Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2012

Hi to all our family and friends,
 
We started our morning with a drink I made in the blender.  It was a fresh mango, an orange and a few raspberries.  It was very good.  It is mango season so we will have to enjoy them while we can. 
 
Since we are 9 hours ahead I guess 2012 will be here long before yours!!   We are watching a movie with the missionaries tonight and feeding them popcorn and Fanta (that is what they call soda over here).     It comes in a glass bottle like we used to have years ago.  You can get it in a can too but it is much more expensive.
 
Today Christopher Sitolo went with us to help us find a tire shop - which we did and met the owner who is a really nice guy.   On our way back Christopher took us to a meat shop.  We are so glad he showed it to us and wish we had known about it much sooner.  They have their own cattle ranch here in Malawi that supplies the beef.  The place was nice and clean and smelled good.  :)    We bought a roast, some fillet steaks and some mince (hamburgar).  We came home and tried a fillet steak and it was quite good.   One of the ladies there at the shop is from Lethbridge, Alberta.    When I ask for some steak - she said, 'you probably want Alberta beef' and I said, " that would be nice".  She said "it isn't going to happen".   However it was very good by Malawi standards.    The Lethbridge lady works at the ranch.   She's been here in Malawi for 5 or 6 years.   She works with some organization and does some volunteer work.    We will definitely go back there for all our beef. 
 
Tomorrow we are going to Liwonde for church meetings.  We will take the Br. President and his wife with us.  A member of the Br. Presidency has been going there the first Sunday of each month.  Tomorrow he will do tithing settlement .    They are still hurting for rain out in that area.  The rains are late this year and there is some concern.  The last thing they need here this year is a drought and poor harvest.   The country is already having too many struggles right now.  No foreign exchange has businesses really worried as they cannot bring goods in,  We went to buy some ink for our printer and ended up buying extra as he doesn't know when more will come and the prices will increase significantly in January.   The stocks are low.   
 
A fellow at the art market told me he would like to exchange Kwacha for U.S. dollars with us.  I ask how much he would give us and he said 250MK to $1.00.   The rate just keeps going up.  Last time we exchanged we got 230 MK and then Pres. Padovich got 240 MK when he was here last.    We don't need any right now but it is nice to have options.      We bought a carved African drum (small one).  It isn't as nice as one we saw in Zimbabwe one time and have regretted that we didn't buy it.  But this is one not too bad.      We are being careful what we buy as it is always a problem getting it home.  We really haven't bought much yet -    We do know what we want to bring back to our kids and that will take up most of our available space/weight.   :)
 
I better go get things ready for tonight and take some pills since I already have a headache!    We will send them home by 9:30 or so because we don't want them out late.   People here are talking about the parties tonight so who knows what will  be going on at midnight.  We saw someone selling fireworks!     We will make popcorn now though just in case the electricity goes out.  If it does we will play some games instead of watch a Disney movie.
 
Hope you all have a good 2012 and that lots of good things are in store for everyone!  
 
Love,  The Bullocks
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wow! Look what we found!

Can you believe what we found here in Malawi?   It cost too much but....  sometimes we just have to not worry about that!   Fun!!
 
 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas

Hi everyone,
 
We had a nice Christmas day -- went to Ndirande Branch and then came home and fixed some chicken and rice for the missionaries and we also fed the guards at the complex.  The guards were thrilled - said it was an unforgettable day (just because they got fed a nice meal!).   We fried up the chicken and then put it all in a roaster and put it in the over for a few hours.  It was nice and tender!   We borrowed a couple of tables from the church and ate outside behind our flat.  I thought that would keep some mess out of the house and easier than fitting everyone inside. 
 
We watched the DVD "Joseph Smith, the Prophet" (musical presentation) while some of the missionaries talked to their families on the phone.  It was fun to watch them -- they got so excited to visit with their families.    Unfortunately we did not get to visit with any of our family as the internet was down the whole day and just came back a short while ago.  We will have to hope that we have it later today and will try and skype or skype-phone. 
 
This morning we slept in a little bit and have been getting the house back in order.  The missionaries were good about doing dishes etc. 
 
