Thursday, August 28, 2008

We have a car!!!

Sorry for no update in the last few days! We have had a better week than last week, but also a busier week! School started! We are both excited to have started our job here.

We have some great news…we got a car! Technically, we don’t have it yet. Allen Shaba (a Malawian who found it for us) is letting us drive it until we pay him on Friday. The whole payment should be pretty hilarious…the largest amount of money here is the 500 kwacha bill. But 500 kwachas is about $3.50. So to pay for a car, we have to have a LOT of 500 kwacha notes…like think ransom money or mob scenes! We are going to call the car "the Shaba," in honor of Allen...but here it is pronounced sha-wa, which makes it even more fun to say!

We had a not fun incident last night, though. The car key is broken and falls of off the ring easily. Well it fell off yesterday about 4ish from Bech’s keys while he was outside working on our herbs and his composte pile. He realized it was missing about 30 minutes to an hour later and we frantically looked for it. We couldn’t find it anywhere, and were really worried that one of the guards had taken it! Allen Shaba took the lock from the car this morning and had a new key made for us. But then the cook next door told us he had picked it up from the sidewalk in front of our house. We’re not sure why he didn’t tell us yesterday and we hope he didn’t make a copy of it! But we are glad to have our key back!

My students are great! I have kids from so many different nationalities in my classes…Malawian (duh), Ethiopian, Dutch, Zimbabwean, South African, Nigerian, American, German, Egyptian, Indian, Canadian, etc. The children’s accents are beautiful! They aren’t all crazy about science, but they seem to be pretty attentive and respectful so far!

My parents were able to overnight another digital camera to a group leaving from Seattle on Friday. That means we should have another camera by Sunday!!! I will try to put some pictures up from the academy and from the markets.

Everyone, thank you so much for your comments! We miss everyone so much! One thing I have already realized in our short time here is how much I love Mississippi and the South!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

cross cultural stress

in orientation last week, we learned how the term "cross cultural shock" is not as appropriate as "cross cultural stress." this is definately what we have been going through this past week!

on monday, i got pretty sick. bech and i left orientation to go to the clinic then went to our apartment for me to rest. his bag was left unattended in an on campus house for maybe 20 minutes. in those 20 minutes, someone stole our digital camera and his ipod.

also we are car-less, which is not fun. we were able to borrow the academy car for almost 2 weeks, but now people are on campus and they needed the car back. we were going to look at a car on friday, but alan shaba's (he's the one helping us by a car and the one who was going to be showing us this car) son became very sick with malaria. pray for him...he was unconscious, which is not good...

then saturday our internet messed up (i'm up at the school posting). after bech got back from going out to the village with our friend mvuto (i'll let him tell you all about that), i just broke down...and then, while i am upset, the power goes out. it does that alot here...just goes out for 2 or 3 hours every other day or so. it comes back on by the end of the night, but it can be very frustrating.

so i say all this not to complain, but to ask for prayer. we are tired after this past week, and school is about to start! we are both nervous and want to be good teachers. plus we feel so vulnerable...no car, our camera was stolen, etc. living in a 3rd world is definately harder than you might think (but more rewarding too!)...we are just really feeling the harder part right now.

i am thankful for the people reading this blog and so thankful for the prayers we know we are getting from faith and christ pres!

also, pray for our friends the ketchums...they had a week like ours. laundry was stolen off of their back porch, josh's car was broken into and some papers (not really of a monetary value, but stuff that took a long time to compile) were taken, etc. plus they live off campus like us, so their power goes off when ours goes off.

oh, and needless to say...no picture updates for a while! we will try to get another camera sent with a team coming out here in a couple of weeks...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TIA

TIA is one of my new favorite acronyms. Emily taught it to us the other day: This Is Africa. Thats what the past two days have been like. I have my first round of "Malawi stomach." Actually, I somehow caught some sort of bacteria from something I ate--not fun! I am on antibiotics and anti-nausea medicine for now. I feel much better...yesterday I felt like I had the flu.

