Over the past three years I have spent six weeks in a place that I feel is a second home to me. This place shows me kindness, warmth, love, and joy! Of course if you read the title you would know I am referring to the country of Malawi! This post is long overdue, but I have to admit I have a fear. Multiple times I have typed up stories of my trips to Malawi, only to eventually delete them. I have a fear that my words of my experiences will not translate to those who haven't been.. I know it is a stupid fear, but aren't most?
So this year I am going to attempt to highlight some of my favorite moments and maybe we can gain something from them! The slideshow highlights the stories I am about to share!
For the past two years I have flown across the world and when I get there I think, "Wow it doesn't even seem like I was gone that long." It is as if everything paused and then I return and it's a breath of fresh air! I truly love it there! This year was special for me, I was able to introduce a dear friend of mine to Malawi.
I met Jackson when I was a sophomore in high school and he was an eighth grader. We have experienced a lot together in our short lives! From normal high school shenanigans to a road trip from Northern California all the way to Austin! I love this dude!
It was special to show him Malawi because I knew he would fit right in! Jackson brings joy everywhere he goes! Countless times him and I have ended up in tears from laughing so hard! On the way over to Malawi we had a 15 hour flight from New York City all the way to Johannesburg. We both couldn't sleep and we ended up playing cards at 3AM while eating Swedish fish. While in Malawi he brought his joy and the children soaked up the attention! Jackson is not only a gifted friend, but also a gymnast! He was showing off some tricks and teaching the kids as he went!
There were countless moments where I would be helping somewhere and I could here Jackson's laughter fill the air! It was heart warming for a piece of home to go with me to Malawi!
A Great Team
Milk has cookies. Texans have Whataburger. Shoot, even biscuits have gravy! Each of these just seem to fit perfectly with the other! I travel to Malawi with Drops of Grace and their partnership just seems to fit with Somebody Cares, the ministry in Malawi! I have been blessed to work with these ministries for the last three years. They partner together to make sure that the resources will most effectively help the people of Malawi! Drops of Grace has adopted the community of Kalimbira and over the years I have seen the positive results of this partnership! People are smiling again because they're able to provide for their families. Children are growing and at times I barely recognize them after a full year of growth!!
It brings me such joy knowing that Somebody Cares goes out everyday and they love the people around them so well! People are cared for and changed by the work of this ministry!
This year we got to work!! In the past years we have worked with helping feed the kids or doing other projects. We still continued serving in those same areas, but this year was unlike the others! Our team was composed of mostly people in their twenties and we worked alongside the youth of Kalimbira, who are the same age! Together we worked on Child Headed Homes. At these houses the parents have passed away and children are in charge of coming up with the income. But thankfully the ministries have stepped in and the kids can continue school!
At these homes we repaired roofs, put a new coat of mud on the floor to keep it sealed, and we also built a new structure that will serve as the kitchen. The kitchens in Kalimbira are quite different than the ones in Cedar Park, Texas. There was definitely a learning curve but once we got going we were a well oiled machine! The kitchen was built from the ground up from bricks and concrete mixed by hand. Four or five would move bricks and stack them as two others mixed concrete and would stack it on the bricks as we went. Jackson and I mixed a lot of it and moved the "mud" as the youth would line up the bricks. IT WAS A LOT OF WORK!!
As we worked the youth would teach us Chichewa words and I would repeat it only to be followed by laughter. (Guess I didn't say it the same way they explained) It was so much fun to work alongside the youth! If I started to slack I would here, "Mud boy!! Chongu!" Which means hurry!
I think we may have laughed harder than we worked, but that doesn't take away from the work we did!
I have learned a lot from my trips to Malawi.
I have learned that no matter the circumstances we face, God will provide.
I've learned that laughter can cross any language barrier.
I have learned that no matter where I go in the world I will be made fun of! And I am okay with it!
When I go to Malawi I gain more than I give. I gain friends and relationships that I will always cherish! Every year I spend 50 weeks away from Malawi, but that makes those two weeks a year all the more special! As I walked through Kalimbira this year I was surrounded by the smiling children and I heard, "Onndroo!" I turned to be greeted by a giggling child and I just shook my head! I couldn't believe that he remembered my name! I never would have imagined my life going to Malawi, but I am so glad it did!
Like somebody longing to see their family again for the holidays is how I long to see my friends and family in Malawi!
My name is Andrew Berry! I am just living my life chasing after Jesus and trying to point others to Him.