Day In, Day Out

My Heart in Africa

Well my friends, you are in luck. Given that I have fully cleaned out my inbox and have responded to all my emails, and yet I still don’t hate my keyboard, I thought it best I take some time to send an update.

Let me go get a snack to help me focus!
Yummm, apple (pink lady) and natural peanut butter.
I can live anywhere if these two items are accessible!

So, where did we leave off? I feel like its been a long time since I wrote. I should have a lot say, but I'm just trying to think of what actually there is to share….

For starters, when I originally left Canada last September, my plan had been to be a part of two missions outreaches in the course of the year I was gone. However, as some of you might remember from an earlier post, in November, I changed my plans and decided to stay here in Malawi for the duration of my time abroad (this trip at least). Had the original plan still been in place, I would have packed up my bags this Friday past and left Lilongwe – and would have been arriving today at Hands at Work for intake starting tomorrow.

Several times since making the decision, especially when tough times hit, Matt Janes – the missions guru who keeps in touch with me regularly – has asked if I'm regretting my decision.
And each time I tell him that despite the difficulties and the struggles and the unpleasantries of  life here in Malawi, I don’t find it to be any more than what I might have faced in Canada. Yes, I have had different experiences and learned many new lessons, but I definitely remember having tough times in Canada too, feeling discouraged, feeling annoyed and frustrated.
I love it here in Malawi, and am enjoying my time here for sure. I do not regret my decision to stay. I do hope that some day I will get the chance to be part of Hands at Work in some manner, because it too sounds like a great ministry. But for the time being, I am still passionate about what I do here with Children of Blessing Trust.
And, each time I meet a new person who inevitably asks me why I am here, I get to share with them about the special children I work with and the programs we offer for their development. And though it seems, to everyone I share with, that there is so much work to be done, I feel that it is I who am learning the most.
When a school like the one I spend most of my time volunteering at, has so few resources and supplies, it forces one to become creative and inventive. It also teaches to be grateful for every little thing we do have and the new donations that come in.
This past week I was thanking God for having had a photocopier accessible in my former places of work and asking forgiveness for being impatient when the toner runs out and I have to wait for someone to change it. Haha! Here, we don’t have a photocopier and have to go next door to the shop that offers the service. We pay 15MK per copy (pennies, literally) but half the time there is a reason why it doesn’t work: no toner – and no money to buy another one; no paper – and the boss had to run to the shops to get some; or no electricity.
I was also appreciating coloring books. How often do we toss away a half used coloring book that has been found on a shelf, buried in the back under a stack of other unused books? Well, here, we don’t have coloring books. I mean, I'm sure they sell them somewhere in the country, but when we only have enough funds to pay the teachers, our school budget doesn’t allow for buying extras like coloring pages. Thankfully, at Christmas, I uncovered hundreds of photocopied coloring pages that had been donated, and even better, they are one sided. That means I can write out the lessons for the children to do (tracing and copying their ABCs and 123s) on one side, and then they can turn it over and color the picture on the other. Resourceful eh???
Only trouble is, that with two growing programs using them every day, my foot high stack is down to less than a cm 🙁

In other news, my car is working alright now that it is fixed. Of course the quoted price of fixing it wasn’t as accurate as I’d hoped, but I'm happy that the car is now working well and running well. I filled the tank last week and am hoping to stretch it for a month (I live 10km from work)! It is a beautiful white piece of tin, but I have become very affectionate of it. Unfortunately, it is not a VW as I would have LOVED, but I figured I shouldn’t be too picky.
It is definitely amazing the sort of hang ups and preferences you let go of when you are faced with the fact that to have such an item is a pure luxury in and of itself.

I would like to say that I have become extremely humble by living here in Africa, but I highly doubt I’ve mastered the meekness and humility of character that Christ would emulate. I am still annoyed when I go to the market and the guys try to charge me “azungu”  prices because they don’t realize I actually know what I can get it for. And in my annoyance, I often, well, lets face it, we all know I have a voice…..
I know that in the past I have usually used a unique experience as the basis for my blog post, but I am finding that the longer I stay here, the less shocking the experiences are. I'm not saying that less things are happening to me; I'm simply suggesting that what I once thought so strange and foreign is now very common. I laugh sometimes when I think of all the pictures I took when I first arrived. I carried my camera everywhere. Now, I often forget it, or have to remind myself to take it out and snap a quick shot of the children at school.
Anyway, I will leave you with a quick update about Florence (Everjoy’s sister) and then sign off!
I had gone to see Florence in the hospital three times after the accident. She was in a room of eight women, and out her door on the balcony were more beds. In the hallway, there were other patients; but not in beds because there was no room for them. It was a bleak place.
After the first visit, I made muffins for the ladies in her room just incase some of them didn’t get regular visits, and would have continued if she hadn't got discharged earlier than anticipated....

Florence’s traction consisted of two pins, screwed into her head, attached to a metal bar which attached to her bed. The bar was weighted in place by a string that was attached to some bricks, which hung over the edge of her bed. There was about one foot of space between her and the next bed beside her, and maybe four feet between her and the bed she was facing. Because they had her facing the wall though, she didn’t have the luxury of looking into the faces of the people she “bunked” with. I can imagine how boring and bleak it would be to stare at a pictureless wall for 21days.
Every time I was there though, she had someone visiting. Her two aunties from Zimbabwe had come to care for her and they all took turns around the clock.
She was released two weeks ago, which in itself was a miracle. The doctors had told her four – six weeks, but she was well enough to leave after three. I was a bit naïve in believing she was back to her old self, when in reality, her release from the hospital merely meant she could lay on her own bed with her head in a neck collar now instead. Her movements were slow and strained and limited. BUT, praise God, she has full movement!
Another amazing miracle is that the doctor had told her that when the screws come out, there is likely to be a lot of bleeding from her head and she would have to be monitored. But she did not bleed at all. My friends, I am telling you, your prayers are being heard. She is being healed! God is working in her. When I visited this Wednesday past, her brother called and wanted to pray for her over the phone. She asked me to join her and when he prayed I could feel the Spirit of God descend on her room.
What a privilege to be a part of this journey with her. We had a really nice visit. I stayed for over an hour and got to know her much more.

Please continue to pray for Florence and her recovery. I will keep you posted.
I leave you now in the hands of our loving Father. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, may you know His love is not extinguishable and that HE IS faithful, even when we get frustrated and fed up with waiting (hmm, you would think that was said from personal experience or something
J)
Love,
meLissa

 The preschool children at their centers

Joyce with one of our albino children, Prince

 A full fuel tank - every missionaries dream!

 More centers with the preschoolers - fine motor work!

 Rain during rainy season - though, this is once it had subsided!

 

Hard at work concentrating on coloring! Well, Lexa at least...Enock is a bit of a trouble maker!

 

Originally posted to My Heart in Africa