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We're home!

Wherever that is right now! I just wrote this blog post and somehow managed to cancel it, so here goes again.

This morning I received an email from a friend here in Ontario which made me truly feel that it's right and good to be home, rather than simply understanding the fact in my head. It was a picture of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet. Pooh is saying, "Home, Piglet. We're going home because that is the best thing to do right now". Suddenly, as I read that caption and looked at that picture, my gladness that the trip is simply over became truly gladness that we are home.

This morning I received an email from a friend here in Ontario which made me truly feel that it's right and good to be home, rather than simply understanding the fact in my head. It was a picture of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet. Pooh is saying, "Home, Piglet. We're going home because that is the bestthing to do right now". Suddenly, as I read that caption and looked at that picture, my gladness that the trip is simply over became truly gladness that we are home.

The trip itself was almost preternaturally smooth, with even our luggage arriving with us in Toronto and no problems with health officials or immigration or anything. The main problem with the trip, aside from cramped seating, was boredom. Fifteen hours on a plane is a really, really long time! But the trip was redeemed by the people we met along the way. At the airport in Addis Ababa, we met two young men who had had to leave Uganda early and were on their way back to Edmonton. They were impressed with the work we had been doing in Malawi and assured us that we would return to Malawi at some point. Then on the plane, we met a young woman who was returning early from Botswana to the USA. She too was very encouraging, and said that she would love to be able to do volunteer work overseas at some point as we had done. It was so encouraging to meet young people like them who want to make a difference in the world.

And at the end of the very long flight, as the plane touched down in Toronto, there was actually a smattering of applause from the passengers! I guess we weren't the only ones who were glad it was finally over.

Before leaving Blantyre for the airport on Monday morning, we made one last visit to the prison. There we were met by our immediate boss, the area chaplain, who accompanied us along with Prince in to the school where we said our goodbyes. We spoke with the headmaster and handed in our books as well as some books we had bought in Malawi when we first arrived. I had a book of Malawian poems that I had brought with me that I wanted to give to the young man who had helped me get oriented to my classes. The headmaster said I could give it to him personally as he was in the school that day. Then we were taken to the Form One class where we were able to say our thanks and goodbyes to our students. I also gave the book to the young man, who was invigilating the exam they were in the middle of. The students seemed a little surprised, but two of them spoke and said they were sorry to see us go and they would be happy if we returned. They wished us a good journey and asked us to pray for them. We asked them to pray for us too and they said they would. It was a very touching experience. I'm so thankful we had a chance to be there one last time before leaving Malawi. It gave me a sense of finishing, albeit prematurely.

From the school we finally had our long-awaited meeting with the Station Officer. It was encouraging to hear him say that they would be happy to have us back anytime. He was very gracious as was the chaplain who had announced our imminent departure. Altogether, although a sad occasion, it was a good visit to the prison. I'm so glad we had our chance to say thank you and goodbye to our guard and friend, Prince. We won't forget him and all his help as he was with us daily in the prison.

We will have plenty of time now in quarantine to reflect on our experience in Malawi. I hope you won't mind me sharing my thoughts with you from time to time. This blog has been a good vehicle to reflect on each week as it passed, and I thank you for your responses along the way.

I also need to say a big thank you to the kind folks at the office of the Presbyterian Church in Canada here in Toronto. Without them we would likely still be in Blantyre, dithering about what to do. Instead, here we are, truly glad to be home, although still sad not to be in Malawi, and still a little confused!


One last walk in our neighbourhood.



We loved this area. We'll miss walking there!


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