July 14, 2016

My name is Justin Kobler, and I am 16 years old. I decided to come on this trip to Malawi because I recognize that throughout my life I have been greatly blessed, and to me, it seems that helping others living in much worse conditions is the least I can do. I have always wanted to travel to Africa, and so far this trip has been more amazing than I ever could have imagined. Since we arrived in Malawi, the people have been extremely welcoming and friendly. I realized that although much of their population faces many challenges on a daily basis, as a whole, they are more joyful and friendly than the people from any other country I have traveled to. This helped me realize that no matter what kind of situation I find myself in, if I learn to appreciate the things that I do have, I will always be joyful. Although this may seem somewhat obvious, I feel that, in general, it is rare for someone from a First World country to truly appreciate all of what they have rather than focusing on what they don’t have. This realization came largely from my observation of the many children I have seen since arriving in Malawi. Today, when we passed out stickers and taught the kids to play Duck-Duck-Goose, they were elated from things that seem so simple to many of us. The smiles and laughter that came from the many children were unmatched by any I have seen before, and just being in their presence brought me immense joy. Also, seeing the excitement and joy that come from the children by simply waving to them is amazing to me. All of this has really helped me understand that by learning to appreciate basic things like they do, I will find myself much happier more often .

Today, I also had the opportunity to work with two of the boys, Nepman and Emmanuel, who will be living in one of the houses that we are building. This presented me with the unique opportunity to interact closely with people from a completely different culture and walk of life. While working with them I was amazed at how well we were able to work together despite the fact that our different languages caused a major communication barrier. Despite this difficulty, we still managed to bond with one another which is something I am truly grateful for. This trip has give me an experience which I will forever cherish, and it makes me happy to know that in just two days we have been able to help this community so much and that we will continue to do so for the rest of the week.