Moni! This morning, May 26, we left Washington D.C. at 11:00 AM to begin our 18-hour travel journey to Malawi, Africa. The first plane we rode in was bigger than any of us have ever seen before. There were 43 rows with nine people in each, not including first class. The plane had great movies to watch and lots of room to walk around, so we were all able to move around every two hours, as instructed by our very own student nurse, Jenny Phelan. The first few hours flew by, as most of us watched a movie, read a book, or attempted to sleep from the exhausting and every exciting day in D.C., then we did our best to rest and entertain ourselves in between meals. The food wasn’t bad. We had the choice between pasta, beef, or a vegetable plate for lunch and then had sandwiches for dinner; those were good! For breakfast this morning (5 a.m. Ethiopian time, 11 p.m. Nashville time) we had beans, hash browns, and croissants. We got off the plane in Ethiopia and had about a 2-hour layover in a very small, crowded, busy airport. The second plane was much smaller, but the flight was only about four hours long. We finally got to Malawi, but we had quite the wait and interesting interaction with other tourists going through customs. After about an hour and a half wait and being shoulder to shoulder with our entire plane, we were greeted by a few of the people we were staying with here at the Mtenerde Orphanage. The men loaded all of our bags onto the buses and then we were on our way to meet all the children and teachers!
When the little buses we were on pulled into the village, we could hear the sweet voices of lots of children chanting and cheering through the rolled down windows. They were welcoming us to Malawi through song, dance, and cheers. Many of us were brought to tears by this sight because of the overwhelming joy and happiness. The day we had been anticipating for so long was finally here. We made it to Malawi and the long travel day(s) became a blur. We were introduced to the primary (elementary students) and the secondary (high school students) school children, and then a few of them took the time to recite a bible verse, multiplication facts, dance routine, and a poem to simply express their excitement that we were there. The house moms and college students also introduced themselves. We took the time to introduce ourselves one-by-one, and then had “free time” to interact with the kids. They were shy at first, but would openly tell us their names and always ask how we were doing. About 30 minutes later, and after an intense game of duck, duck, goose, we quickly realized running in dirt is harder than you’d think and all of these children were so loving and happy. We went to the guest house while some of the boys unloaded our bags and got situated before going back to playing outside. The boys were all playing basketball, and the girls were doing cheers and clap games. We split ourselves up to hang out with everyone. We all ended up doing a chant and alternated between some of our favorites and some of their favorites. They are much better dancers than we are, but we found something we could teach each other.
It was an amazing first day, and we’ve only been here for about five hours. We had dinner prepared by the house women and then ended the day with a quick meeting and a few cold showers. We will start our day tomorrow morning at 9:15 a.m. with a 2-mile walk to church. We could not be more excited to be here and see what the rest of our time here has in store for us. Sending big hugs and lots of LUV from Malawi to all our family and friends! Tionana!