This is the week that the INDEVOURs of 2015 are heading out to their respective placements in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Nepal, Peru, Senegal, and Vietnam. Two lucky INDEVOURS will be joining me in the ranks of those who experience Malawi, and I hope that their placements impact their lives in similar ways to my time on placement last year.
The 8 month placement that the International Development program at the Unviersity of Waterloo requires are some of the hardest and biggest months of growth for most of us who have completed it. Prepare to have mood swings of an intensity you have never before encountered - you can go from loving where you are to vehemently hating it, in a matter of seconds. I pray that for this year's INDEVOURS, they will experience more of the 'loving' than hating', and that when they are able to step back, process, and reflect on their time on placement, they will come to the same conclusion that I did. Yes, as a new program, INDEV has its flaws, but the placement supercedes all aspects of irritation as it prepares new graduates extremely well for work in their field, and gives them an accurate picture of what their future may look like, if they choose to continue in the development field.
And Ian and Alison - Takulandirani! Welcome to Malawi!
Barb and I were blessed to have another housemate, Katie II, for the last few weeks, and she leaves on Monday to head back to the States for school. She has been working with the audiology clinic for about a month, and was able to have quite a few Malawi adventures along the way - outreach up north, and a safari weekend in the south.
She got back from the safari this evening, and walked into the middle of pizza production! Barb and I worked together to invite all the single staff, and make enough pizzas and no-bake haystack cookies for dessert for the whole bunch!
We ended up with about 20 people coming over, and it was a lot of fun to chat and intermittently eat (cooking 7 pizzas in 1 oven takes a long time!!), and it was great for everyone to get to spend some off-duty time together. Once the evening wound up, we tidied, and then sat down to have one last housemate conversation before Katie left. It was lovely having you, Katie, and we are already missing your presence!
On the last night of our orientation at African Bible College, the whole staff went out to the Kumbali Cultural village for dinner. We got to eat traditional Malawian foods including nsima (corn meal porridge), steamed pumpkin leaves, and beef in tomato sauce. We were also greatly entertained by a sort-of singer named Scott Gray, who has written an album of songs that portray the Malawian quirks in a light-hearted manner. I thought you might also enjoy hearing one of his songs - 'Beep Beep... Odi' is about the public transportation system: minibus.
I love my church! The people that make it up are so loving and genuine, and I can't wait to see them every week! We are doing a really great series this year, as our pastor is casting vision for the church. The first three months were about Integrity - or, our personal relationship with God and how that works out in our lives. The second three months were about Family - how we interact in our families as Christians, and how that looks; and the third set of three months, which we are currently in, are about Church - how families and individuals work together to build up the church. It is awesome!
Sunday mornings typically run from 8:30 until 12:30. There is a one hour Renovate Class that happens Sunday mornings before the service, where we learn the foundational truths of the Bible. Then we have our regular service, which opens with about an hour of worship, followed by a sermon that is around an hour long, and we end the morning with some time of talking with each other before heading out.
This week and the last have both been absolutely crazy! I have been putting in 12+ hour days at school getting the classroom ready, going to orientation meetings, sorting through the resources in the classroom, learning the curriculum, and preparing lesson plans. On top of that, both my housemate and I got sick at the beginning of the week, and have been struggling to get healthy again while having very full schedules. To give you a picture of how boring yet busy our life has been, tonight I got home from school at 4:45, which was about an hour and a half earlier than most nights. My housemate, Barb, was feeling well enough to be able to speak again, and with those two things, we decided we must have a celebratory evening! So for dinner we ate instant soup... because it doesn't hurt her throat, and it doesn't hurt my stomach. Oh well! The adventure will continue, and it is going to be amazing!
The first week of school has been a lot of fun for me! Our mornings start at 6:45 with staff devotions, then from 7:00-7:15 the children begin to arrive and play on the playground. We make our way inside and do a welcome routine, and then settle in for the meat of the day: phonics, maths, reading, writing, Bible, science, and social studies. We have taken, on average, 4 bathroom breaks a day... I keep trying to reduce the amount of disruptions these have on our routine, but these little bladders seem to need more time to reacquaint themselves with a school routine. The children also get a snack break and recess in the middle of the day, and head home just after 12:00. My teaching assistant, Miss Moyo, has been a huge help to me - she is already familiar with a lot of the procedures that are in place at ABCCA that I just haven't had the chance to learn - i.e, the ABCCA walk: children stand single file with their hands clasped behind their back, and walk silently from classroom to classroom. I officially have a class of 19 five year olds, and they are full of energy and raring to go! I keep ending the day needing a nap and throat lozenge, but I have been told that after a few months, you get used to this and are able to manage better! I am still working on putting the bulletin boards together in my classroom, and definitely have some more supplies to add to the shelves, but it is almost there!
