The Week of Firsts

Well this week has been a week of firsts for us. First time I’ve held a three day old baby, first time I’ve killed, plucked, and gutted a chicken, and the first time I’ve ever had my hair done in a Malawian salon!

I’ve talked a bit about the LifeNets shop before, but I’ll elaborate now. In Malawi there are plenty of “min shops” that stock essentials and snacks, like soap, toilet paper, salt, soda, notebooks, etc. You walk up to a barred window (sometimes chicken-wired) and tell the shopkeeper what you want. Then you reach your arm through the bars (or hole in the chicken wire) and hand the shopkeeper your money while he hands you your purchase. the Brennan and I call these places “hole in the wall” shops, because you literally walk up to a hole in the wall to get what you need. These shops are all over! Wherever there’s a wall, there’s a shop.

About a seven minute walk from our house is a min shop called John Shop. Since we pass by it multiple times a day and usually stop there at least once a day, we’ve gotten to know the owner, John quite well. He speaks perfect English and helps us on our Chichewa, which is always nice. In March he got married, so we’ve gotten to know his wife somewhat, but not as well since she speaks French first and Chewa second, without much English. We’re able to have some small nice conversations though. Last Thursday Lewis went and bought something from him and when he got home, told us that John’s wife had a baby. On Sunday we were finally able to go see him and congratulate him! He asked us if we wanted to see the baby, and honestly I don’t think I could’ve said “yes” any faster. We went through the gate (saw the mysterious back of the min shop which also happens to be connected to their house) and sat with his wife and sister for a bit of time. It was so great! Relationships like these are part of what tie us to Malawi. I’m so happy we’ll be here for another year and can see Thogozani grow.

On Wednesday Lewis and Lena went to our friends’, the Mafarera family’s, house to say goodbye before they go back to the States. On their way home I got a text from Lena saying “So… Michala you may want to sharpen one of your big knives. Or you have a new pet.” Umm… I was a bit concerned… Until she told me that the Mafareras gave them a rooster as a goodbye gift! This is the third bird we’ve been given here, and we made a mistake with the first two by keeping them as pets, because they were given to us as a meal. Oops. Long story short, on Thursday I worked up the courage and killed the chicken (don’t laugh, I wasn’t raised around farm animals haha). Then our guard Eli came over and helped my pluck it then showed me how to properly piece it up. Normally we buy our chicken from a South African grocery store, but recently the meat has been really bad. We’ve returned home with multiple spoiled chickens and the one that we bought most recently wasn’t cleaned properly, so it smelled like offals… Ew. But now I can buy the live chickens from the bike guys (thankfully they’ll kill it for me) and I know how to prepare it!

(If you don’t want to see a picture of Eli and me preparing the chicken, don’t scroll to the very bottom as it’s the last picture shown)

The LifeNets “stripmall” has a new addition: a salon! Now we have an internet café, a min shop, and a ladies’ hair salon. One of our members received a scholarship to get her cosmetology diploma and now is able to support her family by running a salon with her sister (read more about it here On Friday I was walking by and her sister pulled me in and asked if she could do my hair. White person hair is very intriguing over here. I said sure when I saw the curling wand, but they had to wash my hair first. The ladies draped a towel over my shoulders and took me outside to a bucket in front of a salon. I’m not sure if I’ve explained much about where the LifeNets strip is, but it’s in a neighborhood on a paved road in between a couple schools. One school is a giant primary school and the kids go home for lunch everyday. Of course my hair washing time also happened to be lunch time. I ended up bent down over a bucket with a lady pouring water on my head and washing my hair with about fifteen ten-year-olds circling me, staring, shouting, and laughing. It was a hilarious sight. After my hair was properly cleaned and the kids were shooed away, I sat back down in the chair and they started putting my hair up in curlers. I have a friend who tried to braid my hair but couldn’t because my hair wouldn’t “listen” to her, meaning that when she pulled a piece straight up and let go, it fell down and didn’t stay standing up like her hair did. Similar problems when they were putting my hair up in curlers, but eventually it worked and I was put under the blow dryer to bake for an hour. I’ve never been to a salon before so this was a fun time and although my Chichewa is poor and the ladies there didn’t speak any English, I had fun sitting with them and picking up pieces of conversations.

I feel like this blog is getting pretty long so I’ll leave the rest of the stuff for the next blog! But stay tuned for an update on the church hall, what donations have accomplished, and more :).

Two of my favorite foods– kachewere chips and mangos
Bright bright green Malawi
John’s beautiful baby who I had the opportunity to hold
Getting styled at the salon
Baking under the hair dryer



**Chicken picture is up next**



Learning how to properly prepare a chicken

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