Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Month Down... 23 to go!

So.. January has passed.. the snow is melting.. the superbowl is a week away... wait.. I am in Africa, where it is 80 degrees and our kids are just starting to practice futball, or soccer.

ugh.. there has been a lot going on this past month! we are doing surprisingly well, no more bouts of illness...maybe that comes with a vegetarian diet. People are always taking care of us... it is almost instant the second we mention we need something it usually arrives an hour later. One Saturday afternoon, I casually mentioned to our amayi that we have not been eating meat and inquired where in the market we could buy some chicken, low and behold the next morning a live chicken showed up with a Malawian with poor English. We decided what else could we do except tie it to the clothesline and provide it with an umbrella for shade.

Our amayi came over later and killed it, but there is something about boiling a dead chicken, plucking its feathers and playing with its intestines in your biology class that does not make chicken soup to appealing.

It will be back to the beans and rice and assortment of vegetables that are somewhat scarce. Still good.

Other news, we got electricity! We have vowed to only use it for charging electronics, since lights only attract the bugs anyway and it is not entirely reliable. oh well... at least we can watch episodes of 30 Rock in our 20 min of spare time before we fall asleep. Werewolf Bar mitzvah. Hilarious.

Teaching is still challenging with over 100 students who think that the best way to learn is to memorize notes written in complete sentences with words they do not understand, but I think they are finally starting to adjust to different teaching styles now that the first term is coming to an end, soon we will discover the pain of grading 400 exams. Will let you know how it goes...

Hope all is well with you, internet is scarce so please continue to send letters and dont forget comfort food!!!

miss you all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So this is Christmas...

Here we are again, I know we told you that we would not have internet access for the first 3 months or more but fortunately we are very close to Lilongwe and by close I now mean a 3-4 hour drive in these mini-buses that aren't so bad once you take enough Benadryl to knock yourself out. The rainy season is upon us which means that the roads are flooding. I learned that it takes 8-9 Malawians + Kris one whole hour to dig us out of the mud which is surprisingly worse than getting stuck in the snow.

We started teaching last week and the class sizes are very large. We have started opening the library every afternoon and the response has been pretty rewarding. The students that come in for extra help are a pleasant surprise and we are enjoying getting to know them. Last week I started to try to organize our science lab. They have an incredible amount of resources but they just do not know how to use them. Fortunately the chemicals that I arranged for storage have not blown up.. yet. It will be interesting to re-teach myself chemistry and physics so that I can help these teachers actually use the materials.

I would have finished cleaning the lab and it would be ready to go but unforunately for me something I ate or possibly the anti-malaria medication made me a little sick. By sick I mean unbearable indigestion, water coming from my butt and yes, it was me... I was the first one in Africa to poop in my pants. It is difficult when the hole in the ground is 10 feet from your house. We have at least kept a bucket in the next room so that we do not have to run all the way out there to pee in the middle of the night but Kris has designated it only for number 1. Maybe the other spare bedroom we have should be for number 2. I wish I had some better stories for you than that but things have been pretty chill so far as it is a few days later and I am almost back to 100%.

Kris and I have still decided to carry on the tradition of fondue on Christmas Eve and are hoping that the charcoal stove that we have will keep the oil hot enough. Cooking on our own has probably been the biggest challenge. Kris is getting really good at keeping a fire long enough to boil water but we are both still a little afraid of the goats and cow meat dangling in the market so it has been eggs, beans and lots of peanut butter in our home. When we go to Lilongwe though we sometimes splurge on Ramen noodles and even attempted to make a package of cheese sauce. Unfortunately these things are expensive ($2 a piece) and when you are living off of little it is not often we get these treats! We fully intend to stock up on veggies in the capital market because it is no joke like a whole foods, more fruits and vegetables than you could ever imagine.

I think that is about all that i have for now... unless we get sick again, there still will not be another post until March, so cross your fingers! Love you and miss you all, I hope you are enjoying the snow as much as we are enjoying the 80 degree weather!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I know this is long overdue, yes, we have made it safely to malawi. We are 2 weeks away from the end of training which has had its share of ups and downs.

Malawi is Magical. We have just returned from visiting our site for the next 2 years. We are in a village called Nambuma. It is about an hour north of the capital city Lilongwe. (almost 2 hours by the way of these horrible machines they call mini-buses.) It is an area that is being developed by the Bill Clinton Foundation. Our school is very new and beautiful. We have a library that has some books but could always use more and a science lab. They are hoping to have electricty and running water by the time the term starts mid-December.

Our house is also beautiful. It is bigger than most of the apartments we lived in Reedsburg or Madison. There will be plenty of room for visitors! We may have electricity also but we are so used to living without it neither of us are terribly excited. We met many people in our village and are looking forward to working with many of them. We already have so many ideas for projects and Kris has already mapped out the tree nursery for the backyard. We also met the local vet and he has said that he will find two puppies for us to have when we return in December!

Things are really going well here, the people in our training group have been wonderful, we get along too well I think. The girls in my village made me an Olive Garden style dinner as a birthday surprise and even baked a cake. My friend Esther has made it her goal of training to master the art of baking with two fires and we are enjoying all of the bread and cinnamon rolls.

If you would like to send us more things, a great idea is spices. Although we love the food here we would also love to share some american dishes with our neighbors at site. Any pens, notebooks, any little things you think we may miss would be much appreciated!

We miss you all, but are glad we are here to not see the Packers end this way!

I look forward to Badger basketball updates. You should be able to text Kris or I now. Our parents have our phone numbers so please try to reach them! We would love to chat!

I am not sure when i will have internet again, so please keep writing!! and remember.. if you send anything, it gets here fastest by writing airmail, par avion and some religious quotes!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

9 days until we see if it is really Sunny in Philadelphia

Here it is... my first blog! long time coming, I know.

First of all, thank you to all of you who could make it to our wedding/ going away party last Friday. It is incredibly overwhelming to try to catch up with everyone, so my apologies to those of you I missed, or who snuck out too early to see Gary and Kris get their dance on. Truly the highlight, even if the spotlight had to come off of me for one minute..

As most of you know, Kris and I are currently unemployed, spending alot of time catching up on sleep, loving the new season of football, and tyring not to drive one another crazy about Thank you cards.. (they are coming I swear!) We leave in exactly 9 days and so I thought I would post our itinerary for the big departure.

Friday, Sept. 25~ 6 :00 am fly out of Madison


6:40 am- arrive in Milwaukee (ridiculous right??)

7:45 am- leave Milwaukee

10:55 am- arrive in Philadelphia for Orientation

2 pm- Check in for Shots...sign over our lives, meet others who are putting their lives in the hands of our fine government.

7pm- Staging over...

we now know everything we need to about the Peace Corps, right?

Saturday, Sept. 26~ 2:30 AM bus to JKF (approx. 2+ hours)

11:35 am ish (haven't received exact African flight info yet)

15 1/2 hours in the air to beautiful South Africa

Sunday Sept. 27~ 8:55 am arrive in Johannesburg


We will spend our first weekend in the city of Dedza which is about 85 km southeast of the capital city Lilongwe.

We think (from reading other blogs) you can send us mail to an office in Lilongwe until we figure out where we will be more permanently.. around Christmas!

This is probably enough for my first letter, I have to get back to taking all of the gifts and new purchases for our journey out of its original packaging and having Kris explain to me how it all works!!