They have redefined my view on life.
Made me see what was missing.
Made me feel alive.
This defining moment did all those things, and so many more.
|Teaching a group of orphans in Mponela, Malawi. June 2004.|
This picture was taken in Mponela, Malawi. Out of all my travels, it remains the one of the most impoverished places I have ever been.
I spent two months in Malawi shortly after graduating college. It was really meant to be a mission trip, and nothing more.
I thought I would go to Africa, love on kids, tell them about Jesus, cry a little, come home, and go back to life as normal.
I should also mention, I thought I knew it all.
Lets just say I was wrong on all counts.
After landing in Malawi I spent two days in language training, then found myself here, in the middle of nowhere. Also known as Mponela.
After spending a day with the kids at the feeding center, our team translator and host drove us around in the dead of night. Along the way he pointed out the brothels.
Brothels where grown men slept with little girls.
Brothels where children whose hands I washed that very day were being raped in that very moment.
That night my heart was broken. I prayed. I wept.
My life changed.
And the next day I hugged those children and played with those children. I sang with them and danced with them. I washed their hands and cooked their food. And then they sat down in the field, and I told them how precious they were. I told them that God knew them before they were born. I told them that they were beautiful.
They were each given a few crayons and a piece of paper, and were asked to draw the most beautiful thing they had ever seen or could or imagine. For most of them, it was their first time holding a crayon. We had to wade through the crowd and show many of the children how to draw and how to color. Then they were told that to God they are the most beautiful thing he can imagine.
The feeding center where I volunteered was a new ministry, set out to not only feed the orphans, but to stop the horrible things going on in the area. In a country where child "prostitutes" were thrown into the same prison as men until a decade ago, Ministry of Hope was helping pave a way for the rights of the children. So many of them who ventured to the feeding center for five meals a week had to return to the brothels for fear of their lives. But slowly and surely, the ministry was finding ways to change that.
For a short time I was blessed enough to play games with these children and hug on them. I was honored to see them make funny faces and be silly and laugh as children should do.
I experienced so much grief, joy, love, hope, sorrow, laughter, and sadness during the time I spent in Mponela.
And since then, I haven't been the same.
So, now I ask you.
What are some of your greatest defining moments?