The Good, the Bad, the Beautiful

Hello loyal fans of the blog! It doesn’t ease my nerves to know so many enthusiastic fans are reading my words with high expectations set by my fellow Chindeles. But as I sit among my Zam fam watching the Lion King on a rare night of having power, it seems like the perfect setting to reflect over my time in Zambezi. Watching this movie reminds me of home which leads me to think about the inevitable question upon my return “How was Zambia?” It will be difficult to do the experience justice because each day I feel growth and so many different emotions. Trying to capture the experience in a quick conversation would be impossible.

Life in Zambia is different in good ways and in bad. I came on this trip excited to experience the joy radiating from people’s faces as they talk about the children singing songs, the long walks, the sand, the oochi (honey), or the busy market. Although I have experienced this joy I also have struggled during my days here. After the first couple of days I had a difficult time adjusting. As someone who prides herself on adaptability, this shook me. I found the cold showers shocking, the market overwhelming, the children sweet but sometimes suffocating, the conversations awkward, everyone staring at me unnerving, and losing my grip on time disorienting. I understood that pushing myself out of my comfort zone was what made the experience beautiful but I never thought it would actually make me SO UNCOMFORTABLE.

On one of the first walks down the dusty path to watch the sunset, a boy stepped on the flipflop of a girl who was holding my hand and it snapped. I didn’t think anything of it at the time but the next day she showed up outside the convent with just a sock replacing her lost shoe. It was something that barely caught my eye but sticks with me. I think about this little girl each time a rock gets into my shoe, which happens often. Since that day I have noticed so many children who don’t have shoes at all and walk barefoot through the tough grass, rocks, and thorns.

One of the major shocks of the trip came with our visit alongside the Home Based Care workers. We traveled to visit six patients deep into the bush. A particular patient’s story broke my heart. She was HIV positive and had no husband to support her family. Her daughter, who came home to take care of her for a short while, was divorced by her husband for leaving him. The patient had a stroke and her whole left side was paralyzed. The family barely had enough nshima for one meal a day, even though the HIV medicine needs two meals a day to be effective. She was bone thin from hunger and her body was being ravaged by HIV. Yet, this family still met us with kindness and offered us their seats. I felt so helpless that I couldn’t breathe. All I was bringing her was broken Luvale and a smile and in that moment it wasn’t enough, she needed so much more. I barely moved out of sight before I broke down into tears of deep sorrow. It was then that I discovered Africa isn’t the magical land I had read about in books as a kid and there is more to this Zambezi journey than I had imagined.

We continued to travel to other patients and support groups and heard more and more of the problems that afflict Africa. Problems that I realized are much bigger than me. I started to lose hope. What could I really do for these people? Why was I here? What could I give? Doubt and sadness crept into my heart. I wanted to go home and shut out this place and not think about the problems and the despair. The harsh realities of the world were starting to change the way I saw the world for the negative.

As time went on, the struggle with adjustment lessened. The life in Zambezi that I have become accustomed to is so different than that of back home. I only know what time it is based off mealtimes, sunsets, and those darn chickens every morning. The dirt underneath my fingernails and toes, the simple choice of what to wear in the morning (chitange and shirt, repeat), shaking hands and greeting everyone I meet, the fact that we thought a mouse lived in our room and were oddly okay with it, the mob of children who run to greet us as we return home, the prisoners who walk around the market in their jumpsuits have all become routine aspects of our time here.

Father Noel, the priest of the parish that hosts us, said something in church yesterday that resonated with many of my Chindeles. He was giving us a farewell speech and as he sent us of, he said that Zambezi has shown us the good and the bad of the community, and that as life dictates, there are good and bad parts to everything. Experiencing the awkward, frustrating, heartbreaking, and confusing aspects of this community allowed me to understand and become a member of this it. Now that I had seen the most difficult aspects of people’s lives, I have been able to grow and use all the hardships and relationships to discover the immense goodness in this community.

This last week especially, I have time and time again been shown the immense beauty of the land and people. I see this beauty walking back from a support group in Mize, where I watched Mama Catherine as she held my hand when we crossed the river in rickety canoes and as she greeted and walked with everyone she met all the while making sure we were safe from motorbikes, oxen, or wrong turns. I see it when I sing outside with the kids who meet my enthusiasm until we are screaming and jumping around. I see it reflected in the growth of my Zam fam and how we respond to each other’s needs naturally, as if we had known each other since childhood. I see it in the music that shakes my soul and hips at church. I see it in Zambians who eat only one meal a day but still offer up food and time for their poorer neighbors. I see the beauty dancing with the Makishi in a circle of 300 Zambians. I soak in the beauty celebrating our soccer victory and chanting “we are GU” with so many kids I couldn’t see the outside of the circle. I see beauty in handshakes, sunsets, laughter, pats on the back, morning runs, star gazing on the airstrip, Jason and Lucy’s singing, holding babies, and watching myself become forever connected to my extended Zambezi family.

