Sunday, December 30, 2007

Airports and Old Stuff

Yesterday airports, today old stuff, tomorrow airports, day after old stuff.

Have been trying to think of what to write and that is a very short summary. If you want more details, then read on...

It still kinda weirds me out that two days ago i was playing footy with kids on the beach in malawi and am now sitting here at an internet cafe here in one of the oldest cities on earth in Rome.

Man, this place is amazing, there's just so much history, so mnay old buildings and churches, so many ruins and just generally interesting stuff to look at. I could stay longer and still have heaps to see, but I am happy with what I squeezed into today.

The Vatican is seriously an amazing place. There is just sooo much history there, so much has gone on, some pretty amazing artwork (not a phrase I use often!) and is totally worth coming to Rome for. It's awe-inspiring, not in a God way, but more just the size of the place and the skill of Michaelangelo, Raphael et al. The Sistine Chapel is insanely detailed, St Peters is out of control in terms of size and the whole joint is just really expensive.

Then managed to see the Colosseum, Pantheon, Arc de Triomphe, a few well known water fountains, Julius Caesar's grave and some other pretty cool looking ruins.

I think after seeing Ephesus on Tuesday I should be just about done with ruins, but am really liking it so far.

I think this is making up for missing Pyramid Rock, but only just ;)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Kande Beach

This place I am at now and will be for Christmas is amazing, its right on the shore of Lake Malawi and looks so much like a beach it's crazy. The water is nice and warm and the hippos and crocs minimal.

My big package of footballs finally arrived last week,a nd the kids have been loving learning how to kick and handpass. The younger ones still get confused by it, as it doesn't fit into either the soccer or rugby categories in their head, but are just loving mucking around and playing etc.

Is very relaxing here, but also great fun teaching kids about footy and playing around on the beach.

Merry Christmas all.

TJs Malawi Wisdom

The 4 stages of life in Malawi:

Stage 1:You get a bug in your drink and you pick it out.

Stage 2:You get a bug in your drink and carefully avoid drinking it.

Stage 3:You get a bug in your drink and you just drink through your teeth and hopefully stop the bug.

Stage 4:You don't get a bug in your drink and you are very disappointed.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

To Pirate or not to Pirate....

That, my friends, is the question in any country like Malawi where they have pirated DVDs.

They are insanely cheap, like $4 for a disc with up to 16 movies on it!

On one level, plain and simple, it is stealing. This is pretty much how it is. So it is black and white...or is it?

I have been discussing this with TJ a bit whilst over here. There are a few factors to think about.

If the company that makes it is not actually losing anything, does that make a difference? (Like if you were to steal a shirt from Myer, then Myer would lose the money it cost them to make that shirt). Particularly if you would not have otherwise bought the DVD-which i wouldn't, as I pretty much never buy DVDs.

Is it better that my money goes to some dude on the street in malawi who actually needs it rather than some suit who works at a movie studio? Or am I just supporting them in earning a dishonest income?

As the actors are almost always paid before the movie goes on sale, the only people who really make money from me buying a DVD is the studio.

I often wonder about this when buying CDs, as it really annoys me that only $1-2 actually goes to the recording artist.
Is it any worse than people at home who buy coffee that screws over the coffee farmers (as does 90% of the coffee people at home drink). Does that even make a difference?

I used to be pretty set that it was totally wrong, but am now reconsidering it. I would love to hear what others who have been faced with this situation think.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Learning more about Malawi

Am having great fun bargaining with the local street vendors for t-shirts and presents for people and other stuff I need to buy here.

It's pretty much always the case that you pay like half the price the quote you-particularl when you are a muzungu (white person) the prices go up massively! It's kinda funny bargaining them down out of like 50c that they no doubt need more than you, but is just rude not to bargain.

Plus you don't want to perpetuate the stereotype that we are all rich because we are white and that they can charge whatever they want (even though it is kinda true!). Is a tricky one to explain.

