My name is Misse Mbongo. The first time I went to Malawi was in 2006 for a 2-week short term missionary trip. I returned to the U.S. eager to share with family and friends what God was doing in Malawi through the Passion Center for Children, and how He had worked in me in those 2 weeks. The second time I went to Malawi was in 2011, when I served for a year and a half, primarily with girls' sports ministry (netball), but also had the opportunity to serve in community outreach, Bible studies, and in many other ways. I knew absolutely nothing about netball when I started working with the Passion Center team (then called 'California Sisters'). I was definitely nervous about coaching a team for a sport I didn’t know how to play. Of course I knew that netball was an outlet for me to build deeper relationships with the girls and encourage them in their spiritual walk, education, their life goals, and so on. I remember going to the community grounds in the early weeks of my time in Malawi, with some of the girls from the residence. They began to teach me how to play netball, what lines to cross, how many steps I could take, how to properly catch the ball, and so on and so forth.
As the weeks went on, the word had gone around the village that I was recruiting girls for a netball team. So, it wasn’t long before young girls and young at heart in the community started coming to the grounds. Many girls and women came to see what we were all about. Some stayed and others never returned. After some weeks the team began to take shape. Together with other staff ladies, we began to organize our team and friendly games with other village teams. We even started a team Bible study, where we studied and grew together in our faith. In the months to follow, our ties grew stronger as a team. In fact, we became a band of sisters. We played in many games, with some of our proudest moments when we participated in the Passion Center league and became the champions of the league for 2 years in a row! God knew why He brought those girls together, and why He sent an unlikely choice such as myself, one who neither spoke their language, knew their culture and customs, nor ever played a game of netball. Ultimately, I believe God used my time at the Passion Center as a catalyst to point me towards a life of service to Him and to others.