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!

Church Camp 2018

It’s hard to believe, but this year was our 7th annual church camp! These are treasured times of fun and fellowship within our church body, and this year was no exception.

We were able to hear the testimonies of the church elders and from each of them a devotional from a passage that has had an impact on their walk with the Lord.

During our free times, we piled into vehicles to go look for zebra, nyala, sable, and giraffe.

While some of us took a quieter walk through the woods looking for birds.

And just in case we missed the wildlife on our drives or hikes, it often came right into camp.

The kids had a whole week’s worth of VBS – Bible stories, games, memory verses, crafts! – in the three days of camp. The girls LOVED it! And, of course, in good camp tradition, they were completely dirty by the time camp was finished!

It was a fantastic 3 days of sharing life together with our precious church family. These opportunities for sharing meals together, having long talks, and playing together are priceless!

Catching Dragonflies

I sent Abigail and Naomi out with a butterfly net to catch a butterfly that they could observe and draw. Five minutes later they came back inside quite proud of themselves: “We caught something!”

Yes they did! But not a butterfly! They caught a DRAGONFLY!

If you’ve ever tried to catch a dragonfly, you’ll know they’re fast! It’s no small feat to catch a butterfly, and even more impressive to catch a dragonfly!

So they grabbed some paper, colored pencils, and their friend Rejoice and started drawing their dragonfly, just as though it was the most ordinary thing in the world to catch a dragonfly. I love sharing life with these girls!

Blogathon!

It’s time to catch up! There has been a lot going on the last couple months, so much so that blogging has been the last thing on my mind. So hold on, dear reader, we’re about to fly through a couple months of life in Malawi!

Driving Lessons

Years ago when we were on furlough in the States, Abigail showed her first signs of being a backseat driver. She and I were headed to visit my grandmother, taking small backroads in rural Washington state. All of a sudden she yelled, “Mom! You passed that sign!!!!”

“Which sign?!?” I asked.

“The one that says DO NOT PASS! You passed it!”

While most American kids would have just ignored a road sign that they’d seen for their entire lives, for Abigail it was new and quite distressing! And so she got her first “American driving lesson” that day.

She got another such lesson yesterday. We were driving down what is arguably one of the nicest, widest roads in Lilongwe, if not in all of Malawi. “Mom?” she asked, “How is it possible that more than one car can go the same way we are going and that there are 2 lines of cars going the other direction too?”

I smiled, knowing that probably 95% of all her car travels have been on two and one lane roads, paved and unpaved, but very rarely marked. “Well, there are special lines on the road that tell us what we can do. The big bunch of lines in the middle of the road separates us from the cars going the other direction, and the white dotted lines here separate us from the other cars going the same direction. The idea is that more cars can be on the road, going both directions.”

“Wow, whoever thought of that was really smart! That’s a great idea!”

O child of Africa who is fascinated by 4 lanes, you’re going to love furlough road trips in America!

It’s Not Over

Yesterday morning I just about called it. Rainy season had to be over. It never rains this intensely in March; the last one had to have been the last one.

Oh, but that was not the case. I headed to the grocery store with Naomi about 3:30pm and found myself driving straight toward this:

Unphased, I held to my earlier conviction until we were in the store and I heard the rain start to hit the tin roof. It was a gentle sound at first, and made me wish they would play “I miss the rains down in Africa” on the speaker system. I only had 2 minutes for such thoughts before it began to rain harder. And then another 2 minutes later it was raining so hard that the noise in the large, tin-roofed grocery store was deafening. Naomi had to shout in my ear to be heard.

The torrential rain lasted for more than an hour! It was so bad that they closed the big metal/security sliding doors of the store. In the picture below, the exit is about where you see the sign for #4 checkout stand. The big metal doors were closed for more than 45 minutes while shoppers who had finished filled the exit area, just waiting for a chance to get out!

Once we had found everything we needed, we roamed the store restlessly. At one point the power went off for 3-4 minutes. 😳 Naomi was getting tired and a little frightened by the whole experience. But eventually I saw that people were starting to leave and the metal doors were partway open.

I began to check out, at a cash register far from the exit. All of a sudden a man with an armload of groceries bolted from the furthest cash register and ran toward the exit. By the time he reached the exit, he was walking normally and the ladies at that furthest cash register were yelling and waving their arms. But there was nothing they could do. The man had stolen the groceries and the rain had drown all their cries to stop the thief. Even two lanes away from them, I couldn’t hear their cries of “thief!” But I had seen it and like those ladies the realization of what had happened came too late.

Naomi and I made our way quickly to the car in the heavy rain, and by the time I had loaded the groceries in the back I was soaked. The heat and humidity steamed up the car, and it was a while before I could see through the fogged up windows! As we headed through town, evidence of the storm was all around us. Traffic was terribly slow, signs were ripped and destroyed, branches lay on the road, and water rushed through the culverts.

Everyone was picking up the pieces and getting back to normal life.

As I neared our house, there were fewer and fewer signs of the storm. Matt’s report when we got home: just a few sprinkles but lots of thunder.

And so, I’m not going to call it today. Or tomorrow. Maybe my weather forecasting confidence will have returned by next week. But for the moment, I can honestly say that I have no idea when the rainy season will end this year! We’ll just enjoy the lush green tropics for as long as we can!