Friday, December 19, 2008


Americanized--is that a word?
This morning i ventured out with my mom...and i unexpectedly found myself going into two of the most culture-shockish places.  Kroger and Target.  If there is such a thing as Super Kroger then Jackson has it.  oh my word...I m sure some local Jacksonians thought I had totally lost it b/c i walked around with my mouth hanging out partly b/c the store is new but mainly because i was having complete culture shock.  I saw one aisle and then directly went and found my mom and said all too loudly..."They have a whole aisle devoted just to chips!"  I then illustrated for my mom what would constitute as the Malawi version of the cheese selection there compared to the American whole wall full of cheese here.  Mom even pointed out the speciality food selection with a designated Oriental aisle followed by an International aisle.  I felt more at home in those aisles than I did in the chip or bread area. Interesting. 
Target is a whole different scenario.  I dont want to be overwhelmed the week we are packing to return so tried to pick up a few things that other missionaries have asked us to bring back...not a great idea.  Should have gotten through the first week before I was so confident.  I quickly learned I m going to have to do this in stages.  There is just too much!!
I find myself being gawk-eyed everywhere I go.
Driving is a whole different ballgame.  Mom and I had to pick up my dad's car from the shop...well it s a standard.  I have JUST learned how to drive a standard in Malawi...desperate measures I know.  So...this would be my first time driving a standard on this side of the pond.  I usually do better when I am driving solo (all my friends who have had the unfortunate experience to ride with me during the early days of shifting gears would laugh to hear me say that) it s a good thing mom was only following me.  I didnt stall which is a huge improvement.  But...i still panic when turning b/c I m used to driving on the left side! Crazy...
So heres to becoming reacquainted to more Americanisms.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"I'll be home for Christmas"

My sister randomly played this on the way to the airport...admist Britney Spears...and "Come fly with me."  She is the designated deejay.
We have made it home!  Strange...very strange to say that.
We are jet lagged, weary, ready to eat, sleep and be merry.  
It's weird being would think.. "oh you ve only been gone 4 months."  Yeah, well that doesnt change's still weird being here.  I feel like I am living a double life right now. My mind (and heart?) is still in Africa but my body is in America....America in the middle of Christmas that is.  

The trip over was interesting from start to finish.  I spent the first 20 minutes or so of the flight from Jo-burg writing out all that had happened.  Rachel and I were very disruptive as we laughed our way through each event and quote.  I went from hysterically laughing to about feeling bipolar.  We were beyond delirium.  
It all began with trying to load the car with 4 trunks and two large suitcases admist the two campus Christmas turkeys running around our feet.  There is no other car that would have fit our luggage...thanks to Danny!  Then came the Lilongwe airport...I was very rachel's words "on edge."  It was everything from being frisked in the Lilongwe airport...I wish you could have seen Rachel's face and she went first and had no idea what was coming...i had tears streaming down my face I was laughing so hard... o our roommate Michelle saying from the airplane window (we flew together to SA) "you know Africa is not that different than any other place in the world, it has trees and dirt" to which I said "Yeah...everything looks the same from 10 000 feet in the air" to spending 7 hours in the joburg airport followed by 4 hours sitting at the upon arrival in Atlanta having the trajectory path of customs, toilet, about providential...the Starbucks was across from our seeing your mother pseudo-prancing around in her high heels at the Jackson airport with her blinking reindeer antlers upon your hearing your sweet nephews voice over the phone just after you arrive emails from friends and students back in Malawi... to many tears and hugs and telling stories about living in Africa...
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

the sweeter moments of life...

