Author: TexasGrassMan

Fried Ants!!!

This is the season for Ngumbe which is some sort of large brown termite or ant with wings.

These can be eaten as a snack or ndiwo…

The process: after the rains have started, go outside late in the evening or early morning and there will be thousands of winged bugs coming out of holes in the ground; they almost look like steam rising from the ground as they come pouring out and flying up in a constant stream. These are not Ngumbe but only the solders. Then in an hour or so the Kings (Ngumbe) come out of those holes. They come flying up to the outside lights where they hit the house wall and fall to the ground. You then have a pail with some water in it and you pick up as many as you can. Pull the wings off and drop the bugs into the bucket. (The water in the pail is so the ants can't climb out.)

You then start a fire and roast them in a pan. They have their own oil in them so there is no need to add any.

Serve to your friends in a bowl. Try it some time, you might like them!!!!


Nyala Park Visit

One day we took a little outing to Nyala Game Park. Two of our children–Kasey and Shandi–have birthdays one day apart in September, so we took off school for a day and headed South. Here are a few notes from that trip.


Winding Road south of Blantyre
Winding road south of Blantyre

Nyala Park is a small game park owned by Illovo Sugar Company. Here is a link to their site.  IIlovo makes most of the sugar for Malawi. The drive down there took us about 2 hours and was breathtakingly beautiful. We drove out of town and down the mountains to the Shire Valley which is about at sea level, so it is usually very hot there.

The road we drove on and the curve we stopped to look out over the valley.
The road we drove on and a curve we stopped at to look out over the valley.

At the park we saw most of the animals that live there. It only took a couple of hours to drive all the way through. We were able to get pretty close to the giraffes and zebras, and saw lots of monkeys in the trees too. Reminded us of the book, Summer of the Monkeys. Most of the ones we saw were Vervet monkeys, but there were quite a few baboons also. They are so fun to watch.

View near Thabwa
[caption id="attachment_784" align="alignleft" width="300"]Nyala Park Buffalo
Zebras in Nyala Park
[caption id="attachment_783" align="alignleft" width="300"]Fevertrees in Nyala Park Fevertrees in the Park

Kamuzu Stadium

This is a stadium that we pass when we go to town. I haven't been there yet but if I get a chance I would like to drop in and check it out sometime. Wikipedia says this stadium has an artificial turf field, called Xtreme Turf, and has been manufactured and installed by Act Global. This is one of the biggest stadiums in Malawi. This is a very old stadium that was built back in colonial era.

It supposedly holds 50,000 people but on an interesting side note, I have been told that one of those bleachers has been condemned by the government and they don't let anyone sit on it.

Kamuzu Stadium
Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.

Malawi Update…..

Just a little update on our lives here in Africa! It’s been awhile since we have touched base with many of you. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the last few months. Our place here feels like home now. Many nights we can hear the African drums beating out in the villages, sometimes it’s close and other times just a distant drumming. The evening sky is beautiful here; we often watch the sun setting beyond the mountains and think how lucky we are to be here.


We had a meeting awhile back; it is called a brothers meeting. That’s when delegates from all of our outposts come together and discuss issues that arise through the year. Anyway to start the day off I had to get up around 3:30am and drive 5 to 6 hours to this meeting. At least half of that was on dirt roads. (real bumpy roads) Just for interest sake it was only about 62nm as the crow flies and would have taken only about 30 minutes by air. I did stop and pick up a few people on the way. It was way way out in the bush. We had about 51 members there and 3 were from Mozambique. There were 20 congregations represented. We tried to fit into a church building there but there just wasn’t room inside so the local brethren laid out large mats on the ground under a tree and set up a little rickety table in front for the secretaries and a little rickety bench for a few of the pastors to sit on. The rest of us just sat cross legged on the ground for the rest of the day. (it was hard on some of us white people’s knees to sit like that, we had to keep moving our legs; but it didn’t seem to bother the local ones, guess they’re used to that.)


