Monday, August 31, 2009

Our first "Regular" Week, Our New Neighbor

  Good morning!   Well I am writing this to you having gotten up at 5:30am on a Sunday morning.  The reason is that the nearby Mosque upgraded their sound system so that the call to prayer is a bit louder now at 5am.  Also we......rather I Derek, purchased a goat at the market yesterday which has turned out to be an investment gone bad.  This goat will not stop making noise....(and it happens to be right outside of our window which did not make Jeannette very happy this morning as she stormed out of the room with a "not so happy" look on her face. )
 This week we finished our first week of school at the Academy (K-12th grade).  Jeannette's classroom has been transformed into an amazing place of art and learning and fun and is one of the best classrooms on campus.  I included two pictures one of Jeannette in the classroom taken from the front and one from Jeannette's desk towards the front of the class.
(Here is Jeannette at the desk working hard.)
I have been teaching 2 PE classes at the Academy Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They have been going well and the weather has been cooler, around the 60's in the morning and as hot as about 85F  during the hottest part of the day.  I have

It's Jeannette writing now. Yes, I did wake up with a not so happy look on my face this morning, but you would too if the mosque first woke you up at 5 and then the cute, but annoying little goat, would not stop bleating! Well, I guess it turned out to an okay thing, because Derek and I have been hanging out this morning. It's probably the longest we've hung out in a while now. :o) School started on Monday and it was a very long but great week! I have a wonderful class!! The kids are really cute and it's neat to listen to each one of them share about themselves. I love learning about the kids! I jumped right into my curriculum this week and have been trying to make learning fun! I've still been trying to make the classroom look inviting, and I have been hanging up the kids work. We are singing a song in chapel in two weeks, and the kids sound so wonderful! I have a little boy from Malawi, who doesn't do the hand motions but just claps and gives a little head shake! It is so cute! I'll see if someone can record it, and then we'll try to post it! Life has been as regular as it can be. I haven't had the chance to go out to villages, or volunteer at the orphanage. The classroom has taken up all my time. I spend two weeks decorating, attending orientation, and lesson planning, that I am still trying to get organized in class, but I know it will come along. There's another teacher who takes kids to a village for ministry on Friday's so I will try to go with her several times. I'm still not sure what our routine life will look like, or if it will ever be "routine" but I am excited to see what comes our way. We have been blessed with some terrific friends already, and they have made our transition to Malawi much easier!
Derek:  So I want to give you a brief run down of a few stories about things that have happened here in Malawi.  A few days ago I was using the morning to go and try to meet some of the other Athletic Directors of some of the nearby colleges and technical schools. I also needed to run by some stores to check on the prices of a few things that we will be selling at the Gym snack bar to raise money for the sports program here (it is called a Tuck Shop here).  I am almost adapted driving on the left side of the road here so I have been able to enjoy the times when I drive out in the city.  I fit in as a driver thanks to driving in Mexico and Southern you can use your horn a lot here and people don't get much.

