Thursday, December 20, 2007

So maybe I won’t be home for Christmas, but...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So maybe I won’t be home for Christmas, but...

1) you know you teach in Africa when one of your students lists "electricity" as an ingredient to make milk shakes!

2) I am not best friends with my family, but I have found myself really missing them during this holiday season. So... what to do about that? Ok - this is dorky, but here's what I came up with:

* As a single woman, I'm "married to Jesus" right? ha. anyway, when you're married, you split the holidays between the two families, right? So this year, I"m spending the holidays with "His side of the family." See, I told you it was dorky!!

* Hey - what's a life motto good for if you don't ever use it?!? If I say my life is about True Love & High Adventure, I better darned well be facing this current challenge - Christmas away from home - with an attitude of True Love (I love that I am exactly where God wants me just now!) and High Adventure (What could be more of an adventure than Christmasing with a new family in a new country?!?)

So, we'll see how that goes. Also, we'll see how potluck goes on Friday night. It's my turn to plan it, (it = potluck meal for nearly 70 people) so I've decided that this week, the theme will be "Feliz Cumpleanos de Jesus!" Care to join us for some fiesta casserole, churros and more?!? If it goes over as well as the dinner that I cooked for the Moffetts tonight, I'll be a happy lady!

3) I am thankful for the rain, and praying against the return of the mullett!! :) and I miss you... Enjoy a cup of Christmas from your local starbucks for me, ok? because I would if I could! (it's the simple things right?!?)

I should be studying the inside of my eyelids, but I was divinely inspired.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I should be studying the inside of my eyelids, but I was divinely inspired.

Stuff I'm thankful for these days… (I like blogging my thoughts sometimes; it makes them seem official. I realize it's pretty boring to read, though. pepani!)

1. I have some cool friends here, and sometimes we do cool stuff.

2. I love my church here! Worshipping there always makes me grin!

3. It's Ngumbie – flying termite – season, which means that the rainy season is here! I'm not a fan of thunderstorms, but I am happy about the weather deciding to cool off a bit. I got to wear a cardigan to church tonight! Anyway, these bugs (I swear they are so big you could ride them!) remind me that I'm in Africa, and that new holiday traditions can be cool…

4. Connie made me a stocking and it's hanging at the Dehnert house!

5. I have a friend who is always willing to rescue me should I need some man-help, and he texts to make sure that I've made it home safe after get togethers.

6. Paul realized that we were 8 people sharing 2 cars, and he says he'll work on replacing the 3rd car.

7. My kids were GREAT last week! and this week is shaping up to be pretty fun as well!

8. Did I mention who I was going to the Lake with after Christmas?!? hahahahha!

9. Am I a teenager again? I love wasting time on myspace music. Molly and Micah are new favorites!

10. Jack's new single comes out this week!!!!!!! and Tyrone and Colbie have Christmas songs!

11. Santa Clause is coming in to the Kamuzu International Airport next Saturday! Who knows when his bags will get here, but Ms. Clause is coming too and she's one of my favorites!

12. It's almost my one year in Malawi anniversary. Whodathunk?!? ha!

Just call me Miss. Demeanor!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Just call me Miss. Demeanor!

Court was fine today, very little trouble. -- THANKS for yer prayers!! -- Things are so different here. They write your statement on a blank piece of computer paper, by hand. They couldn't find it when I got there; the cop who said he'd meet me was no where to be found... eventually they found it, we walked back to another section of this old old old run down building where the typist was just arriving to work and changed into her uniform, you know, as we were there! They asked me if I pleaded guilty or innocent, and I said that yes I was in the car, yes I was on my phone, but no the car was not moving; that I was not familiar enough with the law to know what to plead, but that I didn't really care what I pleaded just so long as I could get out of there as soon as possible. We determined that I should I plead guilty, so I did... (what a weird feeling!) and then proceeded to drive the typist, another "felon" and Mr. Blessings, my Malawian friend who came with me to make sure I didn't get the shaft, to another office down the road (real professional, hu, when they ask you for a ride!) where I waited in my car while they magistrate decided how much my fine would be. I got off with a k1,500 fine - $12!

