Pink Day!

Today was our last day before Matt comes home, so we girls were very girlie today.

We fell in love with 8 little puppies at our friend Alicia’s house. 💕

It was difficult to pull ourselves away from such cuteness! I appreciated that Alicia enjoyed the puppies – her puppies – as much as Abigail and Naomi did!

Alicia joined us for lunch out, and since it is winter here in Malawi, the girls had hot chocolate – with white and pink marshmallows!

Since the girlie thing was working out so well for us, we had pink pancakes for dinner. A little bit of beetroot goes a long way… healthy and girlie!

The Pancake Princess highly recommends vanilla yogurt and sliced bananas.

Matt comes home tomorrow! We have enjoyed these days of fun girl time, but we will be so glad to have him home!

A Productive Day

If we accomplish nothing else while Matt is away, I will be completely satisfied with what was accomplished today.

We cleaned out the fridge and freezer.

We finished the hall bathroom tiling project – plumber is coming tomorrow to check and turn everything back on, then it just needs a good scrub!

And no one was electrocuted! 😳

Bonus: we got to cuddle the Hirotos new little kitten!

All in all it was a great day around here. And we are now more than half way through Matt’s trip, so that makes today even better! Two more sleeps til he is home!

The Farm

If I tell my girls we are going to the farm, they start squealing and giggling and dancing like crazy kids. They know that “the farm” means Auntie Shannon, Morgan and Meren, baby chicks, the calves Sunday and Easter, piglets, and untold surprises. And this afternoon we got to go to the farm!

It’s about a 45 minute drive to the farm, heading across the countryside toward Zambia. No drive through the countryside of Malawi is complete without a few goats on the road.

As we head off the paved road and onto the dirt track, the peace and beauty of the farm start their work. Abigail and Naomi are not the only ones who love going to the farm.

Lest you forget we are in Africa, there are monkeys on this farm.

Shannon and I have tea, and more friends – Rene and Bianca – join us while Shannon’s daughters take Abigail and Naomi around to see all the animals. Then they head to the kitchen to make candy floss. My girls have never had it, so I don’t even bother telling them the American name for it: cotton candy. They really don’t care what it’s called so long as they get to eat it!

The day ends all too quickly. Special friends and a special place have made for a wonderful afternoon! The girls are already talking about “next time we go to the farm…” 💕

While the Cat’s Away…

Very early this morning we sent our favorite guy off to conferences in South Africa.

He left for the airport before the girls woke up. But when they did, this conversation happened:

R: “It’s just us girls! What do girls eat for breakfast?”

A: “Pancakes! With chocolate hair! And raspberry eyes, and scrambled eggs mouth and a cherry nose!”

Oh boy! I hope we survive 5 days without Matt’s steadying influence! We modified the stated “girls menu” and came up with something that satisfied everyone:

After breakfast Matt let us know they were about to take off for the first leg of their trip, a short, 27-minute flight from Lilongwe to Blantyre. Our airport has little enough traffic that everyone knows exactly what flights we are flying overhead. Ethiopian Airlines flight 20 was the only flight leaving the Lilongwe airport at any time even remotely close to 8:20am, so we went outside to wave goodbye to dad!

See the contrail in the sky?!? There he goes! And so begin the Floreen girl adventures!

Visitors

Today we were tremendously blessed to have two dear friends come to lunch. George Crawford is an elder at our sending church in California, and Rodney Anderson is the new pastor over missionary care at the same church. We have known these men and their families for 10+ years, so it was so, so good to see them both!

These men blessed us with their encouragement and counsel. I can’t even begin to tell you the importance of having a great, supporting sending church, and today these men embodied that care and support to us. We feel loved and very well cared for!

And so do our girls! What girl (of any age!) doesn’t feel loved and cared for when they are given mounds of chocolate and peanut butter?!?

I even got a little extra love too: a hand-stamped tea towel and sweet note from Glenna and Amy Anderson. (Thank you ladies!!)

We are so thankful for the show of love and support our sending church poured out on us today! These guys will catch up with the rest of the team here, and then head down to our organization’s regional conferences in South Africa on Wednesday. Matt goes with them to those conferences, so keep us girls in your prayers this week!

Boerewors

One new food I had to learn to cook when we moved to Malawi was boerewors. Boerewors, literally “farmer’s sausage,” is a South African favorite. A+ Geography students will know that Malawi is not in South Africa, but it is in southern Africa, and we do have a lot of South Africans who live here. And where you have South Africans, you have boerewors.

The most common way to cook boerewors is on the grill, or braai as South Africans call it. Lay your sausage out on the braai and use large tongs to flip the whole thing. Pretty easy.

