This week Jon and I are finishing the website design for OIBM a micro-finance bank servicing the poor. It's been really fun working with them b/c it's a crew of really motivated Malawians and I happen to really believe in the transforming nature of the services they are offering to the poor.
I'm also preparing to head out on my art safari next week. For me, this means practicing with watercolors and some other materials, doing some drawing studies, etc. I'm really excited to see more of the country and work with other artists.
I feel like I have my hands and my mind in a little bit of everything (art, humanitarian aid distribution, web design, micro-enterprise, jewelry making research, bird watching, and peanut butter making!). Obviously, there are a lot of needs here in Malawi with the challenges of disease and poverty. I'm not sure yet how to feel about prioritizing my time while I'm here. On the one hand, a year is a very short time to see any of my contributions materialize in a major way. I feel like I need to do "good work" (like volunteering at the hospital or public schools), but then I remember what I learned through my teaching experience, and that is that I must follow my passion and my giftings. I think those things are art and business (income-generating activities). I'm praying that God will show me ways to use these things to bless Malawians while I'm here. There have been little windows of opportunity...like exchanging painting classes for wood carving lessons with some of the local carvers...or maybe teaching jewelry making techniques to women in villages nearby so they can sell jewelry to tourists. I have plenty of ideas but getting the ball rolling and trying to get more involved in the local community is a slow process...I need patience, otherwise I start to feel discouraged, like I'm not doing anything useful.
Jon has more than enough work...it's the dot com boom in Malawi! For him it's more a matter of what to focus on. Tons of NGOs, churches, schools, business, etc. are dying to get connected to the internet, so Jon has been researching the options and consulting with various organizations. He's also teaching a short course at the university on intro to computer programming. On the side, we are building websites and he is hoping to give workshops on basic things like taking apart and re-building a computer, searching the internet efficiently, and typing skills.
Sometimes it feels like I'm not doing anything yet, but actually, as I take time to write out my thoughts, it's amazing how many projects I have started to get involved in. Malawi is an inspiring place to be. I feel so free to explore and experiement with places and ideas.