Sunday, November 7, 2010


Dear Church Family,

This is a special posting just for you. Only four short weeks until we are reunited! The anticipation is bittersweet. These past three months I have truly come to love Malawi as my second home. Of course there have been - and will be - many times my frustration gets the best of me and I can't help but miss home, still there is something about the people here, the way of life, the weather, etc that grabs hold of your heart and doesn't let go easily.

However, the real reason I am writing this special post is because I received my monthly support update from the States this weekend! I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who participated in the Love Offering taken for me a couple Sunday's ago. Because of it, I was able to reach just over half of my monthly support goal!! Your willingness to give means more than you know. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for all of you - my monthly supporters especially!

I look forward to seeing all of you soon!

With love,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back to the Daily Grind

Dear Readers,

I don't know how many of you heard but the trip I was planning to Livingstone, Zambia last week was cancelled. Trust me, I was pretty disappointed about it but there wasn't much I could do. Last time I wrote I had just bought my bus ticket...well, two days later - the day before I was supposed to leave - the guy I bought the ticket from called to say the bus to Lusaka was leaving early Friday morning instead of Saturday, which we couldn't do since school was still in session! UGH. Only in Africa would they just decide to change the bus route the day before! It was extremely frustrating.  Well, I was determined to go to Vic Falls for the break so I looked up flights, rental cars, and mini bus costs but everything I could think of was going to cost more than I had saved. 

So, instead I spent the week exploring Lilongwe a little more. On Friday night a small group of us ate out at a restaurant called Buchanan's to celebrate our 5 days of freedom. All the girls were excited about getting somewhat dressed up for the first time since arriving here! The restaurant has an outside patio overlooking a small pond where there live millions of mosquitos and a couple bull frogs. The mosquitos were eating me alive and the bull frogs were SO LOUD! My ears were ringing by the time we left. Five out seven of us ordered the bacon cheeseburger - all Americans, of course! (You'd be proud, it wasn't me dad!)

Saturday we took a day trip to the northern part of Lake Malawi, Salima (one hour drive)- I think I've mentioned it before. Sunday after church is usually the only time I can go grocery shopping but since I had the week off I decided to organize a pick up volleyball game for anyone that wanted to play. I asked my team after our game on Thursday what time would be good for them to come play since I was having the game for them. They said 2:30 so naturally that is when I told everyone else to be there. Well, all the Americans came at 2:30 - four people. Two out of the four had never played volleyball before. Awesome, not much I can do with that. Finally, around 3:00 the captain of the volleyball team wandered out to the court assuring me the other guys were coming "just now".  
[Side note: Maybe it's just me but doesn't "just now" sound like it literally means "right now"? Don't be fooled by this - it doesn't mean that in Africa! "Just now" means "in a little while" (?) which makes the phrase "now now" mean "right now". Weird. I don't understand this at all. It makes no sense and my housemate, Cara (the South African) says it all the time! Drives me crazy!] 
Anyway, back to the volleyball situation. The whole thing felt like a disaster and I just wanted to call it off. I was really annoyed that barely anyone form the team had come and I was dying to just call the game quits, but I felt bad for everyone that had come. Finally, at 4:30 we had enough players to actually play a decent game - 4:30!? Remember that when you come to live in Africa...2:30 = 4:30, we call it running on African Time. Coming from an extremely time oriented culture, let's just say it's been a little difficult adjusting. 

I was called into the office a couple times over the course of the week which I was NOT happy about : /  I tried to hide my annoyance but I know I did an awful job of it! I knew the guys couldn't really help it because they needed the money to finish a house for Tyler, our new PE teacher from the States but I couldn't bring myself to be very pleasant.  

It's time for Bible study so I better go. 

Goodnight all!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Devil's Street

There is a street in Lilongwe that is actually called Devil's Street. I was on this street today. Apparently, it is the only place you can buy tickets for a bus from Lilongwe, Malawi to Lusaka, Zambia. Thankfully, one of my volleyball players volunteered to take my roommates and me or I don't think we would have made it out in one piece. Why the Malawians call it a street, I don't know...there wasn't a flat spot a car could drive on anywhere in sight. The road is narrow with no sidewalks but streams of people bustling about on both sides. Music was blaring, shop owners were shouting, and of course every eye was on us. I'm guessing not too many white people venture down Devil's Street! As long as you ignore their shouts and stares you'll probably be okay but it is always good to have a local go places like this with you. There were clothing and trinket shops, bars, air time kiosks, food vendors, etc. One bar's name was Woody Wood Pecker Bar & Drink Shop, I thought that was kind of funny. Thanks to Bright we were in and out in less than 20 minutes, bus tickets in hand. So, Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. I'll be on a bus to Lusaka, Zambia. Please pray for traveling mercies for me and my roommates. There are a lot of unknowns when you are traveling anywhere and perhaps more when it's a third world country.

