Kelsey Carroll recently embarked on a journey to Malawi, Africa, on a Friendship Trip. Her immersive experience allowed her to witness the incredible warmth of Malawian hospitality and the resilience of its people through profound connections forged during her trip.
After a morning of praise and thanksgiving at church celebrating Paper Sunday (a day where the congregation brings their offerings to the Lord to help finish building the roof of the church), we enjoyed a lunch of chicken, cabbage relish, and either rice or nsima (a thick maize paste, sort of like thicker grits). I was schooled in how to properly eat nsima – first, you need to take a large enough scoop and then you roll than in the palm of your hand to create a smooth ball and press that into a patty. Then you use that to scoop up the sides – the perfect vessel to sop up the sauce from the relish and chicken.
We wrapped up lunch and met our partner sisters and translators whom we would be spending the week with. I was filled with deep joy meeting my sister, Lexa Haward, and our translator, Amanda. I was so excited to spend our days together. After a quick introduction, we bid farewell until the next day and were off to our home visits.
We visited an agogo (grandmother) Adaima Nkomera who is deeply plagued – her home was struck by the recent cyclone and the entire back of the home had crumbled in the storm. Along with her daughter and seven grandchildren, they live in a two-, what was once a three-room home prior to the storm. One room is for sleeping and one is for cooking. The agogo is paralyzed on one side of her body due to a stroke and relies on her daughter to carry her from place to place. The strength that this household of women possesses is beyond measure.
We then visited a beneficiary of VIP’s programming – Mr. Ndaona who is a farmer and beekeeper and has had great success implementing the new farming practices he has learned through VIP. His home was painted and had multiple rooms, a secure roof, and rooms that were filled with his harvest. One room was for ground nuts and two rooms were filled with maize – it was abundant. We presented both families with bags of maize, a blanket, soap, and cooking oil. And Farmer Ndaona shared his harvest of ground nuts which we cracked into on the ride home.
Traveling to and from our home visits we rode standing in the back of a pickup truck – holding onto the roof, Jack and Rose style from Titanic, with one person close to the roof and the other wrapped around the first to keep one another sturdy and upright. Every now and then the truck would slow down enough to warn us of upcoming branches so we could duck into the bed of the truck and reemerge when the coast was clear.
My new friend and VIP staff member, Violet taught Jordan, Tory, Crystal, and me songs in Chichewa, the Malawian national language, and we shared some of our favorite call-and-response songs with her like “This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made.” And of course, “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic – the moment called for it! Singing songs of praise, looking at the sun dropping lower and lower in the sky with the Zomba Plateau in the distance, squished up against new friends, bumping up and down along the dirt road, and feeling the heavenly Holy Spirit breeze through my hair, I felt an otherworldly feeling of gratitude for friendship, togetherness, and Presence.
To learn more about visiting Malawi yourself, check out the latest Friendship Trip and Medical Trip dates here.