Meeting the people of Africa was the most significant catalyst for my change in perspective. The faith, hope, and love I experienced helped me see Africa differently. Nowhere was this more evident than in Malawi.

The people I met were filled with joy!

Even in the small fishing village I visited, the men, women, and children were gracious, excited to talk and connect, and eager to show us how they lived. It was an absolutely beautiful experience to be with them in their homes, workplaces, and community.

One of the people groups I wanted to connect with the most was the Maasai. I had the privilege of sitting down with a few Maasai elders and, through an interpreter, asked them about their lives, beliefs, and practices. I didn’t shy away from the hard questions and tried to understand their answers. Though some of their practices desperately need to change, I was able to appreciate so many other aspects of their culture.

The Maasai are genuinely a tight-knit community that helps and supports each other.

When talking to the women, I saw joy and peace even in the midst of poverty. It was apparent that they were a close community that took care of each other.

My trip from South Africa through Kenya was filled with every kind of topography imaginable. I experienced cities, deserts, savannas, beaches, lakes, and rainforests. I rode through large cities, small towns, and deserted roads. I passed single shacks, small clusters of mud huts, and thirty-story apartment buildings.

The diversity between the city and rural areas is immense.

Children in both urban and rural areas are required to attend school through the primary grades. The children in smaller towns and villages face a significant challenge in continuing their education due to a lack of money and the availability of local schools. Thankfully, more and more families are choosing to continue their children’s education through high school and into college, even if that means sending their children away to larger cities. Hearing about college-educated students returning to their villages to teach or work in their small communities was encouraging.

My journey through southern and eastern Africa was life-changing. So many of my preconceived expectations were wrong, and my perspective about Africans, their lives, their hopes, and their experiences was forever changed.

I left a piece of my heart in Africa.