[Posted on January 22, 2019]
Update #2—Learning about our new home
By Stephanie Plugrad and Janae Schumacher
Blurry eyed and loaded with luggage, we boarded our first flight, briefly stopped in Chicago, then were ushered out of the country on a 14-hour flight bound for Africa. The pilot came on the loudspeaker first in Ethiopian, then English, and it finally started to hit us that we were not in the United States any longer. Looking out the window, we could see first glimpses of a hazy and dry-looking city: Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. As we scurried across the airport, we stood out because we looked like a large group of Europeans, and this became our permanent label while in the country. Our last flight was riddled with clouds until finally we caught our first glimpse of Lake Malawi and began descending into the capital city, Lilongwe. At first glance, the differences between Malawi and Ethiopia were apparent—we had crossed the equator and gone from a country in dry season to a country in the midst of a lush rainy season.
Exhausted from travel, we made it to our first destination, all baggage and personnel accounted. Then we got our first taste of traditional Malawian food, made for us by Andrew Saunders’ mother and the head chef of the clinic where his parents live. The food was absolutely amazing! And better yet, all the ingredients were fresh.
The next day, with the help of Edward [Hardy] and Ian’s [Johnson] Tetris skills, we got all our luggage in the back row of our small bus, lined the aisle with supply totes, and clamored in (with Janae and Carlea volunteering to sit on the totes since we didn’t have enough seats) for the seven-hour trip.
Side note: the Malawian countryside is downright amazing! Every inch of the ground is either wild plants or crops, and there are mountains everywhere!
Finally we arrived in Blantyre, our home for the next three weeks and the major city of commerce for Malawi. Since we had been traveling for the past three days, we got settled and welcomed the Sabbath. Over the next couple of days, we explored the city and were able to summit two of the nearby mountains.
Monday brought our first class, Cultural Integration, taught by a local Seventh-day Adventist pastor Denis Matikenya. We learned basic Chichewa, Malawian culture and history in the morning. For three afternoons, we were assigned to go out into the city do something educational, recreational, and nutritional. We were assigned groups and set out finding local cafes, museums, markets, art galleries, and joined the locals in cheering for the favored soccer team.
The weekend took us different directions. Some attended the Kabula Hill Adventist church, fellowshipping with the locals, while others went to further explore the Malawian countryside and spend the weekend in nature. We are gearing up for another full week of classes and studying, as well as looking forward to more opportunities to get out and interact with the people of Malawi.
For now, Tiri bwino! (we are well)
[Posted January 11, 2019]
Fourteen international rescue and relief seniors departed for Malawi, Africa, this week to begin a semester of courses in community development and global health. Led by IRR faculty Kalie and Andrew Saunders, the group will spend time in several different locations around the country and help operate medical clinics for remote areas that receive very little medical care. The team will also staff a medical clinic for two weeks in a United Nations operated refugee camp housing 65,000 displaced people.
The overseas semester is a regular part of the international rescue and relief curriculum, which prepares students for careers in medicine, dentistry, public safety, emergency management and community development. This is the first trip to Africa; previous groups have worked in South and Central America.
Please pray for these students as they learn new skills and serve the people of Malawi. We will add regular updates and photos from the team to this story.
Arlynn Ambriz, Texas
Racquel Amich, Florida
Daele Binns, Bermuda
Dustin Bongiovanni, Arizona
Nathaniel Brown, Colorado
Taylor Deddens, Florida
Jared Fandrich, Nebraska
Edward Hardy, Nebraska
Ian Johnson, California
Jeff Middleton, Nebraska
Carlea Peters, California
Janae Schumacher, North Dakota
Erika Villegas-Perez, Washington
Stephanie Pflugrad, Alaska