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An Interesting Maneuver

I was with a friend for a trip to town when we noticed a minibus driver seemingly changing his mind on which direction to go whilst already perpendicularly positioning the vehicle in the middle of the road. I commented that that was an “interesting maneuver” and she said many things that occur here seem to be in the category of “interesting maneuvers”. I then decided to go searching for such situations and capture as many as I could on film.

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Things that I have seen and may or may not have caught on film:
-Fitting as much as humanly possible into any sort of vehicle used for public transit.
-The ridiculous amounts of charcoal/mangos/bananas/sticks/wooden spoons/etc. loaded onto the top, back, sides, and front of bicycles.
-At the market, I was once asked to pay $4 for a squash that was the size of an avocado. I just walked away.
-The bamboo that Abambo used for the beans to climb on as they grow.
-The showerhead..pipe..thing.
-The exterior light fixtures that are inside the manse, which have already fried the wires three times. Good thing the walls are made of brick and cement, no fires here!
-Sticking the wires straight into the electrical socket.

Mostly in all of this, although some “maneuvers” are really unsafe, all show that people use what they have and are often quite creative about doing so. We can certainly take note and make an attempt to use what we have to accomplish what needs to be done.

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Farewells and Goodbyes.

Saying goodbye seems always more difficult than anticipated. David frequently reminds me that it is more difficult to be the one left behind than the one leaving for a new adventure. Strangely, the transition from sadness to joyful anticipation hasn’t really occurred quite yet. In the past, whenever I was leaving for a trip, I would almost immediately adjust as the new place came more and more into focus, but not this time. Nine months is substantial. Most of my energy was pouring into packing up stuff and investing in the people in my life. So it makes sense that I am finally beginning to process the life change at hand.

I love hugs, and in the last days I have gotten some of the warmest hugs. Standing up hugs, sitting down hugs, sideways hugs. Some people squeezed me so tight I just held my breathe for a moment. Other hugs came with tears dropped in my hair; or watery eyed stares. Thank you to everyone for your hugs. The last night during dinner with loved ones, I was at the counter serving up another helping of watermelon when my three-year-old niece ran to me to give me a one leg hug, the top of her head at my thigh. This then turned into a full body hug as I picked her up and she squeezed me with her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck. Later when she was actually getting into the car to leave and I had to give a goodbye hug for the last time, I got fish face kisses too. The most difficult part was when she asked if we were coming back; I reassured her that we would be coming back, even though we would be gone for a long time, yes, we would be back.

The morning on the day of departure, on our way to the airport as we passed by Mission Bay, Downtown and Point Loma we waved goodbye to our first home in Little Italy, our childhood memories all over this city, our workplace communities, the friendships that all started there. One last bit of sadness washed over our tired hearts, sadness for the people we will miss while we’re gone.

There is much to anticipate. We must remember that God has prepared a new community in Malawi, some we know already, others we have known of, and still those who will be completely new. There is a second home waiting for us there, where we will create new memories and where God will mold and shape us more.

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Realization starts to set in..

So, the more that I talk with people about Africa, the more it becomes a real. I had some friends from work over for dinner. We started out chatting about stuff we’ve been doing for the previous week of time off, it went to the weather, to some reflections on the school year, and then the conversation rolled around to me talking about Africa. Where we are going, what we will eat, how our families are taking it, etc. After getting gelato I walked back alone…thinking that soon enough I would be meeting new people and forming new friendships. I will be stretched, I will grow. I will also miss friends here. I will miss sharing life with you. It’s not so often that one gets the opportunity to work with people who are amazing at what they do, who collaborate and always have some idea to contribute, who have good hearts, and are plain funny and fun to be around. I have so enjoyed working with you all. The people with whom we surround ourselves tend to rub off on us. Thank you for being around me to mold me into a better teacher, and probably a better person too.

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God Calling… to Malawi?

The story goes like this.. in March of 2009, some friends from Malawi said to David that there was a church in Malawi where he could serve God. He relayed this to me with a smirk and a smile. We both agreed, God will have a place for us here, in the United States, where we have lived our lives, where it’s comfortable. Why would we go elsewhere anyway? So then, David searched, prayed, interviewed, searched more. He started looking in the western states. We prayed, he emailed, he interviewed, he searched more. Then broadened the search to the whole country.

A year went by. We found closed doors. I was mad. Angry. Where was the church we were to serve? Why would God carry David through seminary all those years and then not provide a church to serve? I was feeling selfish. I was tired of telling people that we were still looking and getting the same responses. The economy is not doing well, to say the least. Perhaps the PERFECT place for us just hadn’t been revealed to us, yet. People would say, well, that we were learning patience. That, we were still serving God, where we are here. Then it had been 14 months of searching. Of hoping and being let down. I didn’t know if I should even discuss prospective churches with friends and family because I’d just have to return to tell them later, that, again, a door had been closed. Closed gently and in a loving way, but still, closed.

All the while we were praying and searching, our friends in Malawi continued to send emails reminding us that, in fact, there was a position available there, that we were still, welcome to Malawi. So, after all the closed doors, and that one still open, in Malawi, I started to open my heart to the idea of going there.

Sometime in the spring, I mentioned to David that perhaps we should go to Malawi. We prayed. He started talking to people about the possibility. Not too much later, we are actually preparing to go.

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