it's 5 am...i ve been up since 3...well really all night...but i am wide awake and i dare not sleep without writing this!
i have just spent the past 2 hours Skyping with all my classmates from RTS.  Really the word "classmates" doesnt do this group of friends justice.  Let me just tell you how much fun it was!! They had all gathered together for a surprise 'going away' party for our classmate (and dearest friend, Bev) as she is about to make the venture back across the pond. It is hard to believe she will not be in Jackson when I come home for Christmas.  I told others that I haven't known my adult life in Jackson without Bev being there!!  So sweet Mike set up his camera so that I could 'attend' the party.  oh my special!!  I had warned them that i might get a bit teary as it s hard to really put into words how much i have missed these 12 people (and their spouses, families, etc). well before i took my cat hour nap leading up to our 3 am planned skyping appt (keep in mind it s 7 pm their time), i thought "no..i m fine."  well let s just say to go from spending the past two years living every step of life short of sleeping on the classroom floor with these people, to moving 4000 miles away and not seeing or talking to them for 3 months to seeing all of them in ONE room at ONE time saying "HEY!!!" is slightly moving.  They were dear enough to let me get through all the tears enough to talk for TWO HOURS to EVERYONE! 
It was wonderful.  i m still beaming.  
the sun has officially risen now.  honestly, it was cool to be up all night.  we had our biggest rain yet all night tonight.  Rain pitter pattering on the tin roof followed by the gradual sun rise is pretty amazing here in Africa.'s to 4 weeks til I am blessed to spend more time with these precious friends...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

sunshine and rainbows...

I havent mentioned the heat yet for several reasons...probably b/c in some small way I subconsciously think that if I dont talk about it, it will just miraculously go away.  Denial has worked least for a short while.  However, seeming as it s November and I am officially tanner than I was in the 'heat' of the summer in MS, I figure it s time to pay homage to the current temperature in Malawi.  
It's hot.  And I grew up in the south.  It's a different heat here.  The sun is powerful, which makes for some interesting situations for this fair skinned brunette.  It's so hot you begin to wonder if taking a shower really accomplishes anything, you sweat more than you sleep, you wear more clothing in one day than you thought possible, and there is no such thing as getting two 'wears' out of a shirt here.  Everything is washed after one 'wearing.'
My good friend, Mike, said the other day "Harper, last time we chatted, i learned to be thankful for non-bleached fruit.  What can i be thankful for today?"  I said "The power in Lilongwe goes out every Tuesday night at 6 pm."  To which he replied, "Ah, no AC all night long.  Not to mention lights...Ok, I can be thankful for that."  I chuckled to myself and said "Oh no Mike..there is no AC in Malawi.  But yes, you can be thankful for lights."
But alas...after much talk (and complaining) about the heat...there is a respite on the way.  Rain season.  Yesterday, we got a brief preview of just how wonderful it is.  A discussion today at lunch made me realize something that I had noticed but not actually 'put together' in my mind yet.  The love for rain here is different than anywhere else I ve ever been.  (Probably b/c i grew up in the south where it rains all the time...thus not promoting much of a 'thankful' spirit for the weather).  However here...the rain brings greenery, grass, cooler temperature, crops, flowers, softer ground (to play Ultimate), serenity, great napping atmosphere, and most prominently as exemplified yesterday...rainbows.  Wow....the most 'neon', if i can describe a rainbow like that...colorful--complete ROYGBIV, rainbow i ve ever seen.  It was a double, with the second being faintly present behind the main.  It was gorgeous.  The sound of the raindrops on our tin roof were heavenly.  I was already asleep and awoke to the sight, smell, sound, and almost taste of rain.  It was grand.  
I kind of feel like my friend Carrie who said "what are we 69? We re talking about the weather??" s just that when you live in Africa it's hard not to talk about it!
Here's to more sunshine and rainbows...


you realize you have been in Africa for a significant amount of time when...
--you have a distinct Chaco tan
--you dont blink an eye when the power goes out
--being dirty is just a normal part of the day
--conversations like "can we get chicken at Food Zone?"  "Sure...chicken is chicken.  it's fresh here.  There are a bazillion of them walking around everywhere."...are a regular everyday occurrence (esp between Rachel and me)
--you are on round 2 of the gallon size shampoo bottle
--your sister says to you "wow, i m really gonna miss these power adaptors."
--you can officially say "I will be home next month for Christmas!!"
--you begin to wonder if you will actually be able to drive on the 'correct' side of the road when you return home
--converting Kwatcha to dollars in your head is actually getting easier

