Saturday, June 30, 2012

Our driveway with our new mission trucks - finally!!

I wanted to take a picture of this beautiful tree over-hanging our driveway.  It is really pretty.   Also, we finally got the trucks that were ordered more than 6 months ago.  One has already gone to Lilongwe for Pretes and two will stay here.  The Sisters here (Sister Sieben and Sister Njoroge) will get our truck.  Elder Bullock has been taking them driving to get used to traffic, wrong side of road, etc. etc.   They are excited to get a vehicle.

Heading to market with a load of Cotton

We were hoping this guy was going to make it without losing his load.  It was sagging pretty low. 

Blantyre 2nd Branch Relief Society Acitivity

Today, June 30th, we had a Relief Society activity with the sisters in Blantyre 2nd Branch.  We didn't get as many out as we hoped but had a good time.  I taught them how to make Spudnuts (dounuts).  It is something that they can now make themselves and sell on the streets to make a little money.  They are excited to do it.    Anything to help them sustain themselves is a good thing!  
I made some a couple of days ago and Christopher Sitolo and I took them out on the street here and gave some away and then ask the people what they would pay for one.  They all agreed that 50 kwacha was a fair price and one guy said that with the sprinkles on top they could be worth even 100 kwacha since they looked so pretty.  :)    

Zone Activity at Liwonde Park

I didn't take a lot of pictures at the park this time.  The missionaries had a great time, as you can see from the pictures.  Preparation Day activity (once a quarter) gives them a chance to let their hair down and have some fun.  Pres. & Sister Padovich were able to go with us as well as the Assistants because they were here for Zone conference the next day. 

Aaron Benjamin (Simita Village) finally got his mission call

Aaron is serving with us here in Blantyre because we are short full-time missionaries.  He is companions with Elder Masika and has been here for a couple of months and will likely be with us for another couple of months.  He has been anxiously awaiting his call and it finally came.  We went to Liwonde Game Park with the missionaries for a Zone activity and our first stop was at Bro. Chisambo's house in Liwonde where Aaron's family was waiting.  They are so excited and proud of Aaron.    The second picture is of Aaron's cousin, Dyson, reading a letter to Aaron for the family and friends.  It told him how very proud they are of him etc.  It was nice! 
That is Aaron's mom and dad, grandma, and brother sitting with him on the tailgate our truck. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Malawian Kwacha/Diesel

Recently the country has come out with new kwacha (money).  The biggest bill before was a '500' but now there is a "1000' kwacha bill.  That makes things a little easier when it comes to counting out money.  Since the money was devalued recently it takes 270 kwacha to make one U.S. dollar now.  It seems like there is more foreign exchange available now too which really helps the businesses since they need the foreign exchange to buy goods to bring into Malawi.  No one outside Malawi will accept the kwacha.
The diesel situation is much better for now.  We can pretty much fill up when we want to.  Hopefully it will last.  We do have all our jerry cans full though as a back up.  (25 x 25 ltr. containers). 
Yesterday we received the three trucks that the mission ordered many months ago.  We had hoped to have them at the beginning of December when Pretes arrived but ........     It is good to finally have them but it was certainly a 'process' and they were very expensive with duties, import fees, etc. etc.    We will drive carefully.  :)  At the moment they are all parked here at our place.  Elder Prete will come and get his this weekend.  They have been using the Zone leader's vehicle and the zone leaders are VERY happy to get it back.  It has been hard.

Elder Bullock

Here's a couple of pictures of Elder Bullock.  He is learning to play a popular game here.  The young men in Liwonde were happy to help him and also Christopher Sitolo, a member here in Blantyre, is teaching him.  He is trying to teach me but we haven't played much. 
When we were in Liwonde we stayed at the Hippo Lodge and Jim was working on a presentation he has to do at Zone conference coming up this Tuesday.
Pres. & Sis. Padovich are coming tonight along with Elder Bricknell, from the Seventy.  We will have District conference this weekend here in Blantyre.  We know Elder Bricknell from when we served in Zimbabwe as we were invited to the Coordinating Councils since we were the Humanitarian missionaries.   We have a busy week planned. 

Graduation at a Girls Secondary school in Liwonde

These girls were having pictures taken after we finished the baptisms at the pool at the Lodge.  They wanted a picture with us so that they could say that some 'white' people were at their graduation.   It was interesting though because they were stripping down to their undies and trading dresses.  I went and held up a wrap in front of them because Elder Bullock was trying to get out of there 'fast'.   One girl wanted to pose topless in the picture and I shook my finger at her and she pulled her top back up.  Interesting!!   Yikes!

