Malawi, The Lake of Stars

Facts about Malawi that I learned in the ancient Malawi guidebook at our guesthouse called Cool Runnings:

1. The word “Malawi” means sun rising over the lake. The perfect name for a country containing one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

Malawi was originally settled by the Portuguese in the 16th century who named the country Maravi. In Chichewa the letters “l” and “r” are often interchangeable and the letter “v” is often pronounced like a “w”.

2. David Livingstone, on a journey to discover the source of the Nile, was the first European to discover Lake Malawi. He forever changed their course of history by eliminating the slave trade and introducing Christianity. His influence also brought the first large group of Europeans to Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. Half of the cities and points of interest in Malawi are named after him or significant things in his life. Today many people come to this part of Africa specifically to trace Livingstone’s route…

3. The Ilala Steamer was the boat used by Livingstone and his Scottish missionaries to travel from their mission at Cape Maclear in the south to Livingstonia in the North. You can still take the boat today (although it is remodeled). The journey takes three days and makes 8 stops at different historical locations along Lake Malawi. Andrew and I plan to take it in a couple of weeks…

4. Baobob fruit is delicious and has quickly become one of my favorite fruits. Baobob trees can grow to over 30 meters in circumference and since their trucks are hollow, often people use them as homes. One legend suggests that the tree has ugly, root-like branches because when God dispersed seeds for the animals to plant during the time of the creation, the baobab seed was given to the hyena who planted it upside down.

5. If you thought the marathon runners of Ancient Greece had it hard, think again. The postal service existed in Malawi in the early 1800s before bicycles or roads existed. Mail runners would carry bags of mail on their heads between postal stations, built 30 kilometers apart. Once they reached the station, yet would trade mail bags with the carrier coming from the opposite direction and return to their station. During this time period, the postal stations also served as rest homes for the Mail runners. Several of the postal stations still exist (Namaka postal museum) between Zomba and Blantyre. 

6. Mount Mulanje is the highest peak in all of Malawi (yes, Andrew and I have plans to climb it). Mulanje is also home to many timber trees that provide wood to all of southern Malawi. Men known as timber runners work all day delivering timber from the top of the mountain… What they can’t carry is brought down the mountain by a sky cable, because the mountain is too steep for a road.

More facts to come later!

(Below: Andrew’s post)

Sunday was an incredible experience this week. Just the week prior I’d been asked to speak in sacrament meeting, an opportunity I was quite excited for. 

My topic was faith, and I had been working on my thoughts the past few days, I’d struggled to know exactly how to tie faith in with the principles of the gospel Malawians struggle with. 

As the third speaker I had plenty of time to collect my thoughts before addressing the congregation. My talk was simple, and I found with a translator I could cover a little more than a 1/3 of my material, but I tried to share genuine, sincere thoughts about a very foundational principle. 

Following church Kylie and I messaged our families, took care of some things at the church building, and made our way home.

One of the best parts of Sunday is the opportunity to read, and Kylie and I made good progress on our book ‘the boy who harnessed the wind.’

Couldn’t have asked for a better, more fulfilling Sunday. 

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