...just to name a few

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

little snippets

We have had our first ABC Lady Lions basketball game!  This past weekend Rachel, our roommate, Michelle, and myself coached the college girls to their first win over Bunda college! It was very fun and exciting.  Rachel and I have loved coaching and playing some basketball together in this weeks.  It is deja vu all over again from the high school days.  The Thursday prior to the first official game the staff scrimmaged against the girls in order to give them and idea (and their coaches) of how they are doing and what to expect in a game.  It was so fun! Granted we only had 5 staff members, one of whom has never played an actual basketball game, so needless to say it was hilarious.  There were actually spectators in the stands.  awesome.  It was a fun time by all here in Malawi.
Some brief adventures as of late:
--held a braai (South African way of saying BBQ) for some friends a week ago.  There was a lot of porch sitting and a lot of eating...i loved it!  Unbenounced to the guys coming, but they were the main chefs...grilling...something I havent learned how to do yet.
--One saturday morning I awoke to Rachel coming into our room saying "The computer lab is underwater." air conditioner was initially left running all night (not by me....), proceeded to freeze, and then thawed all over some of our computers.  A guaranteed $10,000 worth of damage if the computers did not recover.  The Lord was good...all the computers except one hard drive are currently working.  We are trying to fix the other piece.  "We" does not include me.  I love that pple here assume I actually know something about computers.
--yesterday in computer class a kid asked "Ms Harper...did you teacher computers back in America?"  Resisting my initial impulsive response of "HA! Are you kidding! NO!" and trying to instill confidence in this older kid that his year of computer will not be a total failure...I simply said "Um actually no I didnt."  To which he responded "well then how do you know so much about them?"  I could have kissed the boy.  Amazing how much comfort and encouragement comes from a 3rd grader.  Little did he know...but anyone who can move a mouse could do what i was doing at that moment.  It's all in perspective...
a few pictures from different occasions...some old..
one of my adopted nephews for the year...reminds me so much of my own nephew...
a night out on the town...
stuck on the side of the road for 2 1/2 hours with a flat tire...the second flat of the day...what do you do?  You entertain the local children coming to watch this three ring circus of 5 americans trying to get a tired fixed on the border of Mozambique and teach them hopskotch!!  Yeah...that s right...we made up games...entertained...VBS Malawi style...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

it's all relative...

No worries...i have not fallen off the face of the earth...although being on the other side of the world, might lead one to think that it is possible.  These past few weeks have been full, fun and busy...usually when that happens I have little reserve to capture all the fun moments no matter how badly I would like to. i go.  So...literally almost three weekends ago now, my sister Rachel and I ventured to the Lake for a weekend get-away with the Jones' clan.  Well just to start this fun adventure I thought I was getting my first bought of Malawi stomach just before we left.  However...i was NOT going to miss this trip.  I was really eager to get outside of the city after being here for 7 weeks.  So we load up...three kids in the back, Rachel and I in the middle seat with Ruthie, who being the youngest and naturally smallest reserved the most room for herself and her sippie cup..and John and Emily in the front.  Departure time was way later than hoped for and I am sure our 'greenness' at traveling the malawi roads in the dark was humorous to those veterans waving to us as we left.  
So...traveling in Malawi is one thing...traveling in Malawi at night is a whole different ballgame.  Oh my word...this is an excerpt of the conversation in the car at any given moment past 6 pm.  Rachel:  "I really dont understand why pple in Malawi think it is necessary to keep on their brights, especially when they are coming right at me.  I can see you, I promise!"  
Emily:  "John! Do you see that bicycle??! Watch out for the cow....Oh my word!"  
John:  "Duuddde"  
Caroline:  "You know this reminds me of the trip our family took to Winter Park."  
Emily: "Just what exact part about this experience reminds you of Colorado.  Because I feel far from it."  
Caroline:  "the near death driving experience on treacherous roads."
John: "SON!" (i have to note here, John was not addressing either of his biological sons, only the mere nearly-dead pedestrian)
Sam or Ford:  "Mom, can i have a snack?!!"  5 minutes later..."what do i do with the banana peel?"
Caroline:  "I ll throw it out the window."
Rachel:  "It's biodegradable."
Caroline: "Knowing me...I m gonna accidentally hit someone with it."

