Zimbabwe was my first destination on The World Race. My team traveled with one other team to Mutare, Zimbabwe, where we partnered with a former racer and her husband in their community. We spent time at a care point where children were fed after school, several of whom were HIV positive. We held babies who had never seen white people before, held Bible studies and prayer time with the women who cooked and led classes at the care point. They even taught us local dances! We visited their homes, more like shacks, where we were generously given of their meager possessions as gifts. We prayed like mad for these people to be empowered to live without fear. We attended a youth gathering at a local school; I spoke at the church’s youth service; we visited a home/school for blind children; we hiked a mountain and found a cross. I also twisted my ankle twice in Zimbabwe – once at the border crossing where we spent four hours getting our visas (and saw a donkey eating out of a trashcan), and again when I fell into a ditch getting out of the back of a truck. Most of our team slept inside our hosts’ home, but a few of us spent the month living in our tents outside. As an introduction to Africa and, really, third world living, this was shocking and incredible. Our group was in Zimbabwe for a little over two weeks before leaving for our second country.

In addition to these new friends, we met an older Dutch woman named Ingrid who lived in Zimbabwe. She had become a dear friend of our host family and soon one of ours. She had recovered from cancer several times and relapsed just before we left. She brought us ice cream and chocolate. We prayed over her and I really don’t think I have ever prayed with so much fervor in my life and believed it. She died not long after we returned to the States. This seems like an empty, small story to tell without a bow, but it had a huge impact on me.