Saturday, July 25, 2009

Homeward bound

Just wanted to give you one last update.

We've had a good week here in South Africa, debriefing our time, enjoying each other and learning a little more about what God is doing here as well. Thank you for your prayers.

We leave for home this evening, departing for Frankfurt at 6:55 pm. Our flight info is as follows:





We look forward to seeing friends and family on Sunday afternoon and letting you know all our stories and how we saw God at work in many ways during our trip.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Safe Arrival!

Yesterday, on schedule, we arrived safely at our destination in South Africa. We will spend some time retreating, sharing with each other and preparing for our arrival in the states. We will also be spending time together enjoying some of what South Africa has to offer (this morning there was great rejoicing when we had some roughage for breakfast!). We welcome your prayers for us as we debrief our experiences and plan for reentry into the US.

Monday, July 20, 2009

While in South Africa

Internet access isn't easy for us where we are staying in SA. So we will try to get on the blog to update you on our safe arrival but please be patient.

God bless and please pray for our processing all that God has done while w2e prepare for home in these next days.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Starry, Sandy, Salima!!

On Friday we had lunch at Duncan and Linda's house with the Swiney family. Arica, Greg, and Spencer tried a Malawian dish called Mbewa, it's prepared by being boiled in salt and water, it's then dried and eaten whole. Apparently it has a slightly furry taste and is a little crunchy due to the bones. (Mbewa (m-bay-wa) means mice in Chichewa). Luckily we had some Sobo for our fearless members to wash this culturally unique dish down with! : ). After the Mbewa experience we had an announcement from Duncan. As the adorable couple of Duncan and Linda stood in the doorway they announced that they had news to share; being the American team that we are, all of us assumed that Linda was pregnant. Duncan went on to say that the students from Mzuzu, whom we stayed with our first full week in Malawi, had gotten us each an Independence Day Chitenje.

After lunch we picked up students and after waiting, and waiting, and waiting on the bus we made a 1.5 hour bus ride in 4 hours getting 3 times stuck in sand dunes before we reached the lodge/conference center that was our destination for the weekend. Pushing the bus out of the sand was interesting but we amused ourselves and our Malawian friends by singing in both Chichewa and English for the last hour or so. While we were waiting for the bus to be unstuck we got a magnificent glance of the night sky including the Milky Way. After arriving at the Conference Center several hours late the decision was made to cut our evening session, have supper at ten and retire for the evening. The Lodge was very near Lake Malawi and it was very windy but the sand was soft and the accommodations were comfortable.

Friday night several students accepted responsibilities for the weekend from our team Spencer was appointed time keeper by virtue of having a watch and being an American, Linda (Duncan's wife), and Greg were appointed security team, Sarah was put in charge of recreation activities, and Irena was put in charge of meals.

Weekend Menu

Breakfast: eggs, chips, sandwiches (butter, peanut butter, jam, honey (not Saturday morning)

Lunch: Chicken, rice/nsima, vegetables

Supper: (Friday): Stew, rice/nsima, cabbage (Saturday): Fish (chambo), rice/nsima, vegetables

Since mosquitoes abound near the lake we were instructed to make use of the mosquito nets, while some of us were grateful and slept wonderfully, other members of the team became entangled with the net and had odd dreams about strangers standing over them in the night. While some were entangled in the net others poked the person sleeping with them unsure who was beside them. This was a nightly occurrence for the duration of the weekend.

Saturday morning we commenced our Bible Study, a manuscript study on Genesis 12-17. Chris and Craig led while we helped teach some of the Malawian student leaders how to do manuscript study. We had good discussions and finished chapter 12 Saturday morning. The afternoon we had free, other than studying chapters 13 and 14 on our own. We napped, swam in the Lake, built sand castles with the kids, jumped on sand dunes and walked on the beach, enjoyed the hammocks and Spencer championed our team by winning the high jumping contest. After our evening session covering chapter 15 we had supper supper, (see menu). Then we played cards, went star tripping, and star gazing, and had some engaging discussions, and decided on a brief sunrise service for Sunday morning. While star gazing we learned some new Chichewa words (Nyenyezi – stars, Mwezi – moon, and Dzuwa – sun).

