You Know You Live in Africa When…

You know you live in Africa when in your 3-5 year old Sunday School class there are more kids who HAVE eaten grasshoppers than have not. Sorry John the Baptist, your food choices are no big deal with this crowd!

No More Surf

Today we said good-bye to a good friend. See him in the picture with us?

We sold our faithful Toyota Hilux Surf. We’ve had some great adventures with him over the last 5 years! From working our way through some rough and muddy roads exploring the back corners of Malawi, to the dirt roads and pot holes in our own neighborhood, he’s been reliable and tough. We can’t imagine a better car for our family, but he’s 21 years old now and starting to show his age. Unfortunately they don’t make Surfs anymore, so he was our last. (Yep, we had another Surf before him!)

The Surf has gone to a great new owner who knows his value, so we are happy. And I’m sure we’ll figure out how to still have adventures without him!

MacGyver

Every once in a while, I get to MacGyver something. The latest, my flip-flops:

I love Haviana flip-flops, and I wear them about 80% of the time. I know, they have no support and are killing my feet, but they are so easy, they breathe great in the heat, and they dry quickly in the rains. So when my only pair of Haviana flip-flops broke, I needed to fix them.

The causality was the little button on the bottom of the shoe that holds the toe straps to the sole. Glueing it back together does not work – tried that before. So this time I used a large safety pin, as seen in the picture above. It works great! It’s been there since the beginning of December (6 weeks now), and the only drawback has been that it gets caught in thick carpet. But really, we live in the tropics and thick carpets aren’t very common in our hot wet weather, so it’s really not a problem!

Yes, I will buy myself a new pair of Havianas when we are next on furlough, but for now: problem solved!

Back to Everything

The holidays are over and we are back to “normal life” around here. But we had a great time…

Decorating cookies with friends

Making little gingerbread houses with more friends (yes, even the dads!)

Decorating the house for Christmas

Hosting and enjoying 3 nights of IBF Christmas parties in our home!

(We love the Christmas parties!)

We also got to enjoy giving gifts

And receiving them!

Playing with baby lizards in the early rains

And getting to be a little fancy!

It was a nice break, but we are eager to get back in the regular routine of things around here. Like blogging! 😁

Hedgehog!

Our friends the Hirotos have the cutest little hedgehog. Hedgehogs are wild here in Malawi, and usually pretty easy to find during the rainy season, as they get washed away from their homes in the ditches and culverts. I might have to go find one…

Rest

When we were new to Malawi, we weren’t sure if missionaries were supposed to go on vacation. We worked hard every day, trying to keep up with our perceptions of the great missions heroes of the last 200 years. We were not good at resting, and the months and years of working under these perceptions of what a missionary “should be like” began to take its toll. Slowly, over the years, we have started to learn more about rest and the role it should have in our lives. We should rest! We have come to realize that God likes rest so much that he dedicated one day of the week completely to it. In fact it was so important to him that he showed us how to do it by resting himself!

Unfortunately, as any pastor and their family will know, it’s really hard for anyone in ministry to follow the pattern of 6 work days followed by 1 day of rest. We are ON on Sundays, from 8:45am until 4pm. So do we pick another day of the week as our day off? We tried, but here in Malawi people stop by, the generator breaks, someone needs money, this urgent thing came up that can’t wait… suddenly the “day off” looks just about like all the other days. So new plan: if we need to rest, we go somewhere else. And that’s what we did last week.

We inadvertently picked a great place for resting. Kawandama Hills is about a 3 hour drive north of us, but it’s kind of the middle of no where. No power lines, no cell phone service. And really not much to do. We had expected it to be more adventurous, but once we got there we appreciated the simplicity. We were perfectly fine going on a few hikes…

flying a kite…

reading a good book with a cup of hot chocolate…

snuggling with Dad…

watching a movie…

watching the storms roll in…

and going for another hike.

After 3 nights at Kawandama Hills, we moved on for the last 2 nights in Nkhata Bay, a family favorite.

But we were loving the restful days, so we even toned down our expectations for this adventurous city, and enjoyed the view…

caught some tadpoles…

spent hours reading a great new-to-us book (Swallows and Amazons!)…

swam a little…

went for another hike…

ate some yummy banana pancakes on a rainy morning…

and really enjoyed family time!