So we drive, Ruthie, bless her heart gets sick just as we arrive, which is remarkable timing if you ask me.  There was no room in the inn at Livingstonia so we ventured to our reserved place of Safari Beach Lodge.  I must say...i m not sure that the words Safari and Beach can logistically go into the same title.  Getting to the actual location was a Safari in and of itself:  another excerpt of conversation:
Emily:  John I m not sure the van is going to make it down this dirt road.
John:  Did anyone actually look at the website?  Did they mention a dirt road?
Ford:  Are there any baboons out here??! "BABOOON!"
Emily:  Is there another side to the top of that hill??! (gasp!)
Caroline:  There are people walking out here!
John:  No way.  where?
Caroline:  Right there in the woods.
Rachel:  I dont think we should speak so all probability they understand English.
Ford:  Caroline! dont stick your hand out the window with food in it...there are baboons and they will come after you!  "Baaabbboooon!"
John:  "To your left you will see the great white Rhino..native to southeastern Africa"
Emily: oh here we this the place?
John: duuude...yeah it is.
Emily:  John, I think this is someone's house.  Are you just going to park in someone's driveway and walk in?
John:  Yep, I sure am!
so we have arrived and the lodge has no electricity at the moment...we are kindly led to our own lodges where we will be staying..with Joseph leading the pack.  When i say 'leading'...that is being very he had one mere lantern lighting the path up the mountain..literally.  Poor John and Emily, they were carrying 1 if not 2 kids each.  Emily had Ruthie, still sick, wrapped in a towel, and John held Ford and Alice Ann.  No worries...Joseph had Sam by the hand.  Rachel and I...well we had bags...i guess.

anyway...the mere adventure in getting to the location would be enough to write home about...however...the guests that awaited our arrival are a whole different saga.  Gnats.  It was the plague. I was not prepared for such.  Little did we know, but they are a fine cuisine here in Africa.  We could have had a cookout, bbq, shin-dig of a banquet if only we had known.

the view the following morning was very much worth it.  We ate breakfast with the infamous baboons which Ford so eagerly awaited to see.  It was unbelievable.  These huge monkeys literally come and eat the food off your plate.  I think this one even ate my cereal...milk and all.  
I loved having a photo session later on as a family of the monkeys played around.

the remainder of the weekend was wonderful.  Time spent at Safari Beach Lodge and Livingstonia were great.  Great company, food, friends.  I cant remember the last time I stayed out on the beach from sun up to sun-down.  Great times...I definitely want to return, baboons, breakfasts gone MIA, gnats, and all.

More to come!

Monday, September 29, 2008

all in a day's work...

The joys of teaching...while living in Africa...

"Today was frustrating..."
"Oh so it had alot in common with the past 30 days."

"how do you know if you are not supposed to eat something here?"
"If in about an hour you throw up."

"Teacha, I need to WEEEEE!"

A little 4 yo said to her mom on the first day of Swimming...
"momma, do I wear my bathing suit to school?"
"No, you will put it on there."
"But, momma, I cant go to school NAKED!!"

In the middle of computer class...a kid (1st grade) raises his hand (which is an accomplishment in and of itself)..I walk over..."Yes, matthew?" to which he bluntly says "I cant sleep at night."
To which I internally chuckle at the randomness of such a comment during the middle of computer class, however the overly analytical therapist part of me wonders why he cant sleep...and why he would tell me of all people!  Does he announce this to every teacher?

At another point in the middle of the same computer class....a 6 yo little girl too cute to tell to be quiet (although she needs to be...), calls me over "Teacha, Ms. 'Harpa'!"  
"you have on a pretty pink skirt."
Very observant..."Thank you, emily.  Now type your letter O."
5 minutes later..."Teacha, Ms. 'Harpa'!"
"Yes, Emily..."
"You have purple on your eye s pretty."
"Thank you, Emily."
And she continues to type with great pride at her recent observations.

"Class, what are a few rules for the computer room?"
"Don't BITE!"
I m thinking...oh my...what have i gotten myself into.  Scary that that is within the top 5 rules...

