Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 7

Hi everyone! Here are some pictures from Malawi!! Finally :) These are of our house and some of us out in town and at school:

That's all I can upload right now...the internet is SO slow, especially with uploading and downloading. Hopefully that gives some of you a bit of an idea of where we are! I'll add more later :)

So...I thought I would start this post with some fun facts about Malawi and living here that we've noticed so far! Here goes...

1) It's polite to honk your horn here
2) Don't expect people to follow any traffic rules...ignore the stop lights! (or robots as they say here). They are really more of a suggestion here than a rule anyway
3) It isn't rude to ask someone for money...even if you don't know them very well
4) You don't have to pump your own gas here!!! They do it for you :)
5) When I go to the market...there are people who will watch my car for me (watchmen) and people who will follow me around and carry my bags for me (bag boys)...for a small fee of course. But it's very convenient and a great way to help people out! :)
6) In the stores, sometimes they will have coke, sprite, and all flavors of fanta (fanta is like their coke here)....and then another day have NO carbonated drinks at all
7) It's not uncommon to be out in town, have someone point at you, say something in Chichewa, and laugh, haha.
8) Children here...especially outside the city LOVE Azungus! Or white people haha. They smile and laugh and want to touch you.....and of course yell, "Azungu! Azungu!" ha.
9) Lizards and geckos become a part of daily life...I don't even think anything when I see one running across my kitchen counter anymore
10) Our water and power go out at random times. I haven't been one of the unlucky people who were in the shower with shampoo in their hair when the water went out yet....and hope I never have to be!

Josh and I are both doing very well here and are adjusting fine. I really haven't been homesick at all. Alot of people have though...maybe that will just come later for us. Or maybe we'll never be homesick!

School is beginning to go much smoother for both of us. Though not really EASY....it's definitely less stressful than the first couple of weeks. We are learning to prioritize and organize our time :)
Josh has become pretty involved on campus. Apart from teaching, coaching soccer, and helping out with band, he is also the "sound man" for both chapel sessions (or any other formal "meeting") at the academy. He will also be helping Kelly Dehnert at the college with recording in the music department! He is very excited about that. I think he starts helping next week. If that wasn't enough to be doing already, he plays basketball two nights a week and goes to the other Christian school in the area (Bishop Mackenzie), to play ultimate frisbee once a week. I am so very proud of how well he has adapted here and the responsibilities he has taken on! :)

My load is a good bit lighter...ha. I have continued to go to Chitipi orphanage on Fridays which is something I have really come to look forward to each week. I just love the kids! They are so thankful and greatful for what they have. And they love when we come and play with them. I am beginning to learn their names and get to know them. Hopefully I can become someone they can really talk to and rely on for any type of support. Their worries as 10 year olds make me feel so guilty sometimes about the things that worry me. Most of the kids are able to go to school...but some are not. You have to take an "exam" to get into highschool here and there is one girl, Chimwewe, who was real down last week about her exam. She was nervous she wouldn't pass and not be able to go to school. Whereas when I was growing up I HAD to go to school....there wasn't a choice not to. The orphanage is a Christian facility run and supported by COTN (Children of the Nation) and they all seem to have been exposed at least a little to the bible. We all just go and spend time with them and hope that we influence them in a good, "God-like" way. I will keep you posted about how it is going every week :)

I have also been to the Crisis Nursery a few times now. For those of you who don't know...the Crisis Nursery is a "santuary" for babies 2 and under whoes parents have died of AIDS, malaria, etc. Or for malnurished babies whoes families can't afford or aren't able to take care of them. I go and just hold the babies and play with them. It's a really great mission...but it is really really sad to go. Some of the babies have AIDS and others won't make it due to malnourishment. It just makes you want to take them all home! But we enjoy going. And we can help the "mothers" with feedings, etc. while we're there.

We are still "church hopping" at the moment but want to settle down somewhere soon so we can get involved there as well. There are still a couple places we want to try. We can't decide if we want to go to a "missionary" church or a more rural village type church. We'll see! Just pray that we will be directed to the right one...and that BOTH of us will choose the same one ha :)

Please pray the God will continue to give us strength and energy as we are here in Malawi. Sometimes it is hard to be optimistic because of how bad everything is. But we are trying to keep our spirits up and continue to teach and minister to our students!! Hope everyone is having a great week!


