A Day in our Life: I'm Glad there's Two of Us
6:30 I get up, brew tea, read my Bible, eat breakfast, and get ready. Greg’s awake by 7:00 and I ask him to help with the printer. I wanted to have vaccination cards, visit forms, and safety brochures available for my patients this morning, but the printer wasn’t cooperating. Greg gets it worked out and by 7:20 we’re out the door.
7:32 Greg drops me off at ABC clinic for devotions, then handover, then some patient visits. He goes to pick up concrete and lumber to help with some improvements around the house. Our back wall needs repairing, and in Malawi, when you need a ladder, it’s much easier to make it out of lumber than to buy one directly.
8:50 Greg came home and had a few minutes to rest before Hamiton and Lighton arrive. Hamiton worked for us on some projects over the last few years, and has been out of work since, so we invited him to stay with us for a week and work on our to-do list. Mr. Lighton usually guards our house at night, but he’s so handy with wood and concrete that we asked if he was willing to come during days to work with Himiton. Greg walks around with the guys and talks about where fences need to go up and ideas for rain-proofing and mosquito-proofing.
9:00 I’ve started my first visit. Today I’m seeing a 4-month old and a 6-month old. It can be hard reconciling immunizations for families living between different countries. The four month will skip the PCV vaccine until her 6-month visit to stay consistent with Irish guidelines. The six month old will received an extra MMR and Hepatitis A vaccine, given by our amazing charge nurse Victoria. The mother brought the extra vaccines in a cooler, which was left behind and we’ll have to arrange for a pickup soon.
10:20 Our gardener Golden arrives with his wife Mercy. We’ve never met her before, but wanted to take a chance to help mentor her as she is thinking of moving forward with some business ideas. Greg locked up the dogs and set out a coke and biscuits. I had a basket of tea ready by the door, but the day was warming up enough that a cold drink was better.
10:40 Thoko and Nixon drive up. They ran out of gas on the way because the gauge in their car wasn’t working, but they are just on time for our busy schedule. Thoko joins Mercy at the outdoor table and starts talking about logistics of a clothing business, the cost of importing from Zambia and the market in Mercy’s neighborhood. Greg grabs Nixon and drives off to the hardware store again.
11:30 I finished with my patients – it’s a short day. Greg picks me up at the clinic and drives me home. Greg and Nixon have been to pick up pipes which should finalize the solar pump in Mngwangwa. Thoko plans to plant tomatoes soon to earn some extra income. Back home, Thoko and Mercy have finalized a business plan for fabric imports, and realized that the profit margin is less than desirable. We spend the next hour troubleshooting other ideas. Golden sits in and helps with the logistics. He says that he will help his wife in the afternoon, when he is finished with his work at our house. We find that buying used children’s clothes has a better profit margin. We discuss record keeping. I let the group know that I still need to discuss with Greg, but it is possible that we will help invest in this business if they can start by procuring a safe themselves, so the money will be secure. Thoko and I pray for the business, we both know how hard it can be to begin a business in
12:00 Greg and Nixon head back out. After a stop for gas, they go to Nathenje Church of the Nazarene. Our friend helped build the bore hole here, and wanted some pictures and testimonies. Greg brought his drone and took some areal views, and became an instant hit among the village children. By 1:00 they were heading back, planning to stop at our favorite fried chicken place for lunch, they have great Monday specials.
1:30 Golden returns with some lunch dishes from a restaurant in our neighborhood, rice for the ladies, nsima for the guys. I encourage him to eat lunch with Mercy and show her the projects he has completed around the house. Thoko and I sit inside and talk about next steps in her village – tailoring, agriculture, a poultry project, and a reforestation project. She jokes that this is the first time in a while that I haven’t tried to make her eat veggies when she comes to visit. So I get up and make her a salad.
2:10 Greg comes back, followed in the gate by Richard the mechanic and then Ben, a newly arrived missionary with the CHSC. Ben drove to our house yesterday and encountered brake trouble, so he left the car here until Richard could check it out. I’m not clear what they did, but I know there were various trips inside for screwdrivers and assorted other tools. Somewhere about then I am asked to see the rash on Mercy’s toes, an easy enough issue, I prescribe a cream. I ask Thoko to pray for her, because I always try to pray after seeing a patient, but I prayed last time and Thoko is well-known for her healing prayers.
3:00 Nixon has had a painful neck spasm, a condition his wife and daughter are teasing him for. I print out a “work restriction” sheet for him, mostly for fun but also to give a bit of official backing to his need for rest. No long cell phone calls in the next 2 days, no heavy lifting for a week. He’s been having some relief with a heat pack, and I send him home with a couple creams.
3:15 At this point Greg and I are standing in the garden as Lighton and Hamiton hold up a six-foot by six-foot trellis. We all decide together where to put it – turns out we like the corner of the running path best, between the two new flower beds. We discuss ways to anchor and stabilize this archway, then check the time and realize we have to bid our guests goodbye and rush off.
3:40 We’re 10 minutes late to an academic forum with one of the most prominent political historians in Malawi. The event is hosted at our friend’s bookstore and so well-attended that Greg and I sit outside. I can use the fresh air anyway, though I might have done without the extra sun.
5:00 At the end of the event, I browse books and decide I want to read them all. I think I need to work on the ones currently in my shelves first, though. I talk to a friend about the yoga class she attends and invite her over to try some of my new tea. We head out, stopping to see the garden fountain outside the shop, and I dream about whether I can manage making a fish pond like that.
5:30 Back home. We greet the dogs, turn on the lights, and settle into the couch. It has been a long day – good and productive, but a bit exhausting. Thinking this will be a night of reading and going to bed early. Not even going to check my e-mail…