Sunday morning we got up at 6 to see the sunrise over the lake and learned some new Chichewa songs. After breakfast at 7 (see menu) and quiet time, we began our morning session at 8 and covered chapters 16-17, then embarked on a wrap up session, before lunch. Lunch was at 11, then we packed and disembarked after group pictures around noon. This time we took precautions against getting stuck in the sand by having everyone disembark and driving through the sand at a high rate of speed. We dropped off some students before returning to the house and preparing to host the SCOM staff for a thank you/send off celebration.

We did some unpacking and some packing before the SCOM staff in Lilongwe arrived for a send off party of hamburgers, steak, and chicken on the grill. Only meat, which for some of us was quite alright =P. There was quite the spectacle as the team attempted to open the pop bottle Malawian style. Great rejoicing took place when Arica succeeded in opening one at the end of the evening. There was some good discussion and encouragement as well as some pretty speeches by Brian, the chair person of the SCOM board of directors, and Craig, our fearless leader. We said most of our good byes and settled in for our last team meeting in Malawi and some packing as we're to leave for South Africa tomorrow at 11. That being the case this is our last blog from Malawi. : (. As such we would like to say thank you for all the email, and especially for the prayer.

Prayer Requests: Safe Travel (tomorrow and Saturday), Closure during the Team Debriefing, The SCOM secondary school conferences at the end of this month (next weekend), and the Swiney's finding a child

I hope you're prepared to see us, hear our stories, and (to our parents) smell us and put up with our laundry.

From: Arita (Arica) and Maddie (Maggie) as Grace named us.

Ndpita (Good-bye)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Refugee Camp

Hey yall!!

As Lydia told you in the last update Delour is from the DRC and he is living with us, so today we went to the refuge camp that he lived in when he first came to Malawi. It was a very bumpy ride for the last 20 min to the camp. If you can picture a road made of dust leading to a camp that is built from the dust then that is what the camp looked like. There were some nice buildings when you first approached the camp, those were the hospital, the UN building, and a school. We drove in and parked next to the house Delour lived in, from there we walked to the church. We were warmly welcomed by the church members, and ushered to the front of the sanctuary. The service then proceeded with the the pastor welcoming us, Chris thanking them for having us, a praise song or two from the AMAZING choir. Then our very own Amanda preached from God's word, with Chris following after her. Did I mention that the entire service was translated by three different people, including the service (one of them was Duncan!).

After the service and the usual round of photo's and handshakes the team of students ended up in two groups, while Chris and family and Craig were taken to another area. The students were lead around the camp and taken past several of the other churches, having been united as a team during the walk. At one point the students were surrounded by a crowd of Ethiopian refugees who broke into song about Jesus being King. Some of the bracelets that the girls have been making were passed out to the children, who followed us around through different parts of the camp.

When the team went back to the church to meet up with the staff, but they were gone! After a little bit of confusion the students went to the Pastor's church to hang out. It was nice to be in somebody's home, and see how they live, it was also a major blessing to hold the Pastor's second born- Habakkuk (he was an amazing little boy, very happy). When we did finally re-unite it was to get back on the bus and do the bumpy ride home- to our very late lunch of whatever was around.

The rest of the afternoon was hanging out, doing loads of wash, and “trinket” shopping, where I must say some of us have figured out the art of bartering!!

The service and time we spent at the refugee camp gave our team a lot to think about and process. The team spent over an hour discussing what we saw, and getting some clarification from Chris about what the UN is doing for the people. It was hard to think about how individuals survive on the meager existence that the UN provides, and not being able to legally work also makes it very hard. The picture that was painted about the refugee's existence was one of hardship, not knowing what will happen next, lots of moving around, and for many great joy in their relationship with God. It gave team members personal challenges as they took in the enormity of the situation for refugee's world wide and some of the hopelessness the people experience.

On another note, as was mentioned previously, we are heading to a weekend conference this weekend!! Ten Malawian students, four teaching sessions, and lots of beautiful lake. We are excited, all be it a little bit nervous about our bus ride tomorrow (26 people, 26 seats on the bus, second van, 32 people's worth of luggage, food for the weekend= fun 1.5 hour car ride).

Please pray
-For the ride to the lake- it could be very interesting :)
- The time that we spend with the Malawian students- both in teaching and social time
- A good last few days in Malawi
Much Love- DNB

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We've got some new transpo!

Hello Pals!

I have sad news to relate to you this we laid to rest our dear friend, the last jar of peanut butter. We are all still grieving this loss and all of us are left wondering: what will we eat for lunch tomorrow?!?!