I had brought 3 mosquito hammocks with me to Africa and so I had brought them to this meeting. These hammocks are made for the jungle and they have a mosquito netting that you zip close after you get in. That makes you feel a bit safer from all the critters that crawl around here. I was glad I had brought them because about half of the crowd slept in the little two room church on the floor and the rest just slept out on the ground under the stars. I shared my hammocks with some friends (James, Michael, and myself and Jed brought his own also) and we found a few trees to hang them in. We started hanging them and we quickly became the talk of the crowd. I guess those people had never seen or even heard of a hammock before. They would point and come up close to inspect them and then they would laugh and say we were like monkeys sleeping in the trees! Oh ya, of course they had no lights but one of the missionaries had brought some 12volt lights that used the vehicle battery to help out in the evening. Soon we were in our hammocks and trying to go to sleep; listening to the many night sounds that are made in Africa. All of you back there, your really are missing out on a lot of blessings! The trees we had used for our hammocks were about 10ft away from the little dirt road. Not much vehicle traffic there but a lot of foot traffic so at times I could see people stopping and peering at us throughout the night. I was a little worried that someone would come along and not knowing someone was sleeping inside would think this would be a good thing to take home and try to cut it off the tree. I didn’t know if my back would take a fall like that.


I had been told to expect to take a shower sometime in the night and sure enough, at exactly 3:30am someone came around and tried to wake me up, they said it was my turn to shower. Snuggled into my enclosed hammock I groggily said that I didn’t think I needed one this time. I was thinking that I could just skip one night and it probably wouldn’t kill me. But soon another person came around not knowing I had been asked already and asked me again, but this one was more persistent and I decided I should take one if only for the experience. Got my stuff around (we had to bring our own towels etc.) and followed the man through the darkness to a little grass enclosure. Only had the moon for light at that time of night and was kind of glad because any more light wouldn’t have been too good. Not much privacy. I think there were about 3 others taking their baths with only a little grass wall separating us. I was kind of wishing I was black about that time. I couldn’t see anyone else but they all could probably see me! Anyway they had a tub of hot water there that they had just heated up over a fire and so I proceeded to take a sponge bath. Not bad after it was all said and done.


After that I tried to go back to sleep and did after awhile, but I was once again awakened at 5:00am because they wanted to get an early start on the meeting. For breakfast we had hot tea and a bun. About mid-way though the morning we heard a chicken squawk, then another one, and someone whispered “that will be our lunch”, and sure enough, we had chicken to eat. I won’t get into the eating too much but you pretty much have to give up everything your mom taught you back home because you sit on the ground and share a bowl of this stuff with about two other people and did I mention that all two or three of you are eating out of the same dish with only your fingers from your right hand?


All in all it was a good meeting and I was impressed time and again how dedicated that the Christian brethren here are for the Lord. It seems like with Malawi being one of the poorest countries in Africa that the people here would have a lot to complain about but they are some of the happiest people around. Maybe that can be a lesson for some of us. Keep praying for the work here and for us also that we can know how to help and do what God wants us to do here.

Maybe next time I or my wife will describe a little about the many trips we have made to the hospitals here for Connor’s knee problem, or about the two snakes we have killed close to our house, one being a black mamba and the other one we think was a puff adder, and a few other things.

Update from Malawi…

This is the airport we arrived at. We live about 4 miles from here.
This is the airport we arrived at. That is Michiru Mountain in the background. We live about 4 miles from here. (As the crow flies)
Loca Woman washing clothes in the river
A typical scene we see while driving. These women are washing their clothes in a small river by the road.

We are enjoying our time here very much. We have a small house and a 4-wheel drive Toyota Prado. Temps have been hovering between 70 & 80 degrees F.; very comfortable so far. It hasn’t really rained since we got here so is very dry. Our night watchman waters our yard every evening with watering cans.

The sod in our yard mostly consists of something similar to St. Augustine and it isn’t looking very nice right now. Then we have a small patch of Bermuda grass about 4 foot sq. that usually looks very good! All our water gets hand pumped out of a small village well. So everybody back in Texas please be glad for how easily your water gets to your houses and yards! Keep praying for us. Updates will be coming.


Ndirande Mountian
This is Ndirande Mountain. We can see it from our house, and one of the congregations we’ve been going to is located at it’s base. It is about 5000 feet high.

Benefits of a Healthy Lawn

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Eight Benefits of Natural Grass


Turfgrass can be found on lawns, athletic fields, golf courses, parks, roadsides and many other natural and recreational areas. It accounts for over 50 million acres of maintained, irrigated natural grass in the U.S. alone. Ongoing research continues to uncover previously unidentified environmental, economic, health and safety benefits of natural turfgrass.



  1. Air Quality

 Turfgrass is a living organism. Each plant takes in carbon dioxide and converts it into simple sugars to use as food through the process of photosynthesis. As a byproduct of photosynthesis, oxygen is released into the atmosphere.

A turfgrass area measuring 2,500 square feet produces enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe. An average sized healthy lawn can capture as much as 300 pounds of carbon per year and a golf course fairway can capture 1,500 pounds per year. One soccer field can offset the carbon produced by a car driving 3,000 miles.

