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A Day

March 9, 2016

This is not a typical day.  But it’s not extraordinary, either.  It was just a day.  But, if you ever wanted an example of why your missionary friends might be tired or stressed, it is because of days like this.  Days that are not everyday, but are also not uncommon.  It just is…a day.

Monday, we ran out of water around noon.  You see, the water from the city only comes in at night, but every once in a while we skip a night.  It’s really a matter of planning and storage.  We have some water storage, but only enough for a simple day (not a day where we all five bathe, do laundry, cook, clean, and water the garden).  We will be getting more storage in place very soon, so the problem is temporary.  We currently have a back up tank on the ground that we can pump into our house water storage – our household water storage is up on a tower, to allow for gravity flow, though we have a 12v pump and batteries so we always have great water pressure…unless we’re out of water, of course.

So, water is complicated, but not really once you’re used to it.

Okay, fine, we’re good without water for a few hours.  What sort of missionaries would we be without that skill?  This was not really a big deal by itself

So, I paused my laundry endeavor and welcomed my new twice-a-week household helper, who will come to help with some domestic chores (in additional to the help I have with dishes and cleaning), which will be lovely once baby arrives.  The best part, she is our nanny from our first year here!  She has since been working hard for several other families, including two MAF families, and has, up until now, been too busy for me to hire her.  She is so great and has since been trained to do so much more, especially cooking.  It was her first day.  She ironed, and changed the kids’ sheets, and made mashed potatoes for the dinner I had planned.  And I look forward to a few less chores when trying to juggle a new baby on top of everything.  (If “everything” still seems a bit suspect, as if I’m potentially being lazy, please continue reading…)

Matthew came home early to continue the work on our brakes for our big yellow car.  Since there is no auto parts store around, sometimes it’s a matter of taking things apart and finding the little parts – or sending someone to go searching in the booths for you.  So, as he was putting things back together, the clamp broke.  Okay, that project is done and must wait for another day…again.  (This is a whole story in itself, really, of how long it takes to repair something in Congo.)

We enjoyed a lamb roast for dinner…not a typical dinner, but sometimes you just need a meat and potatoes dinner, and lamb is readily available here.  Except that as we sat down, there was a knock on our door.  Just one of our workers who had come to drop off a car part for an MAF vehicle Matthew is repairing.  It does seem that someone always comes as we sit down to dinner.

We were getting the kids to bed when the lights flickered.  Our guard said there was a fire in the line outside.  So, Matthew cut the power to the house so we didn’t have any problems up the line and we waited.  We did a few things around the house, grateful for our batteries that keep our lights on and our fridge and freezer running.

But, we were a little discouraged that by 9pm the power was still lower (coming in at 50 volts, instead of the normal 220v), and shut off the fridge and freezer to conserve battery power for the night.  We crawled into bed and it was hot and still.  It was too quiet and stuffy for me to sleep well the first half of the night.

But of course, by the time I actually fell asleep, one child also decided it was too hot and stuffy and dark and quiet to stay asleep.  So, I was awake at 4am and unable to get back to sleep.  Not really a great start to a day…especially one that was hot and no power all night for the first time since moving was not a good sign for the day to come.

As soon as there was light, I had our guard call our power guy.  This guy supposedly works for the power company, but those lines are blurry as well.  Also, he looks a lot like the main pirate from Captain Phillips, so there’s a bit of that going on.  But, he comes out and repairs the line a few hours later and stops by to say that he was able to put the strips of cut plastic bag around the burnt line but needed money for the “scotch” (tape).  Yep, that’s a Congo power line repair.  220v flowing through burnt metal, plastic bag, and tape (not necessarily electrical tape, either).  It may or may not be buried in the sand along the street.  More likely, it buried only a few inches in…waiting for a big rain to wash it back to the surface.  So I gave him the $10 he needed, knowing full well tape was not that much, but I just wanted my power back and was happy he was here and had brought power with him.