It's been a pretty uneventful few days since you were last updated (very thoroughly) by Spencer and Kate. Monday was a day of rest, which a few of us spent not resting by going on a morning expedition for cheese. Due to our quickly dwindling supply of peanut butter, the plan was to eat grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch instead of our usual PBJs.
Aside: I don't think you have yet been told about Delor! Delor is originally from the DRC, but was forced to flee his war-torn country as a child after his village was attacked. He made his way to Malawi and did work around the house (cleaning, doing laundry, washing windows, etc) for last year's team, and Chris has stayed in contact with him since. Delor is now staying with us as Chris helps him to obtain his refugee passport and travel papers in order to possibly immigrate to the US.
Anyway, Monday: after dropping Delor off at the immigration office, we went to a grocery store, then picked up Delor and took him to the UN building, went to 2 more grocery stores and did some curio shopping, then picked up Delor, took him BACK to immigration, and visited 2 more grocery stores before finally returning home! We returned victorious, bearing several packages of cheddar as well as a special treat of Triple Cheese Doritos and Chutney Baked Simba 2:00pm. Of course by this point our mission had been in vain, since everyone had gotten hungry and ate peanut butter sandwiches anyway!! Oh, the irony.

Apparently on Monday afternoon there occurred a walk into a “fancy neighborhood.” Otherwise, it was a pretty chill day.

On Tuesday, we went out to see the sights of Malawi!! Some of you may know that Malawi has had 3 presidents during its 45 years of independence: a dictator, a Muslim (whom they blame for the drought or unseasonable rain), and the current president, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, who is featured on most signs around town (there was a country had a president, and Bingu was his name-oo...). The founding president, Dr. H. K. Banda, was the feature of our sightseeing. We started at a memorial to the men who died fighting for Malawi's independence, situated directly behind a large statue of Dr. Banda. Our second stop was the president's grave, a large masoleum where they hope to soon be able to display the embalmed body of Dr. Banda. An information centre including a library and musem dedicated to the president are being erected nearby. If nothing else, we know that Malawians are fiercely loyal!! Our final stop was as a cloth shop where several of us bought material and t-shirts or bags. We also spent some time getting to know our new bus and driver, Jimmy, and missing our beloved Victor.

On Tuesday afternoon, most of the team headed to African Bible College to play some basketball. Joe and Jacob Swiney were captains, and after a trying battle involving at least one head injury, Jacob's team pulled ahead and won by TWO WHOLE POINTS! What excitement!

Today (Wednesday) Jimmy picked us up to go to the SCOM office. We stopped first at the International Bible Society to buy Bibles for the secondary school students we have been interacting with who don't have them. We watched our last jar of peanut butter being consumed before our very eyes during lunch and then had our last service with the students. They taught us several of their songs and thanked us for their New Testaments in Chichewa, and it was somewhat less awkward than all of our previous interactions! YAY!

Soon after ending our time with the students, we all headed to Lilongwe Teacher's College, where they train primary school teachers, for their weekly service. Greg gave a very nice sermon from 1 Samuel – we've now given talks about Ananias and Sapphira AND Eli's evil sons! The students had truly embraced their training by decorating their classrooms with arts and crafts – newspaper chains and toilet paper garlands!

This evening we fired up the new braai stand and had some steak! YES! It's nice to have a meal that doesn't consist of some kind of stew served over rice, although everyone has been doing a very admirable job of cooking! Tomorrow we leave the house at 8am (uuugggghh) to visit the refugee camp with Delor. Our time here is winding down very busily – Friday we leave for a student leadership conference at Lake Malawi, where we will be until Sunday. When we return, we'll be hosting yet another braai for the SCOM staff, and then we fly to South Africa on Monday!

Prayer requests:
For the conference this weekend as we help to train the student and fellowship with them.
For continued team unity as we finished out our last few days living in close community.
For safe travel during our bus rides as well as flying out of Lilongwe in just a few short days!

Thank you so much for your prayers and emails!! This marks the end of our blog post time together. :)

- Lydia Anderson

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Grass is Always Greener in Zomba!!

