Tanzanian Blue Leg Centipede

The girls are already in bed tonight, and they just missed a little excitement! I saw something scurry down the hall way toward the door that goes to the back porch. It took me a second, and a double take!, before I realized it was a Tanzanian blue leg centipede.

I yelled for Matt, of course! He grabbed the large Rubbermaid container from the sink that we had just eaten leftover chicken pot pie out of and caught this guy!

If you want to see him in action, click here to watch our video on YouTube! Warning: he’s definitely bigger and freakier in the video!

Normal Life

After a couple days of adventures, we were glad to get back to “normal” life by the end of the week. Here are a few glimpses of the last couple days, in no particular order… just us, living normal life!

Abigail has been very interested in art, so we took a couple hours to go to Round and Square during our shopping trip on Thursday. She had some great ideas to go with her water paints, and then Miss Sue, who is the server and hostess at Round and Square, brought Abi a couple kids’ art books to inspire her. So fun!!!

Abi may be pursuing watercolors like her mom, but Naomi is trying a little photography, just like her dad! Not bad for a four year old!

Meanwhile, the last of the fields in town are being burned in preparation for planting. We’ve had 2 rains now, the last 2 weekends, and it looks like we will have more rain within the week. And yes, by “field,” I mean every available piece of land, including all verges and any land that someone else hasn’t already planted.

After a couple days of crazy, my sweet husband took us out to dinner. Not only that, he kept the whole family entertained the entire time! I love this guy! He started drawing a picture, and then we each in turn had 30 seconds to continue the picture and add to it.

We all loved it! It has so much of everyone’s personality in it, including “a baby sun and a daddy sun!” thanks to Naomi!

Our finished product:

Lastly: my tree. Each member of the family has their own tree in our yard. Mine is a flamboyant, and I love everything about it, especially this time of year as it has the most beautiful blooms!

Thanks for reading along and joining us in these normal but special moments of life!

Africa Wins

There are a couple English expressions used in Africa to describe those days when things are crazy or unexpected or confusing. TIA (standing for This Is Africa) is the general expression of “well, that’s just how it is here.” The second expression, Africa Wins, is more along the lines of “we tried everything we could and it still didn’t work.” Yesterday, Africa won.

Let’s back up a little bit. We have had a friend, Rachael Ingoldsby, staying with us the last few days. She has been here for a few months helping the Ayres family with homeschooling. The Ayres left for their furlough a couple days ago, and Rachael flies back today, so she stayed with us in the interim. At breakfast yesterday, she told us she still hadn’t seen a monkey in Africa, and she was looking for a little adventure on her last day in Africa. So we made a plan: Rachael, Abigail, Naomi, and I would go to Kuti Wildlife Reserve near Salima for the day, then come back to have dinner with Matt and Chris and Ashley Mullins. Adventure, high likelihood of seeing monkeys – perfect!

It takes about an hour and a half to drive to Kuti from our house. It’s a beautiful drive, full of rolling hills, thatched mud brick houses, goats, bicycles, and eventually fields of termite mounds and baobab trees.

We checked in at Kuti’s reception building, then headed to Landarani Camp for our picnic. This is where we have had our annual IBF church camp for the last 6 years, so it’s very familiar and fun for our family!

Then we were off driving through the wildlife reserve to find monkeys! Found them, and some baboons!

And a pair of beautiful sable!

It was about this time that our air conditioning stopped working in the car. Bummer. It had kind of felt like it was going out for a while, but it was definitely gone now. We didn’t think much about it, but this was the beginning of our problems. We carried on and found a fantastic herd of nyala: one scruffy, dark, curly-horned male with his females and young.

We didn’t see any zebra (and they’re usually the most common!), but we did see their tracks.

It’s the end of the dry season right now, so we walked across the mud flats to check out a waterhole.

We did a little hiking…

And a little trail running!

And then we cleaned up a bit and discovered that Kuti has skin whitening soap. 😳 Hmmm.

We made one last stop in Kuti to see the marsh at Sunset Deck. Not many frogs, but lots of waterfowl!

So far, so good! Air con is out, but we can roll down the windows. We are sweating and getting super dirty from the dust, but it feels more African that way. Feeling completely satisfied with all we saw at Kuti, we head for home with the wind in our hair – we are adventurers!

Not so fast. We made it about 10km (6 miles) before the engine light came on and the engine temp went right up to the red. Uh-oh! We pulled to the side of the road and turned the car off quickly! Over the next half hour, we checked the oil and confirmed the radiator fan worked and we had sufficient engine coolant. There was one little incident when we thought the engine coolant was no longer hot and tried to open the cap… we don’t recommend that. No burns, but boiling engine coolant went everywhere. Other than that, Rachael and I were cool as cucumbers.

Thankfully we were on a stretch of road that had cell service, so we had called Matt for his advice. Eventually he made a plan to come out to help us himself because our mechanic was busy. However, Matt was at Immigration when all this started, trying to sort out Rachael’s visa, so he didn’t get out of Lilongwe until about 5pm. We were glad to get updates from him, and saw his big red circle moving closer to our little pink circle on the map! Help was on the way!

The girls held up wonderfully. This wasn’t their first roadside wait – they are professional roadside waiters! But every time something like this happens I am so thankful for patient, creative girls!

