Sunday, July 3, 2011

What's Been Going On

So much has happened since we arrived in Malawi ten days ago. After about 39 hours of traveling we (along with the Kyser family) arrived on the 23rd around noon (which was early) and the people who were there to pick us up were no where to be found. Not really, but we couldn’t find them at the airport. They were in the departure area because they were dropping off other teachers who were leaving for the summer. We did see the ABC bus, so we knew someone was there. After we loaded the bus with ALL our luggage (19 checked and 9 carry-on pieces) Sam decided to go back in the airport to see if he could see someone. As soon as he walked in, he saw Becca and Kellen Hiroto walking toward the arrival area of the airport. They couldn’t believe they didn’t know we were already there. We drove about 30 minutes and arrived on campus around 2 pm.

It felt so comfortable when we drove on campus. It was even emotional for me (LeAnne). As soon as we got on campus, Amber Elizabeth saw two of her friends and immediately got off the bus. We got to the other end of campus and it was so nice to see our house and all our neighbors outside waiting for us. The Biedebachs had made a welcome home sign and hung on the front of our house. I should have taken a picture, but I wasn’t thinking about that because I had only had about 6 hours of sleep in two days.

The next few days we just unpacked and unpacked some more. On Tuesday, Becca took me shopping because I wasn’t quite ready to venture out on my own. We went to Foodworth’s (South African owned), then the market (not for the faint at heart – including me), then to Chipiku (kind of like a Sam’s, but not really), then to this new meat market, Nyama. Nyama has whole carcasses hanging in the window, but it is really clean and doesn’t stink. The meat there is also really good and doesn’t cost a whole lot more than other places.

We couldn’t find chicken at any of the above places, so Wednesday, Jill and I went to Shoprite (kind of like Wal-Mart, but again not really - see Jill’s pictures), then we went to Bower’s (British owned) and there we found chicken. Since we had a little more time, I took her to Santa Plaza (yes, that’s the name of the store) and 7-Eleven (no, it’s not like the one in the States) so she could see them and see what they sell.

The next few days were slow so we unpacked some more. It is taking me a long time to get everything unpacked. I am moving really slow. Hopefully now that we have been here for a week and I am over jetlag, I will move faster this next week.

Usually on Friday nights, we have a staff potluck. Since it is the break, they also take a break from an official potluck. I have been craving Ethiopian food for a year now, so I wanted to go. Well, a few people expressed interest and so I decided to see if everyone wanted to go. I called “the Queen” (that’s what Sam and I call her) and she said she could accommodate all of us and we could have a buffet style dinner. This is an Ethiopian lady who cooks and serves out of her house. It’s not like a typical restaurant. There were 38 of us total; 22 adults and 16 kids. We filled up her whole dining area. Again, you can see pictures of our dinner on Jill’s blog. I guess I need to get my camera out and put it in my purse, huh?

Now to the most exciting (and scary) thing that has happened since we arrived. Today is Sunday so we were going to church at Flood. Sam had to go to a special service at an Anglican Church, so just the girls and I were going to Flood. On our way there, there was a police checkpoint and you never know if they are going to stop you or just wave you through. Well, this morning, he stopped me and asked to see my license. I gave them to him and then he checked my stickers on the windshield. Instead of having papers that you put in your glove box, here we have stickers to put on the windshield. As he walked around to check them I told the girls that I hoped the stickers were not expired. He walked back around to my side of the car and told me that my insurance sticker was expired. It expired in April.

I told him I was sorry and that we had just returned to the country and didn’t realize that it had expired. I asked him if he could let me go this one time and I promised that I would get it fixed tomorrow. He told me he couldn’t. He was doing his job. He was very nice about it. He told me I would have to pay a fine. So I got out of the car and asked him where I should pay the fine. He pointed across the street to another police officer under a tree. I walked across the road and waiting my turn. There was another lady there paying a fine too. When he finished with her he told me I would have to go with him to the police station to pay the fine so I could get a receipt. I totally misunderstood him and thought he meant that I must leave my car and girls and go with him. I started crying and told him I had to call my husband who was close by.

As I was standing there crying, another office came up to me and was very nice and told me not to cry and that everything was going to be okay. I told him that this was not my country and it was scary for me to be in this situation. He said he understood, but everything would be okay. This officer and the one that pulled me over probably thought I had lost it, but they both were very nice to me and kept reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. I never felt threatened by them, I was just concerned about having to leave the girls to go and pay a fine. I told them that I wasn’t upset with them and I knew they were just doing their job.

Sam finally got there with some ABC graduates and the officer explained everything to them. This is when I found out that when I was told to go to the station with them to pay the fine, what they meant was for me to drive my car there and meet them; not to leave my car and children. The officer agreed to let Sam go to the police station to pay the fine and let me go home. By the way, we didn’t make it to church.

About 30 minutes after we got home, Sam got home and we discussed what had happened and what happened at the police station. It was an educational experience and I now know that if I get pulled over again, and they tell me I must go with them, they don’t literally mean go with them. I just have to meet them there.

Some of the neighbors were outside and we were telling them about what happened. Kellen walked up and asked what had happened, so we told him. He and his wife, Becca, had kept the car for us while we were in the States and he couldn’t believe it. He said he remembered going to the place to get the sticker and so he walked over to the car to double check. He checked in the glove box and there he found it, the renewed insurance sticker. He said he didn’t put it on because it was a couple of days before the old one expired and he was told it was not valid yet. Then he forgot to put the other one on.

So, this is what has happened since arriving in Malawi. Thank you for the prayers and comments. We couldn’t be here without all of you back in the States. Let us know how we can pray for you too.

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