Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November 2021

 November is drawing to a close, and I just thought it would be fun to recap some highlights from our month. You know, for posterity's sake.

We've had between 0 and 5 new cases of Covid a day this month in Malawi, which means that it's been basically non-existent here and life has been pretty much normal except for a few places that still make you wear masks inside. We haven't had the mask debate/issue that the US has had; everyone just wears them without a fuss. We just at the very end of the month got news (as did the rest of the world) of the new Omicron variant. It hasn't been detected here yet, but the US has already put a travel ban on foreigners coming from Malawi and many other southern African countries. Don't worry though, it doesn't apply to US Citizens. Macie will be able to get back without a problem in December, though she'll probably be leaving a little earlier than planned just for good measure.

We said goodbye to Eric and Stephanie Chapman, who had been here for a month running clinics and Eric led the Founder's Conference for all of our partner church pastors and their assistant pastors. The picture above is of Stephanie leading our women's Bible study at Gospel Life Baptist Church on her last Wednesday here. It was great to have them here.

This is just a watercolor picture that Jude did during school this month, and I was so proud of it. He really loves art and is doing so great in school with his tutor, Grace.

After the girls both suffering from some illnesses and injuries for a few weeks, we got back into running. We started with a couch to 5K plan that sort of went off the rails when they got sick, so for the last couple of weeks we've been going back in the plan and trying to build endurance again.

My friend Becca put on a ladies' brunch for the expat women of our town, Zomba, and it was also a virtual farewell for our Dutch friend, Marieke, who left last year and was supposed to return for farewells earlier this year, but hasn't been able to because of Covid and life. It was a nice time for us all to get a little dressed up and pretend to be fancy for a few hours! There are 10 nationalities represented in this picture! I love our multicultural community!

Josh has gotten really into chess recently. Our colleague, Isaac, is really good at chess and brought a board to the office for them to play a few moves at a time during the breaks of Shepherd's Academy (which Josh has also been busy with this month, with students here all month and teaching every day). Josh didn't like getting his butt kicked at chess, so he's been brushing up on his skills, and by the end of the month it took Isaac significantly more moves to beat Josh than it did the first time! Ha! I still don't think Josh has beaten Isaac yet, though. (Correction: Josh says he has beaten Isaac once!) But as a result, he's also been teaching JJ and Abe how to play, and they are both surprisingly good at it! Abe can think 2 moves ahead, which is super impressive, especially for a 5 year old.

I got the joy of being at the hospital with Isaac's wife, Susan, while she gave birth to their first child, Jedidah. It was a fascinatingly different experience from giving birth in an American hospital! I'm so proud of Susan and how strong and amazing she was, and she's already a wonderful mother. I told all the hospital staff that it was my grandbaby, since Susan calls me mama. I don't think they knew what to make of that! Ha!

We took our family Christmas card pictures last week, and while I'll save the good pictures for Christmas, you can enjoy this outtake while I was testing this location. Family pictures are always like herding cats, but even Josh said this was our least stressful picture day yet. It helped a lot that Macie was with us and could take the pictures for us, instead of me setting a 10 second timer and running back and forth a million times. We've made a bit of a tradition of going out for lunch at our favorite Zomba restaurant, Casa Rossa, after pictures, and that is always fun. I insisted we include our dog, Rey, in the pictures this year, and she was so good that she may have earned a permanent spot in our family pictures!

This was the second year that we took our mission staff and their families on a safari at Liwonde National Park as a way to say thank you for all of their hard work and sacrifice through the year. Now I know a safari sounds extravagant, but when you live near a safari park, it's actually incredibly inexpensive. Much cheaper than going to a zoo in America. Even so, most Malawians don't go to the park, and none of our staff had been before our trip last year. It's a really fun day outing, and we had lunch at a lodge nearby and got to swim in their pool for a while after lunch, which was great on such a HOT day!

These were the stars of our safari! We pulled up and parked our jeeps about 10 feet away from a whole pride of lions sleeping under these small trees. The best I could count, there were about 3 females, 5 half-grown cubs, and one male. And a half-eaten warthog. Gross. But at least we could know they weren't hungry! They really didn't care a bit that we were there, they were just chilling with their full bellies and trying to stay cool. It was so cool to see.

We had a great Thanksgiving this year. We celebrated with just us and Macie. A cool front came through the night before, and it rained all day Thanksgiving day, which was WONDERFUL. Usually Thanksgiving is brutally hot, so the cool rain was a delight this year. I'm going to miss a lot about Malawi when we are in the US next year, but I'm not sad at all about skipping hot season here. Josh smoked a ham and two chickens (we like to make enough that we can live on leftovers for the rest of the weekend), which meant I used the oven very little, which also helped to not heat up the house too much! The ham was amazing, and will definitely become a staple of our Thanksgivings here.

I made... a bunch of other stuff. Sweet potato casserole (but with butternut squash, because sweet potatoes here aren't great), rolls, deviled eggs, brussels sprouts with bacon, pecans, and cranberries, fried apples, and two chocolate chess pies. Oh and Josh made the green beans. He has somehow perfected green beans, and no matter what I do, I can't ever do them as good as he does, so he's our green bean man.

We had a huge lunch, and then sat around in food comas all afternoon enjoying the rain. It was awesome. At 4pm, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade started, and we watched that live on the computer as we ate leftovers and pushed back bedtime until it was over.

The day after Thanksgiving is always our day to put up our Christmas decorations and decorate our tree together. All of our ornaments have special stories and meanings, and I love opening the ornaments and remembering with the kids the memories behind each one. You can tell how cool it was by the fact that I wore JEANS on this day! That's just crazy this time of year. It was so wonderful.

I just loved this picture of these two putting the star on top of the tree. Santa hat, Batman shirt, and swim trunks. Welcome to Christmas in Malawi.

The girls and Jude have been going to youth group with some other missionary kid friends at a friend's house for over a year now. Some of the older MK guys lead it, and Macie's been teaching it the last few weeks. We love youth group and that the kids get to grow in their faith together. Grace goes with Jude, and he sits good and listens to the devotional part, but he isn't usually interested in playing the games with the others. Thankfully our friend's house has a lot of fun outdoor things to do, and he and Grace have their own fun too.

There is a farmer's market in Blantyre on the last Saturday of every month, where different crafters and such set up booths for shopping. There is a small selection of food, and also live music. I've been once before, and I thought it would be a really fun girls' day out for Macie, my girls, and me. We had a good time, and bought several fun things! Notice their clothes... it was still cool. Glory hallelujah.

Rey also got to go along on our girls' trip! She hasn't been out in public much since we moved here 3.5 years ago, and I've been trying to find some ways to start getting her out again in preparation for our trip back to the US next year. She was pretty skittish with all the people at the farmer's market, so it was very good for her to go, and I'll need to take her back again. I've been contacting businesses and trying to get permission to take her to some places, but there are no service dog access laws in Malawi, so we're at the mercy of the business owners. Unfortunately most Malawians are very afraid of dogs, especially large black dogs, so there isn't much openness about it. But she really shined while we were eating! She just lay under the table and was so good, just like she'd been trained to do.

Well, that's a little recap of our month. I'd love to make this a regular thing on the blog, but I'm not going to commit to that, because remembering to do "regular things" is hard for me! But please let me know if you read all the way to the end and you would enjoy it if I made this a regular thing! :)

1 comment: