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We’re back!

May 5, 2012

Annnnnd, we’re back!  The internet was a little iffy once it was back up by mid-week, but  one cannot just have internet.  Finding the combination of internet, power, and time became tricky as the week went on.  Have we ever mentioned the power situation on here?  I can’t remember if we did.  Power here in Kinshasa is extremely unstable.  In short, the power company is corrupt.  The lines here are still the original lines from the 1960’s and repairs have just been spliced in.  Little splices, over and over, on cables that can hardly be described as buried.  During the rain, most people just stay inside because stepping in a puddle is a very common way to die when there is an unknown power line exposed.  So, we lose power very often and totally at random, anywhere from 15 minutes to 15 hours at a time…last spring this neighborhood was without power for six weeks.  But, here we are and here’s a blog post I wrote on Monday and finished it tonight!

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Saturday, April 28

Matthew spent the day hard at work, but here at home.  He finalized the project in the kitchen, and began, continued some of the other ongoing projects.  I’ll let him fill you in on the details, but he got a lot done.  I was less productive, after a long, hard week (for both of us) and spent extra time with the kiddos, folded laundry, and did some tidying.  Nothing special to living in the Congo, I know, but life is life, no matter where you’re living.

That afternoon, just before sunset, the sky turned the sepia-toned color it always turns before a storm.  It had been hot, so rain was to be expected.  The humidity and the heat become so intense by late afternoon, that the only thing left for the atmosphere to do it dump water everywhere.  Anyway, I ran outside to remove all of the diapers I had just hung to dry, and got them under cover.  Not twenty minutes later it started to sprinkle.  About ten minutes after that it was the most intense storm either of us had ever witnessed.  I took this picture of the palm tree across the street.  It reminded me of the pictures of the hurricanes in Hawaii.

whooosh

The wind was blowing sheets of water sideways through the air.  Branches breaking off of our trees were hurdled across the open yard.  The noise echoing off of our tin roof was extremely loud and Levi politely requested that the sound be turned down, it was too loud.  The lightening was intense, though it is always intense here.  Kinshasa has the most lightening strikes of anywhere in the world.  There was thunder to match the lightening’s intensity.  Between squalls, Matthew went outside to check our property, but all was intact.

Just as darkness settled, the storm subsided.  The power came back on (it had been off during the storm, no surprise there!) and besides the chaos in the yard, it was as if nothing happened.  We texted our friends, who were due to come over for a game of Settlers of Catan, that we were ready.

They were late because across the street, at the MAF-owned house, a tree had blown down.  Actually, several.  The big tree, though, had crashed through their wall.  Other trees had come down in the neighborhood, in several missionaries’ yards.  The MAF internet antennae had also come down, so we have no internet.  I am blogging, but I have no idea when I’ll be able to post…

So our friends arrived and it began to rain again.  More storm.  No more power.  We continued our game by lantern light and didn’t think much about it.

The power came back on in time for bed, but was off again sometime around 2am.

Sunday morning we had already planned a family day.  We had both had rough weeks, for various reasons, and were feeling drained as a unit.  The thought of just relaxing together seemed more restful than trying to make church happen.  Levi started the day at 7am and we were out the door by 8:30am, still without power.

We decided to head down to the Commercial Centre, the little market closest to our house, to see about breakfast.  We found some fresh bread and munched on it while we ventured down a street we hadn’t yet seen.  It was behind our house and we have been hearing loud church music.  Turns out, there are two churches back there and it seemed that they were still practicing for a later service.  One had loud singers and one had a generator with a worship team.  The little concrete buildings were similar to the church where we worshipped last week.  We passed many houses and people out and about.  We even passed one house where the guard asked, in English, if we were Americans and said the house that he was guarding belonged to someone from the American Embassy.  Good to know!

We were home by ten and, without power or motivation, snacked a little more and read while Levi played outside and Amelia just sat there looking adorable, playing with some toys.  I fell asleep at one point and Matthew gathered some tools to take to the upcoming work party across the street.  That tree was not going to move itself!

Four hours later they are still out there, chainsaws blaring, cutting through the tree.  I’d go investigate and photograph if both kids weren’t sleeping.

We finally do have power, so I should get dinner going before we loose it again.  Never a dull moment in Kin!

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One week later…

So, the tree that came down also knocked down a wall, which will be repaired this week.  The wood was all sold, after spending two days cutting it up.  Matthew worked very hard and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen one person sweat so much!  The storm also was the catalyst that caused our neighbor to take down his coconut palm, the one from the wind picture above.  So sad!  However, now the MAF internet antennae is in better view, so I guess that’s good.  Oh, and to watch the locals take down this tree was a great Congolese experience.  He actually waved at me while I was waking pictures.  Put it on your bucket list: take down coconut tree using ropes and a machete.

Two ropes and one machete…

This week was busy, both around the house, and out.  We met a few other missionary families coming and going from the bush.  Such fascinating stories, it makes our life in Kinshasa seem as normal as living in the states!  The wife of one of the families had some great bug stories that make my little cockroach run-ins seem silly.  I’m okay with that and have vowed never to live in the jungle.  Ha ha ha.  You can laugh at me, it’s okay.

Speaking of cockroaches, we think we can declare the infestation over!  Matthew has gone out the past two Saturdays to check what used to be their home, where we found hundreds of them, and it is bug-free!  We did have a few when Matthew replaced a toilet, because they had been living under the floor under the toilet, but that is now sealed.

We witnessed a termite storm in our garden this week that was so fascinating I just stood there, dumbfounded.  Thousands of termites covered the dirt in our garden (the plants are still tiny, of course) and little by little were taking off.  The birds were having the time of their lives, dive-bombing the food.  After about ten minutes, all that was left was little red termite babies on the ground.  Fifteen minutes after that, the only remains were some wings that had been left behind.  It was strange.  Matthew came home about then to work on the house and asked his assistant to explain what that was about.  As he explained the swarming season and that our plants were not at any risk, he also told him about the possibilities of termites as food.  They catch them in nets, pick off their wings, and fry them!  Of course, as he was saying all of this, he was catching the few that were left, pulling off their wings, and popping them like popcorn!  He told me to fry them!  Ha!

A little later, Nestor, Matthew’s assistant, showed us how to pick a mango like a Congolese and gave us the first two mangos off our tree.  Mango trees are HUGE, so it takes a long stick and a good eye to catch them.  Next, someone needs to pick our coconuts, I think…

I think that sums up some of the more interesting parts of our week.  Hopefully our internet will stay on this course of being on all the time!  Picture post coming soon!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tally permalink
    May 5, 2012 0829

    That was a great read, Lisa; I enjoy your writing style. So sad to see the “Parrot” palm tree being cut down. Our parrot got out and flew to that tree to live with the other wild parrots there. That was some storm. I enjoy hearing your progress with the culture, the people, the house, etc.

  2. June 2, 2012 0829

    Your description of the ‘power situation’ is so like that in the Philippines, I would think the same company provides power. Corrupt is a very accurate word to describe the situation there, too. I almost purchased a generator to handle simple things like lights and my BiPap which I need to sleep. My wife tells me of times where they had to go WEEKS…sometimes months…without power. Man…I feel so spoiled here.

    Red

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