Iris Malawi, Bangula, Malawi
I found Malawi, or should I say Malawi found me?
"I first found myself in Malawi in 2009 when a friend told me in a parking lot that he was planning on going to visit the Morrison’s and the Iris base in Malawi. Three weeks later I was on a plane with him to the bush of Africa. A hasty decision? Some would say 'yes', and others who know me would say 'no, that’s Sarah, she goes where God leads her'.
"At the time I was just finishing a placement with an organization I’d been working with for two years, in what the media would call the most at risk, dangerous neighborhoods of Toronto, and was waiting on God to show me ‘where to’ next. So why not just fly across the world? I always wanted to go and visit our long standing family friends (the Morrison’s) and had never thought I would be able to travel to Africa. Back in the parking lot, when jokingly asked by my friend if I wanted to go along with him, I jokingly responded maybe? The next morning when I awoke, I knew in my spirit that the Lord was leading me to Malawi, Africa for six weeks, with no idea of the future beyond that.
"The urban mission organization that I had worked with up to that point was like a second family to me and I so loved what they were doing that I thought I would never leave them. Also, due to past health complications I never felt I’d be able to make it in the bush of Africa. And so, on the day we flew out of Toronto, I found myself sitting on a plane with no idea of what use I would be on a mission field. I only knew the Lord was leading the way. As it turns out, God, like always, had a plan; he just hadn’t filled in any of the details yet :-).
"This past year I spent 3 months touring the UK with a friend and then travelled on to Iris Malawi, this time for a three month stay, returning home in December 2010. God has moved in so many ways in my life this past year, in ways of preparation, in ways of trust, in ways of faith and reliance on him for my every THING. As situations arose that forced me to learn to surrender to him, he has confirmed over and over how tight is his grasp and how much he longs to provide for me. Through many, the Lord’s loving care has brought much healing to me. I had a dream about a year ago and in it I was packing a giant suitcase and yet could not fit everything I thought I needed into the bag. A very funny dream now, as I look back. Little did I know I would be living out of a suitcase in the UK and Africa only a few months later!
"When we give everything that we have to the Lord, he provides far beyond what our brains can imagine. God has been teaching me through Hebrews 11 about his provision to all of the great forefathers of faith, in such unlikely times. They held on by faith, spiritually mentally and physically. I am hungry to know more of God and am searching and pressing in to know even more of his heart for his people all around the world.
"My involvement in Malawi to date has included leading expressive arts classes and teaching standard 6-8 English classes. I enjoy tutoring children from the village who have recently started to attend our school. I enjoy playing netball with the girls at the base, setting up a random game of baseball, encouraging the boys in footy (soccer) because I can't play that game, putting the girls to bed on occasion when the house parents are away, helping on outreaches or conferences, going to peoples homes in the villages, listening and praying with them, or helping other missionaries deliver supplies to village families. The days all look VERY different. The one thing that is ‘typical’ is that school 'happens' every day.
"A major influence in my life has been my long standing involvement with a large Christian camping organization. My passion for youth, camping, the outdoors and canoe trips ‘in the wild’, where we would make little into something and just be in community with the people alongside us, have all been preparatory.
"I come with a CELTA certificate, which certifies me to teach English to adults around the world; many of the techniques being transferable to children. My University degree is in Cultural Anthropology. And since I can remember I have always enjoyed the arts, most specifically photography and painting. I have a passion to teach the kids in Malawi how to tap into the creative sides that our Father in Heaven has gifted them with. For children who have only lived to survive, the creative sides of their brains have not been nurtured. Arts have been proven to be ‘therapeutic’ for kids who have had no other way to express themselves. The Iris kids now have opportunity to be creative and I hope to expand this area at the base. Who knows how many artists will come from Bangula, Malawi! In a country that hosts many tourists who enjoy purchasing local items, art may well be a viable source of income down the way for some of the children.
"The kids at Iris Malawi are incredible! I am reminded each day that I spend with these beautiful children that God has specifically connected them with this base, and that they each have a very special call on their lives for their own country. Each child possessing their own unique set of skills and gifts, it is great fun to help call these forth and at the same time sit back and watch what they do each day. I love every moment! Whether we are sitting under a tree letting the girls style my hair or sitting in their rooms chatting, I truly feel that they have blessed me far more than I will ever be able to bless them. I trust that God is weaving us all together and raising them up to be blessed and be a blessing to their nation.
"As I commit the next two years to join with Iris Malawi, please pray for me, continuously without ceasing. Thank you for reading, praying and supporting me on this adventure."
malawi blog: http://sarahmassoninafrica.tumblr.com/