We are in Lilongwe with President and Sister Dube. This will be their last trip to Malawi as next week the mission divides and we have a new mission president, President Padovich, from California.
Before I tell you about our weekend -- I have to tell you something that is just crazy! We were looking for an article in the newspaper this morning that the Elders had done and I came across an article that said something to the effect of: Woman's lawn disappears. Well, I had to laugh because the article is about a woman in Stettler, Alberta and here we are reading it in Malawi!!!! I have no idea how old the article is but I am sure that people in Stettler had no idea that the story would make it all the way across the world. (Some landscapers had gone to the wrong address and removed her front lawn and of course she was surprised to find it gone when she went home).
We were fortunate to even drive here as the fuel shortage is a terrible problem. The Zone Leaders in Blantyre managed to get us some diesel on the black market. It cost about $3.35 a litre or between $14 - 15 a gallon. The Elders here were in a line-up at a service station yesterday and after several hours were able to fill a 25 ltr. jerry can for us. This morning a station by the hotel was expecting some diesel to come in so Jim talked to the manager and left our jerry can and money with him and he filled it for us. We were hoping that the money and the jerry can didn't walk away but it turned out ok. We also gave him an extra 500 kwacha ($3.33) so he could buy some lunch for himself. We consider that to be a "tip" not a bribe! :) We were glad that he was willing to do that for us though because they are not generally filling jerry cans - only putting some in the vehicles. Anyway - we now have enough to get ourselves home tomorrow. The fuel situation is not getting better and it is a real concern. We bought extra jerry cans but haven't been able to fill them up with any reserve yet. I guess we should have bought them a couple of weeks sooner but we had no idea it would get this bad.
We arrived Friday and Pres. Dube did some training with the Elders here and then took us all out for supper. The Elders love that.
Saturday we did some training with the 2 branches here and Pres. Dube did some interviews etc. There are always some issues to deal with. Also he is changing a few boundaries here and going to apply to have a new 'group' started so that people will not have to walk so far to church. We will also get a couple more missionaries here in Lilongwe. After the training we went and bought 2 bicycles for the Elders as there is only one Elder with a driver's license here now so the other companionship will go on bikes. There aren't as many hills here as in Blantyre so they will do fine on bikes. They were excited to get them.
Today we attended the two branches -- Elder Bullock was ask to talk on the spur of the moment and did a fine job. We are getting more accustom to that now and don't panic like we used to. In the other branch a fellow that has been here for 3 weeks with Nu-skin gave an excellent talk and then Pres. Dube talked. Sister Dube helped with primary in the Kauma Branch and it helps that she speaks Chichawa as most of the kids don't speak English. I went into the English class where they are teaching the sisters and observed. Most of the ladies here don't know English like the men do. Boys are educated far more than girls and it really shows. Sad!
All in all it has been a good weekend and we will take Pres. & Sis. Dube to the airport in the morning and then we will meet the Elders at a tire shop and arrange for them to get two new tires on their truck, pay the bill, and then head home. The plan is for us to go over to Liwonde (about 1/2 hr. off the main road) and teach some lessons there to 2 or 3 families.
While we are away this weekend there has been an extra night guard at our house in Blantyre as it seems like that is when they attempt to break in. All must be well because we haven't had any phone calls otherwise.
It has been nice to have this time with the Dubes. We won't likely see them again after tomorrow. We do look forward to meeting our new President though and working with him.
Our prayers are with Jim's sister, Judy and her family, as they are dealing with the loss of her son, Thomas, who leaves behind a wife and two young children. Judy has lost her husband and two sons in the past 3 years or so and that is a lot for one family to bear.
Thanks to everyone for your prayers on our behalf. We know we are being protected in our travels and work here. Some things seem hard or we don't know how to do them but as we just begin the task it seems to come together and we learn more each time. We will be doing a lot with Immigration this week as there is concern from the Area Presidency that things are not being done exactly as they should be and we need to make the changes necessary to make sure that we are doing everything exactly legal so our missionaries are never in jeopardy. We will be meeting with Immigration again on Tuesday to be sure things are right. Missionaries should legally have TEP's before they enter the country so that they can do their volunteer missionary work but they have been coming in on Visitor Visas and then we apply for a TEP. We have to change this.
Anyway -- Hope everyone has a good Sabbath. Ours is about over as we are 8 hours ahead of you.
Love, The Bullocks
We are healthy and fine