As Father Noel said, life is full of good and bad. Sometimes the bad in the world can shake you to your core and question the beauty. But life is fullest when you overcome the bad together and grow from it as fellow human beings. I started to feel connected to this community once I had seen both sides of their lives here, the despair and the beauty. This journey has not gone the way I would have expected it to and has by no means been easy. However, without these tough times I wouldn’t have been able to experience the radiating joy reflected on those who have taken this journey before me. So when you ask me “How was Zambia?” expect a lonnnnng answer.

Megan Newman, Class of 2015

PS I never get homesick but I have been so much on this trip. You all mean the world to me and I can’t wait for hugs at the airport and to visit 1005 Sinto.

PPS Dad, Mr. Jerry Jeremy Goat has left this life and will not be returning to the States. Mysteriously there was no body to bury.

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37 Responses to The Good, the Bad, the Beautiful

  1. Lynda McCann says:

    As beautiful as the sun shines, it always sets.
    I often have wondered why all good things come to an end.
    Whenever I seem to finally become complacent, suddenly life changes…
    My only real answer is that every new beginning comes from the death of another.
    So if the good things in life never ended, we would never truly appreciate them.
    And, even though all good things come to an end, the memories still remain until the next good thing comes along…

    WOW WOW WOW…MEGAN, that 3 letter word really says it all! Thank you!

    “Sometimes- the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” ~ Winne the Pooh…
    This morning when I was reading to the kids, this quote jumped out at me, not that it takes a lot for me to think of you all in Zambezi…even drinking my morning Starbucks sets my mind racing to the other side of the world ;) This quote just seemed so relevant after reading Megan’s post, after all of your posts!! No I cant begin to understand all that you have experienced in a community that has so little, and the hardships youve all had to come to grips with and adjust too, but do they really have so little?
    Being in Zambia, you may not have had the comforts of home, but after reading each of your blogs, I can see that even without those comforts, you have all been touched so deeply by a community that is now a ‘second home’. Before you all took this journey I never imagined what an inspiration you all were going to have on us here. When you leave, those life lessons you take away with you, will forever have changed you and your hearts. Thank you for inspiring us all and teaching us what is truly important in life! I can’t wait for the “lonnnnnnng answer.”
    Katie… Buppa emailed me yesterday in response to your blog, it’s too long to send it all, but i had to share a little…”Our concept of time is vastly different to those here in Africa. They have never heard (rightly so) of the saying: “Time is money.”How could we ever be so presumptuous to monetize ‘TIME’? We need to understand that the future does not belong to us. We can only use whatever extra time God generously grants us as best we can, with what we are given. I am so glad that in the dark African sky, Kaitlyn also loves the magnificence of the stars shining so bright. They are not competing with man made sources of light. That multitude of gorgeous bright shining stars inspired Tagore (the first and only Indian Nobel prize winner) to write: “If you cry when the sun disappears, the tears in your eyes will prevent you from seeing the beauty of the stars.” Africa also taught me that we never know what tomorrow holds – The past is all we had – The present is all we have – The future is what we might have – But it is not ours – It belongs to God’s specific agenda for our individual destiny. I am delighted Kaitlyn has learnt that important lesson out of Africa first hand.” The country your Mom is from, and where I have returned.
    As you can see your Buppa (Grandpa) was also moved beyond words (well maybe not completely, as he wrote a lot. But he wishes he could’ve commented on each blog and thanks you all for keeping him in tune with his first grandchild (katies) adventures.
    Thank you again for all being so amazing…I love each of you! Soak in the last day in Zambezi and make the memory last…snap a few more pictures…and “let the smallest things take up the most room in your hearts.” I Love and miss you Katie!! (((Hugs))) xoxo

  2. Andy Newman says:

    Megan,
    First off, I’m just gonna point out that I think you forgot me in you PS and PPS sections. It’s okay, I’m only really hurt. Secondly, it’s about time that you wrote, but I can see that they were saving the best for (presumably) last. I never knew you were such a good writer, I didn’t… Okay I did.
    I really enjoyed everything you wrote and honestly, this was the first blog I actually read all the way through, instead of just looking at the picture. I’m really happy that you’re having a great time and learning everything from this experience, I think it will change your outlook on life and I couldn’t be happier for you!
    I think you’ll be happy to know that it sucks not having you around here, I literally have no one to watch RomComs with, Mom just falls asleep in the first ten minutes, Charley wouldn’t dare, Katie goes to bed too early, And Dad… Well it’s Dad, hahaha. Okay… I think I’m running out of things to say… WAIT! I sat out in the hammock today for a couple hours and it made me think of you because I had to get out of it to come read this and if you were home, you would have swooped in so fast to steal it from me. LOL (thats actually Dads favorite phrase now). OKAY this was an awesome post, best so far, and I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks. Love you and keep the Newman soccer name popular down there.
    PS: This is the section you talk about me.
    PPS: This is the section you talk about what you talked about in the PS section… about me. LOVE YA

