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!

Local Favorites #2

Hot sauce from India, marketed under a Chinese name, eaten with Mexican food by Americans in Malawi. Geography is irrelevant when it comes to good food.

Digging for Water, Searching for Tadpoles

Anyone who has stayed in our guest room will know that we have a water issue. For years, we assumed the problem was because the builders didn’t put a damp-proof course under the floor. But then about 2 months ago, the floor in our hall bathroom started to make a puffing noise when we stepped on it. Uh-oh. We finally figured it out. We had a leak. There’s a good chance we’ve had a leak or two under the floor for years.

The guest room and hall bathroom share a wall, and since the tiles on the hall bathroom floor were having problems, we started in the hall bathroom. Would we have to take out the guest room or guest bathroom floor too? We hoped for an easy answer, but we weren’t going to hold our breath.

We chipped out the grout and a few tiles came right out.

You’ll notice that this bathroom was the recipient of all the leftover tiles throughout the house, so I am perfectly ok replacing these tiles!!!

This needed more work than we could do, so our friend Richard came to tackle it. And tackle it he did. Tiles, dust, concrete…. the chiseling and hammering finally got to me. It was so loud it hurt my eardrums and I could hear every hammer hit echo in my head. So the girls and I went on a field trip.

We finished birds in science and are on to amphibians. There’s one great place in town that has tadpoles and frogs, the closest thing we have to a botanical gardens: the Four Seasons nursery complex. We went searching for tadpoles.

And we found them!

There were several large tadpoles, just about ready to sprout legs! I circled one in the pic above – it does look like a stick in the picture, but in real life it was definitely a tadpole!

We stalled a little longer at Four Seasons, completing a nature scavenger hunt and buying some great petunias, but eventually it was time to head home and get dinner started.

We came home to no tile in the hall bathroom!

There is a leak in the sink plumbing! And that would explain the damp in the floors and the tile issues we had had. However, it’s not a big enough leak to explain the guest room and guest bathroom wall problems that we’ve had for years. So Richard has also started on the guest bathroom floors.

See how dark the concrete is? And it has a dank moldy smell. Ugh. Tomorrow Richard will be back to continue the search for leak #2. And Rachel will be looking for another great field trip idea…

On Being Four

Four is such a fabulous age! Naomi is full of life, bossiness, sweetness, mischief, compassion, frustration, and fierce love. We are loving these sweet days with her!

She is a devoted fan of her sister. Not only are they friends, Naomi considers herself to be defender, artistic consultant, and executive boss of Abigail.

Naomi is on a campaign to beautify the world around her. This week, to Simba’s silent, patient distress, she insisted on flowers between his toes. What a great dog!

And I think, despite some very brunette beginnings, that her hair is actually turning blond!

For the rest, I’ll let her speak for herself: