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Walking humbly: a Canadian's reflection.

I spent days researching and learning as much as I could about Malawi and mission trips. I read countless articles about the dangers that mission trips pose to developing nations--about how North Americans run amuck preaching, offending, and taking away jobs with construction projects that could have employed several local workers. Even with this information, I felt called to go to Malawi on a Youth in Mission trip.

Reflecting now, I see how much more "mission" is. A mission trip today is a partnership. This was never as evident as when five Malawian youth joined us for the first 10 days of our trip. I learned songs and games and shared laughter with them, but was changed when they demonstrated their faith.

During Bible study one night, Madalitso Pangani sang us a song that he sings to himself when he needs comfort. It consisted of three simple phrases: Alleluia, You are Holy, and You are Worthy, yet they silenced our entire group and reminded us of God and all that God is.

While helping with some physiotherapy at Tidzalerana Club, which supports people with disabilities, one young girl, Maria, became attached to me and another of the YIM participants, Natalie Brown. After spending our afternoon with her, I overheard her mother say to Natalie, "You have made Maria so happy." I spent that evening wondering if the happiness Maria experienced even came close to matching the happiness she gave to me.


I am not sure if our Malawian counterparts learned and grew as much as I did, but I am certain that in every situation I learned something from them. Micah 6:8 says, "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Although I do not have a definite conclusion about my experience, what I do know is this: We are all God's children, and the act of being there, learning from, and partnering with is what mission means to me. I will never cure HIV/AIDS, or provide a home to every orphan or vulnerable child living in Malawi. I cannot end gender discrimination or stop crop failure. What I can do is this: I can act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord. I can pray ardently for the people of Malawi. I can take the stories I have heard and the experiences I have been a part of back to my home congregation and the people around me and together work for change.

Sarah Smith, 19, lives in Abbotsford, B.C.

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Author:Smith, Sarah
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Article Type:Cover story
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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