Some days just start out a little more exciting than others. Davie (our guard/gardener) knocked on our door one morning recently, beckoned to us when we answered, and said one word "snake"!
This was a double whammy because it was a snake and an (unfortunate) lizard. Curled up in the back corner of our yard was a black mamba coiled around a lizard and apparently just relaxing or having some fun or who knows? Mambas are venomous and not constrictors, but tell that to the poor lizard! This wasn't a large mamba but Davie took care of it for us and it won't be frequenting this yard any longer.
(Davie says that he only sees about one a year but we have been in this home for 7 1/2 months and this is the second one!)
I have written about some of our activities in the last week. There are so many more that don't merit their own blog, but are still part of our daily missionary life. Last Sunday I was asked in Relief Society to explain what the word "temporal" means because the lesson was on spiritual and temporal welfare and the translator was puzzled. "Of this world..physical things," I responded.
Our missionary assignment as a couple certainly involves the temporal and the spiritual welfare of the members and missionaries. For instance, I spent a few minutes in zone meeting this morning re-emphasizing the need to bathe daily, use deodorant, and launder their clothes after daily use so they will be welcomed into homes to teach spiritual lessons to others. Some have never had indoor plumbing until coming on their mission so these might be new patterns.
We attended a double wedding for couples in the Blantyre 2nd branch, in anticipation of their going to the temple. Once again I played a minor role in decorating the cultural hall,
but mostly I watched Nancy Masoo
and Sister Chikapa do their magic.
We had visited the Limbe market the day before to purchase some decorations that could be used and stored for future weddings.
Sister Chikapa makes beautiful necklaces out of beads that are made from magazine paper! With as many girls as we have in our family, I am always in the market for lovely Malawian accesories to take back home.
During the last week, George and I have taken on some temporal projects. First, we attempted to organize the cleaning closet in the Blantyre building which is shared by two branches.
Separate brooms from mops, find mop holders for wet mops,
organize cleaners, order trash cans!
When we were done, we made a sign of simple instructions and hope!
It's a simple job to organize the closet where the cleaners are stored for all three buildings.
Then it's on to a bigger project - the library! As far as we could tell, the library had not been used except as a storage room, for quite some time.
Some of the unopened boxes had unused manuals from prior years. There were outdated instruction manuals from the 90's. We could see potential not just for organizing, but for getting many of these materials into the homes of the members, ie the Teachings of the Presidents for the last few years.
First, get everything out of the boxes to see what we have.
I think the cockroaches, the size of small mice(!) were as surprised fo see us as we were to see them. No photos - they run too fast! Termites (or white ants as they call them) had infested some new boxes of Self-Reliance materials. There must be something tasty in the covers because that is what they had devoured.
Sort into boxes of (1)throwaways, (2)save but organize, and (3) eventually give to members.
Finally we had a little more room to work with. Still, there were several items in the "What do we do with this?" category.
someone had moved some sound system equipment in there in preparation for the wedding on Saturday and there was no room to move. This project is still on hold.
Sometimes I try to combine the temporal and spiritual. George caught me at this moment.
I don't recommend this as a way to study the scriptures.
The cooking suffers and I can say my concentration was certainly not the best!
One morning we had to drive over to the Ndirande building to deliver some items. I don't think we have ever posted pictures of that building.
It is another small converted house but at least the entire branch can meet in one room for their sacrament meeting (unlike Zingwangwa where they have to have two sacrament meetings).
Enough about cleaning and our temporal responsibilities...
Here are some signs that we see as we drive each day. This one tugs at my heart.
And what are some of the more spiritual experiences we have during the week?
We have been going with Sisters Salamone and Thueson to visit with Frasier, a long-time investigator.
We sit outside of his home where he always sets up chairs for us in a circle.
Frasier, a widower, is a very sweet man and always has questions for us.
He has retired from working at the Water Board. He rides his bicycle to church and has become good friends with Brother Gunde, another Water Board retiree. The two sat together during General Conference week-end and Frasier watched and listened intently to four hours of conference for two days in a row!
Frasier's grandson Hajj, who, along with his mother, has recently come to live with Frasier.
One evening the four sisters came over and we had dinner together.
Dinner was followed by watching the women's general conference meeting, something that we had looked forward to from the time we got together six months ago for the last one.
Sister Frimpong is Ghanaian but grew up in London (and speaks beautiful King's English). Sister Dlamini is from South Africa.
Sister Salamone is from Fiji and Sister Thueson is from Salt Lake City.
For dessert, we had mango smoothies.
Within one week, we participated in both the wedding, which was joyous, and a funeral, which was somber, the two most common and important events for Malawians. The funeral was painful for us, because we had been involved with 12-year-old Angellah for several months and cared very much for her and her family. Her mother, Enita, is my visiting teaching companion and it had been a difficult time during Angellah's illness. But I know Enita was buoyed up by the love she felt from all the church members, many more than just the Zingwangwa branch, who spent the two days singing hymns and honoring Angellah.
I love being a missionary. I ESPECIALLY love being a missionary here in Blantyre. The time goes by quickly when you love what you do. (The only time it drags is when we have no water or no electricity!) I treasure these experiences with the young missionaries and their joyful spirits. And I treasure more than anything getting to know and work with and love the wonderful members in Malawi. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most precious thing I can share and to have eighteen months to concentrate on building up the kingdom is a privilege for which I feel a humble gratitude to my Father in Heaven.