On a good note, we are in the middle of orientation right now. Bech and I are enjoying it. Today we learned about being healthy in Malawi (a day too late!). Also we talked a lot about cross cultural stuff. Very informative and very helpful!

I have no new pictures to put on the blog today. Actually, Bech is the one who has been great about pictures. I will try to be better though!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Morning

I've wanted to take a picture of this since we first moved into our apartment. I'm standing on our back porch. Behind the middle of the roof on the far right, you can see the minaret of the Area 9 mosque.

Here is a close-up. This mosque is the most prominent landmark of Area 9, and is helpful when I'm lost and am trying to find our apartment. The mosque appears to be far away, but it is actually very close to our house. Each morning the first prayer, which takes place at dawn (around 5 o'clock right now), is amplified over a loud speaker. The prayer usually wakes me up. I've wanted to take this picture because hearing the Islamic prayers throughout the day has been a powerful reminder that I am not at home, back in Mississippi in the Bible-Belt of the American South.

This morning when I woke up I found this scene. Eric (one of the tenant's employees I mentioned in the last post) has begun a compost pile on the left to show me how it's done. In the bottom left of the picture you can see his khasu, which is the Malawian version of the hoe. It's a beautiful tool, and one that I hope to have. I bought the metal head at the market, and am going to find someone to fashion a handle for me.
Here is a loaf of bread that I made this morning. It may be one of the most beautiful loaves I've ever pulled out of the oven. It's actually difficult to find bad bread here in Malawi. Most grocery stores make their own breads. Because this country is poor, there is no industrial food system like the one found in the United States. Because of this, the food is often local and fresh.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

More Pictures of Home

Our bedroom.
Our older readers will recognize this kind of "washer" and "dryer."
This is on the side of our apartment, and the entrance to our backyard.
Our herbs: chives, mint, rosemary, parsley, basil and fennel.
Here is a series of pictures from the front porch.


If you look closely, you will see black pans around the small guardhouse. Everyday at lunchtime the employees in the complex gather around a fire and cook nsema (en-seem-uh). You can see the soot stains on the wall. Fire is the primary way food is cooked here.


Pictures of Home

Hello, everyone! Marley and I have been here for almost two weeks, and I'm finally starting to feel at home. Up until now, I've been too overwhelmed to form some coherent thoughts about all that we have experienced. As Marley mentioned in her last post, we now have internet, so we will be posting pictures often.This is a picture of our kitchen taken today. Marley and I love to cook and eat; the kitchen is important! The container that left the United States back in April arrived yesterday in Lilongwe. It arrived bearing furniture that was given to us by one of Marley's co-workers, one of our favorite wedding gifts--our kitchen knives, clothes, and care packages that our parents put together back in the spring.

Below is the view from our kitchen window. We live in Area 9, and by Malawian standards, this is a very nice part of town. It has been hard for me to accept this. Home is a physical and an emotional and spiritual reality. My idea of home is being reshaped and reformed. I spend most of the day in a strange in-between place, between constantly remembering and often longing for the standard of living that I'm used to, and yet being constantly reminded that our "sub-standard" living is far more luxurious than the conditions most Malawians live in.

On a happier note, Marley and I house-sat for a family on campus. We only stayed with four of their eight. As usual, the children fell in love with Marley, especially the two little ones. This is Stephen, Charlotte, and Marley playing with three of of their baby rats.

This is Stephen, the two year old, demonstrating for me that the sense of hygiene that distinguishes homo sapiens from, let's say, dogs, develops around three years of age.

