Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Silvester slept at my feet for a while last night!  He is getting more comfortable here. 

This morning Kelsey and I practiced a Chichewa prayer the whole walk to the school so we could pray it with the patients at the hospital.  The team goes to Queens every Wednesday, so we went with.  Once we got there the team took us to a small room within the Pediatric wards which is used as a classroom for the kids.  The classroom could use more school supplies, but they work with what they have.  During the time we were there, no kids came to the classroom because they were all too sick or could not get out of bed.  Instead, we went to three of the five Pediatric wards and greeted the children by talking to them and praying for them, while some of the team members passed out educational worksheets.  Some of the kids were scared to talk to me at first because they thought I was trying to trick them to give them an injection.  But Abigail translated for me and told them that I was just a friend and wouldn’t hurt them; after that they would relax.  Even though Kelsey and I had practiced the Chichewa prayer quite a bit, I still read it off the note card so I would not mess up.  The parents really liked me praying for their child and appreciated the effort in Chichewa. 

 The team in the school room.

Trying to read Chichewa out of a Bible.  

After seeing all the kids we went back to the little classroom and had some time to relax with the team.  Somehow, we got on the topic of Abraham, from the Bible, and before Kelsey and I knew it, we were both teaching the team the song, “Father Abraham had many sons.  Many sons had Father Abraham.  I am one of them and so are you.  So, let’s all praise the Lord!” motions and all! We were laughing so hard!  They loved it! They learned it quickly and are excited to teach the kids at the school tomorrow! 

We left the classroom a short time later (with the song stuck in all our heads) and walked to a grocery store to get lunch.  We brought the food back to the hospital and had a picnic lunch outside on the grass.  It was a nice time to relax and get to know the team better.

After lunch we went to the playroom which the hospital has set up for kids to go to if they are well enough.  For the first half hour the room was locked so we just hung out in the office.  Paul continued to practice the song, which led to more laughs!  Eventually, we got let into the playroom and got to play with the kids.  At first I felt a little overwhelmed because I couldn’t speak their language and some of them were crying.  But I learned to use more expression on my face and it worked out, playing and having fun is universal for children.  I played blocks with a few of the kids, building towers and then knocking them down.  They had fun. 

On our way back to the school Paul sang “Father Abraham” the whole walk back!  Kelsey and I walked home after getting to the school.  I was tired so I took a nap and Silvester joined me for a little while.  It was a fun day, but I am exhausted!         

   Random picture taken on the minibus.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - It rained cats and dogs! Oh, and by the way, we got a cat!

Today was a good day.  Kelsey and I brought two suitcases full of donated school supplies to the Montessori School this morning.  The teachers were so excited and so were the kids.  We showed the teachers everything first, then they brought the kids in from outside and prayed with them, thanking God for the new things.  It was really neat.

Kelsey and I then had a meeting with the ABC Project Team.  They shared who was in charged of what and what the goals were for this year to make everything successful.  There are six members on the team and each person is responsible for some aspect of the project they are working on.  Kelsey and I will be working closely with this team, especially Abigail, who volunteers at Queens.

After the meeting we went to Queens and met with Fred, the director of Pediatric palliative care. He explained how the hospital works and answered some of our questions.  Queens hospital is a big, regional hospital where all the difficult cases to diagnose come, as well as those who have been diagnosed with an incurable disease.  It is a lot like U.C. Davis hospital back home because it is a learning/teaching hospital.  The nurses are more qualified than we had originally thought; however, they are still severely short handed.  Fred was not able to tell us how we could help medically, like we had hoped, because he is not sure how our medical certifications translate here.  He referred us to another lady, the director of nursing, and she will be able to tell us how medically qualified we are.  At this point, we have to wait to hear back from her before we can take action.  However, Kelsey and I have begun brainstorming how we can help.  We are thinking about maybe starting a volunteer training program, but we’ll see where God leads us. 

When we got back to the school, I got to play with Jessica, one of the teacher's babies, while Kelsey and I waited for Maribeth.  She is five months old and too cute!

