Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Post Office and Visits

We’ve had a nice and productive week! After multiple building committee meetings, traveling, and errands we’re a bit tired but feel pretty productive.
            On Monday after we got back from Blantyre we ran a ton of errands. Monday is starting to become our grocery-shopping day, which I love. It does take most of the day, however, because we make around six stops. Since moving here and seeing all the stores, we’re getting used to which places have the best prices and the best products. Now we go to Food Lovers for meat and potatoes, Shoprite for eggs and coffee, Sana for dried beans, Chipiku for biltong, Game if we need stuff for the house, and anywhere and everywhere for produce. All the roads, except for the few main roads, have little shops set up where people sell (usually) tomatoes, super tiny dried fish, some type of greens, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and short fat cucumbers.
            We had two little neighbor boys, Mohammed who’s 7 and Sean who’s 5. When we came back in June though Mohammed had moved and now Sean is super bored so he spends most of his after school time at our house. Recently he’s become my cooking buddy. We’ve made tortillas, pico de gallo, and cookies so far.
            On Tuesday we went out to eat and Brennan ended up getting food poisoning so we stayed home on Wednesday when Lewis and Lena went down to Mangochi to check out the campsite for summer camp.
            Friday was a nice busy day to lead into the Sabbath. Brennan went to a building committee meeting and I worked in the office on stuff for camp. Then we ran some errand, as usual. Part of our errands included going to the post office. I love talking to the guys who sell stamps outside of the post office—always so nice and helpful, but I’m not a fan of going in. We’re supposed to have a PO box but for some reason no mail was being sent to it so now we go into the post office to get our main. When you walk in you see a bench, three chairs, and four service counters. The two counters farthest from the door have no signs. The third counter has a sign that says, “Counter 14 Acceptance and Delivery of Parcels.” The last counter has a sign that says, “Counter 13 Parcels Acceptance Customs Declaration.” … So we just stand in the shortest line then ask for mail from out PO box. It’s been quite interesting to figure out.
            We had a nice Sabbath! Brennan and the Kachali sister did special music again and then after services we had lots of food and some good fellowship time.
            Sunday we went and visited people! Chimwewe, who works in the LifeNets shop lead us up to the first home (she used to be their neighbor) then after staying there for a while we went and visited her mom. While there we got to meet plenty of neighbors and had lots of laughs. On our way out, their friend made us zingaygay (total guess on the spelling) which are delicious curry battered fried potatoes. So yummy! While visiting the first family we learned more about the strike the teachers are on. Since we’ve been here it seems like the teachers are on strike almost as much as they aren’t. This is because the government isn’t paying them. It’s really frustrating for the teachers, students, and parents; especially in secondary schools where students pay school fees then don’t get taught.
            Today, Monday, was a long day. We arrive at the LifeNets office at around 8:30 for a building committee meeting which was to start at 9:00. Or 11:20. But I got to use that time to finalize the camper and staff application forms for summer camp. The meeting went well (yay!) and the building should be finished by the middle of July (yay again!). Then we did our normal weekly shopping with eight stops and ended with delicious Sana Food Court food.
            It’s been a great week overall! 
We've been having some internet troubles so I'm not able to upload a lot of pictures. I'll try to later.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

We're Back!

            We’re back! We landed in Lilongwe on June 1st and hopped right back into things. This past week has actually been super busy—good way to get over jet lag though.
            On Friday we went to the office where I could pick up the new cash register and we got to catch up with Julie and Chimwewe. After the office we spent most of the day running errands and trying to somewhat fill up our cupboards. However, having no food in the house did give us a good excuse to go to our favorite restaurant—Old DC!
            Our week didn’t get any less busy over the weekend. Saturday was the Sabbath then we observed Pentecost on Sunday. After services on Sunday we had a nice Q and A Bible study and lots of fellowship time. Overall, it was a great and uplifting weekend!
            I feel like I need to explain the Lifenets office and shop a bit. Lifenets is a non profit organization that built a shop and internet café to supply jobs and be a service to the community. Half of the building is an internet café that offeres computer services, photocopying, and a few other office services like lamination and binding. The other half is a mini shop that sells some essentials like body soap, laundry soap, exercise books, and some drinks and food. The Kubiks, who run Lifenets, recently bought a brand new cash register for the shop half to use since the old cash register broke. On Tuesday I finally got it set up and ready to use. Now we have a proper register that even prints receipt—soon we’re going to look like a Shoprite!
            This past Friday we drove down to Blantyre to spend the Sabbath there. We stopped half way between Lilongwe and Blantyre to visit an older couple in the church. Talking with them is always so interesting. They were alive during Malawi’s first president and remember a very different Malawi than the one they live in today. Dr Chilapora studied to become a doctor and the president at that time, wanting to better Malawi, started sending educated people overseas to study more. He lived in France for a couple years and his wife was sent to England to better study nursing. It’s interesting learning about how much Malawi has changed in the past 80 years. The Chilaporas were born in the 20’s and 30’s, over 30 years before Nyasaland gained its independence from England and became the Republic of Malawi. I love getting to visit the Chilaporas—they’re such a loving and wise couple.
            Blantyre was really nice! We were spoiled with our usual Blantyre Mugg and Bean coffee J. Services were great and we had a lot of socialization, snacks, and then a meeting about the soon coming summer camp!
            Sunday morning we drove back to Lilongwe and stopped in Dedza to visit some friends and catch up.

