Thursday, October 18, 2018

3 Months in Malawi

Well if you only follow me here and not anywhere else online, surprise! We moved to Malawi in July! You can find out more about why we moved and what we are doing here at

Wow. In some ways I can’t believe we’ve already been here 3 months, and in some ways it feels like we’ve been here so much longer than that.

Our first picture on African soil, taken by Adina Caskey at the Johannesburg airport after traveling for what felt like approximately 5 million hours.

For the first few weeks, I would daily exclaim, “I can’t believe we live in Africa!” It just felt so surreal. But now we are settling nicely into our new home and life, and it no longer feels strange to be living here.

We are in the southern hemisphere here, so when we arrived in July it was COLD, with highs in the 60’s. Don’t roll your eyes at me calling that cold. :) When you don’t have heat or air in your house, lows in the 40’s and highs in the 60’s are really cold! Since then it has been steadily warming up, and now we are in the hottest month of the year, although I’m told that it has been milder and wetter than is typical for October. Most days have had highs in the 80’s, but we’ve have several pleasant days of highs in the 70’s. We are thankful to live in Zomba, where we are at a higher elevation (and thus have cooler temperatures) than most of the country. Josh was in the southernmost part of the country a few weeks ago, and it was highs of 100+ every day. The rainy season will start next month and bring with it slightly cooler temps, which will gradually decline until winter next May, June, and July.

The kids are doing amazing, and have adjusted as well as (if not better than) they did when we merely moved across the same state last year. Some of that I’m sure is helped by some big lessons we learned from that move. Last year I learned that the kids and I handle transitions in ways that don’t work very well together—they want more of me, and I want more alone time and more time investing in new adult friendships. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but I think I’ve balanced each of our needs better this time around, and it has helped us all.

The other big lesson we learned was that new everything + new school = way too much new. This was an issue last year for some of my children more than others, but for all of them to an extent. We’d originally planned on sending them all to a British-run private school here in town this year, but decided instead to homeschool for at least the first year while we hunker down and get our bearings about us. I don’t know how long we will homeschool, or if they will eventually give “real” school a try, but it is working out really well for all of us at this point.

It only took a couple of days for me to acknowledge that there was no way I could homeschool them all by myself. Jude needs extensive, uninterrupted 1-on-1 schooling, and Abe was a grumpy, miserable mess over his big siblings ignoring him for most of the morning. Thankfully, the Lord quickly brought us solutions. Abe started in a local preschool along with our neighbor/co-worker’s daughter, and then we hired Priscilla, a patient and helpful recent graduate of the university here in Zomba. She comes 5 days a week to help Haylee, Taylah, and JJ with their school work so that I can focus on Jude. It took Abe a couple of weeks to warm up to his new school, but he enjoys it now.

The kids have begun to make friends with some Malawian neighbors on our street and some fellow expat (aka people like us who aren't from here) homeschoolers, and Josh and I have started getting to know a few other expats as well. We look forward to deepening all of those relationships as time goes on. We of course all also love living next to Eric and Stephanie, and the time we get to spend with them.

Our main goal for this first year, especially for Josh, is to learn Chichewa. He plans on teaching in Chichewa once he becomes proficient at it. To that end, we spend a few hours every week in Chichewa lessons with our tutor, Alick, who teaches at the university and literally wrote the book on teaching Chichewa to non-native speakers. He comes to our house every Tuesday and Thursday, when he spends 2 hours with Josh and then one hour with the girls and me. JJ was having a hard time in our lessons with Alick, so Priscilla works on it with him 1-on-1 during our lesson. The kids also review daily as part of their schoolwork. They are leaving me in the dust with language learning. I don’t have as much time to practice as they do, and when I do have time I don’t usually have the brain power for it. But I will get there too, pang’ono pang’ono (little by little).

A surprising number of people have asked about Rey. She enjoys life here, especially tearing up the outdoor brooms, flying off the 4ish foot tall terrace as she zooms around the yard, going on hikes with us, and sniffing at her buddy/beau Jerry (Eric and Stephanie’s German shepherd) through the gate. With life so crazy, I’ve been neglecting to brush her regularly, which means I finally had to shave her matted head and ears. She looks super weird, but at least she doesn’t need to be brushed anymore.

There is so much more that I could say, but this is getting rather long, and I think that pretty well covers the basics. Please continue to pray for us as we come to mind!

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