We learned a Chichewa worship song in orientation this week. I have actually heard it sung before, but never saw the words written out - and having a translation with them was awesome! It even has actions!
I have officially been back in Malawi for one week. As I walked home from preparing my classroom at the school today, I got to watch the beautiful pink sky as the sun set behind the Lilongwe hills, as I listened to the (newly repaired) megaphone from the mosque, calling people to prayer. Stopping to chat with neighbours on the way home, I get to watch a one year old practice running on his wobbly legs - he started walking yesterday, a group of children playing with their dog in the yard, and enjoy the place that God has brought me to. God is good. He whispered to me on Friday night, while I finished unpacking, "I'm going to make this place your home".
I am settling in, finishing up orientation and classroom preparations, and hope to soon be ready to go for Monday morning when the first of twenty little ones that I am being entrusted with, arrive with their parents to meet me. The excitement is building as the stresses dissipate! Thank you for your prayers as I go into this last bit of time before the big day arrives!
Oh I had a little bit too much fun this week! A friend in Malawi texted me and asked if we could chat soon, as we haven't gotten a chance to speak in a while. Well, I was in the throes of finalizing packing details and going to the cottage one last time with the family, and told him that it would have to wait until I got back from the cottage...
I sort of neglected to tell him (or the others in my bible study), that I would be leaving directly from the cottage for Malawi! So, I had a lot of fun when I arrived today, as they hadn't settled on a place and time for this week's bible study. I texted our group messaging board and asked if they could please just pick a date so that it wouldn't be so much back and forth... and then promptly offered to host it at my house! That got a few virtual groans... 'yeah Katie, we'll definitely meet you in Canada', and then... 'ARE YOU BACK?". It was a really fun way to surprise everyone, and we had a lovely time on Saturday night, sharing and eating a potluck dinner together.
Orange dust stuck to my feet, warn sun on my skin, and absolute exhaustion. Yup, I have arrived back in Malawi! I touched down today and was picked up by ABC staff at the airport. I am working on moving in to my house, which is a 4 bed, 4 bath home - I am currently sharing with only one person, but after Christmas, we'll be full!
This weekend is time to move in and get used to the time zone (so, of course, I'll be up early and out the door to visit with friends and catch up!!), and starting next week will be orientation and frantic prep of classrooms.
I apologize for the quietness of the blog during the summer - it was busy at home, and I wanted to really settle in and enjoy being with my family. So, I kept track of things I wanted to share, and as I have time, I will write and back-post them!
Thank you all for your support and prayers - it means the world to me! I am so thankful and amazed that not only did I make every single connection, but all 4 of my checked bags did too! Not only that, but I had enough of a layover in Amsterdam that I was able to leave the airport and spend a few hours exploring the city. It made an otherwise long and tedious journey a lot more interesting!
As promised, here are the rest of the stories that Mr. Mkweza, one of my co-workers in Malawi, told us on one of our trips in and out of camp.
The Smart Hare and the Lizard:
There was once a chief that had a big lizard that was terrorizing his town. So, he tried and tried to kill it, but he failed because it kept hiding behind the tree. So, the king invited a lot of people, anyone who would come and kill that lizard, he would give him a very good wife - he said " I have a very beautiful daughter and the one who kills the lizard will marry my daughter, and will be the son-in-law of the chief". So, people would come and try to kill the lizard but they were failing, because the lizard would just go around the tree, behind the tree. So, the hare thought itself wise and took a rope, tied it to the leg of a goat, and another rope, tied it to the leg of a dog, and pulled them over to the tree where the lizard was hiding. So, he put them near the tree, and he took the grass, and the hare gave it to the dog, and the dog doesn't eat the grass, so he was beating it to make it eat the grass. And he took meat, and gave it to the goat, gave it fresh meat, and the goat doesn't eat meat, so the hare was beating it so it would eat the meat. So the lizard saw that, oh this man is insane - he is doing the opposite, he is not taking the grass and giving it to the goat and the meat to the dog. So, he said, "No, no, don't do that, just give the grass to the goat, and the meat to the dog". But the hare pretends that he does not understand and was serious and was yelling at the goat and dog "You - you eat this one!", right under the tree. So, the lizard was very furious "Aa-aa, no let me come and help you - I say, take this grass and give it to the goat". So, the hare, was just behind the lizard watching the demonstration of giving the grass to the goat and giving the meat to the dog, and then he killed the lizard! So, the hare succeeded at killing the lizard because of his intelligence.
