Tunasakwilila mwane, Mama Violet

“It is possible to speak with our heart directly. Most ancient cultures know this. We can actually converse with our heart as if it were a good friend. In modern life we have become so busy with our daily affairs and thoughts that we have lost this essential art of taking time to converse with our heart.” –Jack Kornfield

We walked the path Mama Violet walks every day to get to the convent, where she lovingly makes our lunch and dinner. We walk through the market, everyone greeting Mama with “Munoyoyo mwane” as she responds with “kanawa mwane,” with Bridget and I following in her shadow as she bought dinner ingredients. Bridget carried the reed mat on her head and suddenly the town is cheering her on, no longer yelling “chindele,” accepting her. Mama guides us, making sure we don’t lose our way, while asking if this is what America looks like. Mama asked what the paths look like in America. After taking a moment to think, I told her that most walkways are concrete, not sand or dirt, industrialized, hard, and encompassing concrete.

The walk to Mama’s home village was beautiful. Tall grass, large fields, goats, green, everywhere. Beauty in every step we took, walking together. She guided us into the village of her youth and sat us on a log in front of her brother and sister, telling us that sitting is “tradition.” She led us flawlessly through a culture thriving on respect, a culture we are just coming to know, and not nearly understand. By telling us sitting was tradition, she helped us show the level of respect to her family as they showed to us. Instinct told me to stand, and Mama knew our insecurities and helped us immerse ourselves in her culture and thrive on respect with them.

Mama held our hands and told us it was time to “go to our destination.” We ended our journey at Mama Violet’s village where she lives with her husband and children. Mama’s husband, Steven, came out and greeted us as we sat outside in their village. He told us that this was our home and our family, always. This statement filled me with an emotion I can only describe as pure joy. I felt accepted, loved, welcomed and everything in between. In a place so far from where I call home, as I struggle with having just graduated, moving out of my house and soon moving to a new home, having a home and a family in Zambezi made my heart open in ways I never knew it could.  We saw a book with names of past Zags who have stayed with Mama Violet and Steven, trailing back 9 years.

Mama Violet’s joy to show us her home and for us to meet her family was so humbling. She placed us at the center. She made our bed, comprised of a reed mat on a concrete floor with 2 blankets, feel like home. Mama let us physically walk in her footsteps, live a day in her life, while giving a lifetime of family and home in Zambezi. Every step Mama Violet took she held our hand, she fed us, gave us a bed, and made us feel her love. Mama has told me a few times that she is proud of me. But I am honored to have been welcomed and accepted into her home, a room given up so I could sleep, meals shared, all with nothing but open and loving hearts. Hearts filled with intentionality and authenticity.  She conversed with me through her heart, her actions, she spoke directly to my heart by using hers.

I have learned so much from Mama Violet in the past few days that I cannot fathom putting into words. What I can do is tell the stories, share her joy and follow her footsteps in caring for others. I can open my heart, mind, and soul to the stories of others, and loving with my whole heart through it all. Mama Violet showed me the most vibrant image of love and that opened a part of my heart I thought was unaccessible. Love fully and love well.

Kisu mwane,

Morgan Schindele

P.S. Bug bites are at a minimum, I miss you all dearly and think of you often, spiders aren’t that scary, and we are all so thankful for you’re wonderful comments, keep them comin’.

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22 Responses to Tunasakwilila mwane, Mama Violet

  1. Katie Shoenberger says:

    Beautiful story! Pure Joy seeing all the smiling faces, especially yours Bridget!! What a blessing to be part of this family and share such pure love!! Love you all!!

  2. Lauren Johnson says:

    This is beautiful. You are such a loving and true soul, it makes me happy to hear you express the aw and wonder of such an awesome adventure as this. Your story about Mama Violet reminds me of a quote,

    “A generous heart is always open, always ready to receive our going and coming. In the midst of such love we need never fear abandonment. This is the most precious gift true love offers – the experience of knowing we always belong.”
    ― bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions

    Love is powerful and far reaching. I hope your experience helps you learn, teach, heal and find joy in knowing how truly loved you are.

    I am glad the bugs are bearable and I am so excited to hear all about your adventures when you come back! Also, I am stoked for our new home together and I cant wait for you to see it!

    Much much much love,

  3. Taylor says:


    I got a warning text earlier about today’s blog that read, “you are going to lose it.” And let me tell you, my friend was so very right. Not only did it remind me of my own walk and evening with mama violet and the fam, but it was written by you! A dear friend that walked so many paths with me during our time at Gonzaga. It makes my heart so deeply warm to know you got to walk that same path I did to mama Violet’s, and share the evening with that family. It is still my most fond and grounding memory of my time in Zambezi. I hope you continue to open to the love you are being shown; it especially helped me to recall my evening with Mama Violet and Steven when the questions of what we are doing in Zambezi got big and hard. Keep asking questions and going on as many walks as you can with Mama Violet. Please give Cheteta a hug for me! (they might call him something else knowing Zambezi and their names or maybe I was just the chindele that called him the wrong name our entire relationship; for reference he is the one in the blue football jersey next to you in the photograph).

