Sunday, December 7, 2008

Just Another Day in Malawi

I realized today that there are many things that no longer seem odd to me. Like for instance that our gardener trims the lawn with a machete…not so weird. Or that instead of seeing chipmunks or squirrels scampering about here I see big lizards with blue heads. I no longer think it odd that I share the walls of my home with geckos, and I even find it cute to see their little gecko bodies scurry across the wall inside our home. They have a fun little wiggle as they move, ask me when I come home for Christmas and I’ll show you!!! It’s not so uncommon to see a family of chickens pecking through my yard, or to have a mama hen hop onto my windowsill and stare at me while I’m sitting at my desk putting on my makeup…okay, that’s actually not true, that one was still a little weird. But it's no longer abnormal that I do my makeup in front of a window instead of a mirror! It’s no longer peculiar to see a woman carrying 10 feet of long bamboo-like sticks on her head with a baby on her back and the only thing holding the baby on is a piece of fabric. Or to see men and women dressed in business attire walking in the dirt alongside the road in the heat of the day. To see a random fire burning rather close to houses and with NO ONE in sight to watch it is no longer strange. It took me forever to get a straight answer out of anyone but finally I found out that they burn fields to scare the mice out in order to catch them, boil and dry them, and then skewer them to sell on the side of the road. Which they sell along with bananas, mangos, slingshots, movies, dried fish, and live chicken hung upside-down and bundled together by their feet. Yup, no longer weird…I’m finally starting to get used to this place!


The rainy season is finally here and really fun things happen when it rains in Africa. Besides the crazy thunder and lightning storms that roll in within minutes, drench the land with torrential downpour, and then pick up to move elsewhere…there are little flying BUGS everywhere!!! These termites that crawl out of the ground and take flight with thier long skinny wings are called White Ants, or Rain Ants, or as my dear friend Amy calls them Goombies(gew-m-bees)!!! I’m completely sure that’s not their name and must tell you that she has her own language for many things here in Africa, for which I have suffered greatly for. But anyway, these “whatever you might call ems” invade the air just before and during the first part of a rain. Like a gnat they enjoy the light and so they tend to swarm and gather right outside the door just waiting to greet you. They apparently are edible and I’ve heard if cooked properly taste like bacon. If cooked improperly, they just taste like bugs...ya think? This I might just have to try…maybe…I’m scared...maybe not.
The last couple of Wednesday nights I’ve been playing sand volleyball in a league with some of the staff here. Last Wednesday it started to rain just as we began to play and these bugs were everywhere. At one point I looked down at the thigh of my pants and noticed a small bump moving around, it was an ant! My teammates laughed at me, I had ants in my pants!!! Like I said, fun things happen when it rains in Africa!

Christmas in Africa

As we enter the Christmas Season I am feeling a tad out of place and disoriented here on the other side of the world. Normally the weather is cold, I am happy wearing my scarves, and there’s an excitement in the air. Yet here in Malawi I’m experiencing Christmas like never before. There are flowers still in bloom, the Mangos are ripe, there are big poufy clouds in the sky, every now and then you hear thunder, sometimes it rains but mostly it’s just HOT and a little sticky! Something’s just not right. This last Saturday we had a huge swimming gala for the entire school. One hundred races, kids running everywhere, swimming attire, a blazing hot sun, music, food, lots of cheering….are you sure it’s Christmastime?
There are people on campus decorating for Christmas even though everyone is still running around in shorts and short sleeve shirts. One house in particular is decked out with millions of twinkle lights and big wooden candy canes lined up along the path between their house and the neighbors. This last weekend I spent my Sunday morning helping my friend Amy decorate her fake Christmas tree while wearing a knee-length skirt and a tank top. Later in the day we went up to the pool and I came back a little sun burned...for the first time ever, I’m tan in December!
As I taught today it seemed I was living out an oxymoron when I read my kids a story entitled, “What Snowmen do at Night”, all while sweating and being nowhere near cold or snow. The only cold I’m experiencing is the one making my nose stuffy, and that I could do without.
Although it’s a totally different feel and experience of the Christmas season in Africa there is one thing that remains the same. People here, just like at home, are stopping to focus, remember, and celebrate the birth of our Savior! As we celebrate this year I pray that we remember to take moments amidst the hustle and bustle to refocus and give praise for the blessing we have of being loved by a Heavenly Father and for the promise and gift of His son Jesus Christ!!