I feel a little like a pioneer woman in a time warp back to the 1950s lately as I cook and bake everything from scratch, hang our clothes to dry, and live on a fixed income. Many today would see these things as suffering, and, to be honest, I did too, at first. But, I’ve gradually begun to see it as a classroom where I can learn so many things I never knew or was afraid to try before. Sure, it’s a bit annoying when the power goes out (like now while I’m writing this) or the water is off, but somehow it teaches you to just take things in stride.
Improvisation is the theme of our lives here. When the locals have something that is almost what they need but not quite, they say “Ah, just modify it!” So, when in Rome! An empty peanut butter jar becomes a sugar bowl. An empty plastic ice cream tub becomes a Tupperware container for leftovers. A mosquito net becomes window screens. We often must improvise with what we have, whether it’s for essential household furniture or new projects around the house. If only we could get our hands on some quality Second Hand Furniture & Appliances, maybe we could have reduced some of our DIY work. But they are quite fun in any case. While others may see these things as being hardships, for those of you who know a little about me, I love to figure out how to creatively make something out of nothing.
In fact, oddly, we didn’t bring any medium-weight blankets with us. We brought a throw and a down comforter (don’t ask). Period. So, even though it’s 90 degrees when we fall asleep with two fans blowing on us, the temperature drops overnight to a chilly 65-70 (comparatively speaking), at which point a subconscious tug-o-war begins over who gets to have more of the throw blanket until the alarm goes off at 6 am. We badly wanted an indoor heater, like the one we had back home. Funnily, we had seen some propane cylinder filling stations on the way here, and the cold night got me thinking how great it would have been if we had a portable propane heater! Anyway, come to find out, a similar phenomenon happens with Pastor George and Carol in their apartment across the way, only they use towels instead! So, my thrifty, crafty brain got to thinking, I and I have since decided to make our quilts!
I’ll make a confession. I’ve never quilted in my life before. EVER. But, I figured now is a good a time as any to learn! So, since fabric is a bit hard to come by and would be outrageously expensive if I needed to buy enough for two large quilts, I started to look around when we were out touring Lilongwe.
Come to find out, second-hand clothes are in abundance and dirt cheap! But could they be as good as a new womens dress or other clothing items? Though this question crossed my mind once, I did not ponder on it seriously at that point because I was too attracted to the recently discovered collection of used apparel. So, I hauled myself down to a local market with a new found local friend, and bought 14 second hand dresses for $10!!! FOURTEEN!! They have gobs of fabric amongst them all, and, when I got home, I even discovered one of them was from H&M and in my size!! Score! If my calculations are right that’s TWO quilts for less than $5 each, and I get to have fun figuring out how to do it! I also have an interest in giving embroidery a go as I have seen some really attractive embroidery designs online that I simply love – as you can tell, I’m in a huge arts and crafts mood right now!
(P.S. I don’t have a sewing machine, so it’ll be interesting to learn this by hand! Hence the pioneer feeling…)
Anyway, most of you are probably falling asleep at this point if you’ve even read this far, but I just say all of this to emphasize the faithfulness of God. Coming here has taught me that I can learn to be content. Malawians may have less money than westerners, but they have a lot more time. They’re never rushed, and they are always willing to welcome you into their little corner of the world. It’s incredibly refreshing. I know that we came here to help and support the mission of the team here, but somehow I feel like we will probably be the beneficiaries of our time here.