"Computers turn on and off...can anyone think of a few more things that turn on and off?"
One adorable 6 yo raises her hand proudly..."My mommy has an exercise bike that she rides every night so that she wont get really fat while she's pregnant."
"Well...that is just great.  OK...anyone else?"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A few more pictures...i have to post them when the internet is working fast enough to actually load! So, I m sorry for the randomness!
This first one is of one of my favorite places to go for breakfast--Rach and I went our first Sunday here and have returned's a regular.  Great breakfast and lunch food!  It has the neatest little courtyard that is so doors...when we went there last we both said "mom and dad would love this place.  I can us having a 3 hour sunday lunch here."  This captures the beautiful weather of Malawi which people refer to quite often.
Amidst the craziness of dressing up in her clown costume, I asked Rachel "are you ok?" she looked slightly stressed out.  She looked at me with her usual 'are you really asking me that question right now?' look and said "yeah...because this is what i have always dreamt i would do with my life..." 
It was a long week...a little R&R was needed.  I mean who doesnt need a good cup of hot tea, a great magazine, and a pedicure! ...I may have moved to Africa..but I havent lost my girlyness.
This past weekend we had the college girls basketball team over for pizza and a movie! It was SO fun! Rachel and I are coaching the team...about 13 girls total.  I think only one could not come that night.  We had a great time sitting around chatting (typical girl style), drinking Sobo and Fanta (the new-to-Caroline Malawi soft drinks) and then watched the chic flic Hitch.  There was much laughter, fun, and noise! These girls can yell!

Anyway..just a few pictures of what all is going on.  More to come!

Monday, September 22, 2008

a few pictures...

Rachel...put on a Circus for her Reception (4 yo) class...I came to 'assist' or rather document the event.  Wow...perhaps I will get permission to post a picture of the Circus clown.  Now that was a sight.  The letter of the week was all the kids were Elephants complete with ears and trunks.  very cute.  This little tyke is one of my personal favorites in her class.  The camera loves him...
This pic is from a Wednesday afternoon outreach program--Chitipi.  Rach and I went last week.  I am trying to make it work with my counseling schedule so that I can go weekly.  We go to read with the kids as they are learning to read in their village school there.  We play games along with a Bible story theme for the week. Sweet kids...all ages.

Friday, September 19, 2008

just another manic monday through friday

just want to give you a taste of what my week looked like...several things--
first i have gotten the inevitable cold/sinus infection that one gets when consistently around 300 students.  i am blessed to have all the academy students come through my room...they all use the same mouse on the computers so germs are a free for all in our room.  it's great.  good thing there is a fan in there so the germs can spread around a bit...seriously i am GLAD there is a circulation in that room otherwise. amidst the sickness it's 8 pm on tuesday and rachel and i have just mosey-ed on up to a friends house here on campus to get their corn chowder recipe...only to interrupt their family devotional time.  not awkward at all.  grand...just grand. we get the recipe and are leaving.
well i have been to this house many times and know full well the...obstacles in visiting such a residence.  You see...all over campus, primarily there in front on this house (bless their hearts) they are channeling a four-foot man made/man dug ditch.  yes it is a ditch...about 1 1/2 foot wide and 4 feet deep...all to improve the water system on campus.  one would problem at all.
the next thing i know is that i have just inhaled/snorted up a nose full of water from my now empty nalgene bottle; i cant see a thing b/c my glasses are somewhere on my forehead, and i am up to my thighs in a dirt graven ditch.
Meanwhile I 'feel' Rachel standing above me...trying sympathetically NOT to laugh..while simultaneously attempting to ask me if I am somehow ok.  To which I respond..."What just happened?"
So i gather myself and attempt to walk away...happy to know that my leg is still in one piece.  As we walk away, I again ask "How did that happen?"  Rachel says, "I m not sure but let me know when you are ready to laugh about it."
I then begin hysterically laughing while crying really hard...just out of frustration of stupidity.  Rachel continues down the road bent over laughing so hard I think she just might pee in her pants.  But then she later complains that I am walking too slowly and that she would prefer us just not to ling.  I calmly apologize for my laziness by saying "Oh i m sorry if i m moving a bit too slowly...i only just fell into a 4 foot ditch."

Wednesday provided a fairly sore knee and some bruises which brought about some resemblance of Rachel's students and their skinned up 4 yo little knees...