            We had a great week and are back into the swing of things! I've been bad about taking pictures so I'll try to upload some more later.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

See you in June

            Sorry I haven’t written anything for a while. This past month has been a bit of a blur. For the last day of Unleavened Bread we traveled up to Mzuzu to psend the Holy Day with the northern congregation. We had a lot of good fellowship time with the Kachali family once again.
            Since the trip up north, Brennan and I have been taking turns being sick so we’ve been kind of out of it. Brennan had an allergic reaction to the repellant used on the mosquito nets in Mzuzu and had a rash break out over his whole body. It took about 4 days to completely heal, but thankfully he’s back to 100%. Inbetween being sick, we’ve been going to the church hall to help with construction—mainly painting and landscaping. However, due to contractor problems, we had to stop the work parties which was a bummer because everyone, especially the youth, were having a lot of fun! Hopefully we’ll be back to working soon. We’re all pretty anxious for the hall to be completed.
            Kiersten, my sister, is graduating and also turning 18 in May, so Brennan and I are going back home for a month long visit. We’re excited to go back but hate to leave our friends and the unfinished hall. Hopefully a lot of progress will be made by the time we’re back.

            I probably won’t post any blogs in May, unless I think of some funny stories from the past few months, but I’ll see you all again in June! 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Back to Chipata!


Going to Chipata, Zambia never fails to inspire me. The Kubiks arrived on Monday then on Wednesday we drove to Chipata so the Kubiks could meet the brethren and see the new church building.
            Before the Kubiks arrived we went to the Zambian high consulate to find out how we could get multiple entry tourist visas. The woman in the embassy told us that they don’t do the visas at the embassy but rather only at the border. Last time we went, the border patrol told us they couldn’t give us the visas, only the embassy could. Eventually we found out that American citizens are eligible for a 3 year multiple entry visa that costs $80. However, you must apply online. We went home and intended to do that but came across problems when we needed to upload our return flight information to complete the application—we were planning on driving, not flying. Then we found that you can get single day visas for only $20. Since we were planning on only going for one day we decided to do that. We couldn’t get those visas online, only at the border. On Thursday when we got to the border we learned that they only issue $20 single day visas between the Zimbabwean and Zambian border—not the Malawian and Zambian border. We could, however, get a single day visa for $50 each. Grr. We had to keep reminding ourselves “it is what it is” because at the end of the day, regardless of what the embassy or immigration website say, the border patrol is always right and the guard with the machine gun will always win.
            Chipata, as usual, was fantastic. I love going there. Filius enjoyed sharing with Mrs. Kubik, the president of Lifenets, how much Lifenets has helped the members there. There’s one woman in the congregation who is a widow and takes care of orphans whose parents had died from AIDS. The past few years there was a bad drought and food shortage so Lifenets sent money for food to the Zambian people. Filius didn’t use the money to buy food but to instead buy seed and soil, and then he distributed the seed and soil to members who were in need. Because of this, the woman who is caring after homeless children has enough food to feed herself and children for the rest of the year. Mr. Filius is such a huge inspiration to me. He loves his people so much and is so humble.
            The Chipata church hall has been updated since we were last there—new curtains, the stage was painted, and the signs were put up. The hall is far out of town and surrounded by members’ maize fields giving it a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere. After the talks, we had a tour through some of the fields, to the hand dug well (these hand dug wells terrify me), and then lunch! It really was such a great time.

            We got back home with our hearts filled to the brim. Our God is so great. I was continually reminded of the parable with the servants who were given talents. When their master returned and saw the ones who multiplied their talents he gave them even more to rule over. Mr. Filius started a radio program with an amazing heart, and through that he preached the gospel and God called many people. Then there was a food shortage and the congregation was blessed with money for food but Filius saw that the food was a temporary solution that would last for only a few months so he decided to create a sustainable solution and helped members grow maize. When we were in Chipata he asked Lifenets for support. Not financial support, but for spiritual and moral support. Visiting that congregation always leaves my heart full and inspired.
 Mr. Kubik talking about God's blessings in the Chipata hall.

 Viewing the fields and well!
 Listening to stories
 Talented family wrote a song for the Kubiks
Mrs. Kubik talking about Lifenets

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Spring Holy Days!

            Last night was the Passover and it was great. It’s amazing how distance, culture, and language can separate us but God’s Spirit truly binds us together. We are the same because in God there are no Jews and no Greeks, no Malawians and no Americans, just sanctified loved children. The first time I truly realized that was when I was in the Ukraine in 2015. I was keeping the Sabbath with a Sabbatarian group in Khust, Ukraine and us young adults sang As the Deer for special music. We’d sing one verse in Russian then the next in English and I remember the unifying spirit that brought us together as a family. My Ukrainian was not good and my Russian was even worse. They couldn’t speak much English, but we had the song, As the Deer, in common. Our God is a God of many nations, peoples, cultures, and languages.
This time of year is so special—there’s just an excitement in the air, smelling the unleavened bread baking in the oven, and preparing for Night to be Observed! My life has changed so much in the past six months and I am so thankful to God for that. I got married, moved across the world, and grew spiritually. I owe all that I have to Him. God is so good.

            I hope you all have an uplifting Spring Holy Day season!