THE BIRTH PLACE OF HUMANITY by Lara Case
Africa is a place of magic. Everything there from the people to the mountains echoes with the ancient stories of this land. As much as being in America is like being in a fresh new land, being in Africa is like visiting one's grandmother's house. It is not your home, but you belong here just the same. It is the home of those before you. Being in Malawi made me think of the Out of Africa theory. Suddenly it all made sense, starting with the feeling I had gotten on the first drive through Johannesburg. I was in the birthplace of humanity. Not just humanity, either. So many species come from this place. So many incredible animals and lives are produced here. However disputed the theory is, it became real to me. Magically, somewhere in the jungles complex and shocking diseases such as Ebola made the mysterious jump from animal to human. More than any other land, this place holds a distinct magic.


We went on a boat cruise in a national park to see hippos and elephants, and as I lay there on the boat watching the water and the animals I was lulled into a sense of contentment I have rarely, in my 17 years, been privileged to experience. I believed that this was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. All of the tensions of life had seeped out of me. I no longer cared how I looked. I no longer worried that the Europeans eating at the next table might think I was just another loud and overfed American. I belonged here just as much as they did. It seemed to be the peak of my experience. I had of course not yet seen Lake Malawi, which is everything you believe it should be.


The sand was yellow, the water clear and blue, and in the background mountains sprang up reaching towards the startlingly clear sky. In the middle of the lake men fished out of their little canoes, and tiny children played games with us on the sand. Merchants would come right up to our backyard and try to sell us stuff, and if we were not buying they would teach us their board games. It was certainly not a view one expects in the middle of winter. One night Jordan and I made dinner for everyone, and I felt like I was participating in some ancient tradition, in a way getting in touch with my matriarchal roots. I bonded over a hot stove with one of my wonderful friends while also providing for my new extended family. I laughed so hard when Alice and Esther harassed poor Jordan with the chicken feet that I nearly dropped the meat. The place brought out a gentler, slightly calmer side of me.


After meeting all the amazing people, doing all these amazing things, and seeing all this beauty I am driven to do anything I can to show everyone all the worthwhile things in life, because I know many people who have forgotten or never knew that this world is not a hopeless case and Africa is not a desert of the damned and dying. This story is only a portion of all that there is to tell of my trip, but it is what I have chosen to share. If I were to share it all it would take days, so hopefully you’ll get most of it from all our stories.

Christina Mitchell | Lara Case | Catie Hungerford
Lee Livingston | Vance Tilton | Teresa Turner

Not a matter of choice by Christina Mitchell
The stark realization after going to Africa is how life is built on survival. While walking down a busy street, we were swarmed by sellers trying to bargain with us, not so they could get that new car they wanted, but so they could survive. Or maybe it’s not like that at all, maybe we can’t ever know; our minds are too chaotic with other things to feel the idea of hunger or desperation, or to even care. We weren’t there to change the world, but simply to grasp some sort of understanding. Since I’m not a big souvenir shopper, I got the chance to observe some of the sellers. It seemed to me that the African people have to bargain for everything. Most sellers can size up prospects and begin bargaining right when they see you, taking into account your clothing and disposition. They know the bargain even before opening their mouths. The children on the streets looked us up and down, noting our American clothing, jewelry, and white skin, and saw money; they knew exactly how to play us. To some, these children may seem greedy and inefficient, but in fact these children seemed to be extremely perceptive and know strategies to survive; they have created shortcuts to bargaining, like raising the price in their head when they see your white skin; they bargain with our American disposition. In Mua hundreds of little kids would trail after us saying, “Give me penny” and things like “penny for school” and would look straight into our minds or hearts or whatever, and even though we got restless with all the begging, these kids would follow you until they couldn’t any longer. This was persistence.
These kids are not naïve. They become independent and adult by the time they walk so they usually take things into their own hands. They know more about the earth and living and survival than I ever will. At 5 or younger they carry their brothers and sisters on their backs; they are parents. At the beach on Lake Malawi some of us played with a couple of children no older then 6. One of the little girls had a baby with her, and when it started crying she knew just what to do. Mothers at 6 years old are doing a better job than many here in the states. They have to be skilled at survival or die at an early age. Those are the choices; a very barren selection.


This lack of choice was also seen while dining in Africa. People don’t get to choose what they want to eat like we do here, mainly because of the lack of variety. So it was nice when we had a chance to dine in Zomba and order off a menu. Finally, a choice! I noticed that most of the people in the little remote villages we visited didn’t seem like they had a lot of choice in where they were, or where they were going. They had to make the best of where they were, learning how to survive, choosing to survive. It seemed pretty much impossible for some of the people in villages like Chilobwe to get out of this type of life. They got stuck in the flow, the cycle, and that’s just the way it is. This life may look like chaos. In reality, though, it isn’t. It’s the deepest understanding of what one must do; it’s negotiation; it’s the power and will and choice to survive, and it’s the deepest understanding of the simplicities of life. There’s something that hugs your mind and heart about Africa. It’s one of those places that’s enough without any words; it’s a place to just be and experience.

Christina Mitchell | Lara Case | Catie Hungerford
Lee Livingston | Vance Tilton | Teresa Turner

ONE SIMPLE LESSON: LOVE ONE ANOTHER by Catie Hungerford
Knowing the going rate for an airline ticket to Africa, many people, upon hearing of this summer’s Pilgrimage to Malawi, initially wondered whether a better option might be to gather all that money raised for our seats on the plane and send it across the ocean instead. As speech giving is quite customary in Malawi, we were fortunate enough to hear Bishop James Tengatenga speak on numerous occasions during our visit. On one of these occasions, he addressed the issue of whether or not our physical presence in Malawi was truly the top priority for our money. After enjoying a delightful Malawian feast at the home of one of our host families, James stood before us, preparing to speak, beaming peacefully as usual. The Bishop admitted that had we sent the $2000 a seat instead of ourselves, the money would have stretched a long way and accomplished much. However, James was of the opinion that God would not prefer this option. Jesus spent the entirety of his life teaching one simple lesson consisting of three words: Love One Another. Visiting Malawi served no higher purpose than to remind us once more of this message, which, simple as it may appear, is one far too often forgotten by too many of us.


Our experience in Malawi taught us of the immense joy that can be found among a love-giving community. As the Bishop declared, “You have not seen God until you see God in the face of others.” James invited us to Malawi not as a rich nation coming to save another in desperation, but as a group of individuals who were willing to share God as we know God with an open-hearted, welcoming community which wanted to give us a gift called joy.
I feel that the primary accomplishment of our journey to Malawi is the concrete establishment of many new friendships that will expand into the oncoming years of our future. For this reason, I feel that the opportunity for members of the youth group to take part in this adventure was and remains absolutely essential! The connection we have made with the youth in Malawi is a strong and promising one. In a small town outside Blantyre called Chilobwe, we spent a day with the people of St. Peter’s parish. There I befriended the new chairman of the St. Peter’s youth group, a man named Gerald Namachapa. The St. Peter’s Anglican youth organization (SPAYO) is small compared to St. David’s’, but thriving. In the e-mails we have exchanged since our return, we have discussed the formation of a sister community among the youth of St. Peter’s and the youth of St. David’s. The St. David’s youth will continue to sponsor fundraisers for our new friends in Malawi and keep in touch with pen pals. Hopefully, soon we will have the opportunity to return the warm hospitality the people of Malawi so freely offered us, as we prepare for a delegation to come visit us in the United States!

Christina Mitchell | Lara Case | Catie Hungerford
Lee Livingston | Vance Tilton | Teresa Turner