Before we had a braai, my sweet friend Igna taught me a second way to cook it. I still use this method when I’m cooking boerewors that I know has a lower fat content. My friend Shannon made a batch of low-fat boerewors and it was so great that I bought it all from her! But if I’m not careful it gets dry very quickly… thus the stove-top method.

First, I sear the sausage on both sides. The picture above is of the lovely sear marks it develops. Then I add about 1 cup of water to the pan and quickly clap on the lid to keep the steam inside. After about 10 minutes the boerewors is cooked through, moist, and perfect. How do I know it’s done? When I bend the sausage with tongs, it breaks off cleanly. All done!

On to the table it goes! We had this sausage with some baked beans and fresh sweet corn on the cob. Smiles all around!

Gecko Hotel

We run a hotel. A Gecko Hotel, that is. Yep, a…

Matt and I decided long ago, that a hotel was a much better idea than keeping a lizard as a pet. So we have geckos that check in – and out – on a regular basis. For instance, I found a little guy in our shower the other morning, so Abigail came to catch him and Naomi had the Gecko Hotel all ready for him by the time he was caught. We kept him for observation until the afternoon and then let him go in a more favorable environment.

He was a cute little guy, and friendly – for a gecko.

See ya, little guy! Enjoy the great outdoors!

Read About Africa!

Several people have asked us over the years for recommendations of books to read about Malawi. Here’s a little sampling of books we recommend to get you thinking about our corner of Africa. Most if not all could be found in your local library, but I’ve linked to each book on Amazon if you want to take a quick look there before you head to the library!

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone :: Was he a missionary, an explorer, or an abolitionist? Yes. And the most famous European in this part of Africa.

African Friends and Money Matters :: This book was key to helping us understand giving and possessions in our first couple years here.

When Helping Hurts :: Sometimes charity can be helpful, sometimes it brings harm to the one receiving it. This book offers some thoughts on helping well and appropriately.

Venture to the Interior :: A 1950 exploration of the Nyika plateau and Mount Mulanje, two of our favorite locations in Malawi

The People of the Mist :: An 1894 adventure novel set in an undefined part of Africa that’s easy to imagine being Malawi: hidden civilizations, giant crocodiles, and daring escapes! Haggard’s Allan Quartermain series inspired countless modern adventure stories and films.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency :: Set in Botswana, but the feel of these books is so very similar to the feel of life in Malawi. I believe there are now 18 books in this series by Alexander McCall Smith.

The Jungle Doctor Animal Stories :: This is a kids’ series, but they’re fantastic fables! They were written by a medical missionary in Tanzania, so many of the expressions and titles used throughout the 6 volumes are familiar to us.

The Bradt Guide to Malawi :: The intro to this travel guide has some great summaries about living in or visiting Malawi. The rest of the book has been super-helpful as we have explored Malawi over the years. We actually own versions 5, 6, and 7 of this book!

And finally, there are several claims that Malawi, Mount Mulanje in particular, inspired Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the setting for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Maybe, but probably not. Tolkien did visit Malawi, but not until after he had written about Middle Earth. However, we do have a Shire River, and I have caught myself more than once thinking “this totally looks like what I imagine Middle Earth would look like!” Abigail is pretty sure she has seen the Misty Mountains! So, for whatever it’s worth, you should read a bit of Tolkien if you want to know what Malawi looks like!

Happy reading!

Digging for Water: Update

Well, we found 2 leaks and a leaky elbow. “We” hardly includes me, but I took pictures!

The wet patch with a hole in it is the leak that made the tiles huff and puff. When the water is on at the sink, you can see water bubble up in that hole! The leaky elbow is at that sink too: the dark stain running down the wall under the sink.

Leak #2 was much more dramatic! See the crack and hole in that pipe?!? This pipe is the same one from the hall bathroom, just further on down the line – in the middle of the guest bathroom floor. But if you back out from leak #2:

Oh boy do we have a mess! First of all, this big leak is the bad boy who had been causing us trouble for 9+ years! The yellow arrows are pointing to places we have had to replaster the guest room walls (repeatedly) over the years. We’ve even given up painting over the plaster! Now notice the door frame, that is, what is left of the metal door frame. Over the years the damp has rusted the metal, so the rusted parts had to be cut off. We are having some new pieces made and will weld and cement them back in place. New pipe, new floor, new tiles, new door frame, new plaster, and then we might actually repaint those walls finally!

I’m just hoping and praying that the new pipe will slip nicely into the tunnels left by the old pipe and that we don’t discover any more leaks where the pipe goes under the hall bathroom shower or the guest bathroom shower. I’ll let you know if this project gets any bigger!