Carol and Jim Nussbaumer, along with DJ and Rod Christian are in Malawi. Here are the updates from Carol. The most recent is at the top.
Greetings to All
Greetings to All,
Hard to believe, but we are within 2 weeks of “last day at Embangweni”. Much left to do – people to see, messages to deliver, classes to teach – will start on Tuesday after classes with some handbell practice. The blind leading the blind, I’m afraid.
The MMM training last weekend was good but draining. All the “old” volunteers got off to safari or their flights; the “new” arrived safely and those staying on were ready for a short break. Old friendships renewed and some new ones begun. I am always touched by several who want to know how the school for deaf is doing, including the MMM accountant, a man who grew up near Embangweni. Moses Langa is a treasure making sure we all get our dollars turned into kwacha or have enough to exchange for Zambian kwacha or Tanzanian shillings for those traveling out further. He is trying to learn a bit of sign language and we have a lot of laughs together.
Jim and I came back to Embangweni on Tuesday evening. He left this morning for Mzimba which is about a 45-minute drive northeast. He’ll stay there and install shallow wells in Chikangawa Forest until Saturday, when he’ll return to Embangweni. After church on Sunday we will move from this guest house to the place I stayed originally. Two more MMM volunteers will be arriving Sunday afternoon and work this area so there will be company. And Dr. Zgambo says a watchman has been hired, which is good news.
On Wednesday Jim had a very great and unexpected honor. Our long-time friend Steven Zulanga came by and announced the recent birth of his second grandson (on Sunday). He has decided to name the baby “Jim” in honor of our long friendship and support to get his first-born through university and become a teacher. We went over to the hospital to see the baby and greet the mother. We took pictures and after some wheedling got one of Mama, baby, maternal grandmother and Steven. Because this was his daughter-in-law, the culture here says he should not be very close to her. But he agreed – with Mama in the middle to provide some space – because this was such a special occasion. Jim printed a few of the pictures and took them to the family. Mama and Jim will be discharged soon despite her having a c-section. I do not envy her the trip home! The village is about 9 km from here – no road but only a path that goes “up,up,up and down,down,down” and she will have to walk or ride on the back of a bike.
It is unusually cool here and people are saying they think the rains will begin early. Usually October is hot hot hot and humid with absolutely clear sky. This year the clouds build every day by noon and last night I put my fleece jacket over me for warmth. 74 degrees when we got up at 5:30. We’d love the rains to start for the farmers (i.e. almost everybody) but it would make things difficult for the shallow wells teams. Speaking of which: Team 1 installed 1,203 wells so Team 2 has only about 1,700 to do. Of course, Team 2 does clean up so the wells aren’t nicely clustered like they are for Team 1.
Four-day weekend coming up for me. Tomorrow (Friday) is a station holiday to honor the birthday of Robert Laws, who was a missionary in the early 1900s and established Embangweni (Loudon). We still worship in the church he had built in 1907. Monday is the national holiday of Mother’s Day. “Holiday” is a bit overstated for school. Tomorrow I will meet Class 9 at 8 am to discuss American foods; Saturday at 8 classes 5-9 plus Vocational Education will gather at the gardens to plant the first seeds. Teacher Mr. Mahemane says “only a half-hour. Or an hour. Or maybe 2 hours” I will plan on the morning. Monday I again meet Class 9 at 8 am to discuss American transportation and communication. And, knowing Mr. Mahemane, may as well plan on most of the morning. Students in Classes 5-9 are still expected to attend study circle after dinner every night for 2 hours, which they do eagerly. Class 4 has begged to be allowed to join but told “next year”.
So it has been just another day in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is very normal – nothing exotic. Power is on a sort of 5-hour on/off cycle but some days always on. Water on most of the time, thank goodness! One wishes for some variety in the diet, but we made a stop in Lilongwe and I have some things tucked away now for those times of frustration (Cup-O-Soup, makings for Shepherd’s Pie, lots of Soya, a case of Sobo Ginger that puts Canada Dry Ginger Ale to shame, a pack of hard candy that I will ration, even some sliced cheese which I used to teach the cook here to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tucked into tonight’s omelet).
Enough of this rambling! Dawn comes early here. Save some of the reported snow for us!
