Friday, April 15, 2011


Getting an unexpected day off here doesn't mean you can sit back, relax, and drink coffee all day.  It only means you get to work on the growing "to do" list.  The real challenge here is that nothing is simple and things always take way longer than you think they will.  Flying is one of the simpler things is get to do here.  Or maybe it's because flying is familiar to me.  Either way, Joy and I have finally come to terms with the fact that things will never be what we're used to.  After spending 6 months trying to transform our house into the American "home" we've always wanted, we just found ourselves tired, exhausted, and missing home.

We are learning to adapt to our surroundings, use a whole new set of resources we're not used to.  For example, in the US, if you want to remodel your house, you get in the car and drive to Home Depot or Lowes for hardware and supplies.  Here, you go into a shop, ask around, and dig through piles of stuff.  If you find something close to what you're looking for, you enlist the help of a few guys to go and find what you're really looking for and bring it back to you.  Then you bring it home, modify, alter, or completely change what you bought to make it work in your particular situation.

It doesn't sound like a big deal, but just imagine working with wood here.  First, you go to the market, find some decent wood, buy it, bring it home, and let it sit for 6 months so it can dry out.  Then you take it to the wood planing shop or plane it yourself by hand.  After that, you cut it (with a handsaw), sand it (by hand), and begin the staining/painting process.  Each step takes at least a day, some up to a week.  So you can see why I don't have window screens up yet :)

Throw in a bunch of other problems, like electricity, plumbing, broken car...and it takes FOREVER to get anything done.  After a while, you just realize that family is more important than keeping the flies out.  Spending time with my daughter is more important than digging a fire pit.  Talking with my wife is more important than tinkering with the generator.  So what if we have to use the wind up lantern and a few candles to see at night time.  What's the big deal?  There's not much else to do anyway.

Don't get me wrong, there are certain things that are pretty essential to life, like water and barricading the house from rats.  But everything else is a luxury.

Saying bye bye to daddy before he leaves for Kampala!
It's a difficult thing to explain.  I see people every day who live in one room huts, who own a cooking pan and a small bag of coal for fire.  They're just fine without window screens, TV, doors that open the way you want them to, and electricity.  How do they do it?  We are very privileged to have what we have, but as they say, "With privilege comes great responsibility."  I think I finally understand what that means.

Joy sewing fabric for our couch cushions!
This is not to say that things can't be improved around here, oh no!  It merely means we should keep things in perspective and remember why we are here in the first place.  It means we need to accept the fact that life in Africa is not life in America, no matter how hard we try to make these four walls our little slice of familiarity.  Relaxing doesn't mean sitting on a beach chair with your feet up, listening to the ocean waves.  It means finding your rest in Him, trusting Him in many new ways you never even thought of before.  It means that "God is not so much interested in my comfort, as much as my spiritual development."  It means waking up every morning and instead of knowing what lies ahead, taking a few minutes and asking the Lord to give you the grace, patience, and flexibility to overcome the challenges this day brings.  Maybe that's the best way I can describe it:  total dependence on Him.


Owen said...

Great post! Curious if Joy's sewing machine is 120 or 240 volts. We were thinking about bringing Stephanie's sewing machine and surger, but I know that even with a transformer things with motors run funny on 50Hz.

Chris said...

The one she's using is 120v and I'm running it through a transformer. She also just got one from the US that is 120v so she can have her own. You can get them in Kampala; I have no idea how much they cost. We haven't had any problems with the frequency.

Home said...

Love your insights and impressions Chris and Joy! You both are gems!