Nothing New in the New Year

Ironic, isn’t it? How we get so excited about a new year, when really each day passes so much like the one before it. Same here in Malawi. We’re all doing well, but everything is about the same. Omara is talking more and more, running, getting into everything, and looks quite strange with 6 teeth on the top and 2 on the bottom. She’s learned the power of biting, though, and keeps her siblings in line. No more stealing toys from the baby! Isaac has days of going all day using the potty and being so proud of himself, and I think we’re finally getting somewhere. And then the next day… nothing but more laundry I have to fit in between power outages. I haven’t figured out what makes the difference. But no matter, he’s happy, and always muddy, and talking up a storm that is mostly understandable now. We praise God for that—it’s been a long time coming. Ethan and Anya are pretty much the same as always—surely growing up but so gradually that some days it’s hard to see the progress. They’ve done well over this 4-week holiday, playing together and not getting too bored. Of course it has helped that we had my mom bring out ipods for them for Christmas! The cost of an ipod touch? More than I expected. The value of watching the kids practice math facts and enjoy it? Priceless!

Chad had a good break as well, though he couldn’t visit any students outside of Lilongwe as he had planned to do, because the fuel shortage isn’t letting up. In some ways it was nice to have an excuse to just relax and recuperate. But it is also frustrating to feel like we’re here, putting up with the hardships of life in Africa and not able to do the jobs that brought us here in the first place. He wrote text-booklets for his classes, then the day before class started he looked at the schedule again and realized he had prepared for the wrong classes and frantically (and angrily, I might add) put something else together. Then he went to class, and realized we had been sent the wrong schedule and the first information was right after all. At least the MAJORITY of work was spent on the right things, but I’m sure he lost a few weeks of life over that one!

We’ve been keeping an eye on things here in Malawi, as the tension seems to be building. Prices rise every week, and apparently they doubled last night. We pay our nanny a premium salary of 15,000 Kwacha/mo, and the cost of transportation for her to get here just went from 6,000 to 12,000 per month. We really love her, but I can’t imagine she’ll continue to feel like that’s worth it, and we can’t afford to raise her any more. There were riots and looting of Chinese shops last week, and there are rumors of a city-wide strike and potential riots “sometime soon.” Many are talking of the need to ‘kick out’ the Indian and Chinese business men who own all the shops (and make all the money). Right now there’s no immediate threat to us, and life continues to limp along with relative normalcy. But please do pray for the country. We’re finding it challenging to meet the rising costs, and yet it’s a million-times worse for the people, who have seen maize (their staple food) more than double in the last 2 months. Rent has gone 50-100%, all the while salaries have remained the same. Something will have to change, or people will indeed take to the streets, because it will not be possible to feed themselves any longer.

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