These are some of the first things we bought in the market. When we first arrived here I felt completely uprooted. Actually, when we were dropped off at our apartment for the first time, I walked into our bedroom, laid down on the bed and cried like a child. I felt completely untethered. Nothing was familiar, even the air I was breathing. The air was invisibly thick and acrid with the smoke from sticks being burned all over the city while dinner is being prepared. The market has been one of those solid places I have tied myself too for comfort and a sense of stability. The market for me represents food at its most elemental level, and the existence of the market has comforted me in a profound way.
Here is a basket that Robert made for me. Robert is a boy who sells wicker furniture. I asked him if he could make a basket for me to use while at the market and he so he did. Next to my basket is a pot full of vegetable and fruit scraps to be composted. Two Malawians who work in our small apartment complex are sharing their knowledge with me and teaching me how to compost. I think my first efforts entertained them, because they laugh when we talk about it.


christmas in august...

okay, not really. but it does feel a lot like christmas! we have been working on/anticipating four things since we got here: internet in our apartment (we have been using the internet at the academy), a cell phone, hot water in our apartment, and the container (with our beds!). this week we got all four! we ended up having to buy a cell phone here...the one we brought with us was messed up. it was not fun to pay $60 for a phone we could have gotten for free in the u.s. (you know, one of those free for signing a plan kind of nokias), but now we can be reached! our number is 08211021 (and if you are calling from overseas, i think it is 265-8211021).

our hot water was fixed on wednesday...it is still messing up a bunch. like it is either freezing or scalding. but we can at least make a bath by mixing the two extremes. and that seems to work well.

they hooked up the internet on thursday. unfortunately, something is wrong with the ethernet hookup on my mac. it started messing up when i was at ole miss, and i never got it fixed. so we had to buy a wireless router. again, it was way more expensive than it would have been in the u.s., but now we have really fast (well really fast for here) internet.

and the container came thursday night! we slept on a real bed with our sheets last night. and we used our towels today! it is nice to have comfort items like that...well, maybe i am the only person who counts towels as comfort items. bechs mom and my mom both packed us suprise boxes. my moms is separated into september, october, november, and december, so we haven't opened those yet. but we got to open bech's moms box...it was great! she packed it full of jambalaya mix, cajun seasoning, red beans and rice mix, party cups, etc. ohhh yeah, and party lights! she is from new orleans, and the box was totally new orleans. we loved it! one of my favorite things is the gingerbread house kit for christmas...i can't wait to use that!

i have a big prayer request. the people in the apartment before us hired a lady to clean and do laundry. we kept her on, because she needs a job...she does the laundry in a concrete sink outside and then hangs it to dry, then irons it all...crazy! mercy is very sweet, but speaks no english. i am not very patient with her. if you know me well, you know that i am super o.c.d. about how i want everything arranged. mercy likes to reorganize everything! she is trying to be sweet and clean, and really everything she reorganizes looks very good, but it is driving me crazy. i need to learn to be patient, because she is just trying to do what she thinks is right. so please, pray that i will be patient, and maybe that i will learn enough chichewa to explain this all to her.

this monday we start orientation. we are excited about this! i am ready for school to start, but i am nervous as well!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We have been here for a week and one day now! We feel like we have learned so much in 8 days.

Bech has been driving on the “wrong” side of the road now for almost a week and is doing great! I am learning to drive a stick shift, and am doing okay (or so Bech says). The funny thing is since I am learning how to here, I will be so confused trying to drive a stick shift back home where it is to my right.

We have figured our way around town, mostly. The streets here are sooo confusing! But we have been to most places now. We have been to the curio market, and the main market to get fresh fruit and vegetables.. We have been to Olde Town mall (well it has 6 shops…one of them a little grocery. We have also grocery shopped at Foodworths and Shoprite.

We have cooked some. I have made homemade lemonade twice. We have cooked pumpkin, potatoes, spinach, etc.

I have been working on bulletin boards for my classroom. I have the first 3 weeks of lesson plans for the 7th grade and the first month for the 8th grade. I am still working on 9th grades.

Today the men came and worked on our hot water heater. We haven’t had hot water since we arrived. We have quickly found out that when people here say “tomorrow,” as in, “We’ll be there to fix it tomorrow,” they don’t literally mean tomorrow. They mean whenever. But the Ketchums have kindly let us use their shower for the last few days. And if you are wondering how many Malawians it takes to fix a hot water heater, the answer is 6. But Jack, the main guy, just left and told us it was all fixed. Pray that it is!

