My flights went well and all my bags arrived in Lilongwe with me last Friday. I have spent the past week with my former housemate and her two kiddos, and greatly enjoyed being able to catch up and spend some time with them. And the sunsets, you guys – just as stunning as I remembered them!
Of course, in true African form, my timeline went sideways once I landed. I had hoped to pick up my working car on Monday, get the insurance sorted out, and drive south on Tuesday. But the whole country was shut down on Monday for a holiday! My belongings were locked in storage while I was gone, and the keys were 5 hours north in another city, and wouldn’t be returning until Wednesday. And I also found out that my car was not yet running.
So, on Tuesday, I went downtown and tried to sort out getting my Malawian driver’s license. I arrived an hour before the office opened, so sat in the plaza gardens and read a book… which resulted in me being asked multiple times by security guards and passers-by if I was alright. This attempt to get a license was foiled by the fact that I had misplaced my Malawian road traffic ID card *which I had just managed to get before leaving 2 years ago, in another attempt to get my license*. They informed me I needed to get an official police letter stating that it had been stolen or lost, and then they could reprint one for me (of course, you have to pay for both the letter and the reprint).
As I was downtown on foot, I decided against walking the few kilometres to the police station, and did some work sitting in a café until my ride home came. There, a vaguely familiar man sat down across from me and began a conversation – turns out he was my language and culture teacher the first week I was in Malawi with the World University Service of Canada (WUSC). In perfect (Godly) timing too, as my phone was about to die and he offered to charge it using his cable while I waited for my ride.
On Wednesday, I was able to get into storage and look through my boxes. There were 2 break-ins while I was out of the country, so some things were stolen… all of my dresses and skirts and trousers, my underpants (!), cooking spices, blankets, and pillows. There may have been more, but when I packed up I was ill and so I have little memory of what was left behind. The things I love the most… my handmade Malawian pottery dishes, and my many books, were left behind. Yay!
My friend who owns the garage that stored my car and fixed it up for me, picked me up on Saturday and first took me to a police station to get a letter sorted out, and then helped me sort out getting the car certified as fit for the road, and renewing my insurance. Both of these things must be done every year, and can take days of sitting in various offices. With my friend, who has connections at all these offices because his daily work revolves around these offices, it took 3 hours! I almost wasn’t able to complete it at all, as the car’s transfer of ownership was never fully completed (a few years ago, it involved an office mailing off all the important original documents to another office for verification, and I was not about to do that and chance them losing any of them!!). Today, it is computerized and much quicker, so I am looking forward to completing the transfer soon! Anyhow, the computerization also means that the owner of record must be present to provide their fingerprint in order to complete the certification for road fitness. The former owner very graciously, after having gotten little sleep (she was at a church prayer meeting until 4 am), came out to help me. So, so very thankful.
Enough drama for you? Well, there was still more to come… to finish off the day, we stopped at a bank machine so I could get out some money to pay the garage for fixing up my car. It declined my transaction and then swallowed my bank card! Eeek! The person after me also had their card swallowed, so we think it was malfunctioning, and hopefully I will be able to retrieve it tomorrow when the bank offices re-open. Another bank machine and another card, and I was thankfully able to retrieve some cash and pay for the car repairs.
Today I have packed up my car with my belongings, and tomorrow morning, after getting my bank card back, I will head south to Zomba to begin my new role with Liebenzell… about a week later than expected… which, is actually right on time here haha!
What I have seen this past week has been amazing though – the amount of development and change that has happened in the last 2 years is huge – a whole new subdivision, new shopping mall, computerized and networked government procedures are a huge improvement, and a main road being widened to 4 lanes. And yet, Malawi still holds onto the important things – the value of relationship. The things I actually accomplished this week were all due to relationships. Without those friendships, or the cultural importance of relationship and being there for one another, I would still be sitting and waiting in offices for weeks.
And that is why I so love this country. Yes, the slow speed at which things happen can drive me a little crazy, and yes, there is a long way to go for the overall development of the country. But, the culture of being there for one another – be it a family member, friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger, is what gets into your heart and keeps you in Malawi or longing to return.
Thank you friends and family in Canada, Germany, and the US – you have made it possible for me to return to where my heart feels at home, to do the work that God has set out for me with the Liebenzell Mission. I am so grateful to you all for supporting me in this adventure of following Jesus wherever he leads me.
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.