    Zags, I have been following along every single day. You have given me such a gift in being able to reflect on the journey I was on just a year ago. Keep showing up and giving yourself and others grace.

    Morgan, again, I am so proud of you. I love you so, so very much.

    all my love,
    Taylor Ridenour
    Zambezi 2017

  4. McKenna Schindele says:

    Morgan, I love you so so much. I’m so proud of you for taking this step in your life and continue to find that joy in your adventure in Zambezi. You are a role model for many and one of my hero’s.

  5. Kathy Schindele says:

    I am happy to hear that Mama Violet is there loving and guiding you when I am not able to! Please tell Mama Violet thank you from your Mama.
    I am reminded:
    “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

    — Ephesians 4:2

    The heart always has room for more love!

    I can’t wait to hear more stories and pictures of your Zambezi experience.
    I’m glad the bug bites and spiders are bearable.

    Love you to the moon and back!

  6. Margaret Hoban says:

    Such a beautiful bunch of human beings… thank you so much for sharing you stories and experiences!

  7. Ginnie Weingartner says:

    Hi Morgan,
    I enjoyed reading your posting. How wonderful for you to get to experience God within a different culture through the life of others.
    May you and the your fellow Zags have a continued safe and fulfilling adventure.
    “Miss Ginnie”

  8. Conrado says:

    Seriously folks, I’ll need to buy stock in a tissue company if these posts continue with the raw emotion and love of the past few days. Thank you so much for sharing what seems like such a personal experience. Your storytelling brings me there with you as if we are watching over your shoulders.
    Prayers to you all – thinking of you lots.
    Love to our Devon.
    Best – Conrado (a.k.a., Dada)

  9. Peggy O’Heron says:

    To Morgan and every Zag in Zambezi,

    My husband Conrad said ‘there is a new post’ and started to tell me what it said. I said NO! I want to read it for myself. I liken my anticipation to that of opening a precious gift. I can hardly wait to read what is inside while at the same time, I savor every word as I read and reread…..I know by now, only a few days in, that your stories will move me to tears – tears of joy, of awe, of gratitude. I am deeply touched by all of your ability to be, to think, to feel,to articulate, to discover, to connect and to find meaning. And, I trust that as your worlds are rocked and as you share your experiences with all of us, the ripples are ever lasting and precious.
    Love to each one of you and especially to my SweetCheeks Devon.

  10. Tracy Dorsey says:

    Dear Morgan,

    Your story is beautiful to read. So happy that your journey is one filled with joy and awe as you find God in others so far away. I imagine the people there are taken in by your energy and love for them. Keep up the good work – much love from AZ!

    Aunt Tracy

  11. Anna Nolan says:

    What wonderful imagery! Morgan, thank you so much for sharing your adventure and the lessons you learn there with all of us through your vivid storytelling. It’s SO wonderful to hear your voice through these words! We love you, and can’t wait to hear your stories in person. Love, the Nolans

  12. Doreen Coles says:

    Morgan, what a beautiful tribute to the loving family who is giving you a home away from home. Thank you for being such amazing role model all these years; I’m so blessed that my kids have you to look up to. Sending you much love across the miles, Doreen and the Coles Crew xoxo

  13. Leigha says:


    I am beaming. Often so proud of you, and that’s obviously not changing as I read through smiley tears! It makes me so happy to know that you’re finding love and home in a place so removed from the comfortable. As was told to me during my experience in Zambia, keep welcoming and being welcomed. You were made for this enveloping love. Keep searching and questioning! I cannot wait to hear about all you learn.

    Love to you and the other Zags,

  14. Other Morgan says:

    Hi Morgan,

    Thank you for your wonderful words that have brought me back to Zambezi this evening. I can see you and Mama and Bridget walking down the path together to her village. I can hear her gentle voice guiding you and loving you every step of the way. Making a bed, walking alongside, greeting, welcoming, sitting, dancing, playing. I’m reminded of those small experiences full of love that I had in Zambezi that meant so much. On repeat in my head is Mama Violet saying, “Dinner is as follows…” It sounds like you are soaking up all of her sweet wisdom and love.

    I am glad you got to experience moments of deep belonging and peace with Mama, Steven, and family. Hold on to those for the times when you are unsure about what you are doing, where you are supposed to be, or why you are doing what you’re doing. That goes for the rest of your time in Zambezi and when you return home to the adventures of post grad. You now have people who love and care about you halfway across the world to carry in that newly discovered part of your heart.

    One last note- Your quote has me pondering. Thank you for sharing! I love reading the daily reflections from all you Zags. It’s a good reminder for me to slow down and sit and think. PLEASE give updates on the butt pincher if it ever does appear!