No word on the container. Laura ChinChin told me last week that we would “probably” get it this week. I am putting a lot of weight into that word “probably.” It sounds more promising than maybe, right? But we are comfortable on our air mattress. We are cold at night, so we are eager for our blankets from the container.

Plus a LOT of curriculum is in there, so we need it before school starts. I have all of mine, but one teacher’s, Vicky, curriculum is all on there. She is teaching 2nd grade, but it’s the first year there have been two 2nd grades, so all her curriculum had to be ordered new. Please pray that customs okays it all soon!

One thing we haven’t really talked about yet is Malawi itself. This is actually pretty deliberate. We haven’t taken any pictures yet either. We are still just trying to take everything in. It is so hard and strange to be surrounded by such intense poverty. We know we have to reach a point, a middleground between being broken hearted by everything around us but growing accustomed to it at the same time. But we don’t want to be too used to it…we just can’t walk around broken hearted 24 hours a day. I know that sounds strange. We are just still trying to figure it all out. But we will take pictures soon of everything. We want to share it with everyone.

We love and miss everyone so much! We are thankful for all the prayer and support. All of you mean the world to us!

***I am actually posting this on the 13th, instead of the 12th. The power went out last night, so I wasn't able to post last night. But we do have hot water now!!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

okay, well i couldn't get the pictures to load on this, so i put them on facebook so here's the link...

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2140762&I=bb4be&id=6505949

hope that works...let me know if it doesn't!

Friday, August 8, 2008

an update

okay, well i am trying to upload pictures on the laptop as i type. bech and i are sitting in the teachers lounge at the academy, working on the computer in the room and then our laptop.

we have had a great first week. bech wants to put a post on here as well, so i may be repeating some of what he will say, but oh well! we are borrowing an academy car. bech has driven it around town a bunch and is doing great. in case you didn't know, in malawi, cars drive on the left side of the road...it is so confusing! plus the roads are not in good shape here and people drive like crazy men! i haven't been able to drive on the roads yet, because the car is stick shift. but bech and emily tried to teach me today how to drive on the roads...they said i did great for a first lesson, so hopefully i will be driving in malawi soon!

we are starting to get settled into the apartment. i don't know if i have said this yet, but we haven't been able to get into the carton. something messed up with customs. so hopefully next week we can get our boxes and furniture! i bought some fabric from the market, so bech and i made makeshift curtains out of this great, bright fabric. we both think it looks great! i will take pictures of that this week.

we have gone grocery shopping...what an experience! there are a few semi american ish grocery stores...we have shopped there. also, we have gone to the local markets and bought fresh fruit and vegetables. things at the grocery store send to be more expensive, but the fresh produce is sooo cheap. we also got some glass bottle cokes from the 7-11.

we have both been working on our curriculum. we have to have the first two weeks of lesson plans before school starts and always stay two weeks ahead of time. i am really excited about it all. i have 7th grades first 3 weeks done, and the first 2 weeks of 9th grade. so now i need to move onto 8th. i have been organising the classroom and am about to start hanging posters.

still no hot water, but people came and looked at it yesterday. they are supposed to come tomorrow and finish fixing it. lets hope that actually happens! also the internet people say they will come tuesday.

other missionaries will start arriving next week. right now, most of the long term people are here. but short term (by that i mean 1 to 2 years) people aren't here yet. we are excited to meet our friends for this year! we have really enjoyed getting to know the other short term couple here already...the ketchums. he is doing maintenance and she is teaching 3rd grade. they live in our apartment complex too, so that makes us feel safe.

tonight we had our first friday night potluck...so fun. there are so many young missionary kids here...it is great to get to know them...because as everyone knows, i love kids. the families here are great as well.

we miss everyone, but we love it here. please come visit! you will definately be changed!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

we're here!

We’re here! I am actually writing this post at 2:55 a.m. Tuesday morning. That is about 7:55 Monday night for those of ya’ll in Mississippi. We went to bed at 8:30 last night, and now I can’t sleep! Oh well, I decided I would come write this post right now, then fall back in bed and try to get some more rest. I am not sure when I will be able to post though. We are going to try to get internet set up this week.

