Monday, December 8, 2014

Building Friendships, Part 1 - Carole's Post

We have now been living in Blantyre over a month and we are settling into the rhythms of our daily life in Malawi.  We have to shop often but that is only because our refrigerator is so small.  George didn't like shopping before and he is certainly no more fond of it now!  We go to meetings mid-week with the missionaries and we do our laundry (when there is water) over at the Reynolds, another missionary couple.  We have been forced more than once to do hand washing and string our laundry around the apartment to dry.  We have managed to find a nice place to treat ourselves for lunch (it is filled with expats) and we just found a place to stop and have an occasional ice cream.

But mostly, our days are filled with going to visit members of the Zingwangwa Branch in order to know them better.  We are getting better at setting up appointments on Sunday for midweek but sometimes we just head out and visit the home of someone we know and then ask them to walk us to another member's house so we know where it is.  Upon arrival,  we chat with that person and ask them when we could come back.  George and I study every landmark (such as this big rock)

and then hope we can find our way back ourselves.  If we can't, it is always easy to find someone who will direct us.

We have met some marvelous people and meeting them in their homes means that we can put entire families together.  One of our intentions is to take pictures of each family or individual in the branch and make a "Our Zingwangwa Branch Family" board to go in the entry hall (in this case, it's the kitchen!) of the meetinghouse.  It will help us remember the names of everyone we meet and it will give them a sense of unity.  It also means that we can make a copy of each photo and give it to them because not everyone has a picture of their family that they can treasure.  Then we can go back to their house and give it to them, reinforcing in our minds where they live.

Taking photos is a real treat and we have become famous in some of the neighborhoods.  The children follow us around calling out "photo" and George obliges by taking their picture and then immediately showing them on the camera.  They love it.  Of course, they also chant "azungu" which means "white people" and we smile and wave, knowing that it is not a derogatory term or insult,  just
an exciting announcement!

There are three little girls but one is shy.

One of the first visits we made was to Brother and Sister Banda's home.  Sister Banda is the Relief Society President and Brother Banda is the Elders' Quorum President and they were both more than willing to take us to the homes of other members.  Though we knew their charming daughter Cornice, we didn't know their two boys so we were so happy to visit the entire family in their home, get to know them better and to make this our "maiden voyage" in visiting the members.
The boys are Comfort and Conscious.

Brother Banda is an artist

 and very musical.  When he is the chorister at church, the church swells with singing.

Brother Banda took us on to meet Brother Phiri and his family (with Sister Phiri, sons Benson and Brian).  Brother Phiri makes and sells coat hangers.  They were exactly what George had been looking for and are much studier than the plastic ones in the stores.
We returned to visit with the entire family a few days later and Brother Phiri has been invaluable in taking us to other members' homes.

A few days later when we passed the house,  we saw Brian out front looking at this LDS children's scriptures book with his friends.

We came back a few times to catch the entire family home at the Tellas.

At the first appointment,  Brother Tella was gone because he had gone to do "piece work", a term we have hear over and over.  Full time jobs are few and far between so temporary jobs or "piece work" are highly desirable.  Sister Tella is 20 and only speaks Chichewa so we did alot of pantomime until Annie, a daughter, came home from school and could explain.  The other two children are Desire (2)and baby Amulek.  When we returned on another day,  Brother Tella showed George the bricks he had made and the room he was planning to add on to the house.

High up on Soche, Brother Phiri led us to the home of Brother Sangala, who is a tailor.  Brother Banda took us the first time and even though we have been there twice, we are not sure we can find it again.  We always need someone to translate for us, but it is not hard to feel what a sweet spirit Brother Sangala has!
And he makes wonderful scripture covers.

We stopped to make the acquaintance of Brother Bester Petro.  It was Friday afternoon and he was getting home early from teaching at his own school, the Hillside Private School.  We met him at his home the following Friday.  He obviously loves teaching and we waved to him one day as we passed the school.

Another day, the sister missionaries were kind enough to show us the home of the Mwales.  President Mwale is the first counselor in the district presidency and one of the first people to greet us our first Sunday.  Sister Mwale made us feel the warmth in their home and it was filled with grandchildren, which they are raising!

They all sat so attentively while we shared some scripture thoughts that it was hard to believe they were children!

One afternoon, I attempted to find a house that I had previously visited with the Relief Society when Sister Mhango was recently released from hospital and was recovering from malaria.  It took walking down several paved streets before I recognized the house.  The Mhangos recently moved here from South Africa.  Daughter Beverly loves Young Women.

The other children are Romeo and Brittany.  Brother Mhango is an accountant.

Isn't this a great photo of the Mkandawire family in front of the church?  Elliot, who is named after his father, was baptizedby his father on this day.  His sisters are Violet and Esther.

This photo of Sister Mkandawire with Esther was taken earlier in front of her home.

We took this photo of Brother and Sister Masumbuka also at the church.  We visited with Sister Masumbuka at her home but since we don't speak Chechewa, there was not much communication.  

Her husband is a security guard and is a younger brother to Brother Malunga.

We visited with Sister Malunga, the Primary president, and her two daughters.  Her son is away at boarding school but will soon be home for the holidays.
Sister Malunga and her sister-in-law, Sister Masumbuka are best friends and are in business together selling toilet cleaner and dish soap.

One afternoon we arranged to pick up Sister Stella Themba in our car at the Zingwangwa market. We wanted to visit Stella along with her daughter Brenda, but Brenda lives with her grandmother high up in Soche. This time we were able to drive there.

Brenda was just called to be the second counselor in the Young Women's presidency and was very excited.  Stella is the first counselor in Relief Society and is a wonderful support to the president.
Stella's mother joined us for a little while and was very gracious.

We feel it is a real privilege to visit with people who welcome us so warmly into their homes.
"You are very much welcome in my house" is a very common saying in Malawi but unlike popular phrases in many languages, it appears that they really mean it!   We always promise to come back, and we will, with a photo in hand.