Adjusting well

Josie at the playground with friends.

We have been in Malawi for just over 6 weeks. Our family has been adjusting quite well, granted we all wish we knew how to communicate better than we currently can in Chichewa. It sure is awesome hearing both Lily and Josie picking up words and phrases!

One big difference between Lilongwe and Stoughton, WI is the litter. The litter is bothersome. There are little plastic bags everywhere as well as other trash. Malawi is such a beautiful country, though close up the litter all around is disturbing. In order to try to pitch in and perhaps set a bit of an example, we have begun carrying a bag with us when we walk the parish property. Everyone in our family pitches in and picks up the litter. The first time we did this, we had several stares and even a few came up to ask us what we were doing. We simply explained Malawi is beautiful but the litter is not. We also offered that the litter is not good for the people’s health and offers more breeding grounds for mosquitoes. (Since some mosquitoes carry malaria in Malawi, it’s important to steer clear of those pesky little buggers!)

The second time we picked up litter, we had four of the teenage boys come over and pick up a few pieces and throw it into our bag. They were very proud of their efforts! Granted, they didn’t help us clear the entire church parking lot, but they did pick up a few things each. We felt this was a huge accomplishment! The third time we picked up litter, the young man who asked us what we were doing the first time we were out came up to me and told me that he now sees what we meant. He also told me that it already looks so much better. I doubt our efforts will eliminate people littering in Malawi or even on the parish property, but at least our efforts will make the area in which we spend most of our time look much nicer!

Driving Lesson – it was my turn to get behind the steering wheel of the car the Comboni Fathers are loaning to us. I have been a bit timid on this as driving here is quite different than Stoughton, WI! The driver sits on the right and drive in the left lane. Our car is a manual transmission (stick-shift), which means we use our left hand rather than our right to shift! I’m thankful all the pedals are in the same place as the pedals in the US! Aside from these differences, one other huge difference is there are thousands of people walking – everywhere! And the roads are narrow, not many have lines and most are in desperate need of repair! There are very few road signs, I guess one is just supposed to know what the speed limit is! And, our speedometer is in metric. All measurements are in metric here, thank goodness Lilyanna has a math unit dealing specifically with metric measurements! This will definitely be a FAMILY math unit!

This past weekend we decided it was time to get the family garden going. There is a small area right behind the house that is perfect for the kitchen garden. The ground had not been tilled or touched for a very long time so the dirt was packed so hard it was like busting up concrete with every swing of the hoe. A couple hours into it and our wonderful friend Sister Anastasia came over to give a hand and give some Malawian advice on the planting process. Soon she recruited the help of the parish handyman and another willing soul to get load after load of what they call “manure” to add to our soil. It’s really compost made up of burnt wood, broken down leaves and the like and of course some garbage mixed in for good measure. She and the rest of the sisters have been a true blessing along with the parish community to lend a hand when we need it. After hours of hard labor, the garden was prepped and ready for planting. On Sunday we planted a large variety of seeds. Before we know it we will reap the benefits of our labors.

On Sunday we also attended mass at the cathedral here in Lilongwe. They offer a mass in English each Sunday at 8 am. It was a real spiritual refill for us. Although all the masses we have attended in Chichewa have been great, it was awesome to hear a gospel and homily in English. In the evening, we had the sisters over to show them how to make homemade pizza, and shared in some great conversation.

This week we will attend Chichewa classes and continue to get to know our neighbors and community a little better. We continue to pray for strength, health and the guidance towards what our ministries will be here in Malawi. God Bless.