For the time being, we are staying in Malange until we move to Quessua at the end of September. Since the conference offices are located here, many teams from Florida will be visiting town. Perhaps you would like a preview of what you will see if you come, or simply an update on how we are doing.
Malange is about 8 hrs. driving east from Luanda. The main change that we see since our 2006 trip is the presence of some new buildings, stores and paved roads. The video in this blog will show that the new supermarket is fairly well supplied. Locals are proud of the ongoing development. Using our imagination, it is easy to see the beauty this town had before the war as well as its future splendor. However, in all honesty, at present this is not the town you would come for tourism. For Icel’s sense of smell, the odor of some improvised dumpsters/bathrooms on the grounds of abandoned buildings is unbearable. Amanda cannot stand that we are so easily spotted by beggars who would follow us until we address them and ask to stop. Beggars are actually courteous, because they call you “amigo” or “amiga” and are never demanding. But they do stalk you nonetheless. And as for me, I wish they would also build sidewalks with the new roads. The lack of walkways and yards causes lots of dirt and dust everywhere.
This week we have become acquainted with the main stores in town. We need to furnish our house as well as the bigger house where Florida teams will stay (both in Quessua and brand new!). With some exceptions, prices are two or three times higher than in the US. Icel and I are thoroughly searching different stores for the best prices… and we are being successful.
As for food, soft drinks are about the only affordable items you can find. Everything else is pretty expensive. A quarter-gallon of milk will cost 250 Kz (2.70 USD). With our US-based salaries, we can eat very healthily. But the average salary for locals is about 10,000 Kz a month or 110 USD. And this is for those who have employment. You can see many jobless people on the streets looking for something to do. It is surprising that crime rates seem to be low. Make no mistake about it: even though Angola is developing at a fast pace, poverty is still rampant.
Most importantly, we have not been disappointed by the character of “a gente,” the Angolan people. They are polite, intelligent and hard working. If you say “bom dia” (good morning) to anybody on the streets, they will stand up, slightly bow their heads, and say “obrigado” (thanks!). In Malange Central UMC last Sunday, the reception we got could not have been warmer. This was a spontaneous welcome, because the bishop and local pastor were on a trip. It was laity Sunday, and the preacher was a member of the local UMW. To see more pictures of this service click here to visit our photo gallery. How much passion we felt! We look forward with lots of expectation to the spiritual growth Amanda, Icel and I will have as we serve and worship with these devoted Christians.