  3. Lora Trujillo says:

    Beautiful Blog post! Thank you. Thanks to all of you for the terrific group photo.
    Mateo, so happy to see your face on my birthday; a true gift! XOXO

  4. Lynda McCann says:

    Okay…oops, so the first part of my comment makes no sense, although it kind of does, but not really…I copied and pasted parts out of Buppas email onto my ‘notes’ on my iPad, I was trying to be selective with what parts of his email I shared! I didn’t know that when I copied it to the blog comment section it also highlighted that section and pasted as well…sorry for the extra babble…yes Katie he had a lot to say ;) Enjoy your day, and keep embracing it all! Xoxo

  5. Kelsey McGinnis says:

    Megs!

    How did I know you would be one of the last ones to post?! I just about peed myself when Swendy texted me. Anywho, I have been thinking about you everyday, missing you tons, worrying about how you are doing over there, and thinking about how this trip will impact your life after you return. You are so strong, and I am determined this trip has made you even stronger. You are one beautiful, beautiful human, and I am so blessed to have you in my life. Remember, one person at a time! Love you a million muches, keep planting those seeds, baby!

    Gotta go,

    Kels

    P.S. LOL at Andy’s post!
    P.P.S. Shaun, Katie, Hayley, you all wrote so beautifully, prayers out to you all.
    P.P.P.S. Smally, love you. Can’t wait to see you, you’re the best.

  6. Tom Hobson says:

    Great posting Megan. It’s nice that you have each other to lean on in dealing with the issues of homesickness, confusion, being uncomfortable (and those darn chickens).

    Thanks so much for the great picture of the Chindeles!

    Michael, you look good. I can’t see that you’ve lost weight. The nshima must agree with you. How did you manage to get your favorite movie (Lion King) shown? Love Dad

  7. Sima Thorpe says:

    Beautiful post, Megan. I had the great honor to travel with students to Zambia four times in the past, and your post brought it all back home to me, the “good and the bad” — so true. It’s wonderful you’re discovering the beauty of the place and its people. Send my love to Josh, Fr. Noel, Mama Kawatu and my friends in Zambezi!

  8. Christian Hoag says:

    Hey Megan, how’s Zambia??

    haha just kidding, but hey, your blog post was beautiful. You really lived up to the hype with this blog. I was struck by your quote of father Noel, where he says that “life is full of good and bad. Sometimes the bad in the world can shake you to your core and question the beauty. But life is fullest when you overcome the bad together and grow from it as fellow human beings.” Those words are so powerful, and I have seen that idea in each of your guys’ blog posts. Talking about the struggles you have faced being away from home, out of your comfort zones in a completely different culture, and yet each of you “[overcame] the bad together and [grew] from it as fellow human beings” ultimately allowing each and every one of you to live your lives to the fullest on this trip. Each of your blogs showed the ability to see through the pain and suffering and find the beauty in helping overcome struggle. I feel like that quote sums up what I have gotten from each of your blogs.
    “Life is fullest when you overcome the bad together and grow from it as fellow human beings.”
    I need to get that up on my wall or something.
    btw Megan, I have your teal-ish cheetah blanket safe and sound in my house, I think. Oh and dinner was great in 1005 sinto last night ;) Tessa made us pasta and cake, and we watched 60 minutes because there was nothing else on tv… It’s a great house though, I can’t wait to spend a lot more time over there!!

    Katie, I made myself macaroni and cheese for lunch today… I ate it with a spoon, because that’s how you’re supposed to eat it. But I was really tempted to eat it with a fork just so it could be more like you were there with me… I stayed up really late last night reading the art of racing in the rain. I read instead of watching game of thrones, because I decided I would wait till you get back to finish the season. Apparently this last episode was CRAZY though. Zach and Matt are mad at me at work because they can’t talk about it around me, because I don’t want them to spoil it…. But anyways, I’m addicted to this book, I can’t put it down!! It’s so cool to imagine what life is like from the perspective of a dog. Like when Enzo goes into the forest with the family, and they go down the slippery rock slide, and he just runs around smelling everything, the dead the living, taking it all in. It sort of reminds me of what you guys are doing, ignoring all the unnecessary distractions of home, and taking every single bit of Zambian life in that you can possibly absorb. It’s truly awesome.
    Well I better get going… I could ramble on for hours to you, but I probably shouldn’t to spare your zamfam… I love you Katie! I’m excited to have you back. I can’t help but look forward to it. Continue to be safe, and cherish your last day in Zambezi!!!
    with much love,
    Christian