So here's the kicker: my boss did some research into this while I was at court. He says that there are apparently all these random rules that you wouldn't even guess, like that you can't have an open can or bottle of ANYTHING in the car, even soda! and that the cops are being given bonuses if they bring people in to court, (gotta get those Christmas bonuses somehow!) so it is likely they're on the lookout for azungus (white people) messing up anyway. It seems like I've been the guinea pig for a lot of things around here lately. "Ooh, Lisa's stuff was stolen. Maybe we ought to put better locks on the doors." or "ooh Lisa was taken to court for something ridiculous, maybe we ought to look into what all the weird rules are." So, apparently my job is to be here and make life easier for all the other missionaries by taking all the hits! What's next, a killer case of malaria? I bet I'll miss Christmas from malaria, wouldn't that just top all!

Anyway... your friend is a convicted felon in a 3rd world country, how does that make you feel? ;) love it!

this week’s cop stop...

Friday, November 30, 2007

this week’s cop stop...

My roommate put is best: "Lisa, why do these things always happen to you?!?" Well, you know the routine - every week it's some new harrowing experience for yours truly. This week's episode: police stations and a court date!

Know what I learned today? It's illegal to talk on a cell phone when you're in the car. Never mind that everyone here does it anyway, never mind that no one actually knows that it's the law. Never mind that when I was on the phone, traffic was at a COMPLETE STANDSILL and I was answering a call from Mandy, who was worried that I had not found my destination yet... so she heard the cop pound on my window and yell at me to turn up into the police station. (this happened this afternoon, directly in front of the one police station in town, lucky me.) *sigh, here we go again* I thought... We negotiated for like an hour in his office... you've got to understand that cops here can pretty much do whatever they want, there is NO consistency in ANYTHING, and the especially like to mess with the ex-pats, the white people who supposedly have all the money... He wanted to impound the car (sweet then we would be 8 people sharing ONE car in the academy carpool!); he wanted to keep my licence, he wanted to show me that he was the boss, cool.

My night in shining armor ended up being Matt Moffett, close friend and cool-guy extroidinare. (I was on the phone with his daughter when she heard the cop pound on my window, so she knew something had happened and came looking for me.) Once he came, the cop wasn't at so much liberty to mess with me, thank goodness! Matt was able to vouch for me that yes, I would show up at court as promised, and in doing so, convinced the officer to let me leave with my car and my liscence. This is, of course, after we both wrote our statements... not on anything official, but handwritten on a plain piece of paper he had lying around. super official, hu?!? ha.

So now I will spend Monday in court, awaiting a judge to hear my case. I hear crazy things about the Malawian court system, it will be interesting to see it firsthand. There is no telling if they will see me first thing in the morning, or if I will be there all day. There is no telling if they will fine me or not, and how much they'll rip me off for if they do... Love it here! I have a feling I will really miss my kiddos on Monday... man the biggest bummer of this is that now I have to find a sub and write sub plans! agh! And I was gonna be so excited about making it all semester without missing a day...

If you feel like talking to The Big Guy about this, ask that they would see me quickly on Monday, and that the judge would be fair, instead of ripping me off...

*sigh* November it hasn't been my month! but it's OK... if it was easy all the time it wouldn't be Africa, right?!? and this sort of stuff is half the adventure... Here goes nothing!

thanksgiving shopping, malawi style. :(

Saturday, November 24, 2007

thanksgiving shopping, malawi style. :(

Hello blog buddies. I'm writing this on Friday night, but who knows when I'll get to post it – ever since the internet here Malawied all of you by sending my support letter approximately one million times, it's been out, *sigh* there's more to life than connection with the outside world, I guess!

