Last year was our first year as volunteers for Marion Medical Mission. We had supported the ministry financially before Tom challenged us to join Team Two on the front lines in Malawi. Our summary of last year’s experience vacillated between “More!” and “No more?”. (See Daniel’s 2011 team report here.) After the first few days, we were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. We were physically and emotionally tired, as often happens to spoiled people who travel outside their comfort zones. Yet everything went smoothly, and we continued to work to the end without problems. By the time we went home, we both felt like we had been part of something amazing and rewarding. Even so, we questioned whether or not we would ever want to go back.
Fast forward one year. We signed up for Team One, thinking we would go again before we completely lost our nerve. We had survived the challenges of the year before, and we still believed in the mission and its ability to get protected water sources to the people of Malawi. After the first few days, we got a little taste of what the shallow well program fights against – we accidentally drank some bad water. Ellen fell ill first and was hit hard with the symptoms. She does not like to be sick at home, so being sick away from home was definitely not on her “bucket list”. However, a bucket came in handy. Daniel suffered more gradually and managed not to miss any days in the field. Through the grace of God, we pressed on for two more weeks and were able to participate in the dedication of 94 and 99 wells, respectively. For reasons clear only to the Lord, we asked permission to leave some of our gear in Malawi so that we wouldn’t have to lug it back and forth to the US. Yes, I mean we left it to use next year. As Daniel says, “Unless Christ returns, we intend to!”
Where else can you participate in a work so powerful that the symptoms it alleviates are the very ones that inspire you to go back and work harder? That is the difference one year made for us. In Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania, the difference is that tens of thousands of people now have clean, protected water sources who didn’t have them a year ago. Thousands of children are alive who might have otherwise succumbed to the effects of drinking dirty water. Every year makes a difference. Please give so that others might live.