Anyways, I was driving and met quite a few people who own shops, sell wholesale, even a guy who was selling cars. As I was in the parking lot of an equivalent store like Costco (minus the free samples and a lot of cool product) I noticed a man on crutches who asked for money. I ignored him and went in to shop.  I came out and he was still there by the car I was using and so I gave him some chips that I got from a chip wholesaler I had met with earlier.  He scarfed them down. I grabbed someone walking by to help me translate who turned out to be a car salesman.  I had him ask the man on crutches why he did not get his leg looked at by a doctor as it looked like it was an old open infected wound. I gave him the name of the Medical Clinic we have on campus and told him to go by as it was affordable.
      After that I walked with the man I had used to translate for me who had some cars for sale. I had a good talk with him and as I was leaving I saw the man on crutches again waiting to talk with me.  Well at that point, I remembered a chapel from the day before where the pastor was talking about the good Samaritan who helped the beat up and left for dead Jew, paying for all of his expenses even though culturally they were supposed to be bitter enemies.  The pastor who led the talk ended it with something like "Do not ask 'who is my neighbor', but look at the people around you, they are your neighbors". Well I was using one of the African Bible Colleges cars and was on my way back to the campus anyways so I motioned for the man on crutches (it was actually a wooden stick) to get in the car.  We drove to the campus, about a 10-15 minute drive and during the drive I found out that his name was Mustafa. His English was not great and my Chichewa was not there but we managed to communicate a little bit.   I checked him into the clinic waiting "room" and told everyone that this was my friend Mustafa and that I would be taking care of any and all expenses.
     Well the Doctor or Physician's assistant came out and told me that his leg wound was from an old burn and would take multiple antibiotics and some time to heal.  The dressing on the wound also needed to be changed everyday.  I thanked him and we went up to the pharmacy window, got his medicines, then went to the cashiers window to pay.  During this time I was thinking and looking at Mustafa. He had a big smile mixed with a painful face from his injury but his smile would always come through.  Here is a guy who had no hope in his eyes of getting better but was just begging and God had me come to him,  take him to get his damaged leg fixed up and take care of it.  After the clinic I was going to give him some minibus/taxi money (about 2$ US) but then I decided to drive him back.  That was a lot of fun because we used the point method or where he would point and I would go.  As it turned out we drove to his family who was on the side of the road downtown.  He had a wife and two kids, one of which was a baby.  I did not understand what was being said between his wife and him when we pulled up, but they were all smiles.  She thanked me and just from her eyes you could see how happy she was.
   During this time Mustafa was in the clinic I made a PB & J Sandwhich, some other food and some water and also grabbed a shirt and a little Jacket as it gets cooler in the evening and Mustafa's shirt was literally in tatters, tied together so it would stay on.  Since then, Mustafa has come a few times and is now walking without any cane or crutch.  We have it worked out where a young man who works at the clinic named Krispen, calls me when Mustafa comes and when I have a break from classess, I run down to the clinic and meet with them there, Krispen translating for us.

   Originally I was not going to share this story. But more than anything it has kept coming into my mind and heart...almost like a throbbing.  In total I probably spent no more than $25.00 for medical, transportation, and a few dollars for food, which in the long run is not much.  Here a life that was/is being changed....a small leg infection that prevented someone from almost walking, he could not work and provide for his family.  A little Neosporin in the states and bandages you could buy at any grocery store would have prevented the infection.  What really got me about this was God's love.  I felt so removed from this, like I was witnessing everything from the third person as God provided for this man and his family and I got to see it up close.   As I saw this I thought about God's love for me, God's love for the hurting, the poor, the rich, the well, the sick.   As we were driving back this last time I smiled at Mustafa and said "Hey, you know you are my neighbor." He looked at me and laughed and said "Neighbor".
Thanks so much for your prayers and support.....
                          Derek and Jeannette

The First Chapel at ABC Bible College
(above) Freshmen Registration in the Gym

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Calm Before The Storm

Goodnight from Malawi! Well, as we get ready to go to bed, we wanted to write a quick post of what we've done this week, so far! As new missionaries, we've been having an orientation. Yesterday we spent the day learning a little more about ABC, and then we were off the the market with one of the Malawian students from the college.

It was meant to be a scavenger hunt to get us exposed to the Malawian culture, but the idea of a "scavenger hunt" in the Malawian culture, just doesn't work, since the people here and so laid back and want to spend more time talking with you and getting to know you than completing a task. The relationship is more important (which we like), so our team pretty much gave up on completing the scavenger hunt from the very beginning. The student from ABC that was with us, was Richard, and he was great at taking us around and showing us different things.

There are a few areas to the market and we had only been to the "less crowded" part of the market, which was still crowded, so coming to this side of the market, was a little bit more "chaotic" There were people just shouting at you to come take a look at their produce, or just saying hi! Many of them laughed at one of the men with us, since he was carrying his daughter on his back (and the women do that here), and they were laughing at Derek too, because he was holding a big basket that this family bought for them (and only the women hold the baskets here). That allowed for several conversations to open up in the market.

Today we drove about 1 hour to a town called Dedza, and on the way there, we got to see the more rural part of Malawi, we got to drive on some very bumpy roads, but then we reached a nice little restaurant, where all the new people got to talk as well as learn more about the Malawian culture. I think most of the learning about the culture will come with experience, but we're glad that we were able to listen to these other people and their insights.

