Down the Road and Back

Before we left the States a few people gave us great ideas for blog posts. Things like, what does a “normal” day look like for you, or what do you do for date night. So I’ve been trying to think about what things are quickly becoming “normal” for us here so that I can tell you about them before they’re so normal that I don’t realize they might be interesting. First on the list: driving.

We’ve done a bit of driving since we got here, and I’ve discovered that this is one area where I’ve had more trouble adjusting than I thought. It’s the small things, like which side of the car I get in. The steering wheel is on the right side, as they drive on the left side of the road here, so I have to stop (sometimes literally stop moving) and think about where I’m going. Matt’s done all of the real driving, so my side is the passenger side – the left. And sitting on the left side has really confused me where it concerns the rear view mirror. It’s set so that Matt, on the right side, can see behind us, but something in my American driver trained brain thinks that because I’m on the left side, I should be able to see out that mirror! I think culture shock is found in little things like this. They don’t sound all that exciting when you blog about them, but they’re the little things that catch you by surprise in the first few weeks. =)

In other car news, I have driven a couple times now. We’re living at the Biedebachs’ house, and they’re located on a large compound with 20+ other families. I have driven from one end of the compound to the other end, and then from that end back home. Impressive, eh?! I’ll be doing it again tonight and doubling my Malawi driving experience. Someday I might graduate to outside the compound…

Driving 1
Driving in town… not bad. Pretty good actually, and relatively orderly. So long as I figure out which way to go on a traffic circle, we’ll be ok.

Driving 2
Driving downtown… people and cars everywhere, and no one really pays attention to street lights or right of way. But honestly, still not bad if you’re willing to go on the offensive and defensive at the same time.

Driving 3
Driving outside of town… suggestion: 4 wheel drive and wear your seatbelt – potholes are guaranteed!

Living Deliberately

We were having dinner with Beck and Marley Evans the other night, and Beck said something that helped solidify my thoughts on living in Malawi. He used the word “deliberately,” and it made me think about all of our experiences here in Malawi to this point, and what people had told us to expect over the coming weeks and months. Grocery shopping, driving across town, building a relationship, having my personal time of Bible study… all of these things are slower than we experienced them in the US, and they take more intentional thought and planning. You have to be deliberate about them, and I like that.

I have never wanted to be someone who just does the next thing without thinking about it. There is a depth and richness to living deliberately, particularly for the Christian. Rather than being caught up in materialism, self-centeredness, or peer-presure, the Christian has the responsibility to live in deliberate obedience to Christ, who has made life rich with meaning and purpose. Living deliberately as a Christian makes me stop and see God at work around me, and makes me carefully consider my walk before Him and my testimony before others.

So I’m thankful for this slow, deliberate life in Africa. It makes me stop and consider my obedience to Christ, as well as the wonderful meaning and purpose Christ has given my life.

praying mantis

Some Assembly Required

In our blog post Home in a Box, we told the amazing story of how God provided for our container to arrive in Malawi and be released and unpacked within 2 days. Well, here’s what it all looks like now:

Container Checking 1
The container was unloaded into Brian’s office, so it’s basically a room stuffed with boxes now. We took a couple hours this morning to sort through everything and check for any damaged or missing items. We handled every box, opened a few, poked and prodded the larger items, and as far as we can tell everything made it and the only damage was a very small pin missing from our dining room table. I’m not at all worried about that, because I’m married to Mr. Fix-It!

Container Checking 2
And yes, there were a few items that have returned home to Africa…

Now we just need to find a house!

Treasure Hunting

We haven’t even been here for 12 hours, and we’ve already had our first adventure! Not that that surprises me, but this was a fun one, thanks to our friend Lukas.

Lukas had come to Malawi just a couple weeks ago with a short-term missions group from Grace Community Church. When he got back, he came to our going-away party, and gave Matt an envelope that he said we couldn’t open until we got to Malawi. Well, we were so curious, that it was about the first thing we did when we got here.

Malawi Arrival 7
The note told us to look under the night stand in our room…

Malawi Arrival 4
and what we found was a treasure map! So we followed the map to behind the water tower…

Malawi Arrival 5
to where “X” marked the spot, and Matt started digging!

Malawi Arrival 6
Not too far down, we found an old paint bucket, and inside – treasure! Lukas had left for us his extra kwacha (currency), and told us to go out to dinner. Thanks Lukas! That was awesome!

Arriving in Malawi

We’re here! In California time, we arrived at about 12:30am, and here in Malawi, that was about 9:30am on Wednesday the 20th. We had no problems with our connections, all our luggage made it, and we got to enjoy an 8 hour layover in London!

Malawi Arrival 9
The official “this is proof we’re in Malawi” picture. Notice the African man and the brick buildings with thatch roofs. And if you look closely, you’ll notice that we look really tired!

Malawi Arrival 3
Our layover in London was dedicated entirely to getting Matt into Westminster Abbey. This was attempt #5, and I’m happy to say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! You can’t take pictures inside the abbey, so we had to settle for a picture outside, but with the tickets as evidence that we really did go in. And we did find the tomb of David Livingstone, explorer and missionary throughout Malawi and most of southeast Africa. =)

Malawi Arrival 2
It was a great trip! We enjoyed the travels, but it’s really nice to be here now, to finally be in Malawi.

We’re tired now, and after a couple more adventures, we’ll probably go to bed a little bit early and try to get as much rest as possible. We have only a few short days with Brian before he leaves to be with his very expectant wife in South Africa, so we need to be as alert as possible for those few days!

How to Move to Africa

Specific Instructions for Those Desiring to Move to Africa

1. Find one large living room – thanks Mama Flo!
2. Put everything you own in the USA in said living room.
3. Remove all items that are not Africa-worthy.
4. Pack all items in 4 boxes, distributing weight evenly – thanks both moms!
5. Weigh all boxes – thanks Dad Smith!
6. Remove all items that are too heavy to be Africa-worthy.
7. Repeat #5 and #6 for a long time.
8. Put the boxes in the car and head for the airport!

Moving and packing

We’ve completed through #7! We’re just finishing up the last couple things we need to do, and then we’re off to the airport! Our flight leaves at about 5:30pm, in just a few short hours! We’ll update when we arrive! =)