    PS, I’m so jealous of you guys for getting to play soccer with the school kids. I remember playing soccer with the kids on my Mexico mission trip. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had in my life. Gosh that sounds like so much fun…. I’ll have to go to mulligan to play with mark now. Thanks guys, ENJOY YOUR LAST DAY IN ZAMBEZI!!!!!!! :)))))))))))))))))))))))))

  9. Larry Newman says:

    Maymay,
    I wait for almost three weeks and that’s it????? To say I’m underwhelmed is an understatement. I heard that you were finally the Blogger of the Day and I rushed home to read how the “Gotta Go” movement had swept through Central Africa and was spreading into North Africa as efficiently as General Patton in WWII. Lo and behold what do I find?

    First of all what the heck is “lo”? Ask your Zamfam what lo means. They’re all really smart, someone has to know. I know what behold means but not lo.

    Anyway I read through the whole blog (that probably took hours and hours for your perfectionist personality to write and ironically you would have verbalized in 12 seconds flat. All you Zamfam know what I’m talking about don’t you!!! Give me an Amen!!!!). Anyway I read through the whole blog only to discover nothing about the movement. Clearly anyone who has ever had the pleasure of dealing with Alex Kajumalo (Seattle’s one and only African born select soccer coach, clothing mogul and recording artist) quickly came to understand what the term “African Time” meant. He and presumably the rest of the continent have a need to understand the core concepts of “Gotta Go”. It’s a wee sense of urgency, a basic ability to tell time and moderate ambitions to stick to a schedule (give or take an hour or so). Many of your posts refer to the laissez faire attitudes about the future and an apathy towards our Western tradition of living life at a million miles an hour with the colossal stress levels that accompany our lifestyle……………………………………….on second thought, forget gotta go.

    Dad

  10. Teresa Baldwin says:

    Dear Megan and team,

    Your words ring true, so very true. It is only when we embrace the whole of any person or situation that we can truly appreciate what we have to learn from them. I love the way you describe the honest reality of what pushes your anxiety and comfort buttons, how even the good has an underside of dark and uncomfortable. To be honest like this honors the process and shares the humanity. Lovely!

    As you all prepare for goodbyes that may tear at your heart, consider the wide and wonderful hellos that await you here at home. Your heart will expand to hold Zambia inside of it so that you can bring it home and share it with all of us. And we simply cannot wait for the stories you bring.

    Much love and prayers,
    Mom and dad Baldwin

  11. The new and serene Larry Newman says:

    Megan,
    After my initial disappointment at the failure of my well meaning but misplaced Gotta Go movement I went and reread your post. It didn’t disappoint me at the least. I knew you would see things you could never anticipate and your empathetic heart would feel emotions it didn’t know could be so deep. Even having watched you grow into such a beautiful human being I’m still incredibly proud of who are and who you are becoming. All of you over there deserve incredible respect and admiration for not only spending your precious summers over there but to foot the bill for the privilege as well. I wish I could do what you’re doing and maybe you’ll inspire me to do it when life gets simpler for us. Anyway, great blog as I fully expected and we all miss you incredibly and can’t wait for your return.
    Love ya sweetie,
    Dad
    P.S. Andy is whining insufferably about Katie being number one. I have to admit that your rating is about right. Heck, the next door neighbor kids are outranking him in my book right now.

  12. Erin Murphy says:

    Megan! Such a beautiful blog post that captures the essence of your journey. The beauty of Zambia comes from the human responses to the suffering that exists. Treasure your time there because before you know it, it will be a year later (trust me!)!
    Ally and Michelle! I can’t wait to hear all of your stories when you guys return! I know you both are making lasting impressions on the people of Zambezi and will forever hold a place in their heart like they will hold a place in yours!

    Teo and Josh! I bet you both were missing Eli’s moves with the Makishi! Can’t wait to catch up! And remind everyone to be safe in London… we don’t want anymore egging accidents!

    I hope you all have a blast on safari and safe travels home!

    -Erin Murphy

  13. Beverly Ruhl says:

    Megan, I have been waiting for your blog. As I finished my year as President of Women of Rotary, I am thankful for our great year and because of it we have been able to help so many women and children and veterans this year. I stopped to ponder what you have experience and know when you have a quiet time to reminisce you will understand what you have done this trip in offering a love and receiving a love with no ties attached. A thought. The greatest puzzle LIFE. The greatest thought GOD. The greatest thing, bar none LOVE. Enjoy the rest of your trip as you say good bye to the Lambezian friends and never forget the friendship shared. You are a very special granddaughter. Love Grandma

  14. Analise Thornley says:

    Today I checked my email (as I do every morning) and read news that Margie, the woman who works at the Tilford cafe, passed away due to complications resulting from pneumonia. My freshman year I met Margie in Tilford waiting for pre-zambia immersion class, and continued a relationship with her all of last year after nursing class ( @ the nursing ladies- 210 with jane). I was heartbroken when I read the email asking for thoughts and prayers. Margie always asked me about my day, complimented something I was wearing, and even gave me a free shot in my coffee when she knew I needed it. She showed nothing but genuine kindness toward me, as well as genuine interest in my well-being.