It is a testimony to us that the Lord calls missionaries to the place that they are needed and to the place where they can do what He needs done.  Elder & Sister Prete have been in Lilongwe about 3 weeks now and are already making a difference in the Kauma Branch where all the problems have been.   With Prete's past experience in the Church they are able to talk and reason with the people.  They have been visiting their homes and now the members are beginning to speak to each other again and reconcile the differences.  They had their Sacrament meeting yesterday and then they had food!  There were approx. 120 in attendance (partly because food was served!).  That is amazing though.  It brought tears to our eyes as we heard the report about the day.   Good things are happening.
 
It is cloudy today and a bit cooler.  It feels good.   It is a holiday here today so things are pretty quiet.  We decided to just relax a bit as we didn't get much of that the past couple of days.  
 
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, especially the kids!!  
 
Love,  The Bullocks

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Our new flat

Our new flat!  We are enjoying it and feeling much safer here.

picture

A big load of kids.  We always hope no one will fall off but they seem to have good balance here! 

Elder Packer & Elder Wadsworth with their snack of a "termite".  They say when they are cooked that they taste like peanut butter.  

pics

Some of our missionaries on Christmas Eve.

some pictures I have neglected to send

Just a few pictures I have been meaning to send.   One is the Collins family who have been such a help to us and the Lilongwe Branch. 
 
Also the other picture is Jim's 60th birthday - having cake with the missionaries. 

Merry Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!   We hope your Christmas is wonderful and you enjoy your time with family and friends.
 
It is Christmas morning here and we are heading out to church in a little while.   We had the missionaries here last night and fed them tacos, cookies and carmel popcorn.  We played some games - one was a Christmas version of Bingo and they got pretty excited over that one.   We had some simple prizes.     At the end we did some small gifts and did the game where you can open a new present or steal from someone else.  That got pretty fun at the end as there were a few that everyone wanted.   A couple of these missionaries have never even opened a gift before.  They each got a toothbrush and then we bought some small packs of cookies, pens, candy bars and such.    All in all it was a fun night.
 
The missionaries all chipped in and today we will have dinner of chicken, rice and cooked carrots AND of course, dessert.   We are planning to watch the DVD "Joseph Smith the Prophet" and perhaps some church Christmas ones, like, Mr. Krueger's Christmas.  
 
We miss being with family at home but for this year all these missionaries are our family and that is just fine!    The weather is hot and we enjoyed our air conditioner in the bedroom last night.  That makes it easier to sleep.  
 
We are grateful for the birth of the Saviour and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  May we all remember that at this Christmas season.
 
Love,  Elder & Sister Bullock/mom & dad

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Update

December 16/11

The power is off again tonight – probably for a couple of hours. I did manage to get supper cooked before it went though so we had some chicken and rice with a mushroom sauce.

We got back from Lilongwe after spending 9 days away. We met up with Pres. & Sister Padovich and he and Pres. Bullock interviewed about 50 people (anyone who wanted to talk) from the Kauma Branch. The stories and complaints were pretty much the same but there is no proof to the accusations. Mostly they just have decided they don't like the Br. President and think Satan is working through him. No changes were made to the leadership. The mission will let things sit for a bit and see what happens. Pres. Padovich gave a really good, direct talk on Sunday when they ALL attended. After Sacrament meeting the dissenting group gathered outside and complained. Elder Prete and Elder Bullock tried to talk with them but they are pretty determined and the women were even worse than the men. One man came back in and attended the other meeting. Elder Cook from the area Presidency will be there the first week of January and I guess we will see what they decide to do at that time.

With the experience that Elder & Sister Prete have they will be good in Lilongwe. I had mentioned that there were problems there but of course, they didn't realize the extent of it. They will have their hands full. We didn't want to tell them too much until we had their passports locked away so that they couldn't escape. (Just kidding!) We are glad to have them here and they will do great. We had their flat ready for them and they like it and we were lucky enough to finally get internet hooked up for them the day before we came back. AND it is a really good internet connection. We might have to look into that for ourselves at some point if ours doesn't get any better. We actually skyped and called our mothers and could hear each other very well. It was nice.

On our way home we stopped in Liwonde to see Maria. She is in the hospital. We paid a deposit to the hospital and bought some medications (morphine) for her. She was to have a blood test the next day to see if she needs another blood transfusion. Young Maria is staying by her side, night and day. Petros, her husband is out planting his maize before it is too late to plant. He is behind due to time spent with Maria. Young Maria is going to have a hard time when her mom passes away.

