A Story of Moving, Adjusting, and Preparing for Effective Ministry
By Hugo and Bre van der Walt
With a deep gratitude to DO’s financial partners, the Malawi Field Office is fully funded! Part of our mission of being in Malawi is to work closely with our Malawi Team. When we arrived at the end of September, we hit the ground running. Our first order of business was to work with our Malawi teammates to set up a workshop, organize the storage container in preparation for receiving 45 new LifePumps, build an outdoor meeting space, and purchase a conference table. The office provides space for important conversations involving strategizing, planning, and solving issues. These foundational developments and components put us closer to reaching DO’s God-sized goals.
We also had the honor of setting up the Malawi Guest House, which serves multiple purposes. It will host Design Outreach team members, partners, and donors who come to Malawi. It provides moments of sharing homemade meals as a team, allows impromptu conversations, and saves funds spent for lodging. We have also opened this space to our new Malawian friends! We’ve hosted game nights, a Bible study, and the opportunity to cook Malawian food. The Guest House is in a compound that provides us with the freedom to build genuine relationships with those around us including the staff members that live here, village members who are our neighbors, and any guests we host from the U.S.
For Hugo and me personally, there have been moments of heartache, missing family and friends back home. We have also been extremely challenged with learning the local language of Chichewa and adopting new ways of filling our quiet evenings. On the other hand, we have greatly loved and appreciated learning the culture. We learned to cook nsima over charcoal, have eaten with our hands, attended a wedding and a funeral, learned local birthday traditions, worn many Chitenjes (traditional skirts for the women), and danced. We also adopted some animals to keep us company.
Last November, we had the honor of joining a LifePump installation. This day held many mixed emotions for us. Our hearts broke as we walked to the community’s current water source with the village headman and saw how dirty it was and how little water they had access to. However, we were filled with hope as we heard the Gospel being preached and witnessed safe, reliable water flowing from the LifePump. People’s lives are changing forever and that brings light—light in that moment, and exceeding light for their future.
Our future with DO in Malawi fills us with passion. There are plans to frequently visit specific communities to create deeper relationships. We want to know the community members by name, learn their stories, hear their dreams, and share God’s love. Along with LifePump, we will begin introducing new technologies through field testing and will be able to provide local technical support and help develop new designs in the areas of water, health, and sanitation.
We will continue to capture these moments through photographs and videos to invite you to join us and Design Outreach on this exciting journey