Just as jumping into a pool of cold water can have a jarring affect to one’s system at first so too jumping into the pediatrics dept. of KCH, the big government hospital, was a bit jarring for Randy the first day. Not that he didn’t know what he was getting into but the reality of the number of patients, the level of acuity, the lack of resources, medicines and personnel, and malaria season, all concentrated into a stinging cold water plunge.
Now, after 5 days he seems to be getting use to the “temperature of the water”. There’s a lot to be said for being “mature in years”, he’s been able to adapt quickly and draw on all his experience to understand the new experience. A new challenge to undertake–just what this hyper boy needs!
Since we are sharing the car with our housemate for the next month and petrol is in short supply I have been using my legs to plunge into our locale. There are two business districts in Lilongwe, the new capital area where the government buildings are (it’s very modern with sidewalks and official looking buildings) and the older shopping area where everyone lives and shops. We are within easy walking distance of the latter. It is very busy with people walking, cars and trucks going in all directions minus any traffic lights, mini-bus “taxies” loading up for maximum capacity and street venders hoping to sell any variety of wares from bananas to cell phone minutes.
My plunge has been to venture into town each day to try to use the chichewa greetings and to get use to our new community. The jarring realities of an all cash economy, prices in the three and four digits (hundreds and thousands kwacha), limited availability of some of my usual cooking items, learning where to get what I need, plus the fact that I might as well be wearing a neon sign that says “foreigner”, have been some of my challenges this first week.
Beauty and wonder continue to surprise us in a myriad of ways, such as in: the the cooing of the doves around our house; the diversity of flowers and trees in the yard; the afternoon rains that come in and cool off the day; the wonderful screened-in porch where we can enjoy the morning and evening (and I can exercise!); the friendly, hard-working people that watch over the house, yard, iron Randy’s shirts and patiently help us learning new words, the Word of God that feeds our souls daily, the french-press coffee Randy brews and brings to me in the morning. With daily rhythm emerging, our body time clocks adjusting to full nights of sleep naturally and knowing upon waking what country we are in we feel we have taken the plunge and the water is fine.