So – Thursday – I think I blogged that morning as I was getting ready to go to school for international day. The big surprise when I got to school a few minutes after clicking "post blog" was this: my camera had been stolen! L-A-M-E!!! Turns out that somebody has been using the locked closet in my classroom as their personal shopping mall… My camera is usually at my house with me, but I had taken it to school on Wednesday to get some shots of my new bulletin board (dorky teacher, I know I know!) and I left it there, knowing I'd want photos from International day the next day. Well, seeing as how I discovered news approximately 2 minutes before all my kids came in, I spent a good part of the morning trying not to cry in front of them! I know it's just a camera, I know it's not the end of the world, but none the less, I felt violated; severely wronged. Arg! Anyway, that, plus the fact that it was Thanksgiving and I was not able to be with my family (as crazy as they are, yeah, I still miss being around them sometimes. go figure!) , made Thursday my second 'I Really Don't Like Malawi Today' day this year. (hey, 2 days in 3 ½ months, that's not too bad, right?)

Thankfully, today was better. I slept till 10:am, thanks in part to staying up late baking bread with the girls, and in part to my best friend, Tylenol PM. I spent the day cleaning up the kitchen then making a mess again. I baked some dinner rolls that ended up being a hit at potluck tonight! Ms. Spencer said "I'm just surprised that a single can bake like this!" as if, what, you only learn this stuff once you've got a ring on your finger?!? ha! Anyway, that, and the fact that we all dressed up (not necessary, but sort of fun, since nice things like this don't happen all too often around here) made our Thanksgiving Potluck pretty swell. There were a few pangs of I-miss-being-at-my-Aunt's- house-with-my-family, but I can't complain. I have it pretty good here, and I knew that being here would mean sacrificing special things like being home for the holidays. Ooh, by the way, my brother is getting married in January. Know where I'll be? Not on the white sands of Casa de Somethingrahter, Mexico, with the bride, groom, nephew, and the rest of the fam… I'll be here, waiting for the photos. Cool.

So ahh… yeah. Keep me in mind during this holiday season, por favor. I am OOBER thankful that this season will NOT be one of mass consumerism-mania, but I'd like to think that the crazy catholic polish church on Rose Drive in Fullerton will miss me on Christmas eve, because I'll miss it… God sets the lonely in families, and we're gearing up for a Dehnert & Moffet & Lisa lake trip for Christmas so it's not like I'll be all on my lonesome or anything.

Tomorrow we're venturing to the northern part of Malawi to check out a campground that I've been hearing good things about… 6th grade camp, possibly?!? Time will tell! Tionana, my friends!

Identity crisis? no way!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Identity crisis? no way!

heya! lock in for another random "how it's been" ride, if that's something that might hold your attention for a few.

In my last "life here is random" letter I failed to mention my door crisis. For the past 4 weeks, the door to my classroom has not been able lock, and for the past 2 weeks it hasn't even been able to close. Lovely. In a country full of thieves, where we have bars over all our windows, that was lovely. I got to play the patience game, and then William (henceforth referred to as My Hero) swooped in to save the day. Rumor has it he might install my white board one of these days too! What more can a girl ask for?!?

So my weekend. Friday was nice, I wasn't as exhausted as I usually am. I have been pondering whether or not I am doing a decent job in the classroom - being real critical of why I do things and how I do them, you know? Those six hours each day just FLY by, and I want to be making the best use of our time... (If anyone has discovered the secret of life in 6th grade, please fill me in!) Fun times at potluck... Jessica came over afterwords to watch a flick, but, being the old ladies, Charisa, Jessica and I all fell asleep by 10:30 and had to save the end of the flick till later.

