Yesterday was "Helping Hands" day for Africa. Each area chooses a project. In Blantyre they went to a Boy's Reform Centre and they cleaned, painted, weeded, swept, slashed grass, and did a general clean-up. There were about a hundred members who worked for about 3 hours and they got a lot done. The Centre really appreciated the work. Public Affairs for the church invited the media and there were 2 from a local TV station and 6 or 7 journalists. It resulted in our two Zone leaders (missionaries) and the counsellors in the District Presidency being invited to do a live radio broadcast this evening for an hour. I think they wanted Elder Bullock too but we were in Liwonde and had or phone shut off for a while so we didn't hear about it until it was about to happen. It went very well and was very positive for the church. The Elders did an excellent job, as well as the others.
The Liwonde group had some paint donated and they went and painted the classrooms at a school in Stima Village. Lilongwe Branches did some painting and also some cleaning at a market area. It was all very appreciated and helps give the church some really good exposure.
We went to Liwonde today and took Elder Packer with us so he could interview our 4 baptismal candidates and they all passed with flying colors. They are so excited and eager for their baptisms on Saturday. President & Sister Padovich will be in town on Wednesday for Zone conference and other things. They will go with us to the baptism on Saturday and then we will continue on to Lilongwe for Sunday meetings and some trainings. We will also do some more work on the quarters we are working on up there for a missionary flat. We will return Tuesday to Blantyre and they will go back to Lusaka on Wednesday. We look forward to their visit.
We phoned our landlady/owner of the house we live in and told her we need to move due to safety issued (thieves breaking in). We have a lease for another year still and were not sure if we can break it or not. The day after our phone call her agent paid us a visit and informed us that we had to give 3 months notice and in Malawi a tenant is suppose to paint the premise from top to bottom when you leave. We explained that the paint here is in excellent condition and he agreed. We need to negotiate with them about the security system that we put in. We were really happy to learn that a 3 month notice is sufficient. The agent did say that the landlady was willing to pay for a 3rd night guard for us if we would stay but we told him that we needed to move. We really need to get out of this BIG house we are in and cut down on some expenses here.
We have found another place that is much more practical and smaller and very secure. It is being built and will be ready for Nov. 1st. The location is great -- not far from Immigration, where we seem to make regular visits. :) The place is going to be really nice and is very well built considering Africa standards. It has two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living area and an office. (Here we have 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms - way too much for the two of us).
Speaking of Immigration -- we got 5 TEP's this week BUT not the ones we have been anxiously waiting for. The Immigration officer is being really good to us though and rather than mailing the TEP's he let us come in and get them. We take them upstairs at Immigration and pay for them (30,000 Kwacha ea. = $200 US dollars). He told us to bring in the passports and he would stamp them. I said that I thought we had to wait for the certificates to come before we could get them stamped and he smiled and said he would do it for us now. That is really great as the certificates have been taking a few weeks to arrive. Then he told us to come back in the afternoon for some letters and we didn't know what he was talking about. We hoped it was the other TEP's but it wasn't -- it was the certificates. I guess he did them up for us quick. They also had a new notice up about people not being able to enter the country until their TEP is granted and I ask about that and he just smiled and said, 'that doesn't apply to you'. So..... they really are helpful but we as a church want to make sure we are doing things legal and correct so no missionaries will ever be in a bad situation in a foreign country. It is really good that we have such a good relationship with Immigration.
We heard that in Namibia they are not letting missionaries in right now because they want the church to use local people. Hmmmm.... not sure how that would work unless they can baptize and teach them quick. :) The church Immigration people at the area office are working on it.
Davie, our gardener, was summoned to his wife's village by the Village Chief to discuss the marriage break-up and the fact that she and her family want half of his property. It was suppose to be settled today but because Davie's advocate (relative) couldn't go they wouldn't settle anything. He told them his decision about not wanting her back. He has to go back next week again. His property consists of 2 plastic chairs, broken dvd player, a few dishes and pots and pans and I suppose a bed. I'm not sure what they really hope to get. Because he has a job they think he is rich even though he makes the equivalent of $60 US dollars a month. It will be nice when this is settled.
I just realized it is getting late and have rambled on long enough. I will try and send some pictures tomorrow. I am on the wrong computer to download them. We have a busy week planned. Lots to do. Tomorrow we need to go buy 2 suits for 2 missionaries who are leaving from here to serve. They have been working and managed to buy shirts, pants, ties, shoes etc. but not suits so the mission will make sure they have that. They really have done quite well to get as much as they did. One will serve in Zimbabwe and the other was called to our mission and will usually serve in areas other than his hometown (Blantyre).
I know there was more I was going to write but can't remember what. So - till next time. The Bullocks