We pulled over with an overheating engine at 3:15pm. As the sun started to set, I was thankful for the little village that surrounded us. I wouldn’t want to be stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere as just 4 girls. The village offered us visibility – not something we always want, but this time I was thankful for it!

Matt-the-rescuer arrive at 6pm! He brought more bottled water, crackers, and beef jerky, which we devoured. Rachael had bought tomatoes from a roadside stand, and we had already eaten the leftover ham and cookies from our picnic lunch!

With Matt’s arrival, we then had 2 cars on the side of the road with hazard lights on while we made a plan. The plan: slowly get our car to Katengeza village, 7km away, where our housekeeper Martha’s brother is the chief, and leave the car til the mechanic can go get it in the morning. Plan worked out great. Chief Brian is a new favorite of ours!

We all made it home in Matt’s rescue car about 8:15pm, 5 hours after we had broken down. Not bad! Happy to be home!

We were filthy dirty from our dusty hike, lack of air con, and just hanging out in a village for hours. But dirt washes off.

About this time we got the update on Matt’s trip to the Immigration office for Rachael’s visa. Apparently “visa” doesn’t actually mean visa here in Malawi. It means “permission to enter,” not “permission to stay.” So her “12 month visa” is actually just permission to enter the country at any point in those 12 months. Permission to stay longer than the 30 day stamp in her passport is a different matter, so we were looking at paperwork, passport photos, letters, payments, etc, etc in the morning for her just to be able to leave the country… on a 1:05pm flight.

And then, the power starts doing weird things. Really? Power is on, but only things on the inverter are working. Really?!? We only get a few hours of power at a time, then have to wait 24 hours before we get more. The power can’t be “off” when it’s really on!!!

This is the point at which I was done. Africa can win today. Our car in a village 60 miles away, visa paperwork, and electrical issues will all have to wait for tomorrow. I surrender! I’m going to bed!

But you know what? The Lord’s mercies are new every morning, and his faithfulness is great! The mechanic got our car back to Lilongwe and replaced the water pump this afternoon. Rachael’s visa/permit issues were sorted at the immigration office this morning and she made her flight just fine. And the electrician showed up at 6:30am this morning to discover a melted neutral link in our control panel. Today, of course, brought more and different adventures, but each day has enough trouble of its own. We will leave all those troubles with the Lord. Even if Africa Wins every once in a while, I know God’s plans for me never fail, and he is in no way surprised by those days. I can go to sleep confident in his faithfulness and looking forward to his mercies tomorrow morning. I’m going to need them, and they are there waiting for me!

Good night!

Bike Taxi of the Day

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stand-up bike taxi before today, but I was really impressed that this guy was texting on his phone while riding/standing on the bike! Although… considering the skill with which Malawians handle dugout canoes, I shouldn’t be surprised!

Lights Out

The long power outages began earlier this year than last year, and just this week they have rolled out the new load-shedding schedule. Long just got much longer. Here’s what the next few days look like for us (screen captures from the ESCOM website: includes time /day power will go off, time/day it will come back on, the duration of the outage, and which areas are affected, ours being area 47).

Monday-Tuesday:

Wednesday-Thursday:

Thursday-Friday:

Saturday-Sunday:

As I read it, the week looks like: 25 hours off, 15 hours on, 25 hours off, 7 hours on, repeat. I’m just hoping our new solar panels start pulling their weight! This will be their first big test.

For those of you in Lilongwe who need to figure out the schedule for your area, you can find ESCOM’s load shedding schedule for the central region HERE.

Sneaky the Chop-chop

This morning the girls found a small chop-chop in their room.

It was mostly dead (due to the Fendona we sprayed last week).

But not completely, because it walked off the paper!

And then Matt left for CAPA for the whole day, and FORGOT TO REMOVE THIS THING FROM MY KITCHEN COUNTER!

I composted him in short order. Don’t tell Naomi. She had named him Sneaky, and informed us “he’s the bad brother.”

But this isn’t the first time we’ve had a chop-chop in the house – check out Matt’s post and photo shoot of our last, larger chop-chop.

Last Week

Things were a little too busy and chaotic to post much last week. We spent the week living in a half put-together house,

finding our toiletries in the hallway,

storing our laundry and all miscellaneous chairs in the living room,

and navigating the rearranged furniture in our rooms.

Meanwhile, we had all the white door frames throughout the house and all the tiles in the master bathroom painted with stinky oil paint, and then sprayed the interior walls of our house with Fendona, a crystalline version of permethrin.

And so we spent 3 nights sleeping in our tent, in our backyard, to avoid the various smells in our house.

Despite all the chaos, we had fun camping! Our family loves to camp! And it’s nice now to have so much of our house “finished” and back together. We are not quite done, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

Summertime Garden

It’s summertime! We heard rumors of 49C/120F temps in Mangochi this week, but we have only hit about 97F. That’s hot enough, without air conditioning, and half the time without power at all. But the garden is loving the sunshine! Here are some shots from around our garden…

Flamboyant tree:

Albizia tree:

Ginger:

Queen palm:

Rose of Sharon:

Garlic:

Jasmine:

Jacaranda tree:

Boganville:

Mangoes!

And avocados!

Rainbow Shield Bug

This afternoon we found one of our favorite bugs in our backyard!

The girls were about to lie down in the hammocks for rest time and this rainbow shield bug was just hanging out on a hammock. Yay for cool African bugs!