Monday, December 29, 2008

merry christmas!

well we have just made it through our first (and hopefully last!) christmas without our families! the day was actually a lot better than i thought it would be. i only cried once, and i think that was on christmas eve day. so here's a run down of what we did:

for christmas eve, dan, beth and elijah came over for dinner. i made my moms amazing tomato soup for dinner. it didn't taste completely the same as hers, but it was pretty close. we had tomato soup with homemade croutons and homemade bread. after dinner, we went to the dehnerts for dessert and caroling. we came home and opened the customary braden family christmas eve presents: pajamas!

thursday morning we opened our presents. then we joined the jones' and robbins for christmas day brunch. i made cheese grits (i eat it every year on christmas morning...i definitely could not break that tradition!). sam jones apparently loves cheese grits too...he was so cute...he would take a bite, then go, "mhmm!" it made my day.

every christmas day, they have a special potluck. it was really fun...we got to sit with nell and jack. we brought a pear tart that bech was really good! we then got to skype with both our families for a while.

we've been taking it pretty easy the rest of the week. we went to a german family's house (Bech teaches their two youngest, Paul and Louisa, and I teach their 2nd child, Charlotte) for tea. that was really fun...they have a great family. Sunday, after church, we had a game day with Dan and Beth and Josh and Emily. Bech and I won Scrabble, but Beth beat us all in Settlers.

but now, i am (kinda) back to work. i came up to the school this morning, planning to get a lot done...i have really just piddled around on the internet, but i am finally working on lesson plans...

Monday, December 22, 2008


well i feel like everyone has been putting post up about zimbabwe, but i'm going to do it too...this country has really been on my mind and heart lately, and i am not sure people in america realize how bad it is over there. in fact, i know they don't. bech's brother and sister-in-law are really up to date on everything happening in the world, and josh said something like, "oh yeah, we can't go to victoria falls on the zimbabwe side, because there some stuff going on in the country" (okay so that was a total paraphrase...i don't remember what he said exactly, just the idea, like oh yeah i don't think zimbabwe is doing so great right now). i use that example because josh and mary elizabeth keep up with everything, so if thats all they really know about zimbabwe, most people probably don't know much about it all.

this country is dealing with major stuff right now. there is a huge outbreak of cholera. inflation is insanely high. aid groups aren't allowed in. people are being killed or forced to leave. i knew a lot of this before i came (well the cholera outbreak is pretty new), and i was sad for the country. but now i have met so many people that are living in malawi because they have HAD to leave zim. i mean, their lives were at risk. and when you talk to these people and realize that its not just a news story, this is their home they have had to leave, its heart breaking.

so basically, please pray. pray that something will change, that mugabe will be punished, that aid will be allowed in. pray that people won't be killed anymore. this was once a really beautiful country...pray that it can be again one day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

apartment pictures

my homemade crackers! don't they look yummy?

our beautiful new curtains that mom made! we got the fabric at the market.
bech covered some cushions for our dining room chairs.
some christmas decorations, thanks to katy!
last, but certainly not least, our little christmas tree. it cost about $7 (900 kwacha), and mom brought the ornaments and lights from america for us. i brought some wrapping paper, and some i bought at foodworths.

more safari pictures

okay, well i feel like these pictures are all pretty self explanatory. and i would like to thank liz taylor who told me how to upload pictures at lightning fast speed...liz, you are amazing. okay, i am trying now to upload the other pictures onto facebook, so i can put them on here...

safari pictures

here is a leopard with a dead impala...slightly gross, but really just amazing...

okay, so when this is sent to all of our supporters, just pretend like you have never seen this picture before...act suprised!
bech, looking at animals (or just gazing at the scenery)...

