Monday and Tuesday we worked at the base in Chipoka.
Before we could start working on Monday we had to get some of the building materials. That meant we all got to pile in the back of the truck and take a drive to Salima, which is about 20 miles north of Chipoka. On the paved road this was a much less bumpy ride than our earlier truck rides. Salima is a bustling little town where you can buy just about anything along the side of the road. Some shops are actual buildings, others just sticks with a woven canopy, some just people standing there. Every shop is very specialized, so even for our shopping list (wood, nails, hinges, buckets) we had to go to 4 different places. Along the way in addition to many food sellers we saw a mop shop, a broom shop, shops for other household goods, doors, furniture (yes, upholstered furniture just sitting on the side of the road), and even a coffin shop (no, not coffee shop). It is so interesting to see what all you can see in Salima.
At the lumber shop we saw 2 ox carts being loaded, and we bought lots of bananas from women who sold them from bowls on their heads.
As a special treat Seth took us to a grocery store (the first real grocery store we had seen here) where we got to buy cold soda and various treats, as well as tea and coffee for souvenirs. It was a fun excursion!
Once back at the base we built 3 chicken coops that will be given to widows in need. The chicken coops are triangular in shape and are portable. The triangular prism is about 8 feet long, 5 feet wide and 3 feet high. It is mostly covered in chicken wire. One end has a 3’ roof made from corrugated metal to keep the chickens warm and dry. In the middle of one side is a door to access the chickens. It’s quite a nifty setup, and the kids had fun building them! Zoe, Olivia, Isaac and Jacob worked especially hard.
Another job was to clean the drill rig and the kitchen tent.
We also built a drip irrigation system in the Bible School garden that will serve 2 purposes:
1. Water the garden for the students.
2. Be used to train students and boot camp classes in how to install a drip irrigation system.
We had to build a wooden rack out of “reclaimed” 2x4s, big enough to hold 4 large buckets (about 10 gallons each) at a height of at least 3 feet. The wood was so hard that it sounded metallic when pounding nails into it. Levi was our master hole digger, and Jedikiah worked very hard on pounding those nails in. Then we cut holes in the bottoms of the buckets to screw in a plastic connector. Gabby was very talented on getting the holes just right so no water would drip out around the rubber gasket. 2 thin round hoses connect to a rubber plug with a built-in filter that goes in the bottom of the bucket. Those hoses in turn connect to what’s called drip tape – a flat thin hollow plastic strip with tiny holes every 4” or so. Kaylee and Sam made nice ridges in the very dry & hard dirt of the garden that our 8 drip tapes lay on. The water just slowly seeps out the holes, droplet by droplet to keep the ground moist all day long.
Then we taught one of the students who is in charge of the garden how to use and maintain the system, so he can in turn teach others.
While we were working some of the monkeys spotted our bananas on the windowsill. They gathered at the window to try and figure out how to get at them. Then they found the open door and stole the bananas right out of our common room! Much to the kids’ delight, too.
The base here in Chipoka is getting ready for their Boot Camp. So we’ve been able to reconnect with our BMW student friends, and watch them set up the Obstacle Course. Their first rally is on Saturday, so we get to join them for that.
They are expecting about 200 Malawian kids for 8 teams (work and evangelism teams).
Seth told us a little about the unique challenges that these kids face when coming on a team in their own country. For example often only 1 child in a family can come (the cost is about $15), but siblings often share a sleeping mat and blanket. So who gets to use the bedding, the child on the team or the siblings remaining at home?
On Monday night we joined the students and local team leaders for dinner. We had cima, mustard greens and goat. Cima is the main food staple here. It is made from maize flour and looks like mashed potatoes. People here use it to scoop up their other food and eat large portions of it. The flavor reminded me of polenta. The goat meat was very yummy, and Daniel and some other kids are hoping we’ll have another chance to eat it again.
On Wednesday we left on our great sightseeing adventure: A safari in Liwonde National Park!
We took the bus almost 3 hours south alongside the hills and mountains that separate Malawi from Mozambique to the West. Along the way we saw more of the usual roadside shopping: Mostly produce, sugar cane, charcoal and woven mats in the rural areas, and everything else (non-electronic) in the towns. Lots of bicycles are everywhere, and also many bicycle repair “shops” (usually just under a big tree).
When we arrived in Liwonde we went to one of the three lodges in the National Park, “Bushman’s Baobabs”, a lovely rustic place. We had dormitories in a half-round building, and the beds were very comfortable. And there were hot showers!! We arrived just in time for lunch, and then at 2pm we climbed into 3 open Jeeps for our safari.
Shortly after we went through the main gate of the park we saw the first animals: Waterbucks, which have white circles of fur around their behinds and have straight horns. Next were Impalas, who are so beautiful and graceful, especially when they’re running. Then we encountered Kudus, who are very big and majestic and have curly horns.
We also saw warthogs, ground hornbills (?), and various glorious birds. Baboons were in several places, and quite a few of them were carrying babies around under their bellies – so cute! At one point there was a python in the road. We found hippos in the water – we mostly saw their faces at the surface of the water, occasionally snorting water up.
But the most wonderful moment came shortly before sunset. We spotted a group of elephants in the far distance. Our drivers got us as close as possible, but they were still just dark blobs on the horizon. But as we were looking at them through Seth’s binoculars we noticed that they started walking towards us. And so they came closer and closer until they were really close to us! There were 5 adults and 4 calves. Two of the young ones were really babies. We were so excited to see baby ‘phants!! The big elephants were so majestic and the little ones so adorable! The ended up crossing the road right in front of us, it was such a very special treat! A beautiful sunset rounded off the display of God’s glorious creation.
Kids like Zoe, Garrison, Mary, Jacob and Isaac took beautiful photos – we will definitely want to set up some form of online photo share, so we can all see everybody’s pictures of this trip.
Tomorrow is our day to go shopping for souvenirs and to go to the beach. We’ll be heading to Senga Bay for that (not too far from Salima).
“We had an awesome safari! We even saw elephants! The elephants were very majestic, crying silent praises to God, and they bring him glory.” – Levi M.
“The trip is now coming to an end. I’ve learned a lot about my faith, my self and culture. I can’t wait to go home to my community, feeling refreshed in my faith.” – Mary S.
“Africa has shown me so much. The people here are so kind. Malawi is the warm heart of Africa.” – Garrison T.
“The Lord taught me to trust in him, for he knows my life and what will happen. For I can only use my free will, but he knows my life, and so I should try to live by him.” – Gregory S.