I awoke at 4 am to the sounds of Malawi and village life. The rooster crowed way too early, followed by the hoot of the owl, chirping birds, and croaking frogs. I heard the rushing waters filling the deep gorge that separates me from the village of mud huts with thatched roofs. I smelled the morning fires and knew the women were already at work. I am in awe of these women. They are the backbone of family and community life. Their day starts early. I see them carrying buckets of laundry and pots to a pool of quiet water at the river’s edge. They use the smooth rocks to beat and scrub their clothing. They wash cooking pots and dishes with babies strapped to their backs. I see the strength of their arms, but wonder how they maintain their stamina. The Malawian women who are on retreat with us tell me the women only sleep 3 or 4 hours a night. Their days are filled with chores. They gather sticks to start the fire, nurse babies, prepare nsema, a corn meal staple of the Malawian diet, cook the food, work in the garden, tend the children, and carry buckets of water from the well on their heads. I gather strength from these women. Their lives are so different from mine, yet I know what they do for their family and community. They are the spirit that keeps Malawi alive.