School starts on Monday so the next several days will be spent in meetings, in the classroom, and lesson planning. As school starts, we know our time will be much more limited than it has been, so we won't be able to updated the blog as often, but keep checking it for new posts! :o) We are still overwhelmed with just work and adjusting, but we're excited for what is to come.

Due to the internet limitations we can only post pictures from 12am to 6am so they will be added later....we know pictures add a lot! We will have some of the Market and Town and Derek will throw in a few extra stories in the next day or two before school starts.....and just a little teaser it has to do with a W.W.F. in Malawi experience (for those who do not know what that is...its better that way) being made fun of in the Market, what God has been doing in our lives, and being chased by a lioness and her cubs....

(Just kidding about the lion but you should still read the next post)

Friday, August 14, 2009

This morning, I woke up to the call of prayer, again. We've now been here for a week and I can say that I able to sleep through the night (aside from the call to prayer). Although we've only been here one week, it feels like we've been here much longer. We jumped right into work, and have had a little time to explore the town. Life in Malawi is very different. Of course, you might say, but even though I knew it would be different, once we got here it was still difficult. We ARE enjoying it here and glad to be where God wants us, but sometimes it's hard. Power goes off and on every day and water has been off at least once a day (thankfully not in the morning so we can take showers.) All the little things that I took for granted, I now cherish! I didn't realize how much I relied on water to get me through the day. One of my favorite places that I've been to so far is the market. It's filled with people going about their business, kids running up to you asking if they can carry your bags for you (a way for them to make a little money), and asking to be your "watchman" for your car (I've been going with a friend who has a car). Although hectic and busy, the market is the best place to buy produce. It's cheap and that's why we are becoming vegetarian (for most of the year). The picture above, is of a little bridge someone built to go across to the clothes side of the market, and they got the bright idea to charge people to go across. They charge 20 quacha, which is equivalent to 7 cents. :o) We've both been working really hard at our jobs. Derek has been organizing and cleaning out the gym, and getting ready for all the sports, while I have been decorating the classroom, organizing, and looking through curriculum. I part of me wishes we could go out and explore more, but then I again, I know we're here to serve the students at the school, and that we need to work hard in our classrooms, in order to go around town, explore, meet people, and do different things. Thanks for following along in our adventure here in Malawi, and be sure to keep checking back for new posts and pictures!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The Gym at African Bible College View from the Bleachers of us organizing a few of the rooms

Well yesterday had a little bit of normalcy mixed in with some newness, with a side of Cultural....what is the word.....awakening. Unlike the few nights before we slept through the call to prayer and woke up ready for the day. Jeannette went down to her classroom to continue setting it up. (It looks great now) I went down to the Administration building to find the head of the grounds who was going to lend me one of the workers to help me clean up the Gym rooms.

I have a little aside here regarding the cleaning and inventorying of the Gym....In one of the rooms there was a fatty Lock on a large cabinet with most of the equipment in there. I had to buy uniforms online for the college to have them sent to a team in America who was coming over September 3rd and needed to get in that cabinet yesterday to see what we had and what we needed. Well after about 4 conversations with 5 people and about 3 miles walking around campus talking to other people I found out that someone who was on "Holiday" maybe sorta, possibly would have that key. Well I went to another person who had his number and called him. It turned out that he would not be in until Friday but we had to order the uniforms Yesterday, Thursday evening. I then went and found some Bolt cutters and got into the cabinet.....Problem solved.