Monday, December 15, 2008

we are on "holiday," now, as all of our cute little international students call it! i am so glad to have a little break! the last two weeks of school have been crazy. the next to last friday, dan robbins and i had a movie night for the 7th graders. we watched "elf" in the library (my first time to watch it...i LOVED it! i take back everything bad i ever sad about it). the kids brought snacks.
then last saturday, we had to be at the academy pool ALL day for the inter-house swim gala (for some reason, south africans love that word: gala! we would just call it a meet). i put on TONS of sunscreen, but i was taking antibiotics at the time, so i got major burned. it was only on my face, but my nose and chin blistered, and my lips were sooo burned.

we had our christmas program on thursday night...i had to work on getting costumes made for two groups of ballet classes. plus we had practices, etc. so it was a stressful week, but everything worked out. the costumes got made in time and the kids all did great! bech videotaped both dances. when i figure out how to transfer video from the camera to the computer, i will attempt to upload video of the dances. but for now, you can go here and see the youngest kids dance.

i also put up pictures on facebook (it takes sooo much time to upload them to blogspot, and its a lot quicker to do it on facebook) of our safari. i will be putting up updated academy and just general life in africa pictures soon (either today or tomorrow). so please get on and look at them...they're fun! i will try to also put some pictures on blogspot, but i just won't be able to do as many.

on a sad note, i have two students leaving! Maria is just going to a boarding school in another part of Malawi. the school is run on the British system, thus the move. Sari (pronounced "sorry") is going back to Australia. i am going to miss both of them so much! also, Annie Williams (a Jr. High teacher) is going back to Florida, Connie Zude (Kindergarten teacher) and her daughter Caroline are going back to Illinois, and the Boersmas (clinic doctor and family) are going back to Louisiana. we are losing so many people! also, several other familys that are involved in ABC in one way or another are moving to other countries. its really sad :(
but we may be getting a new doctor in January (the Highs), so that would be great!

okay, well i better end this...bech and i are off to the market. the boersmas gave us an old cookbook of theirs, that has a foccacia bread recipe i want to try! bech has reminded me that he has a foccacia bread recipe in one of his many bread books he brought along. but this cookbook is called something like "trusted recipes of home cooks," which is a lot less intimidating than his "the art of breadmaking" (or something equally discouraging). so i will let you know how the bread turns out. i did feel inspired to make homemade crackers last night. they're pretty good, if i do say so myself!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

overdue post!

okay, well this update is long overdue. but i have a good reason for that! my parents and blaise and ansley came to visit! we had the best time so i thought i would just go through the days they were here:

saturday: i SWEAR i remember mom telling me that they were landing at 10:30...but no, they landed at 9:30. so we were not there to pick them up :( we get a call from them at 10:05, when we are on the way to the airport, that they are here! we came to the apartment, with mom and dad still in a daze. i made homemade tortilla chips and tacos for dinner. bech and i got lots of happies from the states, some christmas presents, but some stuff i could look at right then (and also 2 huge huge HUGE bags of chocolate chips!).

sunday: we left on our safari. we were in a land cruiser with Matthew (a peace corps guy who lives in Karonga) and his dad and sister. Bentry was our driver. everything was going well until we got to the malawian border. apparently we are supposed to have our TEP receipt with us...we did not realize this. bech and i almost didn't get to leave malawi! but the man at the border was finally kind to us, and we were allowed on. the road to south luangwa park was soooo bad...but i sat by mom and we had fun catching up. then, upon reaching "croc valley" (where we were staying...i know, not a very comforting name, eh?), bech and i realized that the suitcase we were sharing did not make it into the car...ugh. so 2 days of old clothes...

monday: 2 safari rides! we saw it ALL (well except lions). we saw giraffes, elephants, zebras, bushbucks, impalas, pukas, water bucks, cape buffalo, hippo, hyena, AND (the icing on the cake) 2 leopards, one of which made a kill while we watched...sooo cool! our guide was a zambian mad named gondway (spelling?). he was so smart but also funny.

tuesday: long ride back over zambian roads. we got to stop at this amazing textile place...we got some napkins and place mats. that night bech and i took my family to copper pot for dinner. the food was great (well for malawi). after dinner, the waiter always brings a little copper bowl to your table with some sort of anise flavored snacky-desert mix sort of thing. anyway, they brought the bowl, with its one little spoon. obviously you are supposed to use the spoon to put some mix into your hand. but blaise grabbed the spoon and stuck a big spoonful into his mouth. we died out laughing, and probably didn't stop for like 10 minutes.

