Sunday, September 8, 2013

We are pretty well settled in Blantyre by now. We have a nice flat, with two bedrooms and two baths so that we can have other couples stay with us when they are in the area. The Sister Missionaries were staying here, but we got a new flat for them so we have the house to ourselves most of the time. The Sisters were glad to move, since their new flat is very close to the branch chapel where they are assigned in Ndirande, and that is right at the edge of their area. They were taking the public transportation every day to reach their area, about 4 km from the house, so too far to walk. The buses are the combies, basically nine passenger Toyota's, with 18 people riding in them. All the missionaries use them, but we have never been brave enough to try it.

The weekend of Aug 23, 24 Elder Reynolds went camping with the YM of the Blantyre District, their first ever YM camp. It was quite an adventure. We drove for about 3 hours to reach the mountain, and then another 3km up the forest road in Mulanje National Park. There is a turnaround where we dropped off all the boys and gear for another 30 minute hike up the mountain. I drove back down to the ranger station to leave the truck and the bus we had rented. Then two of the young men and I started back up the mountain on foot to join the others. Silly me, I listened to them when they said they knew a short cut. The African version is based on just a shorter distance, not necessarily the easiest way. Instead of walking back up the road, we took a 40% grade trail over the top of two ridges--the old man was huffing like a hippopotamus by the time we got to camp 90 minutes later. Talk about scouting challenge--the last 100 meters is a scramble, and if I hadn't been able to hear the boys ahead laughing in the campsite, I might not have made it! I was awakened by the laughing of the hyenas about 0300, and several minutes later could hear the sound of munching right next to my head. Several of the boys got up and chased them away, after which they secured our food supply for the night. I wasn't sure how big the hyenas were, so I didn't get a picture, however I did photograph the tracks next to our tent the next morning. The following weekend of Aug 30, 31, both Sister Reynolds and I got to go with the YW of the Blantyre District for their camp. It was another adventure, this time because of the roads and the days we were driving. The main road between Blantyre and Nkopola is under construction, so it consists of many detours--took us 5 hours to cover 200km. Also because it goes through many small villages, and the weekend is their market days, it was an obstacle course of pedestrians, bicyclists, and combies about every 5km or so. There was no hike in, however, since the Nkopola Lodge is right on Lake Malawi. Not only that, but the priesthood advisers were put up in "chalets" (pronounced like pallets) with warm showers, bathrooms, air-conditioning, and electric service. Not quite the same as the week before. We had a marvelous camp, Sister Reynolds taught a first-aid class, and we were entertained by the monkeys and baboons which frequent the camp (stealing any left out food--worse than mice). This campsite was gorgeous, palm trees, sandy beach, grass covered camping area, covered cooking facility, very nice, indeed. It cost us 2000MK per girl, but that's less than $6US.

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