First Visitors

The prize for First Visitors goes to the Vieira family!

Amanda sent me a message on Saturday night to let us know they had decided on the spur of the moment to spend the end of their holiday time in Johannesburg and they would be coming to church with us the next morning! They joined us for church and then for the church picnic, and it was so wonderful to see these friends from Malawi. The girls loved being able to play with Cici again! We are thankful for friends old and new, and so glad we go to spend time with these dear ones again!

First Visitors

The prize for First Visitors goes to the Vieira family!

Amanda sent me a message on Saturday night to let us know they had decided on the spur of the moment to spend the end of their holiday time in Johannesburg and they would be coming to church with us the next morning! They joined us for church and then for the church picnic, and it was so wonderful to see these friends from Malawi. The girls loved being able to play with Cici again! We are thankful for friends old and new, and so glad we go to spend time with these dear ones again!

Construction

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!

CAPA Wives Conference

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!

GCC Team

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!

Visitors

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!

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!

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? 😊

Thankful

We don’t always celebrate Thanksgiving with a big meal, but we did this year! We have a couple visiting CAPA professors, Aaron Johnson and Myral Watson, staying with us, and Chris and Ashley Mullins joined us too.

We have already established that I’m a kitchen nerd, so I’m ok showing you my detailed schedule.

I found myself a couple of helpers, and they did a fantastic job!

Sweet potatoes! Secret: I could only find white sweet potatoes, so I used food coloring!

After a while, I had so many dishes that I started stacking them on the floor. And then Martha called to say she had stayed in Salima (1.5 hour drive away) and would be late for work. Oh boy, if I ever needed someone to wash dishes for me it’s on Thanksgiving day! Hurry back, Martha!

And then she came and rescued the day! Whew! I was using toddler forks to whip eggs! No time to wash dishes on Thanksgiving day!

In the late afternoon Matt, Aaron, and Myral set up the outdoor lights and moved our table and chairs onto the lawn. We love eating outdoors, and it felt fitting to do so on a holiday! Matt read a devotional for us on God-centered rather than self-centered thankfulness. It was a good reminder for us all!

Then to dinner! Ashley brought yummy salad, rolls, and pumpkin pie, and the girls helped me make the rest. It was quite a feast!

With pie, ice cream, and stories, we enjoyed a special time of thanksgiving long into the night. We are very blessed to share this holiday with friends and family, near and far. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!