    As you are thinking about coming home, remember that this trip will always be a part of you. I can honestly thank Zambezi for reminding me to look up when I walk on campus, to show kindness to strangers, to smile at people and worry just a little less about time. I am humbled that my pre-immersion class introduced me to Margie, and my post-zambia re-immersion to America pushed me to become so close with the woman who made my coffee a few days a week.

    We are so blessed with one “wild and precious” and fragile life, and I do believe that when we are willing to experience a whole spectrum of emotions including the lowest-lows, we are able to reach the highest-highs. Megan thank you for sharing the Good, the Bad and the Beautiful of your trip, it was wonderful to read today.

    Safe travels,
    Kisu Mwane,
    Analise

  15. Kathryn Porad says:

    Megan! I was excited to see that today’s post was from you because I knew it would warm my heart like you always do. I love the story about chanting WE ARE GU and playing soccer with the kids – gave me the chills. I have to tell you though, last week I had a cold and as the tissues were piling up next to my couch all I could think of was foxy poxy and the excessive pile of virions and this made me think of you (Ally will understand this one too ;) ) Anyways, enjoy the rest of your trip! you are loved and missed and just know that you are making an amazing impact on Zambezi :)

    xo Kathryn Porad

  16. Katie Newman says:

    Wow. That post was breathtaking! I am soooo jealous of you playing soccer with all those little children! This made me miss you a lot because it reminds me of all the good you are doing and all the happiness you are bringing to the children and families. These post make me realize how thankful I am to be blessed with a home and amazing family. I have only 8 school days until graduation and only 11 days with weekends! Im so excited to graduate and become part of a new community next year. I miss you may may and im glad your doing well, I miss you with all my heart and I cant wait to see you in a few short weeks and hear all about your trip! I hopefully will get to read my graduation speech at graduation, we havent found out yet. I wrote that speech for you because I know how proud of me you are and how sad you are that you have to miss it! Anyways, I am glad i got to hear from you and now im just looking forward to seeing you and giving you a great big hug! Its been hard being without a sister for 3 weeks!!! But i mean hey, what can ya do!
    PS. I agree with andy..I didnt know you were this amazing at writing!!
    Love you to the moon and back! ♥
    Katie

  17. Christian Hoag says:

    PS we went to mulligan, to kick the ball around. Katie remember that time we ran from cm to the cog and were basically running through a pool? (Hahaha of course you do ;)) well yeah it happened again but for like 15 minutes… We decided to leave when marks cleat fell apart, after we were drenched from head to toe. When we got back it stopped raining… Of course. Don’t you guys miss the bipolar weather of the pnw?? Probably not… Just thought I should share though since you all inspired me to go play soccer. Love you Katie!!! Enjoy Zambezi!!!!!!!!!

  18. Molly Baker says:

    Megan,
    You are a wonderful writer! Your blog brought tears to my eyes! That is so cool that you guys were watching Lion King in Africa! I bet you never thought that you would be doing that when you were little kids! The story about the little girl whose flip flop broke – broke my heart. I can’t imagine the emotions that all of you feel everyday!

    These blogs are the highlight of my day. It makes my day. It lets me feel closer to all of you. I loved the picture! you all look wonderful. I want to meet and spend time with each one of you. I want to ask each of you “How was Zambia?” I really want the long story!!! :)

    Hailey B. I love you and proud of you and inspired by you! And you know that I want every single detail of this trip!!!! Enjoy these last precious moments in zambezi and take lots of pictures!!

    Love Mom

  19. Teague Hatfield says:

    You guys sure sound like you are on a grand adventure!

    Tamryn! It is so good to see you in one of these pictures, to know that you are doing well! I am sure you aren’t counting down the days until you come home but I know I am! I miss talking with you so much. I am in Kansas right now working for my Uncle and will be there until the end of the harvest which means I won’t be able to meet you off the plane! I am really sorry and I hope you can forgive me! I hope your last week is just as awe inspiring as all the previous weeks seem to have been! I love you!

