Roberta’s Newsletter 11/11/11
Today marks 2 months since I arrived in Malawi – time for another update.
I’m continuing my language studies in Chichewa with a tutor twice a week and am making good progress – at least according to my Malawian friends who appreciate my efforts. Let’s see if you are equally impressed: M’mawa uliwonse ndimayenda ndi Henry – translation = Every morning I go walking with Henry. After almost 6 weeks of non-activity, I asked Henry, resident Master-Gardener to go walking with me in the mornings to get some exercise. The route he takes me on is always full of people going to market to get their vegetables and fruits to re-sell in the villages. At 5AM the women are heading to market with large buckets/tubs Then, on our return trip we see them returning with their heavey loads of mangos (it’s the height of mango season -80cents/dozen!) carried, in Malawi fashion on their heads – many of them not using their hands!! I might eventually be able to speak their language, but I can guarantee you, no way will I ever be able to carry 50lbs. of anything on my head! After seeing me 5 days a week for the past several, the women now greet me more openly with smiles or “wawa” (like hi). Theydo think it’s very strange to see me walking for exercise when that’s all they do in their daily live to get everything accomplished.
Since I last wrote my sister, Heather sold my Subaru – hooray! As of today I am the relieved owner of a Toyota Ipsum. You won’t find it at your local Toyota dealer, but there are a ton of them here. So happy that I can stop renting.
Nothing good to report on the fuel crisis, except that there still is fuel – sometimes. The availability is still critical and the waits are maddening. This last week I waited 5 hrs. On top of the wait, I received the added bonus of a rate increase so that it cost me $92 to fill up my tank (last time it was $71).
An additional negative aspect to the fuel crisis is that WRM is curtailing their travel to field offices unless absolutely necessary, so I have been unable to visit some of the sites I would like to until there is a trip scheduled for other purposes. So, I have arranged a 2-day trip to the Embangeni District about 3.5 hrs. away for the last week in Nov. for which I will be using WR donation monies. December 1st is World AIDS day so there will be lots of activities surrounding it that I will be attending and writing about –stay tuned.
And now, a little comic relief. Here are some signs that I’ve seen around Malawi. I’m NOT making these up:
Obey Garage Potted Flowers for Hire
Flashers Restaurant Earth Clock Funeral Services
Adventure Coffins Customers Always Complain Hardware
Kondwani Berbar (Barber) I’ve seen “Berbar” several times
Praise Hair Saloon
Two weeks ago, 7 of us from WR attended a Leadership Day with Bill Hybels (of Willow Creek Church fame) It was an intimate setting with about 100 pastors, church leaders, business people and NGO staff in attendance. There were several points at which the audience was able to ask questions and get one-on-one feedback. His message was encouraging to all. If ever a country needed good leadership training along with good doses of inspiration and motivation it is present- day Malawi! Many are really struggling and are discouraged – and angry.
I continue to be uplifted by your faithful prayers and support. I continue to learn from and lean more on God every day that I’m here. Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’m so thankful for each and every one of you!
Blessings and Love,
P.S. I wrote this over a week ago and still haven’t sent it. But the good news is, since I originally wrote, there has been a wonderful break in the gas situation and one can actually get gas without having to wait. Don’t know exactly what happened, but all I can say is “I’m filling up”!!!
PPS – Please pray for Leah, who does the cleaning and cooking at Michelle’s. She just lost her baby at about 6 mo. yesterday. I went to the local hospital to visit her and was horrified at the conditions. Where she was, there were 2 to a bed, and Leah didn’t even have a bed! Unfortunately, she is unable to afford anything else. So much for us all to be so very thankful for!!