Friday, October 23, 2009

little vacation

Well with only 2 weeks left Jarrod and I took a 4 day “vacation” (as if the whole trip hasn’t already been a vacation) and went down to Liwonde National Park and then to Cape Mac.
Everything in this country is just amazing even in the heat and dryness of October. Liwonde Park is a national reserve for the wild life in Malawi and the largest in the country. Although there are animals in other parks that you can’t find in Liwonde the elephants make it worth the whole trip down. Our first day there was very hot and the wild life was limited but on our second day Jarrod and I got up and out very early and were able to see bison and wart hog (so cute) and lots of other animals. At the end of are all day drive we crossed the path of a group of elephants coming back from the river. I can’t really describe it and the pictures don’t really show it but it was just the coolest thing we have seen in Malawi.
In the evening we went out on a night drive where the animals were as numerous as during the day. We even saw hippo sleeping. As we slept in the camp site in the park the sounds are just unbelievable, you hear the cracking of trees as elephants eat and the groans of hippos. Now if we could have only got our tenting neighbors to stop talking so loudly the sounds of nature would have just put you right to sleep.

Then we travelled on to Cape Mac. Sam had won a voucher to stay at Cape Mac Lodge and very upscale lodge and much nicer then any place we had stayed so far. It was very relaxing there and a great time to just unwind and prepare ourselves for the COLD that awaits us at home.

Now with a week left we are trying to finish up everything in the library with a hopefully ribbon cutting on the 27th so I am off to work.

Miss everyone and we will see you all soon.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

a quick hello

Hey All,
Sorry we have not written in so long but everything is really great and really busy. As a lot of you know Jarrod is doing just fine, he survived Malaria with no problems except 3 days on the couch watching bad movies.

Our plans changed and Dick and Suzi are unable to meet us in Malawi so we are now back in Senga Bay, working hard on the library and wheelchairs. Sam just never seems to slow down.

Barry has left Cool Runnings after 8 weeks and now we have another volunteer with us named Jess, she is an Aussie and here with us in Senga Bay while her boyfriend Pete is working in Lilongwe.

The Library is coming along great, almost ready to open. Jarrod and I have been getting every book categorized into the computer it is a long process and normally by about 12 in the afternoon, the library gets to unbearable temperatures. Therefore, we normally just work until Jarrod starts to drip sweat onto the computer.

Well, with only 3 weeks left in our trip I do not know how many more times we will get to write but we will do our best or you will all just have to invite us over for dinner after we get home so we can talk about our trip.
Much love!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

ESCOM-The Electric Supply Company of Malawi---or---hey, where's my flashlight?

The following is a short rant regarding one of the biggest problems facing a nation struggling to develop its economy and take care of its people.

The power grid in Malawi is, well, interesting to say the least. As I write this blog, we are in the throws of a scheduled power outage in Lilongwe. It started about an hour ago, at 6:30 in the evening, and will probably last another hour, till 8:30 (for all you math wizzes out there, that makes it 7:30 now). ESCOM’s slogan is "Power All Day, Every Day," for which they are currently being sued by consumer and hotelier groups across the country for false advertising. Everywhere in Malawi has "scheduled" outages every day. In most areas of Lilongwe, the schedule is from 6-8 at night, give or take a half hour (Please not that this is the time when everyone would like to be cooking dinner on their electric stovetops and ovens, as only the very elite rich have bottled gas and/or generators). Now, most people could be understanding of this eventuality. Malawi is a land-locked developing nation with limited resources, and as such, the production of electricity here is almost nonexistent. As far as we have been able to ascertain, the power here is almost entirely imported from South Africa. Because of that, and because maintaining the grid requires cutting people off, they are forced to cut power at certain times to certain areas. The problem is that the outages often occur outside of the scheduled time slots. In Senga Bay, for instance, the power is supposed to be off from 7-9 in the morning (another lousy time to not have power), but often it would be out for 3 or 4 hours in the late afternoon or evening. In Mzuzu last Sunday, the power was off from before we woke up until about 7 at night. Lilongwe, it seems, has the most sporadic outages we have encountered. Keep in mind that Lilongwe is the capital of this country, and a city of close to a million people, and yet, ESCOM just can’t get it right. You just never know when you’re going to have electricity and when you’re not. I’m sure they have "valid" reasons for this behavior, but it seems to me that ESCOM is like a rich 8 year old kid who just got a really cool toy for his birthday. He’ll let you play with it for a couple minutes, but as soon as you get comfortable with it, he rips it from your hands and laughs in your face. A few hours later he’ll let you play with it again, and the cycle continues. The Malawians are, by nature, extremely laid back people, who don’t let much get to them. But even they are frustrated by the power situation in their country. Consumer groups and Hotelier groups in Lilongwe and Blantyre have tried to get answers from ESCOM about the random outages, but ESCOM has yet to come up with them. (By the way, the power has come back on…it’s 8:00 now.) Anyway, I don’t have any answers to this problem aside from firing all the management types and starting over, but that’s not a very good solution. I just wanted to let you in on a little bit of the joy of the 3rd world.
Zicomo Kwambili!

