I have decided to title this first Malawi update in such a way as I did, because I recently finished an email to a good friend with the same words. Her reply back was simple: This line has set my mind at ease.
As a result, I thought I would share this point of reference with you all.
I am enjoying my time here thus far. It is 100% DIFFERENT from home - in almost every way. But I have not minded these differences and see them as an adventure. I came with no set agenda and definitely no personal plans, which has made the go with the flow, everything is subject to change way of live very easy to adjust to.
My biggest complaint - internet, or lack there of.
I hate not being able to access "home" in the evenings when people here are winding down, and I know that people at home are just waking up!
My housemates are missionaries from Michigan, working with International Teams, in the refugee camp. Yes, Malawi has refugees. 17,000 in fact. From Burundi, Congo, Sudan etc. The Burundi refugees are actually third generation refugees if you can believe it.
Jake and Jennifer are their names and they have been nothing short of a God - send. The house they rent is HUGE (five bedrooms) and I have my own "suite" with a regular washroom. We have a lovely young woman who cooks and cleans Mon-Fri and an adorable gentleman who lives out back and is our permanent guard. He does not speak much English but he does his best to look for Jen and I as if we were his own daughters.
Not only are Jake and Jen allowing me to live with them, they're sharing their life with me too. My iPad will not connect here in the same fashion as the computers so Jenn has suggested her and I share her laptop for the next four months. They have taken me to town to do groceries and out for dinner the one night the power went out and we just didn't feel like having sandwiches again.
Power goes out three or four nights a week - regularly - and then can be subject to unexpected blackouts too. We do have a gas stove, but it gets dark by 5pm so its hard to cook in the semi-dark with a flashlight.
Im trying to be brief, but I haven't told you much about my work yet.
Forgive me if this email leaves you with so many more questions. I will try toanswer them all.
I work with Kathy Bowler in her ministry: Children of Blessing Trust.
It is a program designed to meet the needs of the disabled and children with special conditions.
A lot of the children have cerebral palsy or limited mobility due to polio (yes, it still exists) or malaria.
In this country, the disabled are not highly regarded or valued and Kathy's ministry is doing AMAZING work in simply breaking that discrimination barrier, as well as actually attempting to teach the moms how to care for thier child.
This past week I was told is Unusual as there are workshops taking place. I am happy to know that the chaos I was dropped in is only temporary. I think its good though because as Im now adjusting to the busy busy days I will feel much more relaxed at the normal pace.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays I go "Out" to different centers. Some moms who bring their children to these drop in centers walk for two hours each way. Ive discovered that as much as they receive some skills and treatment for their child, they also use the time for social networking. Its like its own little support group.
There are a few struggles with the language barrier, but I dont mind too much. I realize I get laughed at a lot, but I am okay with that. Its almost as like Im more trustable if I am willing to look silly. I dont know how to explain that in any other way, but the moms seem more relaxed once they've laughed a few times at me!!!
I could probably write for a few more hours and still not be able to capture everything that I"ve experienced. But I"d rather save my internet time to write you back personally; to hear about how youre doing and what youre doing, and to answer any more specific questions you have.
So, WAKE UP sleepy heads (its 8:30am Sat morning for those in Ontario)!!!
(Im 5hrs ahead of NS; 6 hrs ahead of ON; 8 hrs ahead of AB; and 9hrs ahead of my favorite family in Vancouver - of course, only until you "fall back" later this month)
I invite your replies!