Before we left the school to head into town, it began to rain but we went anyway.  Thankfully, we had our umbrellas with us.  We took a minibus into town and from there we had to walk to the immigration center because Kelsey had to turn in some paperwork.  It is funny because Malawians do NOT like to get wet, almost everything in town had stopped and everyone was lined up against the buildings, under the overhang to keep dry.  But here we were, three “crazy” American women walking in the middle of the rain with our umbrellas!  What a sight we were!  By the time we got to the Immigration Center our feet were soaked and our skirts were wet up to our knee caps.  Once we finished there we set out to a store, but halfway there we changed our plans.  The weather had worsened and we got caught in the nasty storm.  It was raining HARD and we could not use our umbrellas because the wind was too strong.  It nearly broke Kelsey’s umbrella but some Malawian gentlemen fixed it while, we too, huddled under the overhang of a building trying to get warm.  We soaked from head to toe! We ended up being picked up by Natalie, the lady with the cat, and she took us back to her house to get the cat and then took us home.  We got Silvester settled; he hid in the broom closet for a couple hours because it was dark.  However, he explored the house before Kelsey and I head to bed.  I hope he sleeps with me tonight! J  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Today started out as a relaxing day.  I caught up with blogging and emailing this morning.  In the afternoon Kelsey and I walked down to the corner market for sodas and bread. On the way there we pasted a group of 6 or 7 girls around the ages of 4-8, walking home from school.  As we got close the youngest one looked at me and asked, “Hug?” with her arms wide open and a smile on her face.  How could I resist?! It was so sweet!  Malawians do not express themselves physically; its just part of their culture, so to get a hug from a child was special.  And of course if you give one child a hug, the others want one too, so I gave them all hugs!  Once we got back to the house, the family of the cat we are getting came to visit to check out our place.  They said the cat will love it and we made plans to pick him up tomorrow!  I am really excited!  Having a cat around will be nice.  This evening we were invited to a barbeque at a friend, Althea’s house. Kelsey and I went and had a fun time socializing.  And the food was great!  Althea is from South Africa and made a ton of food, we had steak, sausage, carrot salad, creamed corn, and South African sima.  It was like a South African Thanksgiving!  It was great! Oh! And I saw my first lightning bug! It was flying around during the BBQ and we caught it and we got to hold it.  They are so cool!  Things so miraculous, like lightning bugs, make me adore our Creator that much more.    

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It is Sunday!  We went to Maribeth’s church, City Pentecostal Church, this morning.  It is very traditional, like my Grandparent’s church, but I like it.  They sang a couple songs in Chichewa and a couple hymns in English.  The sermon was good.  The church is very mission minded which I like.  Afterward, we went to a little restaurant and had our first Chichewa lesson with Francis.  We learned greetings, practiced pronunciation and got a simple prayer to practice and pray at the hospital.  While Maribeth was getting her lesson, she sent Kelsey and me to the market down the street to buy lettuce for lunch.  

We take our umbrellas with us everywhere.  Here, they are used more for shade out of the sun than for rain.  It is totally normal.  We did it today on our way to church and on our way home.  It is funny because it kind of makes me feel like Mary Poppins! J

After that we walked home and chilled.  I did my laundry.  It was a new experience hand washing everything and hanging it out on the line to dry.  I boiled the water and put it in two separate buckets, a bucket for washing and a bucket for rinsing.  Then I hung the wet clothes on a line.  We have a clothes line outside but we also have one going across our family room for hang clothes if it’s raining or at night.  Because it was late in the evening, I hung my clothes in the family and will move them outside to finish drying tomorrow. 

It sounds like we are getting the cat! Tomorrow the family is coming over to see where the cat will be living.  This will help the little boy with the process of giving his cat away.  I do not know if they will bring the cat tomorrow or not, I hope so, but we’ll see!  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The only way I can describe today is crazy; crazy weather, crazy missionaries, crazy market, crazy divine appointment and crazy loving God! It started out this morning, with crazy weather.  It was nice, hot and sunny when we woke up this morning.  However, by 11 o’clock there was a strong wind accompanied by thunder and lightning.  Fifteen minutes later, it was pouring.  It does not sprinkle here in Malawi, it pours! One minute you are dry and the next you are completely soaked!  Kelsey and I had to run through the house to close up all the windows!  It did not rain for long and then it cleared up and was sunny and hot again.  Maribeth told us later that God always provides thunder and lightning before a rain to warn His people.  I thought that was neat.  Later that morning we saw a cat in our backyard and Kelsey and I discussed that it would be cool to a get a cat and decided to talk to Maribeth about it. But I’ll get back to that story.

