By Naomi Crisp
The internet had become quite the stressor around here, especially when it came to blogging. I had taken control of the blogging situation but free time was still up in the air, and so the schedule talk came. Due to the culture shock everyone is going through this was quite an intense topic but finally got sorted by the end of the frustrating and confusing conversation. It is fascinating to see how such trivial things become so huge when you are going through adaptation to a new environment.
Not too long after our sticky rice breakfast a few of us went to church with Kenny. There was so much singing it was absolutely wonderful. The songs flowed continuously for the first 40 minutes of the service. When one group or choir finished someone on the other side of the room raised their voice and began their song. When the preacher started the sermon he welcomed us to the service and to Malawi. There happened to be about 30 people who were there to be baptized today which I was impressed I got to see. It is very different than the few baptisms I have seen in my life as it was on mass terms but a cool experience nonetheless. Shortly after the baptisms he asked us to come to the front of the congregation and introduce ourselves in Chichewa. It was an awkward feeling at the front as it felt we were just put on display for the world to see especially as we had no idea how far the church actually went back. We were sitting on one of the side sections which filled about 100 people each (the church was set out like a cross), but the front went back to fill over 200 people. As strange as it was we said “Muli bwanji?” and it was over, and back to our seats we went. The sermon was in Chichewa and so we didn’t understand it which was difficult when it was hot and crowded in the room. I kept myself entertained as I thought the preacher was shouting BINGO every now and then, and so I would chuckle to myself and continue to watch his performance. When there was a break in the preaching, we left as it has already been 2 hours and there is only so much one can take sitting on a wooden bench.
We ate some lunch and hung around the village for a while. As I begin to get used to the idea of being in Africa and the romanticism begins to fade I have started to question everything. I look around and see how there is little complaining and think about all of the insignificant things that we complain about in our culture. When such huge questions are consuming your thoughts time passes quickly and it didn’t seem long before we all went for a walk to see the site for the new school. I can’t explain how good it was to get a visual of the area that will become the school and teacher housing. Retyping this still gets me so excited about the reality of this project along with the teacher housing reality that myself and the awesome executive team of E.C.C.O.P.s (Education Club Community Outreach Project) have worked so hard to build… on THIS land. When something has been your focus and goal for so long, it is indescribable when you finally get to see things moving along. I cannot imagine how excited Dr. Stonebanks, Arshad and Barbara are about this too!
After dinner we had the talk. The culture shock talk. We discussed how it is normal to go through these feelings and shared some stories and struggles we have been dealing with. It is so easy to isolate yourself and keep these things in rather than expressing them and hearing that everyone else is going through something similar. It grounded us in the sense that we are all good people but need quick forgiveness for this experience to go smoothly. A few of us stayed up after and had a great laugh at things we would never find funny if we hadn’t been so tired and emotionally drained, it was a lovely reminder or how great our group is.