Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our Journey Begins to Fulfill Lifelong Dreams

We are here. We made it safely to Malawi, Africa and are reminded why this is truly called, “The Warm Heart of Africa.” It definitely lives up to its name. Our journey began with all of us bright-eyed and excited at three o’clock on a Monday morning, sitting on the floor of the Indianapolis airport. We patiently waited and made small talk with the people whom of which we would be spending the next seventeen days, in a country far away from our Hoosier homes. You would think being at the airport three hours ahead of time to catch a flight should be more than enough time to make the six o’clock plane to Washington D.C. We found this to be our first challenge of our journey.

Tony Kline, one our professors and wonderful leaders, called us up to the United Airlines desk one by one to weigh our bags and show our passports. We were successful until one of our classmates, Catherine Ingram, showed up in the system, although her ticket did not. We all showed concern and offered to contact anyone that could find her receipt to the ticket. We began to sweat a little, but Catherine, a swimmer at Ball State, showed her composure under adversity and remained confident. After an hour of waiting, the airlines were able to locate her ticket, which led to our next challenge. With our plane leaving in 5 minutes we had to sprint 500 yards to our terminal. It was important that we all had to board together, not leaving anyone behind. This was reinforced by Maura Sawicki, our constant ball of energy, as she yelled out to the group, “We don’t go unless we’re all here together!” This was a great bonding experience and helped our group form more of a community and reminded us to be flexible. Before even leaving the United States we found ourselves conquering adversity in the wee hours of that Monday morning.

We flew to D.C., which was a breeze and then we waited for the mother of all flights! When we say the mother flight, we mean the fourteen hour plane ride to Addis Abba, Ethiopia. We actually made it to Africa with a few swollen ankles, although laps around the plane and laughs with each other helped our circulation. We finally made it, and no matter how tired we were, our bodies were bursting with enthusiasm to be here, Africa, and board our final flight to Lilongwe, Malawi. This flight was only three hours, but it definitely seemed longer and our anticipation grew even more. We were exhausted and wanted to get to the place we had been talking about for almost a year. Stephanie Dossman, the organizer of the group, and Kelley Leyden, the author of this first blog insert, had an opportunity to sit next to a man that was heading back to his home, Lilongwe. He was so impressed with our plan to be teaching and volunteering in Mtendere Village. He explained that it is important to travel to another part of the world to understand how others live and see through your own eyes, which is not always easy. He also taught us some simple phrases from Chichewa the traditional language of Malawi, and we would like to say thank you, Zi Komme, in Chichewa to him for encouraging and taking us under his wing. We finally arrived with almost twenty-four hours of traveling, exhausted but ready to experience and start our adventure in Malawi.


  1. Glad to hear you all made it. I want to encourage and congratulate each of you for taking on this assignment. To Rhea: I love you! Take care and I miss you much.

    Reba Ervin

  2. Maura Sawicki is a ball of energy! :) Glad you all made it safely and I hope you're having the times of your lives! Love you, Maura!! Talk to you soon!

  3. Thanks for keeping us updated . . . . we love to hear what's going on with all of you across the world. Sounds so amazing!!! The Klines

  4. Thanks to God who guided you safely! Now may God keep you and open all of your eyes to new and great things! Go Rhea!
    Pastor Rebecca
    Faith United Methodist Church
    Fort Wayne, IN

  5. hey reha it is jazmine i hope your having a great time that goes for all of you. It sounds like you all are having fun. I like how your doing great things for our God!!
    Be Blesssed,
    Reha's BFF(sister)