wednesday: dad and blaise went to one of the city hospitals. mom and ansley came to the school with us. after school, i took mom on a normal shopping trip. we went to the little market by foodworths, foodworths, and the market by shoprite. then we came home to make cassava cakes and roasted chicken. but of course, when the meal was almost done, the power went out. ahhhh! i wanted to cry. luckily the chicken was done, so we ate that then went to bible study. we ate cassava cakes at 9 that night when we came home.

thursday: school again, along with ballet. then i took mom, dad, blaise and ansley to the BIG market across the river. its a little scary (okay, maybe a lot scary, especially your first time!). plus i got us lost on the way back and we drove on a bridge that literally looked like some 2 by 4's put together. mom did really well in the market...she seemed so comfortable there. blaise was alright too, but ansley and dad were pretty quiet afterward! this night (which i guess was thanksgiving, although it did not feel like it) we went to the sanctuary lodge to eat. the food was good. mom made us laugh again, but it was one of those things that you had to be there for!

friday: international day at the school! this day was really fun. all the kids come dressed up like their home country. that afternoon, we went for gelatto (spelling?) and went shopping. then we went to a big thanksgiving meal at the Chinchens! everything was decorated so nicely, and the food was great.

saturday: we went to the lake. we had the best time at the curio stalls. dad actually traded away his shoes! it was hilarious! i got some christmas presents, and mom and dad got lots of fun souvenirs. we ate with the chinchens again this night.

sunday: everyone (except for dad) went to IBF for church, and then we made a yummy lunch with homemade pesto. dad, on the other hand, spent the whole day out at a village with sam mcdonald. he ate nsima and goat!!! then mom, bech, and i made cute curtains for our apartment (pictures to come soon), and ended the day with pancake supper.

monday: they left :( and i cried. but we did see a guy with a kanakuk backpack! and we watched josh fly in and welcomed him back.

tuesday: i am now sad, because my family is gone :( but katy will be coming soon (okay, so its really not that soon, but still!)

pictures to come soon!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wobbly Pots and Homelessness

Here is a picture of the potter's wheel I drove down to pick up in Blantyre. The wheelhead spins, although it is not level. I'm actually excited to see how the imprecise construction of the wheel will influence and shape the work I make on it. It is a single speed, unbelievably heavy, and unnecessarily ugly. I haven't used it yet; I'm waiting for a man at the college to come and grease it up--it's been sitting outside for almost four years, unused.
Marley's parents and brother and sister are coming on Saturday, and we cannot wait. It may be the most exciting thing to happen since we have been here. We still can't believe they're coming! Marley's parents will be bringing some of my pottery tools; my loving wife left all of them in Brookhaven the day we left for Africa. For some reason, I wasn't upset, and then, when we arrived, I really wasn't upset. I immediately realized that not having my pottery tools was the least of my problems. School is going O.K. for the both of us. I'm preparing for the International Day Art Sale. Below is a picture of my "office" which existed from around October until November 16, 2008. You can see from the top of the tent that part of the frame which supports the tarp is broken, and no longer extends the tarp up and flat. Well, the rainy season began this past weekend, with two all-night rains. The rains collected in that cavity on the right side of the tarp and ultimately crushed the tent. I probably could have prevented it. So, I'm homeless and on the road again, and this space in between these classrooms looks sad and empty, the grass worn in two patches where I sat and prepared paper and paint and worked and read and drank coffee in between classes. All that remains are the pink and blue bookcases, and a few plastic buckets of clay. It sounds funny, but that really was my office and my classroom, and it is really discouraging to have lost it.
On the left you can see the cart that Gilbert Mdembo made for me. At least I still have my cart.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home?


This is the new Guest Lodge up at the top of the African Bible College Campus. The finishing touches are still being applied. The school's vision is bigger than the college's construction crew, so ABC has temporarily converted half of the new lodge into the Preschool. I meet with twelve 3-year-olds for thirty minutes, twice a week. I feel more professionally unprepared with this group than any other on campus. Fortunately, this group is the least judgmental, and the most cheerful one on campus.Below are Hyun, and Clara.

