We had lots to figure out today and were wondering how the day would go. We wanted to visit a number of our scholarshipped students. Before that we had to move out of the Titanic and hopefully be able to check into the new Ufulu (meaning "freedom") Gardens Lodge about a mile away. Moving is hard. Diverson Chonde came by at 8:00 am and we're off! I have known Diverson since my first visit in Malawi in 2000 when we had the groundbreaking for our first LifeNets clinic in Lilongwe. On that trip I baptized him in Lake Malawi. He then moved with his family to the United Kingdom to study. He received a degree in information technology and has several Microsoft certifications. Now, he has had to return to Malawi. The United Kingdom as part of the EU has had to favor EU immigrants for labor. That made it impossible for him as a Malawian to stay and so he's returned back to Lilongwe. His wife Priscilla is finishing her degree and has remained in the UK until she's done.
After dinner last night we had quite a bit of food leftover and Diverson gladly took it back home. He has a few orphans who live with him. There are always extra kids around that people take in...they are EXPECTED to take in. It is an integral part of life here in Malawi with many many AIDS orphans.
We were able to immediately check into the Ufulu Gardens just minutes away from the Titanic Lodge. We rented an apartment so that the Lockwood's could stay there, too. They are family from Denver Tree, Colorado who are coming here for the Feast in Malawi. They are Scott and Collette Lockwood and their two children Michala and Kirsten, ages 12 and nine.
This place is great. Water pressure is like home. But, there are no mirrors.
Our units on our cell phone get used up fast. People talk differently on cell phones here. Quick introductions get right to the point and get off. We buy a 1000 air time units at a time for $14. We wondered how much a unit was. Well, we found out that word "unit" is a euphemism for SECOND. And, that's if you call a number on the same network you're on. So, for $14 you buy 1000 seconds. IF you call a number on another network you pay double or more. Many people have two cell phones, one for each network. Or, they change SIM cards. One of the phone companies TNM, sells mobile phones for about $15, but it will not allow you to change SIM cards. Most of the advertising in the country is by the two big networks, TNM and ZAIN. It seems everyone has a cell phone and has the system figured out. We have yet to go to a home that has a regular landline.
The telephone networks are overloaded as more and more subscribers are added to struggling capacity.
From the Ufulu Lodge we head out towards Wordsworth's. He lives on a dirt road right off the tar. It's quite dusty and the dust is all over the bushes around.
Wordsworth's wife Rosalind is at work. She's an elementary school teacher. Wordsworth is a school teacher, too, but now studying Information Technology on one of our scholarships.
I tried the Internet again. More frustration. I was able to update my Travel Blog with yesterday's entry and write some brief replies to a few Yahoo emails. I have been more cut off on communications on this trip than most, but maybe that's OK. The only way now to reach me reliably is by Text at 317 679-7676.
We got Skype set up for Wordsworth and made a few SkypeOut calls. We found that there is a competitor to Skype called vyke.com. We'll need to check that out.
Our day is geared towards picking up the Lockwood family at 13:55 on their flights from Singapore and Johannesburg.
Next we go to visit with an attorney to get LifeNets registered. We have wanted to register LifeNets as an NGO here for the past five years, but it has never materialized. Now, it will. We're forming a local board of directors. We have more going on in Malawi than anywhere else, yet do not have an affiliate here.
From the lawyer to Wordsworth's school which is just across the road. We meet with his mentors, teachers and the principle of the school. Also, we meet another LifeNets scholarship recipient Isaac M. who attends the same school.
From there we go to another college where we have a young lady studying tourism and hospitality. We actually have three young ladies studying in this field. One is actually doing practicals at the Nkpola Lodge where we will be staying for the Feast of Tabernacles. All in all we have 28 young people receiving scholarships through the LifeNets Developing Nations Scholarship Fund.
Our challenge now is to connect with vehicles. Dr. Chilopora who will be going to South Africa for the Feast is letting us use the Chizeni Clinic ambulance for our transportation to Mangochi on Lake Malawi where we will keep the Feast. The ambulance was originally going to be stored at his daughter Margaret's home. Through a series of phone calls Margaret comes to meet us at the college. We travel together to the part Lilongwe where we couldn't possibly have found. There are so few street signs and all the streets look alike. From there we pick up the ambulance and have transportation! I've enjoyed driving the ambulance, but have to learn some of the subtleties of operation. When I drove it from Ntcheu a few days ago I turned on the lights as it was starting to get darker. What I DID turn on was the flashing red light on top of the ambulance. I figured that out when it seemed that the headlight didn't do very much. I even accidently turned the siren on once, too. Driving an ambulance gives you highway privileges. There are often roadblocks as police check for insurance registration and driver's licenses. When they see an ambulance they salute you and let you pass. I have learned to salute in an official manner.
Now, it's time to pick up the Lockwood family arriving from Johannesburg. There is no monitor telling you EXACTLY when it arrives. We asked several times about it's arrival and were assured that it would be "right away" or "soon." It turned out to be an hour late. The airport of this capital city of one million people is not particularly busy. An Ethiopian Air 767 was on the ground and left. A small Malawi Air arrived and left. Then the South African plane with the Lockwood's arrived along with an Air Zimbabwe from Harare.
This our first time to meet the Lockwood's. I walked up to him and asked "Lockwood, I presume?" in the tradition of Livingston.
We drove back to our Ufulu Lodge with Diverson Chonde and our ambulance. When we arrived Diverson told Bev that there was a place where there was a much better place for money exchange than the rate at the airport or exchange bureau. Bev and Scott Lockwood went to this "better" place with Diverson. They were in a busy part of town. A man with a bag of money crawled into the car and the transaction was completed as vendors were banging on the windows offer to sell things. Bev was glad when that ended. At the same time I drove Wordsworth Rashid back to his home. His wife came home from work and we all talked a bit more. It was starting to get dark and I thought I'd better get back. Sunset is early - 5:30 PM. Not surprisingly I missed one of my turns and getting anxious as darkness settles in rapidly, there are no lights and the highway is full of people on the shoulder walking to and fro. Thankfully, I found the right road and came back to the Ufulu Gardens.
Dinner is brought into our apartment. We had a very wonderful evening talking with the Lockwood's. They are exhausted from their long 11 hour flight from Sinigapore to Johannesburg, five hour layover and 2 hour flight up to Lilongwe.
Scott Lockwood is notified by the Lilongwe brethren that he will give the sermonette tomorrow.
Another exciting day.
The arrival of the Lockwoods to Malawi
Friday, October 10, 2008