    – Teague

  20. theo house says:

    wow what a great post! Meagan, sorry about you feeling pressured on your post, I can only imagine what you and your “zag fam” must be feeling when you read our exited and touched comments. ( we don’t have many expectations from the posts we just enjoy hearing from you) Fear not, since day one none of you have failed in the least bit to allow us back home,wherever that may be, to share in the experiences you all have had on your remarkable journey. I know that all of you for the rest of your lives will remember the good and the not so good you have seen. However this experience changes or touches you all, only time will tell. I have a feeling only good things for all involved will come from it. o.k enough of the deep stuff enjoy your remaining time in Africa, go see some sights and have fun!, (don’t sigh out loud Conner, ) be CAREFUL!, and remember the friends you made there will never forget all of you also. safe journeys god bless you all.
    Theo House
    look forward to seeing you Conner, all is well and I think maybe for your belated birthday present I will see if I can find you game of thrones on dvd. I guess there was a real shocker of an episode. love ya, Dad,Mom,Chad, Bailey and your favorite,Miley.
    P.S Anderson Cooper tweeted that he was wondering if you were all right. he hasn’t heard from you in a while, LOL.

  21. Andre House says:

    Megan- You definitely rose to the challenge of posting a wonderful, thought provoking reflection like the rest of your fellow Chindeles! Thank you for describing your journey- throughout the good and bad- you’ve seen the immense beauty in the land and in the people….this, you will never forget :)

    Conner- Love you, Bubs!! Can’t wait to see you on June 15th!!!!!

    Mom, Dad and Chad.

  22. Lori Newman says:

    My dearest Megan,
    Well, I was training someone at my computer and about jumped out of my chair when your email came up. My first thought was, OMGoodness what happened (of course I did), then I calmed down when I felt the energy through your email. What a wonderful surprise. Of course, I cried like a baby. (Crying unexpectedly at work, especially in front of men, is alittle unsettling to them. Training ended early, imagine that).

    You are an amazing writer, like the rest of the Zam Fam. I knew you would see both sides of Africa. You go into every situation with your eyes wide open. When you said “all I could give was my smile”, that is alot. Your smile lights up the room because it is so genuine. Your big heart has probably been broken and restored many times over the last 3 weeks. I am so proud of you for seeing the good and bad and not giving up.
    It is so great to read how close you all have become. Close enough to shove 20 people in a car. (Makes Andy alittle jeaous since he managed to get the only ticket I know of for not wearing his seat belt). How fun to play soccer and by the sounds of it, play it as a team which is what you all have become. I hope the family spirit remains with all of you forever. You will need each other as you readjust to “Non-Africa” time.

    Thanks for sharing your heart with Africa and me as your mom. You will always be my little girl, but dang it you are all grown up. I miss you like crazy, but I can wait to see you so I can hear about more adventures. Have fun on the rest of your trip. Please be safe.

    I love you ,
    Mom

    PS. I don’t fall asleep in 10 minutes, it takes 15.
    PSS The hammock is calling you….
    PSSS Dad looks like he is homeless with his “beard” so don’t be shocked when you see him. He now has to brush it everyday. (You get the picture?)
    PSSS I just wanted to have more PS’s than dad and Andy

  23. Lori Newman says:

    Ok, More PS’s than Katie too….

  24. Brenda Sutton says:

    Megan, the story of the HIV patient brought a cascade of tears. I cannot imagine how heartbreaking that was for you and your team. It’s such a helpless feeling when you know what needs to be done but there is no way to accomplish it. Although you were surrounded by hardships and sorrows, I’m glad you also witnessed the beauty of Africa and its people. I liked what Father Noel said about the good and the bad in life. I think it is important to work towards making the bad better, but try to maintain focus on all the good in the world.
    Garrett, wow, I’ve never seen you with that much facial hair!
    I’m starting to count down the days till I pick you up at the airport. Be ready for some tears (you know me)! At least they’ll be tears of happiness. Love and miss you, mom

  25. Monte Marti says:

    Another awesome post. Thank you.

    Life is beautiful ~ even when we are surrounding by tough grass, rocks, and thorns. It is how we react to these obstacles that makes a difference. You have all struggled with challenges and obstacles; but you have also embraced them. You have been able to find the beauty, the joy, the splendor, … You went to Zambia to serve and you have done that. But you also have been served. The people in Zambezi have embraced because you have embraced them. Please continue to share that love and your smile. You make me smile! GOD BLESS! Monte

  26. Krysytn Higgins says:

    Hi Zags! I am all caught up on your wonderful blogs. Wow. Very inspiring and incredible to think of you all in this new and different environment. How amazing for you to experience this at this time in your life. Thank you for sharing your insights. Hailey Baker, I can’t wait to see you and hear first hand all your stories. Enjoy your last few days and see you very soon. We love you so much!! Krystyn, Jeff, Jake, Maddy and Sydney.

  27. Colleen Brajcich says:

    Megan, great post. You did a superb job summing up what you all have been experiencing on this adventure. I could feel the laughter and the tears – but most of all the love. You can tell a good writer when they help you feel like you are there. Really gets me about the little girl’s flip flop – such a little thing, but such a big thing.

