Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Living in the Village

I moved to the village. Well, as they say here, 'somehow' the village. As someone aptly noted, our office compound in Kamonkoli is "like town in the village." It’s not brick or mud huts with tin or thatch roofs. It’s not dirt floors, or pit latrines. It’s not cooking outdoors on charcoal stoves. It’s indoor plumbing, and normal (for here :) ) windows and doors. It’s the same furniture and decorations that I had in Mbale. It’s carpet in the bedroom, and a bathtub and shower.

My bedroom

But it is also hand carrying water in jerrycans. Because city water hasn’t reached us here in months so the only way to have running water is if the one and only firetruck in the region brings water to fill the tank. And even then, everything other than showering is done with jerrycans in order to conserve water.

It is learning that a toilet needs 10 liters of water (a half a jerrycan, or more than 20 lbs of water) in order to flush...and learning how many times you can use it in between flushes :)

It is the (worse than usual) power outages, and slow internet.

It is the challenge of making sure food in the freezer doesn’t defrost and spoil before power comes back.

It is dashing through the outdoor courtyard from the main section of my house to the kitchen and fumbling to open the padlock while dodging raindrops or the insects attracted by the security light. And then racing back again without said water and bugs falling in my dinner.

From my room, the distance to the kitchen seems so much greater in the rain!

It is the ongoing war against the stink of bat poop that had been pouring through the ceiling cracks (even onto my head while sleeping one night!) and saturating the carpets.

But I have so much to be grateful for.

I have people willing to climb up into the attic and fumigate for bats. And sweep up the many pounds of feces, insects, and dirt they've deposited. And collect the carcases of the bats once they’ve died. And I don’t have to be the one to do it!

I have people who will go fetch water for me when I’m too sick to go for it myself.

I have shower gel that smells just as sweet with cold baths as with warm showers.

I have people to help me wash clothes, sheets, towels, and everything else that can be so challenging to wash by hand!

I have a toilet that flushes without the flies, smell, and challenge of a squatty potty.

I have essential oils to diffuse in my bedroom to help manage the smells.

I have a miracle-car that I can just load my jerrycans in, drive to the orphanage property, fill from the well-water tap, and drive back home! Carrying them the 100 feet to the kitchen or bathroom isn’t anything compared to the miles that some walk for water!

I have a piano to enjoy, worship, and sometimes use to pound out my frustration :)

I have the home of a good friend just next door that I just pop in anytime.

And… I have 4 kittens born just after I moved that have kept me laughing, smiling, and quite entertained all these weeks!

I truly have so much.

So this has been the war in my heart these weeks…feeling the challenge, frustration, pain, and sickness that has come from these difficulties, but wanting so much to be grateful. It’s constantly reminding myself what conditions most of my children live in, and hearing over and over again the small voice of one of them that said “Teecha, you have a beautiful house here!” It’s fighting to see that beauty...without the smell coloring my appreciation for it.

But still, there are hours and days I’ve fought (and lost!) feeling sorry for myself. I’m reminded constantly of the conditions the Mary Slessor (The missionary who’s my life example and inspiration) endured and ministered effectively under. I know how spoiled I am compared to her situation. And I also know how many people would just love the chance to have as much as I do! But as many times a day as I remind myself of that, it's amazing how often I can still fall prey to discouragement and frustration.

I’ve tried consoling myself with the thought that once my house is built on the orphanage property, most of these things won’t be major issues anymore. I’ll have access to the generator when power goes out. I’ll be connected to the well water that is both unlimited and clean! I won’t have snakes running under my feet when I run to the kitchen for drinking water at night. I won’t have a bat colony in my ceiling. I’ve told myself time and time again, just push through these months, and one day it’ll be worth it. Many, many missionaries have made it through so much worse, and you can too! One day being close enough to the school for my kids to stop by afterwards for a tutoring lesson, or heart-to heart conversation, or a painting session will make everything worth it.

But that’s not good enough. I know it’s not good enough. It’s not enough to just promise to praise Jesus for what will be in the future. I need to praise Him now. Like Corrie ten Boom who learned to praise Jesus even for the fleas in a concentration camp (http://deeprootsathome.com/betsie-and-the-fleas/), I must praise Him for everything. And like Corrie, my heart cries, “How can I thank Him even for the bats?!?!?" But also like Corrie, I will (one day) come to discover the beauty and blessing that Jesus was bringing through that challenge. That’s His promise to me: all things (aka bats, water, power, cockroaches, malaria, typhoid, and even betrayal, gossip, and backbiting) will be turned into something to benefit me (Romans 8:28). Whether I discover that benefit this month, this year, or not until one day in heaven, I am confident it will be there. So I’m here begging Jesus to fill me with a spirit of thanksgiving, and give me an eternal perspective. I’m here begging Him to help me release my grip on what I've been trying to hold on to, and instead fill me with the joy of trading my temporary comfort for eternal glory. I’m learning yet again to offer the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). A praise that does not flow from something that costs me nothing, but rather exacts a sacrifice. A praise that defies all expectations and definitions of what is possible.

This praise that makes it possible to say wholeheartedly…

It is worth it.