We had been able to manage school and something like lunch (okay, a lot of snacking) and my veggie guy came by.  Oh and my veggie lady who normally comes on Tuesdays, came by a day early.  Surprise.  And I was so hot and uncomfortable in a general sort of way (yay late pregnancy).  But, then the power came back and I relaxed under the air conditioner, grateful that Axel had easily gone down for a nap and Amelia, who had been up since 4am, was at least resting quietly in her room.  And we had water.

The afternoon was relatively low key and made the day feel less chaotic.  But then evening hit.

The power went out again around 4pm.  But it appeared that it was bigger than just our little section.  I was able to confirm this as the sun went down and I looked out over the neighborhood (we’re on just a little hill) and saw nothing but blackness, speckled in a few lights thanks to generators.

Matthew had finished working on the breaks and was outside in the yard as it grew dark, so he turned on the generator to turn on our yard lights (not connected to the batteries).  I got the kids washed and heard the generator sputter out of fuel.  Yay for the battery lights and I was able to finish the bedtime routine.  Moments after getting them tucked in, the house went dark.  Utter blackness.  The batteries, having not had much time to charge over the last 24 hours, threw in the towel…and we were out of generator gas.  I grabbed a flashlight and went outside, where Matthew had just come back from a test run of the brakes (which worked great).

He climbed back in the car and ran down to the gas station for more generator gas.  Of course, while he was gone, the power came back on (it had been out for about four hours at this point).  Because the outage this time was the normal power sharing.  Half-day outages are very normal and the city swaps times of day for power.

So, we went to bed, grateful the day was over and the power was on for the night…

But then the power surged sometime in the night.  When we woke up in the morning, two dejuncters (the little boxes protecting our air conditioners from power surges) were dead, thus the air conditioners were also out of commission.  But the power surge (which we discovered was over 400v) had taken a greater victim…our washing machine.  We were planning on buying a voltage regulator TODAY, one day too late.

Matthew still might have some tricks to confirm, but as far as we can tell, the poor thing fried.  And after a weekend short of water, and the first half of the week short on power, my laundry is a bit piled up.  And as I look ahead to the next seven days before we leave for Vanga, well, that’s not really awesome.

But so far today, besides two dead dejuncters and a possibly dead washing machine, I am grateful for so many things.  Like the fact that today is the day we have a worker who is able to go out and buy things like dejuncters, another voltage regulator, and a few more car parts.  The fact that the power is actually on at the moment, so it’s not unbearably hot.  Also, there was an epic rain storm last night that cooled everything down just a touch.  The wonderful fact that someone posted a perfect washing machine for sale yesterday on the local buy-and-sell Facebook group and it’s still available and currently marked as ours.  And tonight is our last date night before baby…that is definitely something to look forward to.

So, if you think this post is complaining about how life is hard or at least harder than yours, I’m afraid you missed the point.  I’m not complaining or comparing at all.  I’m merely sharing that some days are complicated and hard and normal life doesn’t always happen in the way we wish…no matter where you live or what factors add to the complication.  The above are my complicating factors.

But, this, too, is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it…and maybe be a bit sweaty, too.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy Pankow permalink
    March 9, 2016 0829

    I’m so sorry this all happened Lisa! But you know what the key to true contentment is – In all circumstances, give thanks! It makes us stronger and helps us to look up to our source of peace and comfort. I will be praying for a safe trip and safe delivery for you and that little one. Sorry I can’t be there to help with the kids! I’ll never forget my time when little Axel arrived! God’s Blessings, Aunt Judy

  2. ricetd permalink
    March 10, 2016 0829

    Wow. Thanks for sharing. Tim On Mar 9, 2016 1:27 AM, “The Linds in DR Congo with MAF” wrote:

    > Matthew & Lisa Lind posted: “This is not a typical day. But it’s not > extraordinary, either. It was just a day. But, if you ever wanted an > example of why your missionary friends might be tired or stressed, it is > because of days like this. Days that are not everyday, but are also n” >

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