The stuffy nose prevailed accompanied by a raspy voice from talking so much in computer and lecturing at the college.
Thursday night rolls's late...really late..finishing up a chat online with mom and out of the corner of my eye I see this HUGE and i mean creepy crawly huge roach.  i m talking like the size of my thumb.  it's over above Rachel's bed crawling on the window curtain.  I m tucked away underneath my mosquito net and it's 'out there.'  But that would just be cruel not to do anything about it.  so i get up (out of the waterbed mind you...which is not exactly an easy feat) and attempt to kill this thing, however, it s disappeared somewhere into the curtain.  I looked long and hard for it but could not find it...assuming it went out the window.  
so mom and i are finishing our conversation..i m realizing just how late it really is.  i asked her several times and commented several times that i thought it had gone, surely!?  I have said "bye", and something catches the corner of my eye.  Not only was the roach above me, but it was INSIDE the mosquito net just hanging there.  So I spent way too much time strategizing about how I might kill this thing without A. dropping it onto my bed in which I was about to sleep and B. squashing it on my sheets.  Needless to say, I killed that sucker...gross.  I cant help but think of Marley Evans' anacronym...TIA...This is Africa.  I know that seemed to be a bit too much blog time to give to a roach story...but this thing was huge.  
so there you have it all--the weekend has provided to be very fun with lots of entertaining going on...i will write when I can!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Random thoughts

 Some thoughts, events, or just general comments about the past few weeks....
--I never mentioned the random chicken that walked into the room in the middle of one of our meetings.  Whomever was speaking at the time (definitely someone who had been here longer than my 3 day longevity) didnt even flinch.  Another slightly more orientated person than myself casually walked over, picked him up, walked him out and the meeting continued as if this was an everyday occurance.  (I just uploaded some pictures and came across "the" had to pay tribute to him.)
--Moments of reminding myself:  "I'm in Africa"...Rachel and I returning to our local market and being greeted by our friends who sold us two very cool paintings the week before.   I not only learned how to say my name in Chichewa (but have now forgotten)..but learned some other interesting names:  James Bond and Fantastique.  Seriously.  Then as we were leaving they called out to Rachel to come join in the we did.  We are to return next week as well.
--The MOON--wow.  Late night walks in the total dark along the main road on campus.  Ipod in hand...FULL moon out.  Cool weather here the past few I have had several of these walks.  However, I cant look at the huge moon and bright stars and not think of my dear friend Paul.  I wish I could tell him about this adventure in Africa.  I really miss him.
--Some things never change...Rachel and I frequently Ichat from room to room in our house.  Never know what news might come up that is so pressing that one cannot walk to the next room. 
--Realizing that mom's year will be spent Ichating with her two daughters in Africa...i just picture mom sitting at the kitchen island with her little glass of Diet Coke typing away with us over here!  Always there whenever we need her...
--the compliment of being called "one of the twins" on campus.
--Fun moments of kids saying to Rachel "You taught me computer this morning!" when in reality it was her "twin" sister, "the other Ms. Harper!"
--Tears...lots and lots of tears...I havent cried this much in the past two years combined--and i ve only been here one month.  figure that one.  so my sweet friend, Laura Pegg, helped me understand why and how I am able to cry so much....she said that i have just been storing up for the past 2 years and it s all coming out now.  if only i had known...

So there is the good and the bad.  Hard transitions...big callings....big lessons to learn.  I'm glad I am not in control of all that this year will bring...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One Month

well...i am way overdue!  There is much to process and write's all circling around in my head somewhere.  Hopefully, I will post it all soon..if not I am writing it down somewhere so as not to forget.
so we have officially been here a month.  I dont know whether to be encouraged by this or to find it hard to believe!  I see how with times various things begin to be normal.  For instance, I listen for the rooster to wake me up in the morning and ironically find comfort in the random bird clock, which subsequently produces a different chirp on every hour.  (....we inherited it from the house owner).
i will readily admit that i have experienced and continue to experience all and any of the elements of culture shock.  it is the culture shock of everything, mainly of transition:  missing friends and family and the comforts of a 'known' land.  However, I have seen how with time, things I thought could not become familiar (the mosque call to worship) somehow have.  so..i can only think that others things will continue to become as familiar.

teaching is in full what a job.  very long days here.  teachers are servants--i can say that b/c i am not one by trade.

rachel and i have now officially been to the market twice.  whew!  once together--today.  we went to look at fabrics to make our house homey-er and then to get some veggies. i miss photography.  I wanted to capture pictures of the vegetables and the whole market in general.  Rows and rows, baskets and baskets of fruit, veggies, beens, greens, etc.  Very neat...So many people...So many.  Driving down a road and people are walking all in the street.  it's jsut amazing.  There are definite moments where I just stop and think "how did I get here?...yet realizing how rare and special it is at the same time."  
This next week should be exciting and encouraging--I see my first client! yay!  I am trying to finalize an actual room to set up shop in our medical Clinic here on campus.  That will hopefully provide the needed privacy and confidentiality.  It's a work in progress, but I will be glad to be able to counsel some.

