A week to go! Next Friday morning Liv and I will board a plane with our group to begin our African adventure.
This is our itinerary:
4 hour flight from Denver to DC;
3:35 hour layover;
8.5 hour flight to Dakar, Senegal;
1-2 hour fuel stop;
9 hour flight to Johannesburg;
Spend the night at airport hotel;
2:20 hour flight from Johannesburg to Lilongwe next morning;
6 hour van ride from Lilongwe to Monkey Bay.
Easy Peasy lemon squeezy!
Well, not really but, once we get there, it will be worth the travel. We will begin at 6:30 the morning after our arrival hiking the 4 miles up and over the ridge to Zambo to meet the villagers.
I have been asked to lead the projects involving the school children and education and I am thrilled. Definitely in my wheel house! Tomorrow I will be collecting the pen pal letters written by the elementary students here to weigh them. On Monday, (time permitting) I will be taking photos of all the students who wrote letters to attach to their envelopes so the Zambo kids can see their pen pal's faces. I am also hoping to do the same in reverse - taking pictures of the Zambo kids to attach with the letters from them we will be bringing back.
Friends and businesses have generously donated lots of fabric and sewing supplies for us to bring with us. Liv and I are excited to teach the girls to make their own dolls and pillows.
I have mostly packed our bags, save for a few odds and ends.
It is difficult to know what is in store for us. Though, I am certain it will be enriching and thrilling and meaningful and fun.
Thank you all who have donated. Reaching 42% of our goal so far, is enormous!
This page will remain active until we return in the hopes we will raise more money while we are there.
Expect lots of photos. Technology permitting of course.
Cheers and best wishes to all.
Until Lift off
Madeleine & Liv
Things are falling into place. A good thing as, it is only 17 days until we get ourselves to Denver and board the plane for our African adventure! Passports have arrived, we are vaccinated, malaria meds have been ordered, the kids in Liv's class have gathered toys and 200 Steamboat kids will be hand writing letters to the Zambo kids this week. Sewing supplies, arts and crafts items and books are in the works. As soon as I have all of them gathered up, all we need to do is pack! Friends and family have been so generous in helping us reach 30% of our goal. Thank you! Thank you!
Grace has arrived in Monkey Bay and is preparing for our arrival. Sounds as though we are going to receive quite the welcome. How exciting! Here are some excerpts from here email this morning:
"It has taken me few days to settle in again to this simple and very slow lifestyle, being surrounded by the calm spirits of the people, my anxiety is becoming non-existent!!! My heart is so happy to be able to experience this once again.
I came to Monkey Bay just 4 days ago and was welcomed by to many shouts of excitement and open arms. We are all very excited to be reunited and to continue with the plans of development in Zambo as well as Monkey Bay. The word spread very quickly that I was in town and I have been greeted by many people for days now. I have never felt so wanted, encouraged and welcomed!!!
I went to Zambo on Thursday and found the school running without complication. . .While I was there we were able to purchase bricks to finish the school building, as well as lay out the land for our plans of a new playground, toilets and garden.
After my visit to Zambo I went to visit my dear friend and Pastor at Assembly of God church. The best part was when I shared the news of our proposal for a new community building and rehabilitation housing for the sex workers coming out of suppression seeking help in building better lives. Pastor Justino was so excited he responded with much singing, dancing and genuine celebration. We are now working on purchasing a piece of land and laying out the building plans.
I shared with him the many pictures of the 18 missionaries who are travelling from Steamboat in February. We talked about each and everyone one of these special people and spent much time praying for them individually. Together Pastor Justino and I are laying out the daily plans of the missionaries work and preparing Monkey Bay for for their arrival!!"
Yesterday I spent the day feeling anxious. Questions like "What if we don't raise enough before we leave, will we still be able to go?", "What if our passports don't arrive in time?", "What if insurance doesn't cover the malaria meds?", "What if one or both of us gets sick?", "What if a plane crashes?", "What if we are taken hostage?", "What if we arrive in Johannesburg to discover the Zombie Apocalypse has started there?", "What if bacon eating is made illegal?" Gah! I was a hot mess imagining all the worst possible scenarios in detail. Three things happened that snapped me out of my "Hysteria Spiral" 1. 2 donations arrived yesterday reminding me, the money will come in increments, some smaller - some larger but, it will come. 2. My passport arrived so, Liv's will be close behind. 3. If I am faithful, I cannot feel fear and, if I am fearful I cannot feel faith and, the choice is always mine. Something is tugging us to go. Tugging hard. At this point, it would feel almost unnatural if we didn't go. We are so invested, so committed, so excited. I have to suspend my anxiety and remember, in the words of W.H. Murray: "The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision which no man could have dreamed would have come his way." All is well.
Toy Drive in the works! Grace and I met with Liv's class today and got them pumped to do a toy drive for our Zambo kids. Liv's teacher asked about pen pals and Grace said the kids will LOVE it. Liv's teacher is going to email all the teachers in the school and send us to Malawi with a bunch of letters. Also, since the little girls in the village mold dolls out of wet sand in the mornings and play with them until they dry out and crumble, Liv and I want to bring materials and teach them how to sew their own dolls. A local seamstress is graciously volunteering her time to give the two of us a crash course in hand stitching. So glad to be finding specific things we can contribute. 5 weeks and counting!