I also posted these pictures of the lodge (and guest houses to the left) because I love the architecture and the materials used to construct these buildings. It is an amalgamation of building techniques, both old and new, traditional and modern. The walls are constructed out of bricks made in small batches both inside and outside of the city. These stacks are seen everywhere, both in Lilongwe, and out in the villages. I'm pretty sure each family produces its own bricks. These mud-bricks are made by forming the wet mud with a simply made wood and mesh wire mold. The bricks are stacked in what is called (at least by Westerners') a "scove kiln." Malawians fire the stacks by stoking the openings in the bottom with wood for about seven or eight hours. This creates a brittle stack of bricks inconsistent in their strength and porosity, but consistently beautiful and varied.
This structure of the roof is made of bamboo, blue gum trees, and then thatched on top with grasses, and finally shaped with a plane, I think? I love these buildings.

Pinch Pots and "Mixed-Color Paintings"

I found about a hundred pounds of clay in one of the junior high closets when I first arrived. Over the last few months, in my constant hunt for materials, I realized I had the few things I would need to mix the clay. The first graders, third graders, and fourth graders made coil and pinch pots, which was bitter sweet. I was so happy to be using what felt like my medium, and I felt confident and at ease all week. It was painful to wedge clay and then give it away. I wanted to go make a refined, thoughtful dinnerware set, but instead, we transformed it into the pots below. This is Sally Changaya, another bookmaking second grader.
Here is one of my fourth grade students, focused and intent on finishing his "Mixed Color Painting" while everyone else packed up to go home.
This is Charles, another fourth grader. He was reluctant to let me take his picture with his painting. He thought it was garbage; I loved it.
This is James, a South African, on the left, and Se-rem hiding on the right.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bookmaking and Plein Air

These are pictures of my students. I'm looking over one of my second grader's shoulders while he and his classmates are making books. This book project was a collaboration between me and the two second grade teachers. The books haven't been completed yet. We worked on them for at least four or five weeks. I think the second graders were ready to kill me. The last bit of work is for me to do. I'm going to sew up their signatures, cover the boards, and laminate their dust jackets.
I'm developing my philosophy and approach to elementary art everyday. I feel that each time I meet with these students I'm sending them down one of two paths: one ends at the steps of the Met or the Louvre, the other, the automatic sliding doors of Wal-Mart. (Not that there are Wal-Marts in Malawi.) The two things that I think influence and guide them on this journey is my choice of materials and the way in which I encourage them to work and think. I rarely feel successful, and I have not yet found very many inspiring and beautiful materials.

If this boy keeps thinking this way, by third grade he'll be ready for his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design--his book is about tigers, and so he has incorporated that element even into the letters of the title.
This is Hannah. I love this child.
Mikey, from Zimbabwe I think. He is in the four-year-old Reception class.
Kondwani(left) and Emma(right), also in the Reception class. Kondwani often comes to visit me in my "office" after school, demanding supplies like paper, clay, and sticks.
From left to right: Al-baatin, Megan, Vandell, and Zobran. Megan hangs on to me constantly, which makes me wish (even more) that I was a father tomorrow with lots of girls.

Friday, October 31, 2008

okay, as promised, a picture post!!!
here is bech eating gelatto at mamma mia's at old town mall. this is a special treat we love to do. the ice cream in malawi is gross...but the gelatto at mamma mias is wonderful!

here we are on our holiday at nkhotakota.

here our my 7th graders on reading day. 2nd row: caleb (usa), robert (new zealand), amungwa (half american, half malawian), sho (japan), gerald (malawi), gerteen (holland), sion (korea), maria (malawi), shalom (i think malawi), shannon (zimbabwe). 1st row: me (duh!), shea (usa), layomi (um, nigerian, i think?).
2 others weren't there yet, yodit (half american, half malawian) and caterina (malawian)

this is my favorite baby at the crisis nursery. i have no idea how to spell his name, but its something like chikoko, maybe? isn't he beautiful?