It is good to be back in Blantyre and we have spent the past couple of days catching up and still have more to do. We are still trying to organize the house and find a place for missionary supplies etc. It is almost in good order.

Diesel is still not available. We did manage to get about 300 litres for the Lilongwe side and are trying to get some for here. We hear that there may be no diesel in January so we are trying to get as much extra as we can. We bought 12 more jerry cans. We are expecting 3 more mission vehicles in the next couple of weeks so it would be nice to have diesel for them but we will see. The Elders may be on foot yet. The Elders in Lilongwe had to give up their truck to the Pretes as the vehicles have not yet materialized. They were more than willing to do that. We have some good missionaries.

Saturday --

We put up a small Christmas tree that we found. There were a few decorations and a string of lights so now we are looking a bit more festive. We have some Christmas music and 3 or 4 Christmas DVDs so that will make it feel a bit more like Christmas. People here do not celebrate like Americans do. There is no sign of Christmas, other than a few decorations in the grocery store. For the most part they plan to get together with family and have a special meal together which may consist of some meat or chicken, if they can afford it, and some rice or Nseema and vegetables. We will spend Christmas eve and Christmas afternoon with the missionaries. We will pool our resources and put together some treats for Christmas eve and a dinner for Christmas day. We haven't decided just what we will make yet but there is no turkey here so we may have to pretend with some chickens.

This morning we attended a baptism and then the District had a Christmas activity for the 4 branches in the District. They had a good turnout and fed about 300 people. They served them a bun, small piece of chicken, small piece of beef (I think) and a banana. Oh yes, and also a pop (Fanta, as it is called here). They had activities and a bit of entertainment. We didn't stay to the whole thing but it seemed to be a success. One of our Elders had made some sugar cookies for the little kids. Fun!

We learned recently that Malawi has been downgraded to the poorest country in the world. Sad! People are not starving though. Hopefully there will be good rains so that their maize will grow well. We saw some that wasn't looking so good as the rainy season is late this year. President Padovich reports that they had the rain storm, of all rainstorms (lightening and thunder and super heavy rain) in Zambia a couple of days ago. Their power has been out since so they have gone to stay at the missionary couple's place tonight. He is said the storm was really something to see.

My internet is really acting up lately. I seem to only get it for a little bit at a time. Not sure what the problem is. It has gone off again so hopefully I can send this letter - if not, I will copy and paste it to a document and send it later. It is like President Padovich keeps saying about our mission and these countries --- "You just can't make this stuff up!" Never a dull moment.

Love to all and Merry Christmas!

Jim and Nancy/Elder & Sister Bullock/mom & dad

 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

More from Malawi

Hi everyone,  I shouldn't get so far behind on my writing. 
 
It is Saturday morning -- Jim's 60th birthday!  Don't know that we will do anything too exciting for it.  I see there are some emails coming in for him though.   I just invited the missionaries to come over tonight for cake!  They like that idea ---  they like anything that involves food!!
Jim is standing in line at the bank.  He was there at opening time but so were about 100  other people and he called to say he is about 30th in line.  We decided we better get some more petty cash before we head to Lilongwe tomorrow. 
 
The area office has ask for documentation on the status of all missionaries with Immigration so I have been scanning everything and sending it in.  As of January they say there are going to do all immigration stuff.  Good for them!!   Hope it works!  :)
 
I just killed a mosquito -- good for me!!  They are out in abundance right now and they really like me.  I hope I don't ever get malaria.  We do take our malaria pills every single day though.   We got our mosquito net up over our bed again so that helps. 
 
