Really, what good is knowledge if we don’t apply it to our lives?
I am teaching a subject that can be taken home and used each day after class: Home Management. This is an extensive subject including everything from organization to sewing to cooking. While mentioning to someone here in town what I was teaching, she asked if I had any training in this area. Living in a home my entire life, I told her, I figured was training enough.
Much of Malawi is not near a city, which means no running water, and no electricity. It means fetching water from a borehole each day and cooking over an open fire. It also means going to sleep when the sun sets and awakening when the sun rises. Most of the women who will become pastor’s wives will be stepping into a higher class, with more prestige, and more responsibility. Pastors here live in a manse, and each home comes with at least one staff member (this could be a house-keeper, cook, gardener, or guard). It might or might not have electricity and running water, but it most likely will be an improvement from what they were accustomed to in the past.
On the first day of class, we did introductions and discussed our backgrounds. Two of the seven women feel comfortable writing in English, while the other five, write only in Chichewa. In my experience as a teacher, as the children grow older the learning gap grows –only because there is more and more to learn. Here, while working with adults, I have the largest range that I have ever had. However, they are thrilled that I am there to teach them; this makes it a joy for me. I have had to get used to lecturing, which is also new and because of the language barrier, there is another teacher to translate. The translation makes the classes slower, which means I can only plan for half of the time, knowing that a good portion of time will be used for translation.
In the first few classes, I taught proper waste management and sanitation. Their assignment was to implement what they learned. Simple, right? So in order to see if they had implemented everything, we spent class #3 walking around to each of their houses, touring all of the rooms and the exterior. When I mentioned this assignment, I received a round of applause! I have to say, it was the first time in my life I have ever been applauded when assigning homework. The women went to their houses and as we went from home-to-home, we collected the women and their children along the way. In the last house, we all sat around and enjoyed some tea and bananas. This last house was the cleanest and most organized. She had her cups placed together by color and design! The house visits were encouraging; all but two had made sure to cover any food that was being kept. In addition, two of the women had already built a compost pit and had started disposing of their organic waste this way. These two collected and divided the banana skins to add to their compost!
Thus far, it has been fun to see these ladies begin to use what I am teaching them. My hope and prayer is that God would use me to help the women and their families live healthier.