I’ve never considered myself to be a collector, but I noticed recently that I collect unique earrings! And so, I present: my earring collection!
For Christmas the girls (with the help of a handy elf named “Dad”) made an earring frame for me. It’s a simple frame made of Mulanje cedar that holds a piece of window screen. It is perfect!
My earring collection, both as unique pairs and especially as a whole, leave no doubt where I live. Elephants, baobab trees, crocodiles, and the shape of the African continent are shapes related to Malawi, but the materials are all local and unique as well: teak wood, ebony seeds, crocodile teeth, porcupine quills, bone, and coconut shell are some of my favorites.
The only problem now is picking which pair to wear!
While Shelbi was teaching at the conference, the 6 men of the GCC team went to work. On Monday Shelbi, Abigail, Naomi, and I went to check out the progress on the church property.
The guys had been hard at work with surveying equipment, so there were lines all over the ground representing future buildings.
To get a look at the rest of it, Shelbi’s husband, Sean, took us on a tour.
They’ve been charting out and digging septic lines.
Digging the septic pit and leach field, as well as a cistern to collect and store run-off from our heavy Malawi rains.
They’re also making an awning for our current storeroom, which I believe will eventually be the maintenance area. Sean, Edgar, and Christopher are busy, but not too busy to strike a pose for a picture or two!
And they’re just about ready to lay pipes for the septic system. Abi and Omi were giving it a go to see if they were any good at construction. They are significantly better at wearing pink tutus and posing for cute shots than they are at construction, but they had a great time pretending!
It was fun to see progress on the land! I’m sure we have many, many months of construction ahead, but I’m looking forward to the day when both the church and CAPA can move onto this property!
One of the blessings of having the GCC team here was the opportunity to have Shelbi Cullen teach the wives of our current and graduated CAPA students. These wives have seen their husbands stretched and grown over the course of their studies, and they wanted to learn too! So we put on a Marriage and Family conference for them.
We had 20 CAPA wives in attendance, and a few missionary wives joined in each session. Shelbi covered an amazing breadth of information as she took the wives through the gospel and the authority of Scripture, and then brought the Word to bear on their daily lives as wives and mothers.
Naomi, whose husband finished the MDiv program in April, did a fantastic job translating for Shelbi. The men at CAPA study in English with all English-speaking professors and classes, but not all of their wives speak English – or at least are not as comfortable in English. If you’ve never heard how teaching works with translation, listen to the clip below as Shelbi shared part of the gospel and Naomi translated for her.
We are thankful for the opportunity to invest in the wives and families of our CAPA students. And as a bonus, we – the missionary wives – were also encouraged and loved on by Shelbi!
I am thankful for this good friend. Her wisdom, faithful teaching, and likemindedness encouraged my heart! As a true friend and true sister, Shelbi draws my mind to the greatness and grace of God. I pray that the Lord would let me do the same for the women in my life!
We have had a construction/conference team with us for the past week! They’re from Grace Community Church in California, our sending church, and include some dear friends. We have been able to host 2 of the team in our home this week, and now have more dear friends! I’ll post more on the conference and construction work soon.
This team has truly been a blessing! I do love the young, eager teams who come to help on the field, but this humble team of 7 has blessed us with a combined total of HUNDREDS of years of ministry and construction experience. Many people think “missionaries are great,” but as a missionary who is very aware of how normal and not-so-great she is, I want you to know that these people right here are some of my heroes. Their faithfulness and humility, wisdom and grace have blessed us time and again. We are so thankful for them, and we get 3 more days with them!
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!
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!
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…” 💕
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!
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!
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!