Also still wrestling with what to do with all the begging etc on the streets, but have a similar policy here as in Aus-I will buy food but not give money. Particularly when there is so much extortion of the beggars.

Having plenty of conversations about the issues Africa faces, the place of aid vs development. The good thing is that people here know what they're talking about, not just people like me in Oz who know very litte and know it secondhand.

Plenty to learn here, and plenty of fun to be had too.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Loving life in Lilongwe

Internet availability and reliability is very limited here, so thought I had better give just a quick update whilst I can.

Am currently in Lilongwe, Malawi staying with TJ, and loving it! It's a very laid back cruisey culture here, so suits me fine :)

Played a whole lot of soccer and suff with the kids yesterday-which they loved. It's amazing how excited they get about actually having a real soccer ball to play with! then will be doing footy stuff when the package I sent arrives-hopefully Saturday.

Everything about this place is so new and different, I love it! The kids are really friendly, and love practising their English with you. My Chicewa is struggling, but getting there!

Have danced around in the monsoonal rain, carried water on my head, visited a little vilage, and have a big list of other Malawian things on my list of to dos! Going to the market yday was great fun, had so many guys yelling out 'hey friend, hello boss, how are you?' trying to get me to buy stuff! Very funny. Am getting good at bartering too, great fun. Am trying to convince TJ to eat a little bug that all the kids eat with me tonight, but she's pretty soft, so might be alone there!

The work TJ does here is amazing though, just crazy. Something like 40% of kids over here have disabilities for a number of different reasons, yet this clinic is the only one in the country who works with these kids. There is still quite a lot of social stigma about kids with disabilities, so it is not uncommon for parents to abandon or want to kill the kids. Some of the money I raised has gone to buying a small toy for each child at their Christmas party tomo, so that will be great.

Monday, December 10, 2007

First day=Great Success!

If every day is as fun as today, then will be a great trip.

Was so funny, cos have just been getting excitd by everything, getting a nice lunch on the plane, having n emergency aisle seat, meeting random backpackers.

All good things in and of themself, but made even better by being overseas!

Am feeling pretty jet lag free, so my method for avoiding it seems to have worked. We'll see tomo but!

Off to see TJ tomorrow, so can't wait for that either!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

God knows everything

Have been having some great discussions with one of my VETAMORPHUS students from this year about what we believe about the whole 'Predestination/God knows everything that is going to happen in the world debate.'

His thoughts were basically that God does know everything that is going to happen in the world, because he knows so well what each of thinks and how etc, so therefore can know what will happen in the world. Also that God knowing everything means that God does not necessarily control everything.

I think that there is some merit to the knowing each of us really well theory, so knows what our reactions and thought/ideas will be. Has merit, but am not totally conviced. I struggle to separate God knowing everything that will happen in the future from God controlling everything that will happen in the future.

So, when I look at the world and see all the bad stuff that goes on, I struggle to see how that could all be in God's plan for us etc.

Perhaps there is a way that God knows everything, but doesn't therefore control it, but I'm still struggling to get my head around it.

My theory at the moment is basically that God has a plan for each of us, that God wants us to follow, but gives us freewill to not follow if we want, and go down whatever path we want.

Overseas soon!

So i'm heading off on my first ever overseas trip on sunday! Waxing between being excited and annoyed at the amount of prep i still have to do!

There's just so mnay things you don't think of with travel!

My itinerary is basically:
Malawi (Africa)
Rome
Turkey
Germany
France
England
USA.

Doing allt hat in like 7 weeks, so will be pretty hectic, but all good!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Red Frogs=Awesome!

Was seriously one of the best things I've done for a long time!

Was heaps of fun, but also really made an impact. The kids really loved it,a nd areally appreciated what we were doing for them.

The good thing was, all the 'God stuff' was totally driven by them, they were the ones asking questions about it, wanting to hear songs, visit a church etc, and not driven by our agenda. I really loved it.

Everybody should get amongst it next year!