Technical Difficulties

(re-posted from September 2010)

(FYI: this blog has been written over the last 2 weeks or so. Finally getting it posted! It’s taken 2.5 hours to post this and everything keeps shifting, so sorry if the layout is funky)

Sometimes I like to process what’s happening in life by thinking of what I’d title a book written about my current season of life Past titles have been, Life Outside the Loop, and Single-parenting Your Inter-Racially Adopted Child Overseas (which I’m pretty sure would have a very small readership J). The really funny ones are just too sarcastic to make public, but have been therapeutic for me to think through! Lately I’ve been in the research faze of my next imaginary best-seller, which is a theological thriller entitled: Technical Difficulties of Life in Africa and Their Threat to My Personal Sanctification.

[I thought this drawing Ellie did of “what mommy looks like when a bat comes in the house” would make a nice book cover]

I guess when I usually write a blog it’s about a significant story or encounter I’ve had. And while there are some pretty amazing days here, this blog isn’t about those–it’s about the other days…the days that can take me beyond frustrated to just a little bit CRAZY.

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog about Jabulile, and her need for a new house. Some of you donated and some of you have been asking for an update. This blog started formulating in my head as I thought about why I was having so much trouble getting an update written! The plan for Jabulile’s house had seemed so simple…she had half the blocks needed for the house, the church men would donate their time, and we’d help raise funds for the rest of the materials. Simple has become a bit UN-simple. Rest assured, the house is happening, and the donated money is accomplishing what it was intended for, BUT just not in the way or time-table that any of us would choose.
It’s like this: first off wrong materials were purchased. It took a few weeks for anyone to tell us this, and for them to be exchanged for the correct ones. We were told volunteer labor wouldn’t work and that we’d need to at least hire a foreman for the job, which also took a weeks to sort out…and it was another expense we weren’t counting on. The foundation was accidentally made a meter larger than what we had budgeted for, meaning that the blocks, roofing etc. wasn’t enough and more had to be purchased…another added expense. There’s more, but those are the highlights. 
Soooo, the foundation is done, and the walls should be up by now, BUT some of the “technical difficulties” have slowed us down quite a bit. Each decision of how to handle a new need that comes up has to be made carefully so that we’re not creating dependence or giving the impression we have endless supplies of resources.  Different cultures just have different styles of communication and planning, etc and I think I could live in other countries another 50 yrs and still never have it all figured out!  I’ll keep you updated as my sanity allows.

On the home front, I’ve been trying to get some work done on the electricity and water at my house…since last OCTOBER. I finally got sick of the waiting on the landlord to do something, and decided to take things into my own hands. After multiple visits from multiple repairmen, things went from bad to worse. The good news is that they did stop sparks from shooting out of the fuse box, our stove now has all its knobs (they’re all incorrect-but it’s better than pliers!), and the broiler in the oven was resurrected. Unfortunately, the broiler worked too well, and was actually the only thing that worked on the stove, and could only be turned off by cutting the power supply to the stove. UNTIL one night when I was “broiling” a cake, and I opened the door to check on it–a big WHOOSH of sparks and flames shot out. More good news: I didn’t catch on fire, the broiler was finally off, and I got to see the fireworks display I missed on the 4th.
We did have hot water for a few days after the plumbers 3rd visit, but then it quit working again, and the hot water heater (which for some reason is up in the crawl space above the ceiling) had some sort of valve malfunction that caused water to pour down through the light fixture and ceiling-two nights in a row. We had been heating water on the stove for bucket baths, but that became a little more difficult after the broiler incident. It seemed like one thing “fixed” would require a couple follow up visits to really fix it (usually a 3-5 day wait time once you request a visit), and something new would often be broken in the process (i.e. on one visit the plumber forgot his ladder so he hoisted himself up into the crawl space by using the bathroom door, which in turn broke the bottom hinge on the door, which subsequently led to Ellie getting herself locked in the bathroom the next morning and being late for school. )
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. I’m surrounded by people with troubles infinitely worse than mine, yet somehow I let my life and attitude become so easily de-railed by all my comparatively small “difficulties.” One night during one of our flooding incidents, as I was madly rushing around with buckets and towels trying to stop the torrent, I heard Ellie run up behind me giggling and squealing. I turned around to see her jumping up and down with the biggest smile plastered on her face, decked out in her swim suit and flip flops. She thought water gushing from the ceiling was a great idea! I’m pretty sure God has a lesson in there somewhere about how I choose to view my circumstances, eh? What I saw as a flood zone quickly approaching disaster status, Ellie saw as a water fun park and quickly got herself ready to enjoy it! Ellie is so good for me. And God is so patient with me and all my issues!
After this week I may be starting a new (imaginary) book: “Miracle on Masalesikhudleni Street.” My street isn’t actually named Masalesikhudleni, because it’s just a dirt road and has no name that I know of, but it is my favorite street name in town, and in honor of the small pole that defies gravity by holding up a street sign so long, I’ve chosen to use it in my new title. The miraculous inspirations are: Jabulile’s house is progressin, my electricity is finally fixed, the stove is working well, the hot water seems to be back to normal, and after SO MUCH WORK to get them that way…WE’RE MOVING!!!!!!!!!! Ha!!

After more than a year of looking for a different house to rent in our neighborhood, something has just opened up only a few blocks away and we’re pretty excited about it. It’s so nice…I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how nice it is, but I have to because it’s really a miracle that it’s all coming together. The house has a small room/apartment that can be rented out, plus office and storage space that Timbali will be able to rent, so the actual portion of the rent we’ll be responsible for is not much more than what we’re paying now…and it’s sooooooooo much better: a nice big kitchen, a more safe and secure neighborhood, plenty of room for guests (hint hint), and… INTERNET!! We’ll be moving at the beginning of October. You can stop by anytime after that!

So I’ll wrap up yet another long-ish blog by saying that we’re happy and thankful and can continually see the Lord taking care of us in the circumstances of our life whether it’s exploding ovens, minor floods, a new home or GREAT FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS. Be blessed!

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