    And I have to say we grow them pretty good at St. Luke School & Parish! I know some of our El Salvador missionaries have been following this blog. They are so impressed with your insights that I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to get you and Michelle to share your stories with them!

    Take care and come home safe. You will all be in my prayers.

  28. carole marti says:

    Loved the blog and the illustrations of the good bad and the ugly. Life is only good when you experience the bad and the ugly – and you all have seen much of the ugly that exists in so many areas of the world. What have you done and what can you do? Just telling the Zambezi story will help these people and what you bring back to the campus with you in terms of the stories, the future trips to Africa, possible career choices that you all have that are impacted by this experience – you would be surprised at what you can and have already done. Never underestimate it!!!! “It takes a village” and it takes a culture change and often takes some generational change but change does occur often for the better but it takes time….

    Lion King? In Africa? Really? Shaun, you just told me this spring that you and your suite mates watched this show and you realized how sad it was when the Daddy Lion was killed and how sad you were…..So hopefully you hid your tears and reflected on the whole ‘circle of life’ message which is so great and appropriate while sitting in Zambia!!!! And Shaun, you would be so proud of me. I just watched “Princess Bride” for the first time ever and actually liked it. So much going on at home but I have not shared a lot of our “marti fam news” since it seems so trivial compared to what you all are doing. But here are just a few tidbist: Oma’s surgery has gone well and she will be at our house until around July 1; you will miss Mark being home this coming weekend; however, Jens, Josh, Shawn Cooper, Ben , you and families have a get together shortly after you are home since Shawn Cooper is at Ft Lewis for a brief time doing some West Point training; Gram had her 82nd bday and also spent 5 days in Vegas (nothing new!!); so many people we know graduating from high school next week; and on it goes. The Mariners and Sounders continue to be as up and down as you can get.

    Well tomorrow is your last day in Zambezi – wear big smiles all day long and soak it in – look up in to the sky every once in awhile to remember each and every moment – these will be the things you can hang onto for a lifetime!

    Love you all.

    Carole Marti
    Shaun Mo’s Mommy

  29. Sophie Flies says:

    Megan!
    I absolutely loved reading your blog post. It is so nice to hear about your life. I think about you every day and still cannot believe you’re in Africa. I have found myself saying” “yeah so my friends are in Africa right now….” a few times because I am just so proud of you and Ally and Katie and everyone else on the trip! And because that is just so awesome! I went to the Woodland park zoo today and we went to the “Africa” exhibit (please know what I am talking about) and I was just so excited for you to come back and tell me everything. I hope you have an amazing last few days.
    I cannot wait for your return and am so excited to hear every detail about the trip. I hope I can prepare myself for the moving stories you will have to tell. I love you so much! Also please send my love to Ally and Katie (can’t wait to all live in our house, it’s wonderful)

    Much love,
    Sophie

  30. Hikaru says:

    Megan, I finished reading your blog with a smile on my face. I walk along side you when I am asked that question today. The feeling is so complex, I can’t articulate it in words. However, I do know that what I experienced is real and it has definitely shaped me. I am excited for what you make of Gonzaga-in-Zambezi after returning home. Life is so beautiful.

    Jason, love seeing your smiley face in the picture. You and Mateo’s hair cut is so LEGIT. You all look like champions. Your friends in Zambezi are never going to forget how you made them feel. Have a wonderful time in Lusaka and in Europe, too!!
    Mateo, you are a special person. I bet you’ve been an amazing mentor leading and learning from ZamFam13! Thinking of you! Please do not attempt to pet the lions… yikes!

    Through the smiles, the laughter, hand holding, hand shaking, greeting, broken Luvale/Lunda, you have all shown the Zambezi community so much love. And they WILL hold on to that. Praying for all of you, hugs on hugs on hugs.

    Love,
    Hikaru

  31. Kevin McCann says:

    Another beautiful post. Thank you Megan for painting such a vivid picture of the world you guys are experiencing and the emotions you are all feeling. As has been said by many…we are proud of you and proud of Gonzaga to give you such an opportunity to see the world and learn from your adventure.
    Katie – this weekend Kourtney got her senior year book which she worked so hard to produce as co-editor. As with your senior yearbook, hers was filled with ads placed by families and loved ones of students graduating this year. As always, many of them had memorable quotes and literary references. The most common usually come from Dr. Seuss..whose most popular work during this graduation season is “oh, the Places you’ll Go”. Who would have thought our little Kaitlyn, born in Spokane to a mother from South Africa and father from California would end up returning to Spokane in order to launch her on a journey to her mothers homeland…Africa. You have already travled further than I imagined you would, but knew you could. You are an amazing young woman and will do GREAT things in life. Im sure Dr. Seuss had Pete like you in mind hen he penned that popular graduation themed book.
    As I end my day here in Tacoma, I know you will soon wake up and read these comments as you dine on one of your last meals in Zambezi. Enjoy the rest of your adventure in Africa and Switzerland. Travel safely and make great memories.