For the first time we began a weekend adventure punctually. We left on a sunny Friday morning at 10 a.m. to stop by a variety of stores in Lilongwe and pick up mass quantities of green soap and kilogram packages of brown sugar to give to the prisoners we were about to visit on Saturday (more on that later). And then we headed south to Zomba in our van accompanied by Linda (Duncan’s wife), Duncan (SCOM Staff), Irena (SCOM Intern), and our fearless driver Victor.
The drive was full of bumps but had a view of beautiful GREEN mountains (They had tall trees in comparison to Lilongwe. This time of year Lilongwe appears very dry and dusty.) The drive was approximately 4 hours long and Victor even got to stop by his father-in-law’s place to drop off some food. (It was cute, says Kate.)
Then we arrived at The Lodge. (The name had something to do with fishing …said Craig). We were the only people staying at the lodge and they provided delicious meals consisting of:
Breakfast: Over-hard egg on top of chips (fries)! With four pieces of bread, butter and coffee.
Lunch: Rice/Nsima with chicken
Dinner: Rice/Nsima Chomba (fish-native to Malawi mind you) or Chicken
Dinner also consisted of beef and Nsima/Rice one night. Ooh with delicious red tomato salad-ish substance.
The meals were all served by one very friendly lady, also named Linda!!, who also provided some rooms with hot buckets of water each morning to bathe/bucket shower.
The lodge was surrounded by dirt paths and square fish ponds which we explored on the first evening. The atmosphere was very serene. Then a group of kids began following us all the way home and we could not invite them in (sad).
We only had a few hours after we arrived in Zomba to prepare for a large group at Dumasi College of Education. Maggie stepped up to the plate by preparing a sermon and even sacrificed being late to dinner to complete her wonderful feat (“It was all God,” said Maggie.) In completion of her sermon, like Spencer before, she was served with a beverage, only this time Fanta! The moral of the story is that if you preach the word, you’ll get served with a tasty drink at a large group. The large group began by candlelight because the school had no power (This is Malawi – it’s like butter on toast). But the worship was exciting and people even danced around the room during one particular song, it kind of looked like a conga line.
Also at the large group, three people gave their testimonies and we sang Palibe during which the students joined in, we think that’s a good sign. Maggie’s sermon was about works and faith and how we cannot have one without the other. Then as it is always Malawian style to introduce oneself … people went around saying their names, grade, major and ….. relationship status? It was Duncan’s fault because he introduced Linda as his beautiful wife at the beginning. We were all almost single, Greg had zero kids. It was awkward, but still not as awkward as that one bible study with the secondary students.
Day 2 Saturday … Zomba!!
Supply’s were low …morale was lower … just kidding! >:o)
At 7am we woke up to the melody of rain on a tin roof. “It never rains in the winter season of Malawi,” Duncan said. He was wrong though –oh how wrong he was - it seemed like the Lodge was receiving a power car wash.
After a lovely breakfast (see meal plan above) we went out to visit Chancellor College, the premier college of Malawi with approximately 3,500 students. Although it had many wonderful buildings with floral landscape, the best part of it were the mountainous views in its backyard. One area was called Jerusalem, which is an area overlooking the vast scenery and specifically set aside for students to get away and pray.
Afterwards we stopped by the Botanical Gardens and encountered an invasion of little grey monkeys. The scenery was nice, filled with all the shades of green and a clear waterfall rushing along boulders and smaller rocks, but let’s face it – the monkeys were the highlight.
We stopped briefly at the lodge to eat lunch but as we are so commonly late – we stuffed our mouths and bolted to meet with the Dumasi students and partner with them in their prison ministry around 2pm. The students kindly carried our brown sugar and soap supplies as we walked to the prison through a large field which was approximately a 10 minute walk from the school.
The prison had approximately 200 inmates and they all gathered in the center outdoor area for the students’ ministry. The prison security was really lax and the only precaution for us to enter was to turn off our cell-phones, which none of us had so we were good! Some of the prisoners are responsible to grow their own crops for food and are able to sell the surplus. The presentation of the ministry included a skit by three students, singing, and some drum banging. The whole service was in Chichewa and therefore we didn’t even know when to stand up and sing, until prompted by others, then we shared two songs. (They were extremely impressed when we sang a song in Chichewa and pronounced “nazunga lira” correctly) After a message was spoken from the word the leader told the prisoners that we had brought them soap and brown sugar. The prisoners got riled up when they heard the brown sugar was going straight to the kitchen and wanted the tastiness to go straight to them. So, after much deliberation, the SCOM leaders worked with the prison guards to distribute the sugar and soap equally amongst each individual group cell. The prisoners’ ages ranged from very young to very old. Almost all of the prisoners who attended the program seemed very familiar with Christianity already. They knew the song lyrics, they knew the call and responses, and many of them responded to the speaker’s call for prayer. The Domasi students will continue their ministry once a month to that specific prison. We were very happy to be able to partner with the students with the ministry, although it definitely took us out of our comfort zone, and we were in constant need of translators throughout the program.
