Thursday, May 15, 2008

Living in Africa and Loving it.

It has been over a month since I last entered anything but perhaps it's because life has taken some wonderful turns. I have been able to get out of Lilongwe into the country side three times now. Several weeks ago I went with the Malawian staff to northern Malawi, where we tested students for entry into African Bible College. It was an incredible trip. I was surprized at a beautiful pine forest. It was almost as though we took a drive into Washington states. The weather was cool and moist. We saw men cutting down trees the old fashioned way and making boards that same way. Back and forth they sawed it was a steady motion full of sweat and determination, only to make less than a dollor for a 20 to 30 foot plank. I often here the word lazy among those who are in the money, but I wander how hard they would work for a pitance that wouldn't even buy a small bag of salt. Would you saw the length of a tree to make 80 cents?

In the middle of seemingly no where we turned onto this mud road which took us to a farm where small pine trees are grown for planting. My friend Maggie's dad had done this work most of his life and we were going to meet his friend who had taken a goat for grazing purposes. I guess the friend needed his lawn mowed. Anyway we were bring a note to the friend to let him know that the lawn service was over and the goat needed for services else where.
I was impressed by all the little seedlings and the fresh cool water that ran down the side of the field for bucket irrigation.

We left that little haven about as fast as we had come and off we went to Muzuz. It was 5 hours from ABC to Muzuzu. I wanted to find out what Missionaries did that irritated and enlightened the Malawian staff, so I asked lots of questions, something I'm good at, but not always appreciated for. Anyway I learned alot. When we got to Muzuzu we found a lodge, in or hotel, what ever you want to call it. It was basic lodging, not 5 star, but I'd do it again. No large bugs or snakes, however the next morning I realized there were no screens on the windows. So glad I didn't sleep on the bed next to the window. The rats or snakes would have to crawl over someone else before they got to me. But of course I presented my case in a far more loving a caring manner, by saying I'm sure someone else would like the fresh air and I'm used to sleeping on the left side of the bed. That morning while the staff were testing I went with Maggies husband Gilbert to find Bee's wax. We knew honey came from that area, so I figured where honey is is where I"d find wax. What a stroke of genious. We called the honey people and they let us have all the wax we needed for a price of course. I stared off with just 7 kgs. Now to make candles and soap.

Next Gilbert and I went to the market, It had been years since I had been in a market so it was simply wonderful that is except for the smell of rotting fish, but then somehow those are the smells I always miss when shopping in the states. We bought lots of fun things like beans, cassava flour and green peppers. I realized how wise it was to shop in the market vs shopping in the stores. One can save money. However it takes a lot more time to dicker on a price. I'm beginning to see that it is more of a social activity than it is anything else. Sometimes you save a lot of money, but mostly you help the stall owner pass time and give him something to talk about when he or she gets home. At noon we picked up the staff and took them to the market and then by 2 we set off for home. However the goal was to stop at roadside venters along the way. We picked up bananas, plantains, potatoes of various kinds, honey, watermolon and onions. The car was loaded on top and inside. There was no room in the end. We arrived home by 8 pm and everyone was ready for a nice restful evening.

My friend Maggie has a business buying and selling Maise. Yesterday she did her first buying trip. I begged to go but she was afraid I'd hate it so she made me come late with her husband. Gilbert and l left at 9:30 to meet Maggie and the other couple who are in the company with them. It was only about an hour from ABC and most of it was on a dust road. Meaning it is red dirt/dust. I have Air Con. in the car, so we kept the windows closed. This was the first time taking my new used car on a "4 wheeling trip" . The car took the bumps like a dream and my heart was full of joy as we drove along the dusty African Roads. We came to a detour which was basically a dusty road next to another dusty road, they say the president will pave the one road right after the next elections. That means vote for him and you'll get a road, not and you may be eating dust for a very long time. I took several pictures for you which made my day. One must laugh when they see a "Reduce Speed" sign in the middle of the road.

When we found our buying team. There they sat on bags of maise, with a ski cap or scarf to cover their heads from the red dust. We sat on someguys front porch who had gone to the market and left Maggie and friends buying maise. The yard/ red dirt swept clean with a broom quickly got littered by peanut shells and the fiber of sugar cane we spit on it. I kept looking for a broom to sweep the mess up, and couldn't help but wonder how an american would react to some strangers pulling up next to his house, taking over his front yard and sitting on his front porch, spitting white fiber all over his grass. Don't think it would go over too well in the states , but the owner came home and if Maggie hadn't told me I wouldn't have known the man was even there. As we sat there I got some great shots of cow and donkey pulled carts. As I took the pictures I'd show the people and they were thrilled to see themselves in the camera.

We loaded up some 108 bags of 100lbs of maise on to a fat bed they hired and headed back, we stopped along the way to buy peanuts and some garden poles and to talk with a guy to ask him to help with the buying of the maise on Saturday. It was an incredible day, every moment was wonderful. Truely this is living in Africa. I cann't help but marvel at the simplicity of life and see an awsome God, I'm humbled as I see all that is accomplished with so little and realize how much our definition of life is attached to our way of living. Truely, I'm loving living in Malawi, Central Africa.