Exploring

One of my favorite things about moving is exploring and trying to figure out new places. Where is our new favorite grocery store? Our (my) new favorite coffee shop (his new favorite tea)? And best of all: anything great quality, great price, and nearby!

Today I found 2 new favorites. Danielle, our hostess and guide to all things South African, pointed me in the direction of a fabric outlet and a butcher.

Ok, I should probably never be allowed to visit this place on my own! It is multiple warehouses of ideas and projects just waiting to be brought to life!

I love the feel of it, the smell of it, the potential of all these racks of fabric!

The girls caught on to my enthusiasm! 😊

We will definitely be back!

And then it was on to the butchers’…

This store had our mouths water from the first moment. It smells of delicious cooked meat… Abi said it was the best smelling store she had ever been in!

And you can get your own breakfast haggis!

Or, more likely for our family, a delicious treat of ostrich steaks! Unfortunately, no crocodile, but I guess you can’t win them all.

The big score at the butchers’ today was fantastic biltong! It was the first time I actually thought biltong was better than American beef jerky. This packet didn’t last 5 minutes once we got home and I had to say “Take the last piece out of your mouth so I can get a picture before it’s gone!!” Yay for new favorites!

Accounting

If you want to be a missionary, you should probably take an accounting class of some sort. I’m working on cleaning up our cash and bank accounts from the last couple months of being in transition, and I have receipts in 5 different currencies (Malawian Kwacha, US Dollars, Euros, British Pounds, and South African Rand), as well as several currency exchanges to reconcile.

I don’t have a degree in accounting, or anything closely related to accounting or math. Let’s just say: we’ll be having frozen pizza for lunch today. After this I won’t be good for much else!

We Got Wheels!

Not so long ago, and not so far away, we had a gold Toyota Fortuner.

It was a great car. It was big and safe, it could hold 7 people, it had traction control so could do muddy roads, and it had a great manual transmission with some serious get-up-and-go. It was, for our family, the perfect African vehicle.

We were sad to sell it, but the Lord had good plans for it. A pastor friend wanted to buy it, and a church in the States that knows both him and our family helped us all out by making sure that the pastor could get the car and that we could sell it before we left Malawi. Win-win, everyone is happy! Just a little sadness at leaving behind such a great car…

Fast-forward a couple months, and look at what we got:

A silver Toyota Fortuner! It’s one year newer than our Malawi version and it’s silver, but otherwise it’s exactly the same car! Same interior, same 7 seats, same traction control, same perfect-for-our-family African vehicle.

And similar to the Malawi side of the story, the Lord had good plans on this side as well. This Fortuner belonged to a family who are emigrating to New Zealand on Sunday, and the Lord not only provided us with a car, but also provided a way for this family to sell their vehicle before they move!

One funny difference between Fortuners in Malawi and Fortuners in South Africa is how the name is pronounced. In Malawi it is pronounced FORTUNE-er. Here in South Africa many people say for-TUNE-er. For the life of me, I can’t help but hear “I went fishin today an caught me for-TUNE-er fish!” 🤣

Tears of a TCK

“Mom, moving is too hard for me!” she says through sobs and tears, late into a night of jet lag. I know, my girl, it’s hard for me too.

“Mom, we can go ICE SKATING any time we want to!” I know, my girl, isn’t that great?

“I don’t think I can be fancy like the people here.” I know, my girl, me neither.

“This place is so beautiful!” I know, my girl, it’s amazing!

“I just want to go home, but we don’t have a home.” I know, my girl, I want a home too.

Raising a third-culture kid (TCK) is wonderfully difficult. And yet, aren’t we all to some degree TCKs? We live here, somewhere in this world, but it is not our home – not truly the home of anyone who has had their heart captured by heaven and the sweet Savior who is preparing such a true home for us. I pray for my girls as they experience all these transitions early in life that it will be one of the things that draws their hearts in faith to the Savior and his heavenly home.

For more thoughts on TCKs, I highly recommend a blog post by my dear friend Lisa La George. And yes, I’m pretty sure some of her examples are taken right out of the experiences of our last couple months!

The House Search

House hunting is hard!

We are still looking, but hope to find a great new home by the end of the week. Please pray with us for a house for our family to make a home in, a place where we could welcome many church friends and family!

First Things

As the jet lag lifts, we are starting to explore our new home: Johannesburg! Here are some highlights from our first few days.

We started setting up our new life right away: phones, banks, cars, houses… there’s a lot to organize in the first few days! We were told that setting up a bank account could take days – and the right connections – but First National Bank came through right away! Yay FNB!

Getting phones and banks organized the first day wore us all out, so we slept well that first night. Naomi gets the Sleeping Beauty prize – we’ve had to wake her up each morning so far. Jet lag’s got nothing on this girl!

It hasn’t been all work though. The girls and I got to run around with our hosts, the Russells, yesterday, to tennis lessons, a shopping centre, ballet class, and a library! A library! Living in a big city might not be so bad! 😉

Lots of new things, but also some good old friends! It wouldn’t be our first choice to see Kellen and Becca in a hospital, but we were SO excited to see these dear friends from Malawi, to catch up with them and to pray with them as they trust the Lord day by day. Please be praying for Kellen as the doctors and his body fight against East African sleeping sickness.

In the last couple months we went from autumn weather in Malawi, to summer weather in California, to now the dead of winter in South Africa. It’s cold here!!! It’s 65 degrees now, but it got down to 42 last night! We are definitely not in the tropics now! But we are starting to figure out how to live here.

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!