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:

Everyday Things

Life in Malawi is so normal for me now that I often forget that it’s so different from what my life used to be when we lived in America 10 years ago. Here are a few normal parts of today.

The bugs are different:

And so are the slugs. Well, they might be the same, but I don’t remember seeing slugs in America!

The bike taxis are not only different, they made me learn a new style of driving: the stop-and-go-swerve style.

The overloaded semi-trucks do feel normal now, but they don’t feel “right.” I still feel like they’re going to tip over and squash me whenever they drive by!

I’m pretty sure this one didn’t squash anyone, but it doesn’t raise my confidence level.

And having kids is a new normal for me. I haven’t spent any significant time raising kids in America, but I do know that I love raising kids in Malawi. I’m glad it’s our “normal!”

What “normal” parts of our life would you be interested to see? Let me know in the comments!

Science in Malawi

Abigail is doing biology for science this year, and she is loving it!

We are currently studying birds, and today’s lesson on nests had a section about weaver birds.

So we decided, since we have weaver birds in Malawi, to go find one of their nests. We found lots, right on our own street!

They’re way up in the palm tree in front our neighbor’s house, so the picture is a little grainy, but you can see the hole/tube on the left side where the birds enter from the bottom.

Then we went home to study a feather. If you have to study the barbs of a feather, why not take a close look at a beautiful guinea hen feather?

We love doing science class in Malawi!

Loving Team Time

Over the last several weeks we have had the privilege of hosting a team from The Master’s University. We had a fantastic time with them!

They came to do the kids’ program for our church camp, and stayed around to help with lots of admin projects for both the church and the training center. Then they got to experience life in rural Malawi by spending 3 weeks working with Action International in Ntcheu. Sunday night they came back to our place for a little debrief, and Monday afternoon we dropped them off at the airport.

We so enjoyed this team! Dinners were long and full of conversation.

Our evenings were fun as they loved on our girls.

We got to share life with them and enjoyed showing them some of our favorite things about Malawi.

We were very blessed to get to know these college students! We will miss their deep theological conversation, their hilarious antics, and the genuine love they poured out on us. Thank you TMU team, for the blessing you were to our family and to so many others here in Malawi!

Food for Six Months

Martha told me a great story today: About 7 or 8 months ago, I had asked her if she wanted to plant the seeds leftover from a watermelon we had eaten. We both knew that her son, Chancy (16), had a green thumb, and we both thought it was a great idea. From those few seeds, Chancy raised 12 plants. He took the plants to Salima and planted them on Martha’s property, where her mother now lives. The plants grew and produced lots of fruit. The maize fields were empty for Martha and many in Salima, but the watermelon patch did great!

In March, there was a funeral in the village, and one of the men attending the funeral told Martha’s mom that the restaurant at Livingstonia hotel needed watermelons! He took 2 truckloads of watermelons and paid her enough to buy 3 large bags of maize. I asked Martha how long those bags would feed her mom and the grandkids she cares for: 6 months.

Six months of food from a few seeds. Three bags of maize when the maize fields were empty this year. We are thanking the Lord for his provision! And we are passing along some more seeds!

Birdwatching Around the House

We have heard the owls the last few days, but finally saw one roosting this morning.

It’s a barn owl, and apparently there are a couple in our palm tree, and several more in the neighbor’s trees. Unfortunately, they’ve taken up residence in our neighborhood because our neighbor’s stockpile of maize has drawn “hundreds” of mice. The owls are here for the mice, and I hope they have quite the feast! Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy hearing and spotting them in our backyard!