I have loved hearing from everyone! Thanks for saying is definitely encouraging and welcomed!
Here is a favorite picture...
"Lost little boy"

more to come for sure...


Thursday, August 28, 2008

First adventures

So it was afternoon time here and Rach and I set out on our first driving endeavor...just the two of Malawi (which has the highest # of traffic fatalities of the world) in hand...geared and ready to go.  Walk out the door...head to the car, jabbering away and both simultaneously look down and literally keel over laughing--wrong side of car.  Minor adjustment.  

Rach and i are considered a 'couple' when it comes to the carpooling situation.  Bless her heart--she s stuck driving.  Our British roommate asked me "oh you are a couple, are you?"  (mind you in the British accent)  I said "yes i m not driving."  "Why?" "B/c I cant drive a standard and I m not from a British colony." So the adventure continues...

Get in the car and everything is opposite:  opposite side of the car, using the opposite hand to change gears, blinker is on the opposite side which makes for some really clean windshields around Malawi.  (The Americans confuse the windshield wiper for the blinker...)  

Then there are the infamous round-abouts...all opposite remember.  Whew...You know it s like find a car that is going the direction you want to go and just follow them.  Fortunately this happened for us.

I mean I dont know if I have ever focused so much while in a car...and I was the passenger!  It was quite an adventure, but a fun one.  It was only until we were on the straight-away next to campus that we could truly start to laugh and compliment Rachel on her driving.  Seriously she did really well.  Job well done...we were happy.  Rachel got her fix of candy from the store and I found a diet Coke so all was 'right' again.  I was very proud of Rachel...and relieved to see the ABC gates.  mission accomplished.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sink or Swim?

A lot of firsts going on...first time to lecture today (ever) let alone to a college course, that has never been taught before, in a different country, different culture, for a profession that is in high demand, yet does not have the means to meet such a need.  So did I sink or swim?  Well, I floated.
I think the college course went ok today.  The energy in the room was pretty low--i m hoping b/c they were getting their 3rd syllabus of the day and they were hungry for lunch.  Plus i dont necessarily remember jumping up and down during my college courses either.
I took a huge risk in asking them what they thought about counseling, why they signed up for the course, and what they wanted out of the course.   Seems that there is an universal view here in Africa, that if you are in college then you know everything...therefore you must have all the good advice.  So, many of these students saw this class being offered and said "Ah! We may have the knowledge, but we have no idea how to use it!"  They all agreed upon inquiry that there is alot of pressure to counsel and advise correctly excluding passion and potential healing through mere relationship.  I hope to show them that yes, the 'right' information is important, but since we dont know everything, the act and relational aspect of counseling is what is and can be healing...b/c that is what we are made for--relationships!  Really exciting...
So I have the first day under my belt.
Thanks for the many prayers! I receive word of all who have inquired of what is going here.  It's comforting to know of this from thousands of miles away!  Hope all is well. Let me hear from you!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Random realizations:
--Starting to recognize the various birds' chirps that wake me up in the morning.
--Strangely becoming used to 'swimming' while I sleep.
--Realizing just how few traffic rules actually exist in Malawi.
--Having the little kids run up to your window at a stop light asking for money (and/or available chocolate candy per Rachel!)  The smiles you get in response....priceless.
--Grocery shopping: I have done more money math conversions in the past week than I have in the past 5 years combined. Whew...
--Riding on the back of the golf cart with Rachel, while Mrs. Nell Chinchen drives...wondering "what are we doing here?!"
--Then proceeding to bottom-out on the golf-cart amid hysterics.
--Getting really excited about a coke, sprite, or Soba...the new orange drink!...anything to substitute for water.  No worries...i am well-hydrated (water for every meal)...i refuse to have an 8th kidney stone while in Malawi.
--Becoming accustomed to the 6 pm blackouts...Electricity cuts out about every 3 days at predictably 6 pm.  Just in time for dinner.  
--Realizing that there is so much to process when living much so that it almost seems impossible to write it all down...thus making responding to emails difficult! (yet loving getting them!!)
--Just how excited one can get from someone lending you spare dishes and a spare rug!  Rachel and I 'laid' on the carpet forever...just relishing the moment.
--Hysterically and somewhat deliriously laughing at the delays on Skype--makes for some funny family moments talking to Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 6 in Malawi

