We have now spent three months in Blantyre, and if I had to describe those months with one word, it would be “full.”
FULL of excitement and anticipation. There are some days when I’m just driving between meetings or even just on the way to the grocery store and I find myself thinking, “Wow! This is IT!! We are finally HERE!! This has been 12+ years in the making and now are finally IN AFRICA!!” I’m overwhelmed with excitement and can barely contain myself!!
FULL of new experiences like driving on the other side of the road/car, chasing monkeys out of your avocado and banana trees, negotiating with immigration officers, singing worship songs in Chichewa, and grocery shopping at places not called Walmart or Costco. (just to name a few)
On the other hand, there are some times I find myself FULL of disappointment. Despite the fun, adventure, and excitement I just wrote about, I have often experienced an overwhelming sense of sadness. At first I couldn't figure out why....but as time has gone on, I've realized the sadness comes because somewhere in the back of my mind, I let myself believe this was going to be easy. I believed the real work was just getting here. I had told myself, “Jesus said, ‘Look, the fields are white for the harvest.’ I just have to get there and ministry and relationships are going to come easy." But if I’m really honest, the most troubling thing I had told myself was, “People in Malawi are going to be so impressed with me.” I can’t believe I’m sending this in an email, but there it is. I expected people to be impressed with me. “Don’t you know how much I sacrificed to be here!?” — “Don’t you know my wife is an Emergency Medicine Doctor?!”
There's a few words for that type of thinking: selfish, prideful, arrogant, ignorant, and flat out sinful. Upon the discovery of this selfishness deep in my soul (which came at about 2am after a three hour wrestling match with the Lord), the past couple weeks have been FULL of reflection. Psalm 139:23 reads, “Search me, O God and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts! See if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Well David, I think "grievous" is an understatement. There is such a root of pride and entitlement in my heart….Guys I’m just being honest with you - it’s been so humbling. I’m currently inviting folks into the murky waters of my heart....it's been hard - but most of the time, hard is good.
In addition to these wrestlings, God has been opening up some amazing doors through which I’m trying to walk slowly.
I’ve been playing ultimate frisbee three times a week at two different international schools and have begun building relationships with families who are either employees or send their kids to Saint Andrews and Hillview International Schools. About 40% are outspoken atheists, probably 30% would call themselves Christians, and the other 30% are a mix of families with Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist backgrounds. It’s a wild bunch with families from India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Serbia, Australia, China, the UK, and a solid representation of local Malawians.
I've met with a handful of them individually and am getting closer and closer to being granted access to the schools outside of the frisbee games.
One of our prayers moving here was that God would provide a local church family for us to be a part of where we could serve and be served. I can't tell you how perfectly we fit at Flood Church. It is a young church that was meeting at a coffee shop when we arrived. Yet in our short time here, we have outgrown that space and moved into a more permanent home. We've become fast friends with families here and become a part of their family ministry team. They have even asked me to preach a couple times (most recently was yesterday, May 12th). Serving under a Malawian pastor has been a great way for us to learn, grow, and stay humble.
Every Sunday we read our mission statement as a church, "We are committed to awakening a city of hope by serving the city in love and faith through authentic connections to develop a movement of hope-filled people rooted in Yesu!"
Our original introduction to the Flood Church family actually happened in an Ethiopian airport on the return trip from my most recent YL Expedition trip in 2017....it's amazing how God has connected us to this church!
It's a GIRL!!!
That's right folks - the Brady Ladies are growing in force and in number. We couldn't be more thrilled!! Despite our attempt to prepare Ellie for the gender reveal to go either way, she never backed down. "Dad, that's my little sister in there - it can't be a boy!!" And she loves saying "Daaaad, I TOLD you!"
One of the pillars in the ex-pat community here in Blantyre is The McGrath family - who moved here from South Africa 30+ years ago. Everybody knows and loves them, and every two weeks, they host between 35-60 kids for a city wide youth group. Kids from all different schools, backgrounds, economic situations, and churches come together for a night of fun, food, and a talk from God's word. It isn't run by Young Life, but it has certainly been a great event to be a part of. This picture is of me teaching one night to a porch full of high school kids. And yes, I brought my own whiteboard for helpful visuals :-).
Here's a quick look at what my Tuesday afternoons look like - and a quick introduction to my friend Shedreck.
In November 2018, we purchased a car online through a company in Japan. It made it through the port in Tanzania, then while it was sitting PARKED at the Malawi/Tanzania border, a tanker truck backed into it smashing the back gate....after three months of paying for a rental car, wrestling with insurance companies, and spending days in the Malawian equivalent of a DMV we have our car legally on the road!! Wahoo!!
We have had a lot of questions about our finances with vehicle issue, and we really appreciate you guys looking out for us. Fortunately, we had some money saved for something like this, and everything should work out just fine. That being said, if you haven't officially joined "Team Brady" in a financial way, and you want to know how to do that, just go to https://giving.younglife.org/zbmalawi and follow the prompts.
Young Life Malawi
c/o Zack Brady
PO Box 5772
Columbia, SC 29250
If you'd like to send us some mail here in Malawi, here are the rules:
1) nothing electronic, breakable, or expensive
2) no money, checks, or gift cards
3) total value of the package cannot exceed $50 USD, and that includes the shipping cost. (cards are cheap and easy!)
4) Let us know when you send it - seems like it takes 3-4 weeks for mail to make its way here, and we just need to know when to check the post office.
5) Use this mailing address:
Zack Brady +265 099 590 6424 (yes, write my phone number on there)
c/o Young Life
Post Dot Net Box E222
6) Know that it will absolutely make our day!
Alright gang, I apologize that it took us a while to get this email out to you. It has been an amazing three months, but it has been difficult too. We will be posting more blog-like material on our website soon --> www.abradylife.com <--
Carly has some great stories to tell on her side of things, but she says this email is already long enough and we can send another one soon! :-) We love you guys and really couldn't do this without you!
-Zack, Carly, Ellie Jo, and The Bump