When we were in Lilongwe last weekend Jim and two missionaries (I didn't want to go) went to the "other" Sacrament meeting that those members were holding in a house.  They planned it so they would arrive after it started and got there when they were starting the sacrament.   Jim said they started breaking the bread and he felt like that is when he should stand up and say what he went there to say.   They were REALLY happy when he arrived at their meeting, however....  it didn't last!    He explained 'authority' to them again and told them they have no authority to do what they are doing and that it is putting their membership in the church in jeopardy, etc. etc.   They wanted him to sit down and listen and discuss their complaints but he said 'no'.   He was instructed by Pres. Padovich to deliver a message but to not discuss their issues right now.   There were 17 in attendance at the meeting and when he and the Elders left the people were not very happy at all.  The women especially were yelling at them (in Chichawa) but he could tell it was not good!      That evening one of those men went to the Branch President's home and threatened to beat up his wife and to cut them with pumpkin knives!   Jim suggested he call the police -- don't know if they would do much though.  We haven't heard any reports that any threats were carried out. 
Anyway ---
Last night we got a call from two of the men who are leading the group.  We aren't sure what happened but...  they were being very humble and wanted advice from President Bullock about what they should do.  They said they love the Church and want to do things right.  They wanted to know if they could go back to the Branch on Sunday and not hold any more of their own meetings.   We really hope they are sincere.   It brought tears to our eyes when we listened to them.   He told them to go back and that we will be there all next week and that the new couple is coming on Thursday.  Also that Pres. Padovich is trying to come.  (He is coming but we didn't want to tell them that yet).  He and Pres. Bullock will do a lot of interviewing and try to sort this mess out and decide what to do.   A member of the Area Presidency will come the first part of January as well.  Hopefully this little Branch can be salvaged and they can learn to love each other again and work together.  
 
We have had some sick Elders ---  one spent the night in the hospital last weekend in Lilongwe.  He had a high fever, (almost 104) headache, etc.  We were afraid it was malaria and they did treat him for it, just in case!  It seems like it was a bacterial infection and they gave him medication to bring down his fever and treat the infection.  He was better fairly quickly but tired.   Then when we got back to Blantyre another Elder had exactly the same problem but tested negative for malaria - it was a bacterial infection.
Another Elder had a surgery (same as a couple of our sons had).  It was first done before his mission but needed a second one - same as ours.   It put him down for a few days and he is still taking it easy. 
The missionaries have learned the hard way to stop eating food in the village as they were getting diaherra etc.   Members like to feed them fish, as it is cheap, but it doesn't do well in their stomachs as it isn't always kept cold and taken care of properly.  We see mini buses (public transport) with fish hanging from the windshield wipers.  YIKES!!  
 
Mom - I hope it was ok that we used some of your money to help Petros and Maria with seed for their fields.  We hadn't planned on it but it felt right.  I am sure you don't mind.   The group leader also ask if we could help a lady from the Village who's husband died and she needed some seed too.  We did!    There is still enough left to help out Sister Chisambo with her rice business that we helped her start.  She is doing well and keeping very good records.  We haven't told her yet that you wanted to help - we were waiting to see how she did.  We are very pleased with what she is doing.  When she couldn't get rice she bought some bags of maize and has been selling that.  The profit is not as great but that's ok.  When we were in Lilongwe we got her a couple bags of rice and if she has sold those we will get some more this trip.   The price has gone up but it is √≥ff season' for rice so she can also sell it for more.  She has some regular customers and the rice from Lilongwe that we got is "nice" rice.   Everyone says -- you can tell by the smell of the rice that it is good.  Hmmmm....  We can't tell the difference but obviously we aren't experts on rice!! haha
 
The money here (kwacha) is being devalued fairly regularly.  Food prices are getting high, so much so, that the allotment for the missionaries was increased last week.   Bread used to be 100 kwacha and now it is 200 for a loaf and flour is not as plentiful.  The Elders say there is still lots of food at the stores it is just more expensive.  There still is no beef though due to 'foot and mouth' disease in the Shire valley of Malawi.   We are eating a lot of chicken.  The Indians (from India) that we are friends with tell us that their wives are stocking up so we went out and bought some staple foods.  If we had to feed all the missionaries it wouldn't last long.
 
Diesel is still a huge problem but we seem to manage to keep getting what we need.   They quit filling up jerry cans for people which actually helps the confusion at the pumps.  Yesterday we managed to get a letter giving us permission to fill 200 ltrs. of jerry cans a week.  Without that letter they won't fill them.  They had quit giving out the letters a week ago but still gave us one.  We are happy to get that!!!!  It is good for a year.    The queues at the pumps are still unreal!!  
 