It was a much-needed, and very much appreciated vacation. We are still learning what rest is and how to do it in a way that honors the Lord. We will keep learning in the years to come, but for this week, we came home feeling rested and ready to get back into the thick of things!

Must be Rainy Season!

We are looking forward to a great week of rain here in Lilongwe! Thunderstorms, cooler temperatures… aaaahhhh!

Oleander Hawk Moth

Not all our bugs are scary. Some are just beautiful! This morning as Matt and Aaron left to teach at CAPA, Aaron found this beautiful oleander hawk moth (Daphnis nerii).

Off Adventuring Again!

We have 2 visiting CAPA professors staying with us for 2 weeks, so we decided to pack up the family and the guests and go on a little adventure!

Despite our misadventure on a trip a couple weeks ago, we decided to go back to Kuti, but this time spend the night. Kuti’s prime time is “golden hour,” the hour just before the sunset or the hour just after the sunrise. And if you spend the night, you can be there for both. Kuti did not disappoint. We found a herd of nyala before we even got to the chalets!

Aaron and Myral stayed in one of these nice new chalets, and our family stayed in one of the 4-bed a-frame chalets. Simple, but sufficient.

Hotdogs and s’mores for dinner: great camping food, no matter what continent you’re on!

Then off for a good night’s sleep. The next morning, the girls were up early, so Matt took them out so I could sleep a little longer. Not happening though! It was 5am, but the sun was up, the zebra were braying, and I got up! I grabbed my towel and toiletry bag and headed for the bathrooms. I was a little sleepy-eyed, but glanced down the path as I stumbled to the bathrooms:

Hello nyala! So I, and my towel and toiletry bag, took off through the bush to check out a group of 6 young male nyala. They were beautiful. Myral later told me that he had seen a couple of them sparing shortly before I came out. Speaking of Myral, I found him, and Aaron, and my family all nearby the nyala, checking out a herd of zebra.

The variety of zebra commonly found in Malawi is the Burchell’s zebra, the southern variety of the plains zebra. They’re easy to recognize because of the grey stripes that jump into the pattern.

Having found some animals and my family, I decided I’d had enough of a side trip with my towel and toiletry bag, and headed back to camp to get ready for the day and make some breakfast on the concrete braai (barbecue).

There was a light sprinkling of rain in the morning – just enough to feel wonderful on the skin, but too much for the breakfast plate – so we ate in the thatched kitchen/dining area.

Then we packed up and headed out, in time to see a zebra parade.

Next stop: crocodile farm! We brought our own big mouth crocodiles. Sure are cute for crocodiles, aren’t they?!

The crocs are raised for their skin, which is apparently the best quality at 4 years old. So we saw lots of crocs 1-3 years old. This particular enclosure had 2,500 crocodiles, all 8 months old.

These crocs are 3 years old.

And yes, the workers get right in there with them!!! Not me! Not in a million years!

Naomi and I were only moderately ok with the concrete and chain-length fences between us and the crocs. But it was reassuring to know that in the 15+ years of their existence, this croc farm has never had anyone killed by a croc. Yes, the walls are very secure. It’s just really weird being that close to a crocodile, even with a secure wall!

Then the fun part! Crocodile teeth! We all bought some! 😜

The croc farm is along the lake shore, so we headed down the coast a little and went for a swim!

The only crocs in this part of the lake were the cute kind!

After a swim, we ordered lunch at the Livingstonia Hotel and enjoyed both the company and the beautiful setting. We’ve known Aaron for 12+ years, so it’s been so good to catch up with him!

If you can see the water from your table, you should order the fish! The local favorite is chambo, a variety of tilapia, and it’s really good!

One more stop in the way home: the wood market. It’s very touristy and rural Africa, but a great place for visitors to pick up a few souvenirs. Or to find a chief’s chair and sit back to watch people walk by.

My find of the day: new earrings. Can you guess what they are? (Hint: look up 6 pictures)

That’s all – we were all adventured out! Time to head for home and a nice warm shower!

Who’s going to come adventuring with us next? 😊

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!