And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God!
Eph 3:18

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Phil 2:5-8

Sunday, August 1, 2010

(2) New Twists on Old Tasks

After a lovely dinner at my host family's home on the evening of my arrival, I set about settling into my new home. Actually, my only interest was finding the necessities to get myself some sleep. As I prepared for bed, I realized that my watch was still set to San Diego time. (Not very helpful for arriving promptly to my 9:00 meeting in the morning.) I changed my laptop settings to Malawi time, set my watch and set my digital alarm clock to wake me at 7:00am. By 9:00pm I was in bed.

While I had gone to bed around 9:00, I did not actually fall asleep until around mid-night. On my first morning in Lilongwe, I woke up around 3:00 am. I am painfully uncomfortable trying to sleep anywhere other than a recliner, (or perhaps a couch if it is conducive to propping myself up into a recliner-ish incline). I moved to the gliding rocker next to the bed. The angle is so much better, but the hard wood - NOT. I moved to a spot on the floor. I knew I would pay for that in short order, but I just could not remain one more minute in either the bed or the rocking chair. When I could not stand one more second on the floor, I moved back to the rocker. Eventually back to the bed.

I kept watching the digital clock NOT advance... I finally had to just get up at 5:00. I decided to check my facebook and was baffled to find that my laptop thought it was 7:00. My watch of course thought it was 8:00. I double checked Sure enough, it was a few minutes after 7:00. I guess that's what you get for trying to set the clocks when you're half asleep. I Fixed the watch and digital clock. Okay might as well get on with my day. My stomach had been growling since 4:30. (At least, that's what the digital clock said...) I went into the kitchen to get breakfast. Fortunately, the family who had fed me dinner the previous evening, (the Lloyds,) had sent me home with some groceries. I had eggs, potatoes, onions, coffee, dried milk... some other things, but those were what I considered relevant to the current need. No coffee pot that I can find... I just put a scoop of (very coarsely ground) coffee in a cup, boiled some water in the microwave, poured it in a cup and let it set while I moved on to the food prep. I diced up a couple of potatoes, (they are about the size of plums) and a half of an onion (same size as the potatoes,) scrambled an egg, and realized I had no butter or oil of any kind. So I nuked it all. I Added dried milk to my coffee and greatly enjoyed my first "missionary breakfast".

I met with the director of the Curriculum (and for all intents and purposes, the school). She went over the requirements and curriculum and a lot of useful (if you can remember it all) information. The main point, to MY mind was, "Oh man! I am in WAY over my head!!!!!! What was I thinking?!?!?!?” Fortunately, there are 2 classrooms for each grade, and the teacher of the other class, (Owen,) has been the Teacher's Assistant in this grade for 3 years and wants to keep our classes on the same page. So he is helping me find my way through this new maze. I don’t know what I would do without his help. God always manages to provide what is needed to do what He asks of me! I spent the morning just trying to skim over the 6 curriculum books and figure out what to do with the classroom.

I have 2 weeks to turn this room into a Learning Wonder Land for 16 four year olds!

When I went back to my house at 3:00, my digital clock said it was 11:50. As it turns out, it doesn't matter how often I set it correctly, it looses about 3 hours per 8 hours or so. Eventually, it just stopped working all together!

In the early afternoon, the Lloyds took me shopping. First we went to this “grocery store” about the size of a 7/11. “This is the best place to buy bread. It’s quite a bit more expensive anywhere else. But, most other things you do not want to buy here.”

From there, we went to The Market. This is where you buy produce. It is an open air market with stalls as can be found around the world. He warned me a little what to expect. When we arrived, we were ambushed by several young men with hands full of plastic shopping bags. The way it works is: you buy the bags from the boys and they follow you around carrying your bags as you fill them at the various stalls. They load them into the car for you and you pay them. Even after you have already chosen a bag-carrier, several more still want to join the party. You have to try to shoo them away. Unfortunately, saying “No thank you” does not actually seem to deter their enthusiasm. The strawberry hawkers come running up to you as you are attempting to shoo away all the extra bag carriers. They shove trays of strawberries in your face and are no more impressed by “No thank you,” or “Not today” than anyone else you’ve encountered yet. They of course are interrupted by the DVD sellers, the used clothing merchants, the electronic gadget guys, the broom weavers… (who can even keep track of all that was shoved in your face within about 2 minutes of exiting the car?). The Lloyds have established a relationship with one particular produce vendor. That way, you will get the fairest treatment possible for an mzungo, (white person). It must be noted that an mzungo will always pay considerably more for anything in the market than a Malawian will. There is no shame or hiding this fact. They will openly give you one price and the Malawian next to you another in the same breath. If he were to cheat his fellow Malawian by not charging you enough, his life may be in very serious danger.

From The Market we went to the grocery store, Chipuku. There are a couple of other grocery chains in town, but apparently they are considerably more expensive. It is a small warehouse that is laid out a little bit like a tiny Costco, but it is not a club store. There are one or 2 varieties of each item available. Fortunately, the prices are posted, so an mzungo can expect to pay the same price as a Malawian. (Or perhaps, the Malawian is forced to pay the same price as an mzungo…) We completed our shopping and returned to the campus without incident.

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