In 2005 I decided to escape the stresses and demands of life in the US and travel to Malawi, East Africa to live in a village that housed 130 orphaned children. My role was to help care for, tutor, mentor and play with these children. The lessons learned and friends made were far greater than any knowledge or comfort I could have passed on to the children and others in the villages we lived in and visited. That summer I spent in Africa, my life in the US continued to crash. My boyfriend and best friend of nearly 5 years was killed in a car accident and my other friends and family were becoming increasingly distant due to differences in experience and poor choices I had made over the past few years. However, finding faith in God and developing new friendships in Malawi was the beginning of a wonderful journey I am still traveling on today.
In Malawi I roomed with 12 other “white aunties.” The incredible experiences of living in a rural African village together for 10 weeks created a very strong bond among us, as you can imagine.One particular woman, Hailey, and I have stayed a part of each other’s lives. We share a bond that began through and is unique to our experience together of serving in that village at that time, openly shedding the baggage we had come with, growing in our faith and seeking insight into becoming the women we were created to be.
It is through her friendship that I met my amazing husband, Ira. After returning to the states I went back to Boston University to take a second chance at advancing my education in International Studies and Hailey returned to her home in Oregon to work, study to become a CNA and be close to her future husband, Joseph, and her family. After all that had occurred among friends and family in the US and the experiences and growth in my life while I was away that summer, my return to Boston was extremely lonely and confusing. I began traveling to Oregon to visit Hailey and other friends who I had made there. This became my safe haven, a place of peace and purity I could have never imagined in my hectic life in NY and Boston.
On my first visit, Hailey introduced me to her boyfriend (now husband), Joseph, and his extremely good looking roommate ;) , Ira. We met a few other times on my visits to Oregon and began keeping in touch when I was back at school in Boston. Soon we decided that continuing our relationship would require one of us to relocate so that we were not living on opposite coasts. I was happy to volunteer as my life in Boston was miserable. Looking back, it was this new start in a new community that was necessary to continue the growth that had begun in my life during my time in Malawi. Ira’s continuous encouragement, support and care from the time we met helped me through difficult experiences in my past and taught me how to better love and care for my family, friends and others. Our marriage was not easy in the beginning as we learned to love and respect each other, flawed and broken as we came into it, and then as we welcomed our first child and had to learn how to be parents together.
Today, just a week after we welcomed our second daughter, I am in awe at the bond that my husband and I share and all that we can see which has been orchestrated over the past few years to break us, and grow us, and encourage us to become the people, the couple, the son and daughter, the parents, and the friends who we are today. Of course we still have our flaws and we will always be learning and growing, yet to look back and reflect on how far we have come gives testimony to our faith and to our friends and family who have so blessed us with their unconditional love and support.
Soon we will be taking another big step in our journey as we plan to move to Honduras for about a year. Ira and Joseph have been offered the opportunity to teach at Leadership University (LU), the first English speaking and residential college in Honduras. The goal of the college is to raise educated, responsible leaders for Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. LU is being started by the non-profit organization, Art for Humanity. Art for Humanity “promotes small business development and education so those in need can transition to sustainable self-sufficiency” and bases its provision of humanitarian aid according to its belief in helping the poor help themselves. Ira and I are excited to be involved with an organization that has helped many people to get out of poverty and to lead self-sustaining lives.
Hailey and I are looking forward to serving together again in another country, this time with our families. We will be taking care of our families, working on the coffee plantation and exploring other ministry opportunities within our new community.
Source: UNICEF: The State of the World's Children Report
Population: 7,319,000 (2008)
National language: Spanish
Per capita income: US$ 1,800/year (2008)
Life expectancy: 72 (2008)
% of population using
improved drinking water sources: 84% (2006)
% of population using
adequate sanitation facilities: 66% (2006)
Under 5 Mortality Rate: 31/1,000 live births (2008)
Honduras, slightly larger than Tennessee, is the second-largest country in Central America. It's bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north, Guatemala and El Salvador to the west, and Nicaragua to the south and east. It has a small amount of coastline on the Pacific Ocean.
Fishing and farming are the main staples of the Honduran economy. While some sugar is grown for export, most revenues are made from the sale of coffee, shrimp and bananas. Honduras also has limited reserves of gold, which provide an additional source of revenue. A very wide gap in income and available services between the rich and poor make Honduras one of the poorest countries in Latin America.