I got my new kids today!!!! They arrived in malawi about 2 months ago and I had the opportunity to go down to dedza to help out with their training for a week. It was priceless to gain that point of reference by which to see how far I’ve come in my understanding in being here for a year. I'm excited to see that the 2 new puppies (the new kids) i got to take home are two awesome boys! One from Connecticut who will be replacing my sitemate audra and the other from Georgia who will be at a new site near the Nhotakhota game reserve. We are going to have good times!!! I am so excited in fact that they arrived today that I am typing this at 3:00am because I can’t sleep. And in conjunction with life’s cyclical nature in receiving two new good friends I have also lost two good friends. Audra and then a good friend i have made and always stay with while in Lilongwe. Her name is Kamla and she grew up in Manhattan right next to freakin’ central park. I went and saw her off at the airport. They were incredibly generous and genuine. (The people who are moved into the house after Kamala left are also awesome; a Norwegian, an Irish and a Canadian.) I hope I never cease meeting people who inspire me to awe and wonder.
My Easter weekend though it wasn’t filled with chicken dumpling soup or peeps being blown up in the microwave was filled with YOGA!!!! I have an education sector friend who hosted a yoga party. Six of us headed to her place and aside from eating cinnamon rolls and chicken fajitas, we would lead each other in yoga sessions. I just finished a two day training of the “Hope Kit” which is an interactive, visually aided resource given to us by the peace corps to facilitate teaching people about HIV/AIDS. This group was a newly formed and motivated Community Based Organization (CBO) out of Ntumtama. I was no doubt wringing my hands at the edge of my comfort zone for those first few minutes, but looking back I had nothing to worry about as they loved it. We had a ton of fun and I finished out by giving them the kit to use with other villages and having feeling I had actually accomplished something. I’m sitting high this week.
Next it’s back to msulira to teach soap making and get the women of Zombe to commit to an oil press. Then in the end of April going to visit some of the places my coworkers live, then to mid service training (i can't believe a year has passed already!!), Finally, my mom and Wesley come for 3 weeks in MAY!!!!! I’m also excited that afterwards my brother (who I haven’t seen in 3 years because he went on a mission for two and then I was here) is going to see my dad and sisters and after that my dad’s family in South Carolina. Mind you last time they saw him he couldn’t even walk yet, so some 20 years! My mind can't think past May. I’ve only printed calendars off to the end. My life has not been thought about much past may.
As far as before may....the rainy season has come and gone. My garden is and mostly was weeds and grass. Any seeds that were too small were washed away though I tried reseeding many times and alot of stuff drowned, but the string beans, radishes and zucchini did great which is funny because those are the crops that people always plant but no one likes to eat. Everything else failed though I have yet to try to dig up the sweet potatoes or cassava so there my yet be hope. The raised beds I built by my house are doing good. I've got booming ginger, lemon grass, oregano, birds’ eye hot peppers and an assortment of flowers.
Work as always is happening little by little and because of that I’ve shifted my focus. I've stopped taking myself so seriously in matters of ‘work’ for three primary reasons. First I’m doing development work and not environmental conservation. Though I understand the importance and connection between the two I still find myself incline to participate in the later half, which is reaffirming as i continue down my path of discovering my future course. Secondly, as a extension worker stationed in the field, I find myself, instead of implementing projects spending most of my time writing grants to get money to do projects, which (insert sarcasm here) I’m finding difficult as I’m 5 hrs from the office. Lastly, many of the people with whom I work despite their being the most warm, generous and kind people I’ve ever met, I pray forbid you ever have to work with them. First it’s like putting a rocket scientist in a trailer park. I’m have trouble trusting them to be fair with each other (will the person housing the oil press/nut sheller actually allow the other people in the group to access it?) to honest with money (skills of balancing a cashbook, tallying receipts or budgeting have never been taught and some always gets skimmed off the top), or being responsible for tasks (6 reminders and 3 weeks later something might be done). So what the hell am i supposed to do? I'll tell you what I'm doing!
I'm cherishing the relationships I'm making (which have become very dear to me) instead of stressing. My little neighbor boy is my buddy. He give me hugs. He runs up saying “auntie huggy” and comes to check on me every day. I have another other neighbor whose daughters always humor me with a dance parties whenever I want them and they always send me home with delicious food. Then are there is the chief’s youngest daughter and grand daughter who are like sisters to me, Moreen who is so proud of her little boy and can ask any question of and the group village head man who damn near shakes my arm off my shoulder every time i see him. Chisomo’s twins are now sitting on their own, are a lot more gutturally verbal, interactive and are beginning to do the worm. Tandy who just had a little baby and let me name him bring my total to 4. I’ve given up on R’s and L’s so this one is christened Jacob. I held him when she wouldn’t let anyone else; the list goes on. The things I'm learning and the time I’m having away from the noise of the usual is such that when i go back it will be impossible for me to return home and go back to doing what it is have always done, which was the point in the first place.
Know that at this moment of focusing on nothing but thoughts of you, who I left at home, that my deepest most sincere heartfelt wish is that you are happy and healthy. I no longer have tabs on your coming and going other than through the technological miracle of facebook. My minds eye has kept you all to be exactly as you were when I last I saw you; this casting being as true for you as it is for me. In any case know that i send you nothing but thoughts of strength and peace in the endeavors you are sharing and engaging yourself in these days.