there i am with chikoko and delola. emily and i call delola "miss priss." this nickname totally fits her...she has tons of attitude and is so much fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

okay, so i have been horrible about updating! and i won't have pictures on this post...and i know i promised :(
i will try to add pictures tomorrow.

let's see...what have we been up to? grades were due monday, so i was pretty busy with all of that. yesterday and today we have parent/teacher conferences. yesterday went well...lets hope today goes well! emily, bech, and i went to the crisis nursery last friday and had a great time. we learned more of the kids names.

we realized yesterday that we have been here almost 3 months...that is insane to us! somedays we feel like we have been in malawi forever, other days like we have only been here a week. my parents and blaise and ansley will be here in less than a month (almost 3 weeks!) and we are both SOOO excited to see them. i am not looking forward to saying goodbye to them. katy will be here in march and bech's parents are coming in april. josh and mary elizabeth may be coming in february. we will be the most spoiled missionaries at ABC!

a lot of people are asking what they can specifically pray for. i have a big prayer request: wisdom in lending. we are often asked if we can lend people money. this is a strange request for us, because no one ever really asks to borrow money from us in the states. i mean, that would just be weird. but here its not. we have lent some and refrained some. we just aren't sure how to decide when to lend. sometimes it is for a lot, sometimes it is for only a little. i tend to have a hard heart in these instances and not want to lend at all (especially because sometimes it isn't really lending, it ends up being a "gift")...bech is much kinder than me and tends to want to lend. in girls bible study this past week, we read in luke 6:32 - 36:

"If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."

i felt really convicted by that verse, but we still want to be wise in our lending. one guideline we have set is that we should not lend an amount out if we have to have it back. by that i mean, if we won't have enough money to buy what we need if we don't get that money back. one loan we have been asked for was about $500...we just can't do that. but $20 is a lot different. so i would love prayer for us in this area, and also any advice ya'll might have in this area.

i really will put pictures up soon!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

we have a charger!

I am writing this post on my beautiful mac. That’s right…we have a computer charger again! I am so glad to be able to use my computer again, especially since my grades are on here, and report cards are due next Monday.
We just had our fall break for school. We went to Nkhotakota with the Ketchums. It is a little town on the lake. We stayed at the pottery lodge, and Bech got to throw on the wheel one morning…he really enjoyed it. When he graduated last spring, he was unsure of whether or not he wanted to do ceramics full time someday, but he says that so far being in Malawi has made him more certain that he does want to do ceramics. I will put some pictures up soon. The lake was gorgeous!
My students are doing well. I absolutely love them and think they are all incredible. I have spent a lot of time with younger kids the past couple of years (babysitting, Sunday school, etc.) and had forgotten what a fun age group jr. high is. Kids this age are so fun to be around. You can talk to them like equals on some things. You can laugh with them or talk about serious stuff. Hopefully I am forming relationships with them that are more than just a science teacher with her students.
Anyway, in other news, I take the GRE Saturday at the American Embassy. I have been studying my words (the verbal section is the one I need to improve) for the past 2 months, but I still feel a little diffident (that’s one of the words!) about the test. Please pray for me to do my best!
Bech finished our screen porch tonight. We don’t have screens on our windows nor do we have air conditioning. This means it can get pretty hot at night. We have a fan that we keep on…it really helps. But now we can leave our back and front door open (well with the bars in place) and just let the cross breeze flow through. Plus, if you know Bech at all, you know he’s a perfectionist which means our porch is beautiful!
We feel like we are much more adapted to life in Malawi by now. I have only gotten upset at the power going out once in the past month (I don’t mean its only gone out once, I mean I have only gotten upset once!). I am becoming a homemade tortilla expert. Bech is great at driving here…I still have a little way to go on that issue. Things that used to be strange are getting more normal.
One thing we really miss right now is fall! It is the end of dry season here. Wet season will begin in December. Last time I was here, it was rainy season. It rains every single day for an hour or two. I knew there was a dry season, but I thought that just meant it didn’t rain quite as much. Wrong! Dry season means it NEVER rains. It has rained twice since we got here. Once it was just a slight sprinkle, and once was real rain but only for 15 minutes. We are ready for rain! It is also really hot, so we are ready for a break in the heat.
Well I better end this so I can post. We miss everyone!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

okay, i wasn't going to do this, but i got tagged twice, and had a little down time during my off period.  so here goes:  