A couple of nights ago two of the Sister missionaries were on their way home about 6:30 (close to home) and a guy pushed them and took their bag.  It has their scriptures, cell phone and 10,000 kwacha in it.  At least they were not hurt.  We can replace what the lost but they have been told to be sure and be in their flat before dark -- not a new rule!
 
The same night an Elder in Lilongwe hit a little girl with his bike.  She darted out in front of him and he did brake and jump off his bike so she really wasn't hurt.  Probably scared and of couse she cried.  Very quickly about 50 or 60 people gathered and were upset with the Elder (and he is a new one, and is quite timid).   He called the zone leaders and they went and the people wanted them to take the girl to the hospital to get checked out.  By then she appeared to be fine and was walking around.  We don't have insurance on church vehicles to transport anyone so they had to say - no!.   Anyway -- when the family finally left with the girl the crowd dispersed and things calmed down.  Everything seems to be ok but the Elder was a bit scared by it all.   
 
The country is turning green and beautiful with the fields/gardens everywhere starting to grow.  (mostly maize).   Everyone is walking around with their big hoes slung over their shoulder.  It is that time of year!  They work so hard in their fields and it is all done by hand with a hoe.  It really is amazing.  
 
Our new house is finally taking shape and we are mostly organized.  I have the office back together.  It has been a lot of work.  We will go to Lilongwe and get the other flat for Pretes finished off and hopefully get internet working there for them.  We have arranged for the internet people to come on Monday.  There were a few problems in that flat but the builders are happy to fix things.  A toilet leaked and wouldn't flush.  They replaced it but the new one was no better so now, this week, they are replacing some plumbing and getting a better toilet.  Hope it helps.   There are several other problems in that flat but they have been good.  The work in that flat is not as nice as the work here in our new flat.  The shower in the Prete's flat leaves something to be desired BUT -- our showers here at our new flat are VERY nice!!  :)    The Prete's flat does have some nice features though that we don't have -- like nicer closets and a car port.
They will like their flat.  They have some nice neighbors.  The Jamaican lady who is head of security in Malawi for the United Nations lives next door and we really like her.  Plus she makes sure that the security at that compound is 'top-notch'.     We don't have any neighbors in our compound yet -- we are the first to move in.  Apparently some others will move in January.   We feel safe here though and haven't had any problems so far.  We have our security system working here - brought it from the other place.  And, of course, there are guards.    Davie, our gardener, got hired on with these new people so he is around to keep an eye on our place in the day time and watch for DHL deliveries etc. 
We will give the Zone Leaders a key while we are away this time so they can check the house.  Tuesday we came back and the main breaker had switched off and we ended up having to cook up some meat that was thawed - but still cold, luckily.   We don't want that to happen again.   
 
I have gone on long enough and need to get other things done.   We will head out in the morning and stop in Liwonde for their meetings and then go on to Lilongwe.  We will be there for a week.  Pretes arrive on Thursday!!   Hurray!!!
 
It doesn't feel like Christmas here at all.  We are encouraging the Branches to at least sing some Christmas hymns and have talks about the birth of the Savior on Christmas Day.   They do like to get together at Christmas and have an extra special meal -- lots go to their home village to be with family.  Gifts giving  doesn't seem to be a priority.   It was the same in Zimbabwe.   
 
It is hot here now (34 degrees) and we are grateful for our Air conditioners in the office and our bedroom.  We are to get one in the living room when it arrives at the shop.   :)
 
Love to all and hope you are enjoying the Christmas season. 
 
Elder & Sister Bullock/Jim & Nancy/mom & dad
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Nov. 24th

Good morning! 
 
We are up early, as usual.  Another busy day is on the horizon.  We did get moved into our new place and it is much smaller but feels more like a home.  Does that make sense?  It was a big job getting the other place ready to hand back to the landlady and her estate agent was not a pleasant man to deal with.  We definitely handed it back in better condition than the couple got it last year so they should be happy.  I found the whole experience rather stressful, to say the least.  I am so glad we are finished.  We did buy the paint (requirement in Malawi to paint the whole house when you leave, whether it needs it or not!) and hired a couple of painters (a guy and a girl) and they did a really good job.  That was a worry because painters here are not necessarily very careful.  They were painting here at our new place and we saw that they were doing well so we ask if they could come and paint for us.   Their quote was the lowest and we felt it was too low after they did some extras for us so we paid them a little more.  They were pleased.    Gabriel, a member, also did  some painting at the boy's quarters and the carport and did well.
I had a lady clean.  She did ok but was quite slow so I pitched in and helped for a couple of days.  I think she was surprised at how quickly I was getting things done but I don't think it make her speed up at all. 
 
