Monday, February 27, 2017

Settling in

I don’t know if I will ever get used to how beautiful Malawi is! Every morning I wake up under my mosquito net and listen to the birds outside. This past week we traveled to Nkhotakota and Blantyre. The trips took us near Lake Malawi, through a game reserve, to the border of Mozambique, and through a neat town named Dedza. The trips were great, but I am really happy to be back home, even if it’s only for a day.
            We live in an apartment (don’t think apartments though, they’re like little town homes) complex in Area3, just outside of the city. Our home is a two-bedroom two-bathroom townhouse with a small kitchen and living area that is surrounded by tall brick walls, barbed wire, and an electric fence. My husband Brennan is an electrician and used to work on new construction houses (you know, with the wood framing and everything). It’s neat seeing how differently the buildings are built here—all brick and concrete! Our house is much cooler because of it, but it’s still strange to see concrete and not wood underneath chipped paint.
            Right now we’re in the rainy season and the land is soaking it up! Cornfields are growing to twice my height and the country is just blowing up in bright greens. My favorite part of the long drives (over 4 hours to Nkhotakota and around 6 hours to Blantyre) is the stunning views. I can’t do the views justice in trying to explain them so I’ve attached some pictures below. Imagine the pictures, but bout 100 times more vivid.
            I’m going to let Brennan talk about Dedza but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my new favorite store! If you’ve ever been to mt Tambourine in Queensland, Australia, you can picture Dedza. Dedza is a quiet small town with some neat places like the famous Dedza pottery, and my favorite store, The Dedza Handmade Art Gallery. The art gallery is run by an incredibly nice man, Henry Ng’ambe and his family. He takes paper trash and recycles it to make amazing cards and notebooks. When we went to his shop he took us around and showed us all the steps that go into making paper. I can’t wait to go back again!
            I’m looking forward to today—relaxing! We just got back from Blantyre last night and tomorrow we drive to Chipata, Zambia, so I’m going to take advantage of our break day and get some house stuff done. Adios!

** update** I did it!! I haggled!! 

 Seeing one of the last steps of making notebooks and cards.

 The soon-to-be church hall in Blantyre
 Michala for scale!
 Tea upon tea upon tea

            This handsome guy :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

We're Here!

Wow, where do I even start? We’re in Malawi! We landed Thursday afternoon (after two days of travel) and have been settling in ever since. I’ve been to Malawi twice before this trip, but never in February. I can’t believe how green it is! The landscape is full of vivid greens, reds, and a bright blue sky.
            Our first full day here was spent at the LifeNets office and church hall. While Lewis was in a building committee meeting we took the opportunity to wander around the neighborhood and familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. The highlight of that day, for me, was seeing my good friend Julianna again! I’m so excited to spend the rest of the year with her.
            Last time I was in Malawi, five years ago, the church had just bought a plot of land for the church hall, and now the church hall is useable! It’s not finished yet, but it’s getting there. Brennan is pretty excited to help out with the electrical work.
Services were great this past Sabbath. We had two pieces of special music—one youth choir and one adult choir that Brennan became a part of. After church we were welcomed with a song and lots of handshakes. We had a great time meeting our new congregation—full of old friends and new faces.
            These past few days have been kind of a blur full of hanging out at the office, shopping, hoping for electricity, and finding how early the banks close. One of my favorite things to do in foreign countries is go to grocery stores. One of my favorite memories of that was when I lived in Australia—peanut butter was in the foreign foods section. There are three main grocery stores we go to here—Shoprite (my favorite), Game, and Food Lovers. The produce prices, surprisingly, aren’t too different from Colorado. We tend to buy some produce on the road while we’re on our way home and it’s cheaper so I think that might be the way to go. The only thing holding me back from going to the markets is haggling. I hate haggling, and I also want to learn a bit more Chichewa before I try.

            Today is going to be a first for us—staying home! Every day has been very go go go, so Brennan and I are looking forward to staying home and getting stuff in order. Tomorrow we’re going to Nkhotakota and then Friday we’re heading up to Blantyre to spend the Sabbath with that congregation. We’ll keep everyone posted on what’s up!