Tonight is ABC staff's Bible Study. I forget if I told you that we are reading through the parables. Last week we read Luke 15, the prodigal son. After our study I realized that I identify with the older son in many ways but mostly that I sometimes find myself treating my relationship with the Father as a reward for deserving behavior when instead, like the father's loving response to the undeserving younger son, salvation is entirely a gracious gift from God! It was a comforting reminder for me because I would so quickly fall short if that weren't true.

Two more days of school then an entire week off! I am anxious for a break. I better enjoy the time away to the fullest because when I come back I have the feeling all heck is going to break loose. I sent letters home today to parents who haven't paid their first two tuition installments yet. Their deadline is Monday, October 18th; if the balance isn't paid off then the kids won't be allowed to come to school. I must have sent out 30-40 letters too. If you remember please pray for the families who are struggling to afford the tuition. There are already several families that the school has agreed to give scholarships to, but if we keep waiving tuition there won't be enough funds to sustain the staff or facilities that we have.

There is also a big need for a high school at ABCCA. Right now students in grades 10-12 are using a cyber school program called Northstar. It's very expensive for us and it's not ideal for the students especially when the power frequently goes out during the day and they can't get online. Hopefully, by the end of the month we will be connected to generator power, but parents and students both are still anxious for a regular classroom setting.

I'd love to hear from you so leave a comment or e-mail me at!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Lilongwe Wildlife Center

Here's a little chichewa for you to practice:

Muli bwanji (moo lee bwon gee)? - Hi, how are you?
Ndili bwino, kaya inu (n deelee bwee nu, kiya eenu)? - I am fine, and you?


Hmm let's see, well this Friday was reading day at ABCCA. All the kids and teachers dressed up as their favorite character in a book and spent the whole day reading books and doing fun activities. It was a nice break from the usual routine plus all the kids looked so cute in their costumes!

This weekend my roommates and I decided to get off campus and try to do a little exploring around Lilongwe. We ended up at Lilongwe Wildlife Center about 6-7km away (we didn't get very far). The place was really small at least in comparison to zoos we have in the States, but we still got to see some cool stuff.

We were there during the animals feeding time so we got to see everything they had but a leopard. Surprisingly, my favorite was the hyaena (only because we didn't see the leopard). It was much bigger than I thought it would be. I guess I always pictured the hyaenas from The Lion King that were really scrawny and puny compared to the lions, but this guy was bigger than a full grown dog.

We saw a one eyed lioness whose hind legs were disfigured by disease making it really difficult for her to walk. She'll stay at the center for life instead of being released back into the wild (the ultimate goal of the wildlife center). We also saw baboons, monkeys, a python curled up in an old tire (gross!), and a crocodile.

My computer battery is about to die...better go!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Just Another Day in

Today I waited for more than 2 hours in a cue (line) to get fuel!  There has been a petrol shortage a little over a week now.  We were stuck on campus all weekend because we weren't sure how long our tank would last us - thanks to our broken gauge that claims we are always full.  So, you can imagine my excitement when I spotted a fuel truck at the BP in town on my way back to work from the bank.  I quickly made a B-line for the pumps making second in line!  At the same time this mini bus comes barreling up in the lane next to me and parks itself about 1 foot away from my back bumper.  The driver immediately throws the van in park and swings open his door right into the side of my car.  He just looked at me for a second and walked away.  The nerve!
It was only 10 in the morning and the sun was already blazing hot so I was tempted to leave the car running with the AC cranked up but I was trying to be responsible and conserve gas.  The first hour went by and I started getting antsy because I was supposed to be back at school for a meeting with the superintendent.  I started looking around for any sign of what was taking so long but everyone was just hanging out, like this happened all the time or something (which in their lifetimes it probably has - but not for me)!  Another 45 minutes went by and I was ready to forget the petrol and get back to work but I was blocked in by a line of cars from my bumper to - no lie - several kilometers down the road.  By that time I was hot, hungry, and stuck.  Fortunately, I had just bought some strawberries from a guy on the side of the road!  Strawberries are a tricky thing here.  The guys selling them run around with cardboard trays full of these amazing looking strawberries.  I don't know what they do to them, the sun must hit the strawberries just right so you think you've never seen a better looking strawberry.  You can't resist them but you should.  This is the 3rd time I've bought strawberries and every time I tell myself it's the last time. I say that because at some point between agreeing to buy them and actually being handed your bag of strawberries 2/3 of them are slimy with big nasty chunks taken out of them that you swear weren't there a minute ago!  Every time.  Without fail.  It is a mystery to me!  So anyway, I salvaged the 10 good strawberries left out of my bag and roll down the window to rinse them off with water from my water bottle.  I'm sure the Malawians who happened to see this thought I was a weirdo.  30 minutes later the pumps were up and running and I was on my way :)

[Moral of the story: in case you are ever in Malawi, save yourself a lot of trouble by always keeping a full tank of petrol and think twice before you buy the strawberries] 