Carol and Jim Nussbaumer
The Continuing Story
Sunday evening is a good time to sit and write, especially now that the power has been restored. So we sit side-by-side at the one small desk sharing an extension plug — Western music on Jim’s computer, the gray herons fussing outdoors and glad for a day of rest. We have moved from the hospital guest house to Donald Fraser Guest House where we have stayed many times and last year swore never again. But it has improved a bit and at least there is running cold water. No hot so we’ll have to ask for a bucket.
This morning the four of us went to church and were at least not as late as last week. Today was communion and I am glad Rod and DJ got to experience it. As we arrived, the elders and pastor were just beginning to bring in the elements, walking up the center aisle singing the communion hymn. They move only on the chorus then stop as the pastor sings the verse. Takes a while. It is a “closed table” so after the main service all those
who are not communicant members leave and everyone else moves up to fill the pews. Service lasted just about 2 hours then a short break and they will do it again in the Tumbuka service.
After moving, we all just took it easy the rest of the day. DJ and Rod are pretty tired and needed the day of nothing to do before hitting the road again tomorrow. Their wells field officer says there are 35 wells left to do in this region; they should get close to done and so I likely will not have much company next week.
Jim will drive me to school tomorrow (I am much better but best not to push things); on Tuesday he probably will go to Mzuzu and be back to pick me up on Saturday when Team 1 meets in Lilongwe before flying home on Sunday.
The pictures: some of the school kids with their new toothpaste;
the hospital guest house with Jim’s truck; our neighbors in the trees.
Have a good week ahead, Carol
Carol and Jim Nussbaumer
I have been trying to send a picture with this, but no luck so word pictures will have to do. We are o.k. here — more or less. I picked up a “bug” and spent Tuesday night – all night – worshipping at the porcelain throne. With the help of Cipro and Imodium things have settled down and I am just sleeping a lot. Will try to get to school this afternoon for one class and then a teacher workshop. Having lost an entire day and a half, I am really running behind.
One of the pictures I wanted to send was of the kids receiving gifts of sample-size toothpaste, compliments of our dentist in Loveland. I don’t think American kids scream and run around the room when a donor comes in with toothpaste, but our little ones did! The headteacher and I went to each classroom to give the samples; Mr. Mondwe makes sure each child receives theirs in the proper Malawian way – both hands cupped and extended. No grabbing, thank you! This man is in his element when working with the kids and I so enjoy watching him. A bit of speech training as he has them say “Thank you, Mama Kalo”; always a bit of gentle teasing. I will see if I can get pictures to send so you can enjoy as well.
Our neighbors, Dr. & Dr. Zgambo brought home a puppy on Tuesday. I had stepped over to give Rita something and saw the most adorable puppy! She was concerned because it wasn’t eating (it looks barely old enough to be weaned) and when I asked what she had given it, the reply was “sima and porridge”. I suggested a bit of warm milk and some tiny bits of meat! Haven’t been over to check on it yet.
Jim is fine and about out of work here in Embangweni. He has been working at the pump workshop helping clean out the piles of filings left when the blue pipe is threaded and repairing one of the 2 drill presses. The second needs it but we have no parts. He will go down to school with me this afternoon and hopefully be able to download new books onto the 50 Kindles. He’d better, because the Head Boy over at Secondary (Blessings, by name) is very anxious for new books. I think he will be “over the moon” when I hand him his very own paperback to keep.
This guest house has been pretty good, especially after the hot water system began to work. It is fired by a wood fire out back and once it is burning well they can bank it and it lasts quite a long time. Of course, this is all hard wood, not Colorado pine! It is total luxury to have a hot shower whenever one wants! Turn off your water heater for a few days and you will understand.
Saturday afternoon we all will move down to the Donald Frasier Guest House which has previously been my home. We have rumors that things have improved, and they now at least have water most of the time.
For the PCCR folks: DJ and Rod are doing fine. They have been on their own for wells all this week after Jim turned them loose on Monday. There has been a bit of rough driving, but I don’t think anything too horrible. They come in tired but happy and seem to be enjoying time in the villages. Yesterday was a bit hard since they had to refuse to install one well. The water from it was no better and maybe worse than the original water source and the field officer said the village would have to dig another well in a different location. The people have worked so hard and waited so long for this well that it breaks your heart to walk away. DJ said this morning that she is trying to find a way to truly convey this experience to you all at home but doesn’t think she can, and I agree.
