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!