In the afternoon we went shopping at Game, which was like a Wal-Mart or Target, and Shoprite for groceries.  Kelsey and I felt like the stupidest missionaries.  We did not bring enough money to pay for our groceries and dinner.  The money here is very different than back home.  $1 equals 150 kwacha here, it is confusing.  We brought money, but we do not have a concept of how much things cost so neither of us had enough.  Thankfully, Maribeth is patient and understand and God provided her with enough to cover the costs.  However, we still felt stupid and wondered what God is doing with us two crazy missionaries!
Oh! And while we were at Shoprite we found Heinz ketchup! Yeah! We got some for when we make fried chips (Fench fries)! I am a happy girl!

After those two stores we decided to visit the market to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables.  The market was crazy; it is like a farmers market on steroids!  The people swarmed and yelled at us, trying to sell their items, it was quite overwhelming, but im sure I'll get used to it.

Once we were done at the market we went to a hotel to meet some friends of Maribeth’s for dinner.  It was a nice evening so we sat out back on the conde, soaking in the mountain view.  That is where we experienced our crazy divine appointment.  We met a man, a stranger and started talking to him.  Well, one topic led to another and before we knew it we were talking to him about God and the difference between being a Christian with head knowledge versus a truly reborn Christian.  We told him that God created him and everyone for His specific purpose and that is to glorify God by doing what we are passionate about.  We discussed what spiritual gifts he had and found that he had counseling Spirit about him and was a good relational leader.  He was surprised that we pinpointed his character so exactly.  The crazy thing was he walked out onto the patio with a book to sit quietly by himself because he was struggling with some things and could not feel God’s presence.  He said he had been praying all day that God would speak to him.  But wait, it gets crazier!  After we had been talking for a good while we got a call form our friend saying that we were supposed to meet at another hotel! We got the hotel wrong!  The encounter with this man was definitely a divine appointment set up by God specifically so that he would meet the “three American crazy Jesus girls”, as Maribeth puts it, and receive the spiritual encouragement he needed by talk to us tonight. 

The night did not end there!  Once we met up with Anansa and her two little cousins, at the right place, we had dinner.  Somewhere during the conversations the topic of a cat came up with Maribeth and Anansa.  Anansa knows someone who has to get rid of their cat because their dog keeps going after it.  Maribeth proceeds to tell us that earlier that day she saw a person trying to sell a cat along the side of the road (illegal) and that God really pressed on her heart to get a cat.  So, she asked God to show her how to go about getting one. And now here was Anansa talking about this cat!  We also told Maribeth that Kelsey and I had talked about getting a cat this morning.  She was beside herself with excitement, so she called the lady and it sounds like we will have a cat in a few days!  Isn’t it wonderful how God works?!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Today was a busy, busy day. Abigail and Simon, two of the team members, picked us up this morning and we walked to the Montessori School. There, we met up with the rest of the team and they took us to three care centers supported by the African ABC project.  The care centers provide basic schooling to the children of Ndirande.  Ndirande is a very poor, dirty neighborhood; it is basically the slum of Blantyre.  Visiting the centers gave me perspective.  It saddened me to see that they had practically no supplies to teach the children. However, at the same time they were happy and content with what they had and seeing their happiness also made me happy.  I felt like a celebrity walking the streets because white people do not walk in the slums.  The people would stare and point and the children would get wide-eyed and shout “Azungu, Azungu!”.  Azungu literally means “ghost” in Chichewa, it made me laugh!

Once we got back to the Montessori School we were invited to play with the kids during their P.E. time.  I played soccer or rather futbol with two little boys and did a Congo line dance with a bunch as well.  It was fun and the kids loved that we participated.