    Love and hugs to you all,

    Morgan Green

    P.S. Mama Kris, or should I say professional Land Cruiser driver Kris? I am beaming at the thought of you in Zambezi again. You give others a certain care and attention that makes it impossible for them to question if they are valued or noticed. A few warm words and a hug from Kris can mend anything. Somebody give Kris a hug for me. I’m sure she needs one from time to time too.

    P.P.S. Sorry longest comment ever, bet I think I received a photo of you and Bridget at Zam City practice?? It wasn’t the best quality photo, but I think it was you two as I compare with the photo in this post. Debby has been enthusiastically updating me as he meets you all.

  15. Dan Schindele says:

    You completely captured the Joy you have experienced and wrapped it up for us all to feel. You inspire us all to open our hearts to see God everyone we encounter. You are truly in the presence of God’s beauty and grace shown to you through your Zambezi family. You are amazing and your written word brought me Joy and clarity in my faith.

  16. Colleen Donoghue says:


    Well first, Morgan that story was beautiful, thank you for sharing and writing about it, you are an amazing storyteller! It has been so fun reading all the blogs so far, they are keeping us all entertained here in Spokane!

    “Hi Brigitta, miss you lots, hope you are teaching the locals all of your dance moves, especially your jig. Thanks for letting me sleep in your bed sometimes and borrow your clothes, you are the best. Zambezi is lucky to have you! love you! bye!” -Michaela McD

    “Bridget, hello!”-Daniel Li

    “Hello, this is Sarah, I miss you! I hope you are having an amazing time, I went on a date last Thursday, it was good, LOL life is wild. Ok miss and love you”- Sarah R

    Bridget, I am incredibly proud of you, seeing the above photo made us all miss you dearly. Thank you for being such an inspiration by taking this opportunity to experience life and to push your comfort zone. I hope you can keep taking it all in and make the most of this time! I am keeping you and all zags in my thoughts and prayers for safety, joy, rest and open hearts!
    Bridget, you are incredibly loved my dear friend!

    P.S. Sarah finally learned how to use the blender, and is starting her garden tomorrow after picking up her planters from the lady she found on Facebook. Michaela bought another succulent…whats new. She also went on a date a week and a half ago and forgot to tell you. He moved to Florida. Colleen has learned to play guitar, and was taught by said boy.

    I hope this makes you all smile a bit!
    Astor girls

    Colleen Donoghue

  17. Zambia Equivalent: Karen Ahearn says:

    Hey Morgan,

    In seeing the love here in comments from your post and others, it has been so cool to see the love you have from so many as you have courageously taken on so much transition and opportunity in front of you – especially within the last few weeks. Thank you for sharing such joy and experience in your post from your homestay. Mama Violet was the one I felt the most connected to in my time in Zambezi. What a badass am I right? Team, sit with her and love with her, she is quite the lady. I hope to bring love to others in the way that she does someday. What a legend.

    I’m praying for you all as you continue in this week of class and such. Have so much fun!!

    And Bridget, hey lady! I’m laying in my bed crying as I think of you sitting at breakfast listening to this comment. I am so proud of you. I am proud of who you have become up to this trip and proud of who you are throughout as you engage with what’s in front of you. Tell Zambezi hi for me, and eat a chocolate bar while you’re at it. I love you and am sooo excited to continue reading (and eventually hear from you) of how you light your fire and share yourself with others. Whoever is sitting by Bridget, do you mind giving Bridget a hug for me? Thanks 🙂

    Kisu mwane,
    Kelen Ahearn

    P.S. Hi Kris and Anna! Anna, is Mwamba there? If so, tell her I say hello! Thinking of you both!

  18. Kohl says:


    This is Kohl.

    Yours Truly,


  19. Renae E says:

    Thank you for bringing your colorful, beautiful adventure to life.

  20. Matt says:

    Morgan –

    Two years ago I remember taking that walk with Mama Violet, following her path through the market and Zambezi and getting to live just a moment of that life with her. Sitting with her family, with Steven and Talent and Karen for our homestay night and reflecting on the awe that was felt in that moment was powerful, and I’m so glad to know that her raspy whisper still holds power and commands a quiet respect in the ways that she navigates her world.

    Thank you for bringing me back to those dirt paths and the calm in the chaos of Zambezi – looking forward to sharing your journey with you as I recall my own.

    Tunasakwalila mwane,
    Matt Clark
    ZamFam 2016

  21. Sally Clack says:

    Awesome Morgan what a treat to follow your journey. You are an amazing young women. So proud of you, I am sure your host family feels your love. It is true the message of the heart is very powerful. God’s blessings, and my prayers as you continue this wonderful journey.

  22. Daniel says:

    In the US, everyone runs around calling you schindele, and in Zambia, everyone runs around calling you chindele. Doesn’t seem all that different really. Don’t know what all the fuss is all about.

    Good luck, see you in July

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