Saturday... I decided that Saturdays are perfect if you are doing the opposite of whatever you did for the previous weekend. Last weekend I went to Dedza with the ladies, so this weekend I kicked it at the convent. I walked and podcasted, then set up camp on my khonde (porch) and read an entire kid's novel (an accomplishment for me, ok?!?) before noon. Good thing, because I need to start it with my kids MAWA (tomorrow!) In the afternoon, Annie and Megan came up to bake a pumpkin pie!! We baked the pumpkin and made the crust... No Costco and no can-openers for the pie, baby! Finally, I spent the evening watching a High School Musical marathon with Janelle and the Dehnerts for my sweet Janellie's 10th b-day. Love them!

My friend Alex (AKA The Band - apparently I like naming guys around here!) rocked CCBC this morning, and when I got home, A&M came back up for more kitchen time. We did our pie soufflé style (read: YUM) and had leftover pumpkin to make some pumpkin bread. After a picnic on my new bed (2 twins pushed together = a king = plenty of room for all of us to lounge and play!) we sang some Christmas carols and wrote special Life at ABC Lyrics for The 12 Days of Christmas - hilarious, I must say!!

No ultimate today, as bonding with the ladies took precedence, so I made it to chapel on time for once! Sean, who will pastor the Flood Malawi church, spoke about enduring discipline; good stuff! the ladies came back up to the top of the hill for some sufficiently cooled pie - DELISH! yeah man! and THAT'S why you can call me BETTEY now!! Betty, as in, Ms. Crocker! hehe! We watched a flick and I actually graded papers through it - I can never multi-task that way!

After John Nash got the Nobel Prize, the party was over, but I knew of another party... on the 5th try, Global phone connected me with all my extended family at their pre-turkey day bash. It was a regular old "Pass-the-Lisa" and I was thankful to talk to everyone!

So ahh... yes, random and pointless, but here's the thing... I like my life here. I'm thankful for my kids, even when they drive me crazy and I stay up late lesson planning and grading papers. and even when they call my cell phone to find out what page the math homework was on. Sheesh! ;) I like my friends here (though I MISS YA'LL!!!!!!!!) and I must say that rocking the convent is pretty fun. (The convent, by the way, is my house... My roommate is a single 30 year old and we live next door to a 40 year old single woman whose adopted daughter is in my profile pic - Caroline is the most precious 2 year old on the face of the planet!!!! Anyway, I probably committed myself to a lifetime of being a single missionary when I moved in here, but I'm discovering that's not such a bad thing after all... you can't spend 4 hours reading on the khonde and have the girls over to bake all day when you aren't rocking the convent, you know!)

And with that... another arduous week begins in about 4 hours. Why the heck must I stay awake so long on Sunday evenings, anyway?!? Good thing I have imported Dew! ;)

* a new newsletter in your e-mail; send me your e-mail address if I don't have it! You can laugh at what a dork I am along with the rest of everyone! and this one is in a new format so I don't think I can blog it.
*I was excited by a devo from staff meeting a while ago... I'm gonna write it out into a devotional article somethingrather and blog it. tight.
*when I figure out how to, I'll let you listen to my kiddos; I recorded them reading James and it's pretty sweet to listen to! especially because of their accents, hehe! ;)

OK - lesson planning time! Tionana Mawa, my friends!

long and boring... crazy tidbits of life here lately!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

long and boring... crazy tidbits of life here lately!

Life has just been a little on the wild side around here lately, so I thought I'd blog about it. Because, you know, thats cool...!

Last Thursday: (grocery shopping w/ Konnie and Caroline day) groceries, yay... excited to go home and cook for some neighbors I was having over! However... dun dun dun... on the way home, at a common Malawian cop stop, they found that the tags on the car I was driving (not mine - it's owned and "maintained" by the academy I work for) were expired... this is a bog time offense around here. So with my limited Chichewa and his broken English, the cop and I discussed for about an hour what should happen. Thank goodness I talked him out of hauling me away and impounding the car! Eventually we got the guy who is in charge of the cars down there to help. I ended up w/ some melted ice cream (first and last time i buy ice cream here!) and no dinner plans, as all my guests had found other means of feeding themselves since I was MIA. Cool advneture.