We left Saturday at 5:15. The Evans, my family, and Bech and I had a last lunch at Little Tokyo then headed to the airport. We ended up with 11 checked bags total…not too bad. After very tearful goodbyes, we set off. The short flight to Dallas was fine, although I did cry some of it (I know, I am embarrassing…just hope you never have to fly with me when I am leaving for a year!). The flight to London was fine too, just so long. And Bech and I have realized that we aren’t really able to sleep on planes. We actually got about 4 hours sleep on that flight.

London was fine. We got to go into the city, but after going through customs, checking our bags, taking the tube in from Heathrow, etc., we ended up only getting to spend about 3 hours there. My friend Liz Anne is in London right now, so we were planning on meeting up. But when I tried all of the numbers, I couldn’t get them to go through. I don’t know if I am just an idiot about international codes, or what. That was disappointing, but I guess it just means now she will have to come visit us in Lilongwe. We wandered around London for a few hours. We peeked into the National Portrait Gallery and saw a Lucian Freud (along with some other good paintings). We needed lunch but wanted something local. We asked somebody at the museum and he sent us across the street to St. Martins. It’s an old church with a crypt below it, and in the crypt, they have a cafĂ© set up. We ate there and enjoyed it. We stopped in Trafalgar Square then headed back to the airport.

We left at 7 that night for the long flight to Johannesburg. It was exactly that…long. This time we both only got about an hour of sleep. We got to Johannesburg at 6:50 a.m., and didn’t have to leave until 11:30.

We got to Lilongwe on schedule, about 2 in the afternoon. Only one of our bags was lost, which is quite a big deal (I mean that only one was lost, and not more). It is full of academy stuff, and will get here eventually. Its probably just stuck in one of the cities we flew from.

Sam and LeAnne and Amy Louise (another ABC missionary) picked us and all of our luggage up and took us to our new apartment. At this point, Bech and I were both exhausted, in cultural shock overload, and probably a little smelly (we hadn’t been able to shower since Saturday morning). They left us at our apartment for an hour, and I was able to take a shower. It was cold…turns out our hot water heater has its own switch, but when its turned on, it trips out all the other electricity. We will get that fixed this week. It’s a good thing I grew up going to Kanakuk, because I can totally handle cold showers.

We started unpacking…it definitely makes a difference to put our stuff up. We have been living out of a suitcase for almost 2 months now, and it is fun to know we won’t have to pack up anytime. Then Sam and Leanne came and got us and fed us dinner (plus Bech got to shower at their house). We came home at 8 exhausted…it may be the one and only day I go to bed earlier than my Nana and Papa! Of course now I can’t sleep, but I am starting to feel a little tired. Hopefully as soon as I finish this, I’ll fall back to sleep.

A lot of our stuff was on the container that left the states in May, including lots of kitchen stuff, clothes, furniture, our beds, our sheets, etc. We had been told it wasn’t here and probably wouldn’t be here anytime soon. Well guess what??? It’s here! Yay! This is a huge blessing. It is so hard to be in this apartment and not have a real bed, our own sheets and towels, our own everything. But the container is here, and now we will have those things. Plus, the school will have all of its supplies before school starts!

Today we have lunch and dinner with two different families at ABC. This morning, I will go visit our neighbors, the Ketchums, who are also ABC missionaries. They live in the same complex as us and have just done all of the basic stuff, getting internet, figuring out how to pay for electricity, etc. Hopefully they can help us do some of that stuff!

I’m off to bed. Please pray for us…we are nervous about everything! I will post pictures soon!


***added later…
okay it’s now Tuesday afternoon. I did finally get back to sleep about 5:15, after listening to the first prayer from the mosque close to the apartment complex. we unpacked more this morning then went to campus. we saw my classroom and got my curriculum. we ate lunch with laura chinchin and are eating with another couple tonight.