Because of this, Dr. Thomas Watschke of Penn State University states in “The Environmental Benefits of Turfgrass and Their Impact on the Greenhouse Effect” that “the strategic use of turfgrass is the most sensible and economically feasible approach to countering the greenhouse effect in urban areas.”

In addition to reducing carbon dioxide, turfgrass traps an estimated 12 million tons of dust and dirt released annually into the atmosphere.


  1. Pollution Filter

In 2013, an EPA Chesapeake Bay Program panel of experts concluded, based upon a review of extensive research, that a “dense vegetative cover of turfgrass” reduces pollution and runoff. More precisely, the average soccer field can absorb 50,000 gallons of water before runoff occurs. The fibrous root system stabilizes soil to reduce erosion and prevents the movement of sediment into creeks and rivers.

Additionally, studies have found the noise absorptive capacity of turfgrass is a significant part of how landscapes are effective in reducing noise pollution.


  1. Stormwater Management

 Landscaped areas reduce pollutants from leaching through the soil into the water supply or from entering surface water runoff. Turf grasses filter storm water excess and reduce sediment and pollutants from entering water bodies. Turfgrass plants also redirect he flow of water, slowing it and allowing more water to be absorbed by the soil, which aids in preventing soil erosion and flooding.

Did you know a healthy, sodded lawn absorbs rainfall six times more effectively than a wheat field and four times better than a hay field?


  1. Heat

 Environmental heating is reduced by turfgrass. On a hot summer day, a well maintained turfgrass area will be at least 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil.

The overall environmental cooling effect of turfgrass can be understood by comparing it to air conditioning. The average home has an air conditioner with a three or four ton capacity. The California Energy Commission has found the cooling effect of an average size lawn is equal to about nine tons of air conditioning. A single high school baseball field provides up to 70 tons of air conditioning. This cooling effect is beneficial for athletes and for reducing electrical needs for buildings and homes.


  1. Wellness and Stress

Green spaces have been shown to improve wellness and reduce stress. There is growing evidence that horticulture and natural grass found on sports fields and lawns is important on a human level. Plants lower blood pressure, reduce muscle tension related to stress, improve attention and reduce feelings of fear and anger or aggression.

In 2002, The University of California – Riverside conducted research to support that hospital stays are positively affected by turfgrass and green spaces. Patients in hospital rooms with a view of nature and lawns recover more quickly than similar patients in rooms with a view of building walls.

Similarly, people who live and work in an environment with a view of lawns and nature compared to an urban view, were found to recover from stress more quickly. Employees with a view of landscaped areas experience less job pressure, greater job satisfaction and fewer headaches than those who do not have a view or can only see manmade objects. Green spaces are also proven to increase work productivity.

Also related to wellness and stress, two surveys on Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder have shown that children active in green spaces, such as lawn areas, experience less severe symptoms. Another study published in “Environment and Behavior” indicated green spaces can enable children to think more clearly and cope more effectively with life’s stress.


  1. Therapeutic

The care of turfgrass and plants can have a positive, therapeutic effect and is included in many rehabilitation programs. These programs have been successfully used to treat certain illnesses, aid in the recovery of disabled people and help the elderly stay mobile. Programs have even been successfully implemented in prison systems, allowing inmates to acquire new, marketable skills that they can use when they return to civilian life.


  1. Community Appeal

Turfgrass and green spaces increase community appeal and improve property values. Smart Money magazine indicates that consumers value a landscaped home up to 11.3 percent higher than its base price. Additionally, it says one of the most cost effective ways to boost a home’s curb appeal is by attractively landscaping the yard. Well-manicured plots of land are one of the most important factors individuals and families consider when deciding where to live.

Green spaces create close-knit communities, which increases safety. Residents in landscaped areas tend to know their neighbors better, socialize more often and have stronger feelings of community when compared to residents living in more barren areas. Communities with trees and green spaces have lower crime, decreased police calls for domestic violence and decreased incidences of child abuse.


  1. Recreation and Sport

 Turfgrass is used extensively for recreation and sport as well as providing places where adults, kids and pets can spend time outside the home. About 80 million people in the U.S. over the age of seven play sports on turfgrasses. The majority of professional athletes prefer to play on natural grass surfaces.

Providing places for recreation and encouraging activity is especially important with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting over one third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of American children and adolescents as obese. Recreational activities also provide children and adults leisure time in a positive and safe environment.