The water is off today.
I thought I had prepared for the usual water cut by setting the timer on my washer. Sad fact: I’ve had this washer for over two years and didn’t know there was a timer on it until last week when I read the manual. In any case, I loaded the washer, set the timer and went to bed. I knew that when I woke in the morning, the clothes would be ready to hang out on the line. When the morning came, I expected to see the usual puddle of water next to the washer because my washer leaks. I was sorely disappointed when I saw no puddle. I knew then that there had been a power had cut during the night, turning the timer off. The clothes now sit dirty in the washer, because the water is off today.
Bucket Baths and Dishwashers
We keep an extra barrel of water outside for our usual water cuts. Honestly, a large water tank would be nice, but at the moment, installing a water tank is out of the reach of our pocketbook. The barrel system works well for us as we keep it full. We have learned to manage the house for a day or two with some 50 gallons of water. It’s amazing how one can learn, when necessary, to conserve water. I have learned to take a bath from a bucket. I am, in fact, an expert at bucket bathing. I can, not only use one bucket for a bath, I can also wash and condition my hair from the same bucket. That takes some mad conservation skills.
While I wait for the water to come on, the dishes build in the sink and my frustration levels increase. My family knows that dirty dishes are my nemesis; I often long for a dishwasher! Whenever I travel Sateside and visit family, I silently ache to press the “start” button on the dishwasher. Hot water together with soap work a miracle. In about an hour, clean and (mostly) dry dishes emerge from the machine. How lovely it would be to have a dishwasher.
If I were so blessed to have a dishwasher, it would sit silent (as my washer) because…
The water is off today.
In This Strange Place
Life on this side is inconvenient, uncomfortable, unpredictable and sometimes intractable. Yet, it’s in this strange place that I fit. I’m sure I present as a strange case to friends and loved ones Stateside. I find it difficult to explain myself to myself.
There have been times over the years that I have tried to fit in with my “normal” counterparts in far-off lands. Whenever any of our children have married and we’ve traveled to be at the wedding, I’ve done my best to scrub up and look the part as either the mother of the bride or groom. Everyone knows that no matter how nice a dress I might wear or how good the salon has made my hair look for the day, my missionary side lurks close to the surface.
My feet will ache in my beautiful high-heeled shoes that will soon be tossed to the back of my closet, never to be worn again.
I will forget to freshen up my (years old) lipstick, unlike everyone else.
My nails will probably be unmanicured because I likely didn’t think about getting them done. Fun fact: We had family pictures done years ago and the photographer had me stand behind my husband and put my arms around him – showing off my very undone nails.
And I don’t know how to dance. I will awkwardly make my way to mingle with everyone else on the dance floor, shrinking in embarrassment at my sad moves.
An Ache For Home
It is inevitable that the ache to return home to Africa will draw me back to where I fit. Back to where I find work fulfilling, back to where I make sense. It is in Africa that God taught me to live as He made me to be. I’ve slowly learned to let myself be who I am and live without apology.
I hope the one lesson my children have learned from their father and I is to live authentically as God made them to be. He made us as we are – and He likes us just as He made us. There’s nothing that gives Him greater pleasure than His children learning to enjoy the gift of who they are made to be in this world.
And the water is still off…and my hair…but that’s another story for another day.
Psalm 139:13,14 LB “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.”