Ana Bulanov

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Africa 2015

Wow…I didn't realize how hard it was going to be to write this post. Not because I don't know what to say, but because I don't know how to put everything I have in my heart into words. 

Looking through these photos again brings back so many emotions and memories of my time in Malawi. Last October I got the most amazing opportunity to leave the country and immerse myself into the Malawian culture. Statistically, this area of Africa is considered the most poor country in the entire world. And that was no joke. My eyes have never seen poverty at this level. A typical home is no bigger than the size of my bedroom and houses 12-16 poeple. There are images forever engraved in my mind that are just so hard to describe, it definitely impacted my heart. Unfortunately, taking photos in those areas was not welcomed by the villagers so I respected that, the few images below are from the better parts of the different villages. But just writing about it makes my heart hurt the same way it did when I saw it for the first time. The only thing I could think of was "how in the world do I live on the same planet as these people?!" The culture I was dropped into was poler opposite from home. Dry dusty heat, the hustle and bustle of the main road, broken drown cars full of 20 people piled inside zooming down the street, men speeding down the dirt road on their bicycles, the women carrying enormous baskets on their heads full of coal, the market stands of bananas and potatoes just layed out on the ground, the children playing with sticks and pebbles. Its their own kind of chaos. But at the same time, life there is so slow. Slow in the way that let me think, think a lot. It was all so beautiful, raw, untouched and real life. 

I spent a month (which I soon realized was not nearly enough) at an orphanage and school base for the children of Ntcheu, Malawi.  I spent time with the kids, played soccer, sang and danced (which they LOVE to do and let me say do it better than any one else I know!) walked from village to village and just simply loved and cared for these children. It was amazing to go from one hut to the other, spending time with the families and communicating with whatever broken language we had to share. These kids taught me so much about my own heart and perspective on life. Just in general the people of Malawi, I have never met a culture that is full of more joy, life and simple contentment. How are they always so happy? From our western culture perspective it seems they have nothing. But to them they have all they need to be happy. Its all about perspective. 

One of the coolest things to see and experience was how much of the culture is Christian. I was surprised to see churches all over. These people LOVE Jesus and the church, they love to talk about His promise of returning back for us, they love to sing their hearts out and dance to Him and they are continually praising Him for giving them life. Wow. I caught a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven, worshiping and singing to our Heavenly Father together, no matter the color of our skin, how we were raised or where we come from. Every time we went to church we sang and danced for Jesus for hours, singing praises "Bless the Lord oh my soul!" You guys, I only wish you could hear and see how these people worship, its so genuine and passionate! It was overwhelming and so encouraging. A true testament to the fact that Jesus really is all you need for true joy and deep satisfaction.

Gosh, there is so much more that could be said and if you'd let me I would probably write for hours….Malawi left a huge imprint in my heart. It changed me in ways that can't be reversed, and convicted me of so much. After an experience like that, theres no way I won't be coming back. 

*A good friend of mine told me to really look closely into the eyes of the children, the glowing sparkle they have is a reflection of Gods love. I quickly learned his words couldn't have been more true. *

Here's just a glimpse of what I mean...

 

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