There is a member who has a big truck and we hired it for our move and had all the missionaries help.  It really went pretty well.  Davie, the gardener, has helped us a lot too.  He is so cute ---  He said,  "I am just so happy when you say, "Davie can you come and help us?"   He is so eager to do whatever we need him to do.  It is so nice for us.  We should all be more like that.
 
Our new place is in a shambles at the moment but it will come together as we sort and organize.  We will take some things up to Lilongwe to the couple's flat there and that will help.  We have to go up there today to take some passports to two Elders who are transferring tomorrow and the missionaries are out of working fund there.  We also have 2 Elders coming into there, arriving at 1:30 a.m. tomorrow - fun!
 
The Pretes' will be here soon and we are looking forward to that.  At the same time there is another couple with 4 children arriving in Lilongwe from the U.S.  He has a contract with USAID for two years.  They will  be a good help for the Branch in Lilongwe.  The more, the better.  Our one Branch up there is having such big problems -- to the extent that a group have started  holding their own Sacrament meetings, even though they were told they CANNOT do that.  A sacrament cloth and the extra trays, along with hymn books, and Gospel Principle books are missing from the Branch.  The Branch has basically divided into 'sides' and there are accusations, quarreling etc.   The dissenters have tried to convince new members/investigators to their side.  It is a terrible mess and this is only a brief synopsis.  The Area Presidency is aware and the matter will be dealt with as soon as they can fit it into their schedules.  In the meantime, we just try and help the Branch President carry on doing what he should be doing.    Prete's will have their hands full!!
 
As of January 1st the Area office will take over doing all Immigration stuff for the 32 countries in our Africa SE area.   I have no idea how they will be able to do that but --- hey!  it is fine with me if I don't have to worry about it anymore. 
 
The weather is hot here and we have had some rains.  Everyone is busy working in their fields getting maize planted.  At this time of year that is pretty much all that is growing - it is their staple food and they need all they can grow.   It is everywhere.  All the gardens/fields are cultivated by hand (hoe) and it is amazing.  They work really hard.  The poorer people are able to buy some seed that is subsidized by the gov't.  That really helps them.  Better to give them the seed than try and give them the food later.  They are also given a certificate to buy some fertilizer at a big reduction.    I need to send some pictures (they are on the other computer). 
 
Dec. 3rd ---  I should have just sent this email when I wrote it.  I will send it now and then write another today as well.
 
Love,  Nancy/mom/Sister Bullock  
 
 
 
 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

pics

Just some interesting pictures we took.  
 
Sorry I haven't written for a while but things have been a bit crazy here.  I will try and send a letter later today or tomorrow.

pics

We got two new sisters a couple of weeks ago -- cute energetic girls!    The missionaries alottment was slow coming due to a holiday in the U.S. and they were hungry so we got together and made French toast -- an economical and filling meal!  It seemed to go over well.

pics

The flamboyant trees are blooming and are beautiful.   The countryside is getting nice and green and everyone is working in their fields, hoeing and planting maize.  It is all done by hand -- they work so hard.  Their gardens and fields look nice!

pics

This is a dress that mom sent for us to give away.  We gave it to Maria's granddaughter and they really appreciated it.   Also a picture of Maria and her daugher Maria.  Maria, the mom has cancer but is doing a bit better right now.  She has a lot of pain.  Her husband Petros has stayed with her a lot and neglected getting his fields ready to plant.  He was gone to work there.  The Branch has organized to go help him on Saturday and we used some of the money mom sent to buy them some maize seed, ground nuts(peanuts) and a bit of fertilizer.  They are so grateful for it!  Things have been tough for them.  They get some seed from the gov't at a subsidized price but not near enough.  This year they are having to share it between two families instead of each getting their own.
The kids are posing for the camera outside Petros and Maria's home.