We can't do this without your help so, we are very grateful for the support thus far! So relieved to have the passports in process. If we wouldn't look like complete nut bags, we would have ourselves packed by the end of the weekend.
I have been researching and finding pictures of where we will be staying from backpacker blogs. Looks lovely and the people! Have I mentioned I am excited? Yeah, just a tad. 6.5 weeks feels like forever!
A typical day for some Monkey Bay locals
Passport photos = Check! Amazing how much fun a couple of girls can have at the Walgreens photo counter on a Friday night with Africa in our future.
Liv and I are going on a Missions trip to Malawi, Africa with our church, Steamboat Christian Center. We leave with 15 other people on February 14th (Happy Valentine's Day!) and return on March 4th. We will be based in Monkey Bay, Malawi (Southeast Africa) and doing projects near there and the remote village of Zambo 4 miles away (remote = no road). The below is a photo of Zambo. It is accessible only by boat or foot. Monkey Bay is on the other side of one of those "little" hills
We will be supporting the efforts of a Steamboat woman, Grace Hampton, who has been assisting the small village of Zambo for the last three years. (For specific details of her inspiring accomplishments there and our specific projects, see the excerpt from a recent letter to her friends and family at the end of this page.)
Liv and I are extremely excited to be a part of such a profound endeavor. We are looking for sponsors to help us with the approximately $3,000 per person cost of transportation and lodging. (Additional expenses include passport fees, vaccinations and many supplies)
When I first learned of the trip, I thought "No way can I afford a minimum of $6,000 for both of us!" and shrugged the idea off. When the idea would not allow itself to be shrugged, a quote came to mind that inspired me. It was from the movie Babe (I know, silly, right?) and it was this: "Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored, for in them lie the seeds of destiny."
Seeds of destiny, you say? sign me up! But still, the money issue. Impossible. Then the brilliant Nelson Mandela passed and, the internet and social media sites were flooded with his inspiring quotes. The one that kept finding me (again and again and again) was: "It always seems impossible, until it is done". I decided to take heed and, in a Field-of-Dreams-fit-of "If you build it, they will come" sort of moment, I committed Liv and I to participate. I have fearful thoughts of: "What have I done! What did I just get us into?" and then remember, faith and fear are mutually exclusive so, I am going for faith. I choose to believe in a God who has our backs.
These are some of the beautiful children we will be working with. Liv has been warned the children will pet her with her white skin and lightish hair, she can't wait!
Any donation will help! You can donate directly to this site or, if you want to make a larger tax deductible donation, you can send a check directly to the church and indicate "Missions" in the memo section. Also, include a note indicating the contribution is to help with Liv's and my expenses so they know to credit our balance. Make sure to let me know as well so I can count it towards our goal.Steamboat Christian Center
Attn: Shawn Donnelly - Malawi Mission
PO Box 770968
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
Call me at 970-846-3944 or the church at 970-879-0063 xt 1 if you have any questions.
Having done similar "work" in Jamaica when I was 20, I know firsthand how getting "out of ourselves" to be of service is life changing and life enriching. My foundation was forever shifted by the experience and I am excited Liv will get to have a similar experience at a much younger age.
In the 2 months I was in Jamaica, I got head lice, impetigo, tendonitis (from always carrying kids) and was usually filthy. I had never been happier. I went to 'help' and was profoundly altered.
Thank all of you in advance for your generous donations. Know that your contributions will have a far-reaching impact.
"May the road rise up to meet you and the wind be always at your back."
Madeleine & Liv
Grace Hampton - Excerpt from December 2013 family letter:
"With the beautiful
encouragement and generous donations, last year I assisted the
community with funding and constructing a new school building for young orphans
that has served as a place for the children to gather for learning, shelter and
a well-balanced meal. During this past year, with the hard work and commitment
of the local people, we have been able to give these children a protein rich
meal everyday and provide them with trained teachers in a school which is
supported and recognized by the Malawian government. During this past year I have continued to send
$80 USD a month to Rita (local woman who runs the school), giving her the ability to purchase enough food to
provide the approximately 60 children with one meal a day for the entire month.
This funding also gives the 4 teachers a small monthly
salary to continue to be able to give their time to the school."
"With the help of the
local church here, Steamboat Christian Center, the community of Zambo will also
be encouraged and supported by 17 volunteers traveling from Steamboat Springs,
Colorado to Malawi, Africa for 2 weeks. These spirited individuals will work
hard to complete several proposed projects. The schoolhouse will
be completed by painting the building and constructing a playground; as well as
digging, planting and tending the surrounding land of the school house for
vegetable gardens. We will also be teaching about compost and the importance of
its fertility, designing and constructing 2 compostable toilets and an area for
food/plant compost. By building chicken coups and purchasing chickens, we can
provide a continued supply of eggs and meat. There will also be a large tank
constructed on the edge of the school building for the catchment of rain and
roof water, providing for all the life around the school with water during the
long dry season." The one water pump for the whole village:
traveling from Steamboat Springs will be bringing different ideas, talents and
skills they can share with the people of Zambo and Monkey Bay. There are some
young adults coming who will participate in youth sports and tutoring at the
school. We will also be visiting the elders, disabled, and sick people of the
villages, providing them with their necessities and giving our support. The few
nurses who are volunteering their time have the ability to bring simulation
devices to teach CPR and healthy child birth, as well as other needed supplies
to perform small health clinics."
Doesn't this sound sublime!