Wednesday night: Since we couldn't decide between going bowling or going to the drive-in (HA) we were entertaining ourselved by hand-making tortilla chips (or our malawian versians of them!) at mi casa into the wee hours...

(background info:) Theres this spider here called a ChopChop - it has 4 fang-like teeth sticking out of the front of it's face, and it's super vicious. A small one will be the size of your pinky, a large one will be nearly double that.)

Anyway, just as we get to the point of chopping some tomatoes for salsa, Ii see something scurry across the floor... ooh it's a bug right? I alert Andy and Heather, and promptly jump up on the counter! I ask Andy to get it, you know, since he's the dude. He chases it around the kitchen and traps it under a cup, then we get it into a jar after some fuss. Cool! We have a chop chop! My kids will love checking this guy out right now, as our classroom is a living terrarium since we're studying bugs in science class. I decide to go outside to look for a beetle to feed it, but instead of a beetle, I found another HUGE chop chop out there! Of course, I holler for Andy and Heather to come help me catch it. Unfortunately, Andy squished this one in the catching it process, but we got it, and then we put the two in the same cage (with some hillarious difficulty, all of which Heather caught on tape!) I tell you - the term CAGEFIGHTING has never been more appropriate! Both the chop-chops were wounded somehow; but the big one and the little one were each trying to bite into each other; rip the other's legs off, etc. it was rad!!! and this all happened in my kitchen!!

Today, Thursday (groceries day) Konnie and Caroline were no where to be found, sad day, so I set out into town on my own. Nothing like atheraputic day battling the streets of Lilongwe, hu? After picking up a b-day present for one of my students who invited me ot her b-day party tomorrow, the car wouldn't start. Hrmmm...

May I depart for a ninute to explain my car situation. 1- I miss Janie. 2- I'm thankful to be so well taken care of here, and to have access to wheels w/o the hassle of owning them. 3- there are three junky cars that any of the teachers who live on campus all share, there are about 9 of us in the carpool. Last night one of the teachers got into a car accident and I hear that she totalled the academy car she was in. She's recovering well; stitches; we're very thankful it was not worse! Details of the accident are still muddy, but anyway we're down to just two cars, fine.

But now this car was not starting! I called AAA... sike! haha! (ps - there are NO bowling alleys or movie theaters in all of Malawi, that part was a JOKE.) I called to be picked up by the girls who had the one remaining car, but I knew it would be a while. So, I became Malawian, and walked to the grocery store and to the outdoor market! yeah I'm cool. After I made it back to the car, I saw some ABC students hanging out waiting for their parents to finish shopping, so we kicked it. I helped AJ with his math, and then his dad helped me with my car! It was just a battery shortage or something dorky, but neither Bonita Vista nor HIU offered mechanics courses, so how would I have known?? Anyway, rad, I could drive off, and the whole ordeal only took about an hour. Amazingly, I was still able to cook the "Fiesta Casserole" as Nate dubbed it, and we had a FUN dinner! homemade tortilla chips w/ fresh homemade guac and salsa; the fiesta casserole and some festive homemade spanish rice... watch out Betty! ;) Ooh - homemade cookies for desert... May I please announce that the only recapie I used for ALL this was for the tortilla chip dough?!? Malawi does cool things to you like this. But don't tell my mom about my new numbchuck skills, because then she'll make me cook next time I'm there! (whenever that will be) agh!

and with that... i'm POOPED! I should be developing book reports and science projects for my kiddos to do; I should be grading their writing; I should be keeping up w/ my other weekly commitments... but for now, my feet are tired so I'm laying in bed, and I felt divinely inspired to blog a little bit about what life here is like! I'm sure this would make more sense if I were writing while I was actually coherent, but ahh, that's overrated! So ahh... keep an eye out for chip-chops, and know that you've got a friend in the M-Dub who loves ya and misses you! but she also knows that she is right where she needs to be, and she's in love with her 6th graders!