A - ADVOCATE FOR: pro-life
B - BEST FEATURES: hm…physically, I don’t know. Personality wise, um, I guess I am passionate about what I believe in.
C - COULD DO WITHOUT: the guy singing from the minaret of the mosque at 5 a.m. every morning
D - DREAMS & DESIRES: I would like to go to graduate school for Classics. I want to live in an old house and teach at a small liberal arts college.
E - ESSENTIAL ITEMS: “melon of troy” OPI nail polish, my ugly doll (big toe), vera wang princess perfume
F - FAVORITE PAST TIME: board games (especially settlers of catan), reading, knitting
G - GOOD AT: reading, school
I - IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS: right now, I would just buy a plane ticket back home for christmas
J - JUNKIE FOR: right now, sprite!
K - KINDRED SPIRIT: anne shirley
L - LITTLE KNOWN FACT: I hate being called “marls.” I let two people call me it (I don’t hate it when these two people call me marls): Will Cunningham and Lindsey Greer
M - MEMORABLE MOMENT: landing in Malawi, my wedding
N - NEVER AGAIN WILL I: eat nsema, order a steak medium rare at mamma mia’s
O - OCCASIONAL INDULGENCE: pedicures! And they are so cheap here that I can have them often! Also, I like the gelato from Mamma Mia’s
P - PROFESSION: classics professor
Q - QUOTE: “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
“Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.”
“Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.”
“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”
Those are all G. K. Chesterton quotes
R - REASON TO SMILE: we have 4 days off of school this coming week! We are going to Nkhota Nkhota with Josh and Emily
T - TAG SOME FRIENDS: liz, nancy page, mom
V - VERY SCARED OF: snakes, and I’m getting to where I don’t like flying very much anyway
W - WORST HABIT: worrying, planning too much
X - X MARKS MY IDEAL VACATION SPOT: rosemary beach, new england
Y - YUMMIEST DESSERT: peppermint ice cream, peppermint ice cream pie, those sherbert slushies katy makes
Z - ZODIAC SIGN: cancer

on a more serious note...things here are good.  we had a restful weekend.  also, we don't have school this friday, next monday, tuesday, or wednesday.  it's our fall break.  we are going to the lake for 2 days, but i plan on getting some lesson plans worked on during some of the other days.

its so funny to think about how much we have adapted in the past two months.  last night, the electricity went out (it usually does this for 2 hours 2 to 3 times a week), and we weren't really phased.  we immediately grabbed our candles and flashlights and just kept doing what we were doing.  

we hope everyone else is doing well.  we miss you all!  we are also very sad about the auburn and ole miss games from this past weekend :(

Thursday, October 2, 2008

sorry we haven't updated in a week. things have been busy here!

first thing, no pictures today! in fact, no pictures probably for a couple of weeks. our computer charger broke. so we are without a computer...which is a bummer, because we use it to watch movies on. but luckily someone is coming from the states on the 19th and will be able to bring us the charger. i just ordered it today with next day shipping, so lets hope it gets there in time! we will still be able to check our email and stuff, but we can't skype and do pictures.

also, we ran out of internet at our house (its really expensive, and you pay per MB...very strange. especially because in america, we only consider it downloading if its an attachment or from itunes, but really your computer downloads a little everytime it opens a web page. its a temporary download, but a download none the less.). so we will only be able to check the internet while at school (which is fine...but is when ya'll are asleep!). we could get more internet, but decided to wait and see if we really needed it. its just so expensive that it would be nice to try to do without it at home for as long as possible.

i am bummed about not being able to put pictures up because i have some great ones to add! emily and i went to ministry of hope, a crisis nursery/orphanage last friday (and will be going every friday from here on out). it was amazing, but hard. there was a 3 month old there who looked like a premie. he wasn't a premie, he was just so malnourished. i fell in love with one little boy. anyway, i know ya'll will all love the pictures, so just start getting excited for them...only like 3 more weeks! just be prepared though...its hard to see these beautiful kids who need so much love, but don't get it. not that the nursery isn't is. but they can't love on each kid as much as they need it!