    I love you

    I miss you

    I am proud of you

    Love – Daddy

    PS. your mother is horrified that her post included several mixed sentences that she pulled out of an e-nail from Buppa at the beginning of her post.

  32. Kevin McCann says:

    Ugggghh…darn autocorrect. “People like you…when he penned”. Not “Pete like you…hen he penned”

    Love you ;)

  33. Erin Dorsey says:

    Megan…
    What a powerful piece of writing. The story of the little girls flip flop stuns me a bit like Sandu’s bike story. Now I’m wanting to know how to send a truck load of shoes to these beautiful children and yet after reading all of your blogs, I know a pair of shoes is not the answer. So…to the Zam Fam. How is your last morning in Zambezi? The photo from the soccer game is so sweet!! All your smiling faces. What a treat for all of us following your adventure from home. I was thinking today…all the homesickness, the culture shock, the joy, the heartache. What will you leave Zambezi with? What image will you most remember? What one face will be the face that stays with you? I’m honored to be the mom of Delaney who bravely said “Yes.” I’m also a GU Prof who is so proud of all of you and may recognize you this Fall semester in the hallway and give you hug for the kindness you showed my daughter. I’m in awe of my colleague Josh who I don’t know well but I am astonished at what you have created for our students. Mostly, I’m just delighted for all of you! Here’s a poem that speaks to the difficulty that each of you may have articulating your experience in Zambezi:

    On Becoming Me
    ~E.M. Markell
    Here in the quiet I gather
    the many me’s together.
    We meet for the first time
    many of us.
    Familiar to one another,
    but not friends, not close.
    But now we come together
    as if drawn by a great magnet.
    We are being re-configured, re-born
    renewed by an invisible force.
    Soon we leave to paths unknown,
    stronger now that we are together at last.

    Delaney…love you so much! Mama

  34. Char says:

    May,

    I know that I’m the last to write but I’m also the laziest…some updates for you:
    -Dad is still incredibly enthused with facebook..joy
    -Andy crashed the car…well he got hit but still no more car for awhile (he’s fine)
    -Mom and me appear to have opposite schedules so I don’t see her for days on end
    -Katie has a new pastime: tackling me when she sees me (unless her friends are around)
    You know I’m not a mushy guy so I’m going to keep this short. Awesome post, but it doesn’t surprise me in the last, neither the content or the skill with which you portrayed your experience thus far. You’re an amazingly complex girl who is going through an amazingly complex experience, you’re far less black and white than I am so I know that you’ll get through it better than I could, I’m glad you’re growing from it, but I knew that was exactly what would happen to you. Love ya May, can’t wait to see you.

    Char

    PS: You know Andy’s line about RomCom’s is false, when I called him on it he said “I know but if we watched them together it’d be really weird”
    PPS: I’m not so competitive that I have to beat mom at the amount of post-scripts…though I could if I wanted :)

  35. Lori Newman says:

    Hey Megan,
    This may not reach you before you leave, but have a really good time on the rest of your trip. Rest up, take plenty of pictures. I didn’t know what RomCom was. Charley told me. How come the boys don’t want to watch a Romatic Comedy with their mom? You would and then you would laugh at me when I cried. But you are a sap too…

    Well sweetheart, with a heavy sigh, I say again I miss and love you more and more. I can’t wait to see your beautiful smile get off that plane. And don’t think for even a minute you are not going to let me hug and kiss you….Dad is alittle scarier to hug and kiss because he has alittle bit more hair than when you left. Katie is thrilled for high school for him to show it off.

    PSSS..Charley is too competitive, he just let his mama win….

    Love you,
    Mom

  36. Katie Dougherty says:

    Megan! Ahh I have been waiting for your post, and of course I am one of the last to comment just like you were the one the last to write your blog (so much in common ;)) I really hope its not too late and you will read this! I enjoy these updates so much and I admire the honesty you show in your writings. Your story is inspiring, true joy and personal growth only come after a new perspective and heartbreak. I can’t imagine a stronger or better Megan but I know one will come back! I can’t help but reflect on my mission trip to Honduras and I think I can relate to what you are going through but each trip is its own unique experience and I am so happy you get to have your own. Reading your blog I am filled with happiness you are studying abroad now so we can share stories in the spring at Gonzaga! Words cannot describe how much I miss you but I know our reunion will be glorious and we will be even better people than when we last saw each other. I love reading other people’s comments (LOL @ Andy) and I hope you realize how many people love and miss you. Counting the days until we can text!
    With love, light, and prayers,
    Katie Dougherty

  37. Nancy says:

    M, you are amazing! Can’t wait to see you and hear your stories in person. Luv, nancy

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