Liwonde Baptisms

Bro. Kwali was baptized last August and was able to baptize his wife, Linda, and his 8 yr. old daughter.  He was a very happy man.  Linda is deaf and so it took some time to teach her.  She lost her hearing about 3 years ago from an illness.  She can talk.  She has done a lot of reading and the lessons/questions etc. had to be written out for her.  She did very well though.   Linda is Sis. Chisambo's sister. 

Bro. Chisambo (group leader) baptized Bro. Kungwa, the head master from a Secondary school there.  Bro. Kungwa was really happy and wonders why he never was able to know about the Church when he was younger.  His wife passed away 3 or 4 years ago.  He has two sons in boarding school and they can be taught when they are home.  They were taught a couple of times.

Baptism at Liwonde

Last Saturday we had 6 baptisms in Liwonde.  These two are Aaron's younger sisters.  Aaron is working with one of our elders here in Blantyre because we are short of missionaries.   Bro. Benjamin baptized his two girls (11 and 12 yrs. old).  They were never baptized because the Branch in Sitima Village where they live was disbanded some years back.  He was nervous about doing the baptisms as he hasn't done that before but he did fine.   We took Aaron with us to Liwonde for the occasion and he confirmed them on Sunday.  It was a good day.    President Padovich has Aaron's mission call and will arrive here tonight.  Aaron will wait until Monday though to open it.  We have a zone activity Monday -- going to the game park at Liwonde.   Aaron's family will meet us at Bro. Chisambo's house on Monday morning and he will open it before we go into the game park.  He is very excited.  The Group in Liwonde and of course, his family, are very proud of him.   

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday, June 4th

We got moved over the weekend and have cleaned and turned over the keys to the past landlord.  Too bad we had to leave there because we did really like the place and the landlord.  He did feel bad about having to ask us to move out.   O well ....  the new place is just fine and we will be comfortable here.  It has a lovely yard.  It seems to be secure but we still have a tall brick wall all around with electric wires on the top.  We have 2 night guards and then Davie does the daytime guard/gardening.  We also have our security system which we had transferred here from the other place and that is monitored.  This is a pretty safe nighborhood and we are very close to the main Church building.   We spent a good deal of our day organizing the house.  I still need to organize a lot in the office but needed to get my May financial reports sent in to the Area office before Clive starts phoning me. 
Since the devaluation of the kwacha, some prices in the stores have really gone up and some not so much.   A lot of the basic items like vegetables and fruits from the local markets, rice, eggs, etc. have not gone up a lot.  But some of the things we like have really gotten expensive.  Real butter is about $14 a pound.  Yikes!!   It was expensive before but now it is atrocious!   Cheese is now much higher.  We will have to do without some of the things we like for a while.   Might be good for us to eat more fruit and veggies anyway!  :)   We already do eat a lot of eggs.  We eat oatmeal for breakfast often with UHT milk.  Milk is about $2 or so a litre.    Maybe this is just preparing us for the increase of food prices at home. 
We went to Liwonde yesterday for Church.  There are some problems arising there that hopefully we can deal with sooner than later.  One person is stirring things up in the Group.  She has decided she doesn't like the Group leader and so she is talking to others and trying to get them on her side.  We trust the Group Leader completely and feel bad that he has to have this happening.   We don't want to see this Group torn apart like the Branch in Kauma almost was.    By the way, since December when Pretes came to Lilongwe and were able to work with the Kauma Branch and members, the Branch has gone from 30 - 40 in attendance to 100 - 120 each week.  AND they all are friends and love each other again.  The dissenters came to realize that they were wrong and being led astray by the adversary.    We feel like the same is starting to happen in Liwonde.  Satan is always trying to stop the work!!! 
There are some rain showers tonight!  The air today smelled very humid as the clouds rolled in.  They don't usually get rain in June but it is nice.
Davie, our gardener, went home to his Village yesterday and today.  His mother has found a wife (at least suggesting one) for him.  She sent him a picture.   He has gone to meet the girl.   We made a few suggestions for him -- like: it would be good if she could speak English so that she can take the missionary lessons.  It is the custom here that the wife go to the same Church as the husband.  We also suggested that she should take a HIV test.    It will be interesting to hear his report when he returns.
Well - we are about to head to bed and curl up in our blankets.  The weather (especially nights) are cooler now that winter is about here.  June, July and 1/2 of August are cool.  September and October are the hottest months.
We hope all is well with everyone.   We are excited that Kimberley finally had her baby girl and that it was a quick and uneventful delivery.  The baby was late but that allowed them to get moved into their new home (just barely).    That is grandchild #19 for us.  How quickly our family is growing.
We are excited to be home with the family in about 4 months time.
We are headed to bed shortly.  Love to all,  President and Sister Bullock