Rebecca :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weeks 4, 5, and 6!

Hey everyone! I'm so so so sorry I haven't blogged in almost 3 weeks! We have really been super busy since school started and this past week we didn't have internet.

So, lets back up to almost three weeks ago! The first week of school for both me and Josh was a little hectic. For one, we have never taught so even the thought of a lesson plan was overwhelming! Teachers do alot more "prep work" than I ever realized (even a four year old kindergarten teacher). But especially a first year middle school teacher who is teaching FOUR different classes/subjects. Josh really has a heavy load as far as school work goes. And many of his afternoons are spent helping out with sports teams at the academy so he does most of his planning and grading at nights and on weekends. YUCK! haha...but he does have a helper :)

The second week of school we started our "afternoon activities" which we are required to spend 2 hours a week doing. I had my first ballet class two tuesdays ago. It's really fun! The kids are 3, 4, and 5 so they are pretty young. It can be a bit stressful going from 5 hours with 17 four year olds to an hour with 12 3, 4, and 5 year olds though! I don't think I've ever talked as much as I have in the past three weeks. I say EVERYTHING at least three times haha. But they are so sweet and cute and to see them enjoying an activity I've prepared for them or to hear them say, "I love you Mrs. Harper!", makes it all worth while :) And it's pretty amazing to be able to watch them learn their letters for the first time and begin to put letter names with sounds. We are just working with vowels right now so it will be neat to start consonants and have the kids start "blending" sounds...ba be bi bo bu, etc.

My other afternoon activity I committed to was going to Chitipi orphanage every Friday to hang out and play with the kids! There are three teachers from the academy that go and lead it every week including myself. Also, about 5 or 6 academy students 11 years and up go with us to help minister to the kids. I plan the art and craft acitvity every week. Our theme this year is the "fruit of the spirit" so most of our activities and games have to do with fruit, love, joy, goodness, patience, self control, etc. There are about 36 kids at Chitipi. They are all so happy! Even though they have next to nothing they are always smiling and eager to interact and play with us. It's really great...after a long day at school on a Friday they really give me a new energy and uplift me! I look forward to going every week :)

Josh has been coaching the middle school soccer team. I think he is enjoying it! He asked our sports coordinator if he could get an assistant though because of the amount of kids. There are about 25 kids and he's been the only coach. A team played a game today with another Christian school in the area (Bishop Mackenzie Baptist) and Josh coached that. He was really good! He was getting into it and giving the kids tips as they played. This game was between kids ages 5-9 and they pretty much just all followed the ball wherever it went haha. But they were cute!

Josh is also helping out with band which he is enjoying as well. It's a small "random" band. The only pre-requisite is that you play an instrument. There are only about 6 or 7 kids that take it...but Josh plays pretty much any instrument so he can for sure help out there! There was a little Korean girl who plays piano that speaks NO English that he worked with this past week. I don't know if any of you "blog followers" have ever worked with people that speak no English and you don't speack their language....but it's difficult! I have a little Korean boy in my class and it's so hard to communicate when they know NO English at all. It's really a challange...but a rewarding one when you see them start to pick up on words your saying. We were both surprised by how many Korean students go to school hear at the academy.

We are still "church hopping" at the moment but hope to settle down somewhere soon. We have been to several different churches which have been ok. We'll just have to wait and see! Last week we were going to go to a village church with the McDonald's but I got sick :( I want to try one of those though! Maybe if we went to a village church every Sunday we would learn Chichewa faster. We are trying but it just sounds like mumbo jumbo when they speak it. My teaching assistant, Mr. Gray, has been helping me out with a few simple phrases but it's difficult! We really want to learn it though.

We really appreciate everyone's support and prayers! I hope in the next week I can do another post and talk about more that is going on! To sit down and try to catch people up on over three weeks of "happenings" is overwhelming! haha. I need to make a list of most important things or something :) I hope everyone is having a great week! I will try and upload some pictures of our house and the city this weekend.