Little did we know, Saturday’s adventure did not end at the prison. While walking back, we encountered a lively game of football (that’s soccer for all of you back home) between two colleges. Although we may not understand why people enjoy football (soccer) so much, the spectators in attendance were very passionate about the game. We saw bicycle kicks, slidetackles, and much rejoicing when the home team scored. The spectators surrounded the field on all sides, and many viewed the game from a nearby hillside. It was quite an experience! Nature made for a good venue.
Saturday night at the lodge was rather uneventful, a couple of girls did get their hair done in cornrows by talented hairstylists (aka Linda and Irena!). Sleep was met with plenty of dreams that night. People woke up confusing mosquito nets as intruders.
I (Spencer) was awakened on Sunday morning to the jovial sounds of Victor singing in the bath. It was hilarious! After a punctual breakfast (hooray! See meal plan above) we packed our bags in preparation for our loooooong bus journey back to Lilongwe. But before leaving Zomba and the southern region (that’s right, there’s more! Much more!) we drove up, up , and up the Zomba plateau. Although some members of our team might have been a bit worried by the mountainous drop-offs , hidden turns, and lack of side rails, I (Spencer) had every confidence in Victor’s driving ability, and he skillfully got us to the mountain’s summit.
Our first stop involved picking up a “tour” guide for 1500 kwacha. He led us to another extraordinary sight of William’s Waterfalls. I (Kate) slipped but only got dirty and surprisingly no one got unintentionally wet. “Don’t go chasing waterfalls …” Spencer has an amazing ability to provide musical accompaniment to our adventures. And Kate has an amazing ability to annoy Spencer by typing everything that he says out loud. (In case you haven’t noticed, this post is written by more than one person, and is consequently not as smooth as past posts.) Hiking in the midst of the forest next to the raging stream of water we reached a dilemma of facing a tree with vicious bees. This is where the sense of self-preservation made us turn around. All-in-all it was a good hike.
Then our “tour” guide, oh oh! He has a name, Daniel, took us to a great view of Zomba city called Queen’s Point because Queen Elizabeth visited that location from Britain. Lots of the Malawi sights have British names because of their presence before Malawi’s independence. Then we also went to Emperor’s point a little farther down, and as Greg pointed out, they really need to decide on their monarchical structure here In Malawi. Duncan carried a big stick with him for some reason… it was a good pole vaulting size.
Then we went to a bunch of shops to purchase curios (for some of you folks) ..sshhh we didn’t tell you. But bargaining is hard so value your gifts well. Greg was a pro at it. He made the rest of us look like we got ripped off. He was also described as “driving a hard bargain” by the sellers on multiple occasions. And then, after experiencing the mountain to our satisfaction, we made our descent back down to the town of Zomba, where we ate at a restaurant called Tasty Bites. It was much faster service than our last two restaurant experiences, but if you’re ever there, don’t get the pizza. A large is the size of your face, says Kate who didn’t even get the pizza.
On the drive back we picked up two HUGE bundles of charcoal (which successfully got past the check points because I guess some forest police like to take the charcoal for themselves if found) and lots of vegetables when we drove by markets. The loooooong drive seemed shorter due to the good times we had singing many, many songs, despite their lack of musical pleasantness. What Spencer means, is that we frequently switched pitch in the middle of a song and liked to use the different sounds of our voices to produce unique melodies.
All in all, we learned a lot during this weekend, and Kate and I definitely learned that a history major and a journalism major should not be paired to write a blog entry, at least not this late at night…
Arica just won at hand solitaire! A rare feat. Arica and Sarah also accomplished doing the dirty work of four people’s laundry by flashlight in the dark after our long trip! (Again, as I said, not as smooth as some entries…)
Thank you for your patience and readership! Our last request is for prayers: Please pray that God blesses our last week in Malawi together as we visit our last time at the SCOM office in Lilongwe and venture off to Lake Malawi for a leadership conference.
That’s allll folks! We’re excited to see you all again soon (after South Africa)!
God Bless,
Spencer and Kate and the Malawi Team
P.S. We hope that someone edits this for us.
P.P.S. No worries Sarah, Arica and Maggie did the editing =P