Greetings from Malawi!

Greetings from beautiful Malawi!

Okay, seriously, this is one of the most beautiful countries I've ever
seen. Words like pristine, untouched, and stunning all keep popping
into my head. But this is also a country of extreme poverty. It's one
of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Every 50 meters or
so there's another little village with brick or mud houses and thatch
roofs.

We had a comical experience getting here from Zimbabwe. A major road
was closed, so our GPS gave us an alternate route. In the dark, we
headed down a narrow lane into the bush. The road got narrower and
rougher the longer we drove down it. We would pass people on the side
of the road and they just gaped at us like they'd never seen a van
before. Finally after about an hour the road took us straight into the
middle of a thriving village and dead-ended. We were immediately
surrounded by the entire village, shouting and pointing at us and
shining their cell phone lights into the van trying to see us. We
couldn't understand much of what they were saying but we're pretty
sure it meant something like, "Stupid white people! Where do they
think they're going?" We discovered the road ended there, and had to
turn around in the middle of the village and head back the way we
came.

The people here in Malawi are so generous and friendly. Embarrassing
cultural experiences didn't end with the detour in the dark though.
The first morning we woke up here in Malawi I decided it was time to
do some laundry. So I found an empty bucket and brought my laundry and
washing powder to the community water tap. I was pretty proud of
myself for completing my first-ever load of
hand-washed-in-the-outdoors laundry and was just finishing up when two
nice Malawian ladies walked up. They were equipped with bigger buckets
and wash tubs, and I greeted them and told them I was doing laundry
too. They didn't seem to understand me, and instead took my washing
from me and started re-washing it. The guy who we are staying with
walked up then and explained to me in English, "They said you are
failing, so they are going to help you." They proceeded to re-wash all
my clothes for me and then hand them back for me to hang up.

We're enjoying being with the CPx team here. I feel thankful we don't
have to stay with them though. They're camping out in the village,
taking baths in a bucket and using a long drop toilet or "squatty
potty." We are staying in town, in a run down compound. Brandon and I
get our own room and mosquito net and we share a bathroom with running
water (no hot water or toilet seats, but I'm still very thankful!). We
eat our meals with the team though, and for that I am extremely
grateful. Rhoda, the only woman on the team, cooks all the dinners.
She is a Malawian and cooks wonderful food. Last night we had rice and
curried beef and it was amazing!

We went to a nicer area outside the village yesterday to spend time
debriefing the team. Today we will spend here in the village with the
team — I am hoping to be able to attend at least one local Bible study
with Rhoda. Then we head off North the next day. We'll take two, maybe
three days to drive up through Malawi and into Tanzania and over to
the coast.

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