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Thursday night was the first volleyball game of the season and WE WON, 3-0! I was so proud of the guys because they played really well. We've had nothing but practices for 3 straight weeks now so I thought a game would pump them up to play hard and play well in practice but for some reason it did the opposite. I was frustrated all week because they were showing up late, goofing off, and not performing like I know they could. Somehow they pulled through anyway!
We did have a bit of an advantage since we were playing ABC staff and as of right now they aren't an actual team that has been practicing together or anything - just a random crowd who wanted to play some volleyball. Still, my team didn't play down to the staff's level. They played hard, kept their serves in, went after every ball, had some good spikes, and stayed out of the net (they struggle with this a lot!).
Friday's practice was 100 times better too. I think they have just been tired...a lot of the guys are night guards during the week on top of going to school which means they must stay up all night from 9 p.m. - 6 a.m. patrolling the campus then get to chapel at 7 a.m. followed by classes!
I wish all of you could meet my team. They are a great group of guys. A few of them are already married with kids so it feels strange to be telling them what to do in practices, but they take it well. The rest of them are the normal college age group. I have about 15 guys who show up regularly to practice. It has taken awhile for us to get used to each other but I think after our VICTORY they accept me :) I'm excited for the rest of the season!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mount Nkhoma Climb

Just want to say a quick THANK YOU to everyone who wrote a comment or e-mail, it was great to hear from you!

Tomorrow begins my sixth week here in Malawi and my first day of coaching ABC's Men's Volleyball Team! I'm excited and nervous at the same time. It's been 2 years or so since I've played organized volleyball so I'm a bit rusty. Thankfully, I was able to spend sometime this afternoon putting together a practice schedule - hopefully all will go as planned and the biggest challenge I'll have will be learning all the guy's names! :)

I'm having a hard time remembering what all has happened since the last time I wrote! Let's see...this Wednesday afternoon activities began. The teacher in charge of netball with me was 30 minutes late leaving me to referee a bunch of middle schoolers playing a game I'd never heard of before! I tried stalling until Joy came by making the girls stretch and run a couple laps. After Joy was still nowhere to be found I asked the girls to explain the game so we could play. We didn't have enough players for a real game so we only played half court, 4 against 4. One girl named Ama got really into calling everyone out on their fouls (there's always one!).  Monday's we teach it to the younger girls. Most Americans have never heard of the game but Malawians are very proud of their National Netball Team who placed 5th in the 2007 Netball World Championships. 

Wednesday night's ABC staff get together for Bible Study at Jack and Nell Chinchen's (founders of ABC). Their son, Paul Chinchen, introduced this semester's topic of study, the parables. We also spent some time in prayer for the Bartletts, an American missionary family whose kids go to ABCCA. The mom, Katie, suffered the worst of the injuries and was taken to a hospital in Blantyre (a good driving distance from Lilongwe). Last I heard she had a broken pelvis and platella. What's worse, two years ago Katie's husband was killed in a car accident here in Malawi. The family went back to the States and had just returned in August now this happened. Her three girls are split up between families on campus while Katie finishes recovering. There were several other requests I can't recall right now. I'll try to post them later.

From what I can remember, Thursday was pretty uneventful. I worked late to finish writing letters to all the parents who haven't paid tuition yet. Yuck! So dinner at the Chinchens and helping their youngest daughter, Bess put together party favor bags for her birthday party were easily the highlights of my day.

Friday was only a half day at the office because I was put in charge of picking up my 3rd roommate, Danie, at the airport. Melissa (my other roomie) came with me. Melissa was stressing out the entire time because we were running an hour and a half behind schedule but I kept trying to tell her - we were just running on African time! What's funny is, Melissa told me she was picturing Danie waiting in line to buy a ticket straight back to California like she would have done if she had been stranded at the airport too long! lol Thankfully, Danie is a little less emotionally driven than that and we found her waiting in the lobby for us safe and sound (only a little wide-eyed and panicked!). 

We hurried back to campus for the college's back to school ice cream social. Every year at this event the upperclass men play a prank on the freshmen. Two students from each class are chosen to come to the front. One student sits in a chair blindfolded while the other stands behind them. Supposedly, they are in a race to eat the most bananas but when the whistle blows the freshman is the only one who remains blindfolded while the others smash bananas all over him. It was pretty entertaining...the Africans LOVED it! 

Yesterday was incredible! My roommates and some of the other teachers on campus packed our lunches and drove an hour out of Lilongwe to Mount Nkhoma to enjoy a day of hiking. Owen, who has made the climb several times, assured us it would only take 45 minutes to get to the top. HA! I don't think he realized he was taking up a bunch of out-of-shape/picture happy Americans. We got every angle of that mountain possible on camera :) I think we started quarter to ten and reached the top around two o'clock minus an hour lunch break halfway up. I'll post pictures on facebook sometime this week! The long hike was worth the amazing view! Places like that make me realize how small I am and how GREAT God is!

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all." 1 Chronicles 29:11

Miss you all!