Friday, September 11, 2009

African Tradional Religion vs. Christianity

Well nothing new really going on here in Mzuzu. Jarrod is still working very hard building cabinets for the new bathroom in the guest house. I have been busy sewing and uploading pictures. I figured I would write today to educate all of you on some African Traditional Religion.
Since we have been here I have been very interested in the mixing between Christians and ATR. How some can follow both when most of the time the ATR doesn’t follow Christian beliefs at all. The big argument I have is the understanding that having more then one wife is acceptable. People that will call themselves Christians will take 2,3 even 4 wives and still go to church on Sunday, hear the gospel and not feel convicted of such a thing. To most having more then one wife and many many children with each shows what a man you are. That is also why AIDS spreads so fast, if you are not spreading your seed then you are thought to be less of a man so AIDS or not men feel required to impregnate women to show there wealth, power and manliness.
Now if you would like to read on, I would ask that the younger folks turn there eyes…it gets a little risqué.
Once a young girl reaches puberty, when she gets her first period, she is sent off to learn how to be a proper wife. One of the elders, a man, of the village will take her away and teach her. She will learn how to perform dry sex, no pleasure for a women at all, they will salt themselves, this causes them to swell and makes it more enjoyable for the man. The problem with this is that she can swell so much that the man will tare her vaginal walls and she can form infections and it makes her more susceptible to AIDS. During the time of learning the elder, a 20,30 even 40 year old man will teach the girls this by having sex with them. If the girl happens to fall pregnant (which happens a lot) the elder is not responsible for the baby, he was just doing his job. Now in this case the girl will go home pregnant and if she chooses to keep the baby will now be unfit to marry and her child will be considered and orphan (only one parent). So the family will take her away before the baby comes to stay with family elsewhere in a village that no one knows her to give birth the that child. She will then come home with the baby and her mother with take it as her own. I asked, aren’t the people smart enough to know that the girls mother didn’t have the baby? And the answer I received was well yes but it is just a little secret that people know but don’t talk about. Now the girl is not considered un-pure and is able to wed.
Now this is Chewa ATR there are other practices for both the Angoni and Yao Tribes. I am still learning about these two but from my little understanding they are almost the same.
I think that might be enough for all of you today. If you have questions I can most likely get the answers for you. The ATR vs. Christianity has really sparked my interest and I just wanted to share with you a little of the cultural differences that Jarrod and I have been learning about on of journey here in Malawi.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

more pictures

Well i think that i am finally up to date with the photos so check them all out.

I have reached my free limit of photos on Flicker so Jarrod and I have to figure something out with that but we will let you all know.

So enjoy the pictures I hope you like them and get a little taste of all the amazing people and things that we have seen along our journey.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Working in Mzuzu

Sorry that I keep writing blogs but Jarrod has been very busy working on the guest house that he is just to tired at night to type. So no super exciting story book read.

Mzuzu is a very nice place, it is much cooler here because it is up in the mountains but now that summer is starting to set in the temperature has been going up. We have been working on the guest house here on the campus. It was built about 10 years ago but Randy never really liked the lay out. It is perfect for Malawians but for us western folk it just doesn’t work. So Jarrod and Mr. Piele (master mason) have no taken down the walls in the bathroom to make it one large bathroom rather then the 3 stalls that is was. Now that the floor is level and they have a blank space to work in Jarrod started building a large cabinet to go in the corner.
I have been making curtains for the bedrooms and kitchen and cleaning up the other room that don’t need demolition work.
That is really all to report right now. Nothing exciting just another day in Africa.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cast off the Shackles of Yesterday

Here at the Bible College women are to do women things (cook, clean etc.) Manual Labor is a mans job. It has been very hard for me to adjust here and I have become a little depressed because of my feeling of suppression. But yesterday the man that was helping Jarrod take the walls down at the guest house was out sick so I got to step in and swing the hammer, get dirty and bash out my anger on a concrete floor that didn’t know what it was in for. Man it felt good!!!