we had a treat on sunday...we video skyped with our fellowship group from christ pres. it was amazing! we both loved seeing everyone on the computer screen. it was extra special, because a lot of the kids at christ pres that we are close to are in that fellowship group, so we got to see them as well. jacq fortner (the love of my life) asked, "miss mawry (thats how he says my name), can you take a big vacation and come and visit me?" and piper wanted to know if we had seen ngiri mdogo yet. and mary liles kept making goofy faces at the camera. it was great. it was so strange though to see how much those kids have grown up since we have been gone (which has not been that long). piper is already losing her little girlness...her face is getting longer and thinner. and eloise looked like a full fledged teenager. and emily, one of our favorite girls from our sunday school class last year looked so old that bech didn't even recognize her at first! it was so good for us to see and talk to all of those people that we love and miss!

things are good here. bech doesn't have a classroom, so that has been a little hard on him. but he is an amazing teacher, and the children LOVE him. my kids are great. i have loved getting to know each childs personality. the kids are all so funny.

we were in charge of potluck last week with the ketchums. we have potluck every friday here. one family (or in our case, two families) are in charge of deciding on a theme for potluck. then that family makes a list of everything that needs to be brought and people sign up for the different items. its fun to have fellowship. i see most of the teachers at the academy every day, but i don't get to see the college proffesors and the medical people that often. well we had southern style potluck. i think it went really well. there was poppyseed chicken (this was a new dish to most people, but a big hit!), fried chicken, mashed potatoes, southern style green beans (you know, nice and soft, not crunchy like the british eat them), cheese grits (courtesy of yours truly), a little sampling of red beans and rice, broccoli salad, corn bread, and cobbler and apple pie for dessert. there was sweet tea to drink, and, of course, tabasco sauce and tony's on the table! there was no food leftover, so i think it went really well!

anyway, we are doing well. its funny how much we have already adapted. if our computer charger had broken a month ago, i would probably have freaked out. but now we are just like, oh well, that stinks, we'll figure something out! TIA...this is Africa. we miss you all!

p.s. lara! i am so glad you posted on my blog! i have looked through all my luggage for the sheet of paper you gave me with your email address on it and can't find it anywhere! i miss you! how are molly and thomas? how's doug? how is the office? our email is send me an email and tell me all about life!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

sour cream!!!

they had sour cream at foodworths (one of the grocery stores...very small...if you saw it, you would probably laugh at my calling it a grocery store, but it is!) when we first got here. i loved it...i am not normally a sour cream kind of person, but i love it on baked potatoes here. then suddenly, about a month ago, there was no more sour cream :( it was a very sad last month...okay, well i am being melodramatic, but i really did crave sour cream. its like that never know if you will find something at the store. i mean, imagine, going to wal-mart and not finding a single thing of sour cream...not just low-fat or a certain brand you like...i mean NO sour cream. thats how it is here...crazy...

so anyway, i had a rough day today. the girl who teaches ballet with me on tuesday was gone (her cousin in town and she told me about it ahead a time), so it was just me...just me and 12 3 to 6 year olds. needless to say, madness was a rough ballet class. i mean the girls seemed to have a good time but the throng of parents watching probably didn't think it was all that great. so after class was over, emily, bech, and i headed to foodworths. i had only eaten an apple all day, so i was starving! all i could think about was buying a bag of barbeque fritos...they are really good here for some reason. they have had them at foodworths everytime i have been, so of course i assumed they would be there! and of course...TIA...they were not.

but guess what was? that's right...SOUR CREAM! and i got three things of it!!! whoooo! its amazing that sour cream can make me that happy, but it can! i mean i am so happy about this! so we decided that when God closes the door on bbq fritos, He opens up the door to sour cream. okay, not sure that is theologically correct, but its how i feel!