Kelsey and I stayed at the school and we helped pack up the school until Maribeth picked us up.  At this point I was exhausted; we had just spent the whole morning walking.  But we had errands to run in town. Thankfully, we took a minibus (my first public minibus experience) to Blantyre.  Once we got dropped off, we walked to the bank to exchange the money.  Once the money was exchanged we walked to the bank down the street and deposited it into an account.  When we were done we walked across the street to Kips for lunch.  Kips is an American food restaurant.  It was nice to eat some meat; I ordered chicken and chips (which are French fries).  I was however, disappointed because the “ketchup” here in Malawi is NOT like back home.  In my household, if it is not Heinz ketchup, it is not ketchup.  And it’s so true!  I also got ice cream while we were there and that was a treat because we do not have a refrigerator or freezer at the house. 

This is the minibus station. A minibus can technically fit 14 people, however, they always cram more.

Once we got home we all had some personal time to ourselves.  I sat out on the conde and listened to worship songs on my iPod.  I even sang a little because I was just in awe at God and the beautiful mountains He created.  It was a really nice time and I felt re-energized with God’s presence.     

Friday, January 21, 2011

I have arrived!!!

I am here in Malawi!  It was a long 3 days of travel, but Kelsey and I made it!  The flights went smoothly, despite the ticket man in Johannesburg who tried to steal our money.  He tried to tell us that we had to pay extra money so that all our bags would make it to Blantyre, but that was not the case.  God definitely protected us and gave us a discerning spirit for the situation.

Some of the team members who picked us up from the airport.

(Paul, me, Kelsey, Simon, Abigail, Yomikomi, Davi)

So, here I am in Malawi trying to adjust to the time difference, climate and culture.  We are 10 hours ahead of California and with the lack of sleep we got during our days of travel we are trying hard to catch up.  It is still summer here and gets really warm but there is always a nice gentle breeze that comes through to cool us off.  The culture here is quite different as well.  Most people walk or take the minibus (a medium sized, rundown van that works like a taxi) to where they need to go and so do we.  It is odd to them that we walk the streets because the white people here are considerably rich and drive cars.  We are going to break that stereotype!  Everyone here is REALLY friendly, they often wave or smile and greet us as they walk by.

Yesterday, because we are still trying to catch up on our sleep, we took it easy and had a lazy morning.  We took a walk in the morning and explored the land our house is on.  At this time all the vegetation everywhere is such a luscious green it is like living in a tropical paradise!  God blessed us by providing such a beautiful place for us to stay.  The house is in an elite, rich neighborhood in the township of Yambadwe.  Because so many rich people live here, the security level is high.  We have a guard, which is completely normal in this culture, everyone has a guard, and even Malawians have guards. It is normal.  His name is Arnold and he, his wife, and five kids live in a little house at the back of the property.  We met his family when we went exploring in the backyard and they were nice.  They giggled pretty much the whole time because we only know a few words in Chichewa and they now little English, it was funny.

The front of our house (no, its not a hut!) :

The back of the house:

The view from our backyard: 

In the afternoon we visited the Montessori School.  Kelsey and I were invited to sit in a circle with the kids as they listened to their Bible story.  I don’t think the kids heard one word from their teacher because all 28 pairs of dark brown eyes were on us the whole time.  If we caught the eyes of a child and smiled, we were usually luck enough to receive a bright white smile from them.  Once the Bible story was over, the kids were dismissed to get their snack of the day, which was an assortment of fruit.  The sweet thing was, three or four of the kids came to where we were sitting and gave us some of their fruit.  It meant a lot to Kelsey and me because it showed us that they accepted us and were not scared.  The kids are not used to seeing white people, so it was a new experience for them.  It was fun visiting the school and seeing the children, we will most likely be helping out there when we are not at the hospital.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Counting down…one week left!!!

It is crazy to think that I will be on a plane on my way to Malawi at this time next week! I am so excited!  I am almost completely packed, I just have to get some last minutes things and then I’ll be ready!  God has been so amazing, orchestrating all the details for this trip.  I am sad to leave my friends and family behind, but I realize that God has so much in store for me in Africa right now.