Anyways, as we were cleaning out the Gym/Sports rooms I was being helped by Gideon, a student at African Bible College. He helped me a lot and we got much of it done. While he was working in the afternoon I had to go to meet up with someone at the office who was going to give me the info I needed to purchase the uniforms. I arrived about 20 minutes early so I sat around and then decided to take the campus car on a little trip to buy a coke at a nearby Market called Crossroads. Cars here drive on the left side of the road, their steering wheel being on the right side of the car. It is easier said then done and I realized how ingrained driving on the right hand of the road is in my mind....just from being here. When I decided to drive to the store I got into the left side of the car, threw my notebook on the right seat and start to fasten the seatbelt when I notice that I do not have a steering wheel in front of me. I am in front of the office so I have to act quick. I open the glove box and start to go through it "looking" for something. I think I may have pulled it off. I pulled out of the school campus and I was doing pretty good. I came to the first left turn and kept saying aloud to myself "left side, left side, left side etc..." I got to the store almost hitting about 2 people riding bicycles and navigated a roundabout. Needless to say I got my coke, and then drove back to campus. On my second to last turn this car completely cuts me off and speeds off towards ABC (African Bible College). As it turns in front of me I see that it is another missionary from ABC .......and it made me realize it is okay to be a bad driver in not really but it did make me a little frustrated. I then got back to the campus, had my meeting and played some basketball, eventually going to bed.

In the next few entries we realize that there are everyday things, or things common to us we don't really think to tell you about living here in Malawi. Things like we use a water filter for drinking water, that we have a water heater, and that tuna costs $2.75 a can, and that you cannot buy Dr. Pepper here, etc... just to give you a better context of our life here and so that we can convince you to visit us because it is not living in a grass hut fending off Lions and Hyenas, although that would be kind of cool.
We are off to start another day......

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 11, 2009 The first Blog entry

This is our first attempt at keeping a blog. Please excuse the spelling and grammatical errors as we try our best to write whats going on while balancing our normal, daily lives. As this goes on, hopefully you will see an improvement in our writing (mostly Derek's writing, Jeannette is a lot better : ) )

We made it to Africa. Jeannette and I arrived last Friday evening to Lilongwe, Malawi in the Southern, central part of Africa. Malawi is a small country and many who are reading this probably have never even heard of it before. Like us, prior to a few years ago we could not have pointed to it on the map. I first came here in 2004 for about 2 weeks to play soccer with some of the local city teams at some of the local stadiums. It was free admission and afterward a pastor would share a message of hope. Local Church leaders would follow up with people who were interested in hearing more about this living hope and hopefully begin a long term relationship. We traveled a lot but through that I was able to get a glimpse of the country and talk to many people.

Well I could go on about the background of our lives but I will hold off on that (feel free to email us if you would like a better context). Maybe that is a Star Wars influence where we start out in the middle of the story and the beginning will be shown at a later date....

Well today we woke up to a call to prayer from a local Mosque at 4:45am like we do every morning. Jeannette started to get up and pray when I told her "Hey, babe its okay that one is not for us...go back to bed" : ) We thought that the Mosque was just over our back wall or had a speaker on our wall pointing to our bedroom window but it turns out it is about 3/4 of a mile away. If you have not heard the call to prayer before it is an experience, especially at 4:45am. The other teachers/staff on campus say you get used to it after awhile. We went back to bed and woke up about 7:45am, did the normal morning routine of shower, get ready, breakfast etc. Jeannette then went off to set up her classroom and I was supposed to help her however I got a Skype call from a good, good friend in San Diego...although he is going to school in San Bernadino (I think I spelled that wrong). After I finished hanging up our laundry to dry, thought about doing some dishes, and then I went off to her classroom to give her a hand. After about an hour I went back to our house (around a 5 minute walk on campus from the school) and had Tea with our gardener who is named Happy, thought about doing dishes again and then decided to write this instead.

Jeannette will be posting some pictures of her classroom a little later on. There is a lot to do as the walls were bare and, as you know Jeannette, she is one to make a classroom amazing...everything from the bulletin boards to, the desks to the door to just about everything. I am looking forward to seeing it in its finished state. School starts on August 24th and she will have about 25, 2nd graders.

Today I am going to try to go to the Market and buy some seeds for our gardener (he came with the house and is a way to provide more jobs here) who will plant them in our garden. Also this week I will be getting prepped with my job as a part time PE Coach for some of the Jr. Highers (I have practiced saying "the more you talk, the more we run!!!" to get ready for them) and for being involved with the African Bible College Athletic Department. Lunch is in about 30 minutes and it looks like we will be having egg sandwiches...a change from the normal PB&J.

Feel free to look at our pictures on Facebook as well as keep up with whats going on during the day...somedays we will write more than others. We will be putting other links to our email and our mailing address here as well. Thanks so much!