso, which means "Blessings" in Chichewa, the native Malawian language. Mada, as we affectionately called him, was the worst case of anything and everything we had seen thus far in Malawi. Every bone was visible on his tiny frame – a mere skeleton. Every pulse of his veins could be seen with the naked eye. He endured malaria, parasites, a chest infection, and an ear infection…all at the same time. This child, at just one and a half years old, had endured more pain and suffering than most of us will ever endure in our lifetime.
After much questioning, we found out that Mada was one of a set of twins. Their mother died when they were only one month old. After her death, Mada was thrust at his older sister (a mere 9 year old) and their infirmed grandmother, while his brother was sent to live with their aunt and uncle. The infirmed grandmother was too feeble to take care of any one, including herself. The hut they lived in was typical mud, and straw for the roof. There were gaping holes in the hut walls and roof. Long story short, Mada and his sister were on their own. Mada’s sister had to beg for food, in an area where food was scarcely available for anyone. Result—starvation.
Hope Village was his last hope. Had it not been for the clinic, this severely malnourished 16-month old would not have survived past his second birthday.
…stay tuned to hear the rest of Madalitso’s story!
In order for the Hope Village Clinic to continue being able to help such cases, they need your help. With your donations, milk formula can be purchased to assist in giving these infants that extra boost of nourishment. With your donations, moringa-- tiny leaves that save millions of lives (I’ll write a blog on this soon)-- will be readily available for supplying to the malnourished. With your donations, vitamins can be immediately on hand that are essential for normal growth and nutrition. Your donation will be their last hope.
Ah, if only I didn’t have to. If only this fatal parasitic disease never had to be spoken of again. But alas, as wonderful as God made this world, it is full of pain and suffering and loss. It has entangled itself in the oh-so-messiness of malaria.
Did you know that…
Although I haven’t been around the world to experience all that malaria is capable of, I have been to Malawi, Africa. In this tiny country, I’ve witnessed firsthand the onslaught of this life-sucking parasite. In just the two years I lived in Malawi, malaria took more infants, orphans, and widows captive than I could count. It took the lives of those who never got the chance to see their baby take its first step, who never got to finish their last year of secondary school, and who never got to truly feel God’s love. It took the lives of those we called “family.”
The Malaria facts in Malawi are the scariest of all:
Little does this world know, however, that there is HOPE! There is hope for these Malawians who have lost so many. How can there be hope in the midst of so much ugliness, you ask? Simple: there is hope because there is God. And where there is God, there is joy instead of pain, comfort instead of suffering, and blessings instead of loss. If you’re wondering how he manages to do all that at once, do me a favor: stand up, walk to your bathroom, and look in the mirror. That reflection, the one that looks remarkably like you, is your answer.
Through God, you can help bring this hope, this joy, and this comfort to those in Malawi by donating to By His Wounds. With your donations, the Hope Village clinic will be able to stock their shelves with malaria testing kits along with the appropriate medications to kill this parasite. Because of you, Hope Village will also be able to supply families with mosquito nets that will help prevent the contraction of this disease.
So go ahead. Press that donate button. You know you want to.
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