We all were properly greeted at worship Sunday morning. In Malawi, that means first-time visitors (in our case, first time this year) come to the front, introduce themselves and what they are doing here, receive the hand of friendship for the pastor and the congregational greeting “In the name of the Father (clap), the Son (clap) and the Holy Ghost (clap)”. After introducing all the school groups present, this being the first Sunday for most of them, (Deaf School, Loudon Primary, Teacher Training College) and we all sat down, Pastor rather casually announced that Carol would offer the prayer for the students’ coming school year. I think DJ was taken aback, but in Malawi one is expected to offer prayer at any time in any situation. Even if it is 3000 people listening!
That’s all for now. I hope each of you is healthy and happy and we are glad you are with us in spirit.
Carol and Jim Nussbaumer
All the Latest
I know it’s not been long since the last, but there is power and I am still awake so I may as well write. The Internet is down so who knows when I will get this sent. Mostly this is to ponder on something that has been running through my brain all day.
Some of you are familiar with the acronym “TIM” standing for, in mission worker’s slang, “This Is Malawi”. Usually we use it among ourselves when things are going wrong – again –; the meeting scheduled for 10:00 has not yet started at 11; food is cold and boring; promised bath water has not yet come or is cold when it does – we’ve got a million of ‘em!
But today I began to see that “TIM” is also for some really nice, often touching and to our Malawian friends’ routine, things … 2900 school kids at the local elementary school at outside morning assembly singing at the top of their lungs as I walked past. People pausing on their walk until I cross the path, just to greet (and correct my Chitumbuka); school girls who accompany me home chattering a mile a minute; the head teachers of both schools for deaf escorting me part way home at noon and in the evening; all 5 of the teachers at the secondary school for deaf walking with me as far as the hospital where they were going to greet a fellow teacher who is ill; laughter pouring from Mr. Chirambo’s class (as it almost always is); jacaranda trees and bougainvillea bushes (pink, orange, red) all in bloom.
Yes, TIM!! Thank you, Lord! Stay well and grateful for the small things!
Carol and Jim Nussbaumer
Here is a first note to say we are both arrived in Malawi and doing fine. My flights went o.k. Take-off delay in Denver meant I didn’t get to DC until midnight and to the hotel almost 1 a. m. Still managed a pretty good sleep. D.C, to Addis Ababa is just plain long! And, as usual, I got the seat where the headphones did not plug in. Addis is putting in a new terminal (this won’t mean anything unless you’ve gone through the old one) and it was a pleasant surprise to be directed directly there (no extra security!) and the waiting area was pretty clean, and the bathrooms were fine. At Lilongwe I managed to be close to the front of the line for Visa stamps and since we had filled out the paperwork at home it all went smoothly enough. I had almost despaired of my boxes before they finally came down the conveyer. Customs asked the usual questions but didn’t open anything and the magic words of “Embangweni School for the Deaf” got me waived through. I was met by Hayden Boyd, a friend from MMM, and he drove me up here. Jim showed up at dinner time to check in and spend the night. He is working at Mponela which is about an hour’s drive, so he left very early this morning.
For the PCCR gang: DJ and Rod are fine and are spending the first week at least working with Jim. He reports that Rod drove on the tarmac going to the area they are working, and DJ took over on the dirt. She is having a bit of difficulty learning to dodge stumps but is handling everything well. All 3 of them will come up to Embangweni on Saturday evening and spend Sunday here. It is possible that they will continue to stay here and work the Embangweni area for a week more.
School is doing well although not all the learners have yet reported in. They accepted 34 new learners ranging in age from 6 to 20. One of the 20-yr-olds had never been to school at all and has been placed with the Vocational Tech Class to learn woodworking and tailoring, which may at least give her a trade and will give her Malawian sign language as she learns. Five of the 14 teachers are brand-new to teaching the deaf even though they have years of hearing class teaching. They are struggling a bit but getting along and learning sign as they go. The 15th teacher is a young woman from Japan who is here on a 2-year assignment as a speech therapist. Sort of a Peace Corps thing. She is learning Tumbuka and sign; her English is just passable, but she is a sweetheart! We have offices on opposite sides of the school complex and will try not to duplicate each other’s efforts.
Dinner has appeared, so I will close and eat my beans and rice while they are hot.
Stay well, everyone!
Carol and Jim Nussbaumer