Cant believe that we have been here 6 days! In some ways it seems much longer, in other ways I feel as though I arrived yesterday. 1 week...whew. It's been a whirlwind and continues to be.
Where to begin?!  Well first of all...the Saturday before we left on Tuesday, my dear friend Susannah got married! I literally stalled leaving for Malawi b/c i was not going to miss this wedding and hanging out for the last time with my sweet RTS friends.  Two great pics from the wedding: (a personal favorite)
Then came the packing and quick departure...The trip over went fairly smoothly with a bit of panic in Atlanta...way too short of a layover.  Dont even know that it qualified as a layover--but we had to take that flight as South African destinations are not necessarily all that frequent.  Delta definitely provided some great movies though once we had time to literally catch our breaths from running to the gate (I'm not kidding).
The first night in Malawi proved quite eventful as we encountered the effects of not pre-heating a WATERBED!  Yes...I am sleeping on a waterbed in Africa.  Who knew?!  I swear I have never been so cold in all my life.  Shivering all night long.  However, despite all of this we were very warmly greeted at the airport by Paul and Laura Chinchen (ABC directors, boss and friends) and then they invited us over to their house for dinner.  Wow...I didnt know there were such beautiful homes in Africa.  Here is a picture of the pretty "welcoming" gift the gardener left for us on our front door.  
Since then Rach and I have hit the ground running...literally...the next morning THE container arrived from the States.  When I say container, I mean something symbolic of being transported on a barge and then transported via 18-wheeler. 
I think the jet-lag has gone for the most part for which I am very thankful.  I literally dreaded going to bed for a few nights as I woke up every 2 hours all night long.  Oh and the waterbed is now officially heated.  no worries.
School begins next week and I have been slightly overwhelmed!  I am officially the Computer Teacher-Information Technology instructor.  Ha.  Funny b/c I cant seem to get the internet to work in our apt.  I ll also teach counseling at the College.  Yay!  We have been at Orientation all week with afternoons at the Academy trying to get our rooms ready. as a teacher!
So...besides the usual surf-like feelings of sleeping on a waterbed, the occasional bleaching of every food item in order not to get ill, driving on the opposite side of the road, and frequently awaking in the early morning and even late night to hear the call to prayer at the local mosque in in Africa is well...pretty eventful.   
More to come!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The beginning...

Well here we go.  
I am definitely new to this blogging world, but nonetheless so it begins.  First, the title--might seem weird seeming as I do not live in NY.  Well, I used to before grad school, and however short it was, I fell in love with that city and hope to return to live there one day.  It doesnt take long to fall in love with NYC, Manhattan, the city lights, artistry, Broadway plays, design, and general life there.  
It was a great year of my life.  So as far fetched as it may sound to call myself a "New Yorker," I claim to be one in heart.
So then the next question is...what's this stint in Africa? a little over a week (oh my word), my SISTER and I are 'launching' off to serve at African Bible College for the next year.  Amid much excitement, there is a lot of planning and packing to do!  Life as I know it is about to change...but in a much needed way.  She and I will both be teaching...yeah, if you know my sister and me, then you are probably laughing!!  But we are really excited.  We will both have the little ones at the ABC Christian Academy and I ll teach some counseling at the college.  Rachel and I have had a lot of practice with the little ones as we are wrapping up a week of beach time with our 4 and 2 yo nephews! whew!
Your prayers are coveted as we start this next school year.  We will have about a week's time to settle into our housing and life at ABC.  Of course it will take a lot longer than a week, but school begins soon!  So here's to a year full of lots of hard work, some unusual and rare experiences, and most of all...serving the Lord in Africa.