An Open Letter to Malawi

An Open Letter to Malawi | The Open Home

Dear Malawi,

I can hardly believe that it has been 10 years since we first became acquainted with one another, nor can I believe it is now five years since I last visited you. I never intended for it to be this long but you know how it is, life changes even when you don’t want it too.

For such a long time so many of my dreams involved you, you made me feel so alive, so full of purpose and I want you to know letting you go was not easy, even if it was the right thing to do.

Out of all the sacrifices we made along the way, more than passing up career opportunities, more than selling our house, sacrificing our dream of you was the hardest and most heartbreaking decision we ever had to make.

Perhaps the timing wasn’t right. Perhaps it was time to dream new dreams. Perhaps amongst all the good intentions we had lost focus of the most important thing.

Whatever it was, a future without you was a daunting prospect and for some time I found myself grieving for the life we could have lived and the dreams that would never come to be.

Five years on and my heart has slowly healed. I am now a mother to two sweet little blonde girls and for the first time in a long time I find myself happy being stuck on this little rock that I get to call home.

In the end thanks to knowing and losing you I have learnt to live life with an open heart. I know myself better, my passions more clearly and I have come to see the journey God had us on all along.

It’s fair to say that life isn’t what we originally planned but it has turned out to be pretty great anyway. And you’ll be pleased to know that with time I have found the courage to dare to dream again.

Malawi, please know you will always be held in my heart with such fondness, I am who I am today because of the part you played in my life.

Thank you for having such a warm and generous heart. Thank you for being part of my story.

Yours truly,

Jessica x

P.S. I promise to visit again one day, hopefully with those two blonde girls I was telling you about. I want them to know you like I do.

Malawi Flashbacks

I can hardly believe that today marks ten years since we first visited the country of Malawi in southern Africa. Malawi was such a huge part of our lives and dreams for so many years that I can’t help but take this opportunity to look back and reflect on our time in the country and what we learnt from our experiences.

2006:

Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Lilongwe Market a burst of vibrant colour.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
A very obliging model in Dedza with his load of sugar cane.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Picture perfect Salima on Lake Malawi.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
The older baby room at The Crisis Nursery in capital city, Lilongwe.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
The moment Malawi captured my heart.

Heading out to southern Africa at 19 years old with my then fiance, just four months before we got married was thought to be crazy to most people. However, it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made as it was during this trip that we confirmed our call to serve in some form of full-time ministry. We had a heart for mission (both at home and overseas) and Malawi definitely tugged on our heart strings.

2007:

Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Fresh water.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Full tummies at the feeding centre in Mgona.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Learning through play.
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Joining in the fun.
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It’s at moments like these that I loved being an OT Assistant!

Our first visit left us wanting to learn more so a year later we returned to stay with a missionary family who had been living and working in the country for many years. We learnt so much about life in Malawi and the benefits of living simply so that others can simply live. I loved putting my occupational therapy assistant skills to use and we could really picture our futures being here.

2009: 

Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
With smiles like this you can see why we kept returning!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Bathtime Malawi style!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Quite possibly the happiest little girl in the world!
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Cafe culture in Malawi is pretty sweet!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
A sweet face I’ll never forget.

This third visit challenged me in many ways and saw me stepping outside of my comfort zone on quite a few occasions. Ultimately I learnt that serving God would at times break my heart and that I would need resilience to work in the areas I felt most called.

2011:

Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Beautiful chitenje fabric in the market of Bvumbwe.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Football camps are popular in Malawi.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Malawian made footballs.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Playing OT Assistant again at COBT.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
This mother kindly let us take a family photo of her with her daughter and newborn twin boys, Crispin and Christopher, on the maternity ward in Bvumbwe.

This was to be our final visit to the country as we hoped to move out to serve full-time the following year. After this trip we left the country feeling confident about where we felt we could best serve – The Husby with the local church and me, amongst orphans and street kids.

Five years on from that final visit and no, we are not living in Malawi, but we are working with the local church here in Guernsey and continue to have a vision and a passion for orphans and children in care.

Life is sometimes unexpected and in time we learnt that our calling to serve God was not restricted to the context of Malawi.

Malawi will always hold a very dear place in our hearts as we wouldn’t be who we are or where we are today without the country being part of our story. I now look forward to the day that I can return to Malawi, this time introducing my girls to the country that captured my heart.

Is there a country that has captured your heart?