How the Tortoise Got Kicked Out of Heaven:
The birds were all invited to a feast in heaven, and the tortoise wanted to go as well, but he did not have wings. So, he asked the birds if each one of them would give him a feather so he could fashion himself some wings and join them. They agreed and each plucked out a feather and gave it to him. The tortoise wove himself some wings and joined the birds on their flight up to heaven and sat at the feast table with them. Then, he asked them if he could be given a new name, because tortoises cannot fly, and he now had a part of each of them on him, so he wanted to be called ‘All-Of-You’. The birds agreed to this, because he did have a piece of all of them in his wings. Then, the angel brought out the first course, and as he was leaving after setting the food on the table, the tortoise asked him who the food was for. The angel answered, “For all of you, of course!’, so the tortoise, now named ‘All-Of-You’ claimed it and ate most of it, leaving only scraps for the birds to finish. Another angel brought out the second course, and again, the tortoise asked who it was for. Again, the angel said ‘For all of you!’, and the tortoise claimed and ate it, leaving scraps for the birds. The birds grew frustrated with this treatment and decided to take back their feathers, so each came and plucked their feather out of the tortoise’s wings. The tortoise, worried now that he couldn’t fly back to his home, asked them if they would please go to his wife and tell her to put all of their mattresses and blankets in the yard so he could jump down from heaven and onto them. They said they would, and flew home. The birds stopped by the tortoise’s house and told the wife that there was a big war coming, and that to protect herself and her house, she should put all the sharp objects around the yard, so that the house would be protected. She hurriedly did this, and the tortoise, looking down from heaven, saw his wife scurrying around the yard and was pleased, knowing that he would soon be able to go home. When she finished spreading the items around the yard, the tortoise jumped from heaven, but instead of landing on a soft pillow, he crashed into axes and knives, which broke him into many pieces. His wife came running out of the house and saw her husband spread about the yard in tiny shards, so she quickly picked them all up and ran to the witch doctor. The witch doctor had a potion to put the tortoise back together again, but it could not make the scars disappear. So that is how the tortoise was kicked out of heaven, and how he got all of the markings on his shell.
Mr. Mkweza's Unending (& Favourite) Story:
He says "I could tell this one all the way back to the office and then start again tomorrow and continue all the way back to camp without finishing!"
Once upon a time, there was a village. The villagers there grew maize and other crops. Before harvest time, the locusts came and ate everything, so there was a lot of hunger in the village. People thought and said "So this year let us not do the same - we should cultivate and harvest earlier, before the locusts come, because if they come they will eat everything and there will be nothing to eat. So that second year they were very clever, they made the granaries, stores, and before it was completely dry season, they harvested it and put it in the granary and covered everything so they were safe. So the locusts came adn tehy found that all the gardens are harvested and everything was cleared. So they had nothing to eat so they went in the trees and wre just eating some leaves but they tried to find maize but there was no maize at all. Then they landed on one granary - they are like clouds - a lot of them - you know, millions of them - and one locust saw a tiny hole in the granary, and it went through that tiny hole, and it found a grain of maize in a cob of maize in the granary. So, it took that grain of maize and crawled through that same tiny hole and came out and showed the others - "See, I have gotten my maize!" "Ahh - let me go!" - so another locust crawled through the tiny hole, picked up a grain of maize, and came out again. Another locust go through, and another and another and another - I can say that up to tomorrow - because there are millions of locusts and and each is taking only one grain of maize and there are many cobs of maize in the granary, just imagine - so to finish one cob of maize, a lot of locusts are going through and picking up one grain of maize, so it can't end! So people say "Oh - I am tired of hearing you - another locust, and another locust, and another locust" - "Yes, as I say, it is millions of locusts and millions of grains of maze". So to finish the story - another locust crawled through a tiny hole, picked up a grain of maize, and crawled out again, and another locust crawled through a tiny hole, picked up a grain of maize, and crawled out again, and another locust crawled through a tiny hole, picked up a grain of maize, and crawled out again, and... You can't finish! Even if I start again tomorrow, I will not even finish half of the locusts!
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.