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!