on another note, i have a prayer request. i have a student who is one point away from failing my class. i just don't know what to do about it. i mean, i have given study guides, extra credit opportunities, etc. so please pray that i will figure out what he needs me to do, how i can help him. he's malawian, and went to a malawian school for several years, so he's just not up to par with the other kids.

the sour cream!!! only one kind, but its good!

bech got me roses for our anniversary...they are like the ones i carried in my bouquet.

our wedding cake! since we couldn't eat our actual wedding cake on our first anniversary, katy sent us cake mix and icing.

my homemade tortillas! i'm not going to be opening up a mexican restaurant anytime soon, but they were pretty good, if i do say so myself. not very symmetrical, but i'll work on that next time.

emily and josh came over for mexican emily is helping make the tortillas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More pictures...

Here are more pictures, out of order. This is a picture Marley took on our way to the lake. This picture now seems funny to me, only two days later. What was so remarkable to us were the valleys and mountains we were driving through, but as I consider who I'm presenting this to (all of you back home in America), I'm thinking that the extraordinarily balanced bicycler will seem to you to be the obvious subject of the picture. But this is so ordinary here, these huge loads--sometimes one to two other people even--being carried on the backs of bicycles, that we missed this part of the picture for the mountains. I have seen men ride with stacks of wood that rise up into the sky and curve over their head. Here I am, with all of my objects lovingly arranged for the camera, immediately after getting back from the lake on Sunday. This reminds me of the pictures children get with Goofy or Mickey at Disneyworld. I'm so satisfied in this picture. There is a rough, wooden bowl, about seven woven baskets, two beautiful watering cans (made by a crippled tinsmith at Four Seasons nursery), and two pots (on the far left) made by a man named Rickson. Most of these baskets were bought this weekend in Salima. All of the materials needed for basketry grow by the lake, so this is where most of the baskets in the city come from.
Here is a good picture of the three gardeners teaching us how to build a fence. Fenton on the left, Mustaf in the distance, and Jonah on the right.
Here is a good picture of our two new baskets (on the floor). I'm posting this picture without Marley knowing. She is so good for me--always reminding me that not everyone is as obsessed with handmade objects, or interested in seeing still lives of them (or tools) on our blog. But I am, and I can't help it. When we arrived, I felt (rightly so) like we had left everything behind--mostly things I didn't realize I was leaving behind--and despaired for a few days. One of the things I left behind was the life of an art student, spending almost my entire day making things, with any materials I could want at my disposal. These handmade things have held me over until I can set up shop and begin making beautiful, functional things myself. On top of the basket on the right is a woven hat I bought.
Marley and I miss all of you so much! We love you!

Art, Inside and Out!

Here are the first pictures of my students. The classroom pictures are Reception Two, which is the second group of four year olds. I teach three year olds to sixth grade. By Friday afternoon, I have had fourteen different art classes! The Reception classes are some of my favorites. I don't know if all four year olds are good-natured and happy, or if this group is an exception.
Each teacher is required to participate in the afternoon activity program. The program includes soccer, swimming, netball (a British game), cross country, etc. Since I'm so athletic, I created my own activity: the Outdoor Arts and Crafts Club. Below are pictures from our second meeting. Our first project is a fence for our very own garden. Three campus gardeners--Mustaf, Jonah, and Fenton--are sharing some local knowledge and their time to teach us how to build a fence with some typical Malawian construction materials: bluegum tree trunks, bamboo, and reeds.
Here is the plot for our garden. In the left 1/3 of the picture you can see Mustaf (wearing the denim jacket), Jonah in the middle 1/3, and Fenton walking out of the picture on the right. Truth be told, these men have done all of the hard work. Hiding behind the right half of the fence is Emily Ketchum, the third grade teacher (and neighbor) who runs the activity with me.
Many of you will recognize this Outdoor Artist and Craftswoman. This is Amber McDonald, oldest daughter of Sam and LeAnne, from Faith Presbyterian Church in Brookhaven. She is the unofficial president of the club and a true artist.
I was nervous that Outdoor Arts and Crafts wouldn't be as "cool" as the other activities. We had over fifteen come today.