While I was back in the States, a very common question was, “What is a typical day for you in Sierra Leone?” I would just smile and my answer was always the same: “There is no ‘typical’ but the one thing we can count on is that nothing will go the way we’ve planned.” This journal entry perfectly describes our “typical” day.
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Date of original journal entry: December 31, 2012
The line from the water tower tank which feeds the house has become horribly fouled by something. Over the last couple of weeks, the water has slowed to a trickle and now it smells horrible. The bathroom, which includes the laundry area, is most affected and the shower isn’t usable at all. Humph, that means hauling water to do laundry and, worse, dipper baths from a bucket until the repair can be made. At this rate it will be a long time for this to inconvenience me.
This morning was the first opportunity Stephen has had to trouble shoot the problem and in his usual haste to make the repair and get to the rest of his own mounting work list, he cut the supply pipe before I could fill the filters for drinking water and draw a reserve of water for hand washing. Now not even a slow supply is available. We won’t even talk about the laundry that’s piling up.
Next there’s a steady stream of people – distractions. Joseph comes to help Stephen unload 20 bags of chicken feed; a job he was supposed to have done last night but was nowhere to be found. Now Stephen is wandering around looking for the hack saw; it was probably loaned out and not returned. Next, some of the men find it necessary to come up and make church plans. Now? Really? Don’t they know I need Stephen’s attention for the water repair? But he patiently gives them some time while I fuss about. As they leave, Margaret comes up feigning sickness and pulling her tiresome trick of refusing to speak to me. I have to leave off helping Stephen to go find someone who will talk to her in Mende and find out what she thinks she needs. She chose a bad time to play her petty games; she’s supposed to be helping with some simple chores in exchange for our paying her school fees; I’m guessing her chores won’t get done today.
Hack saw found – Good, small progress is made.
Foday comes up to just to “greet” and Stephen, to be polite, gives him some time. Time that’s supposed to be helping me!
It’s now noon. Still no water. No way will this, or any other job for that matter, be completed today.
Then I looked down the driveway and saw yet another distraction walking up. “Will you all just go away so MY problem can be addressed!” I said aloud but only to myself. What about ME? I need Stephen’s time and attention! Now!!
My temper tantrum startled me. I looked around to be sure I was really alone. Whew. No one had heard. Well. . . no-one except, of course, the ears of my Father. More of my own wretchedness being revealed and it’s not a pretty sight. Thankfully the Lord is still working on me and these lessons are a necessary, though painful part of my growth. My reaction to the “distractions” and “frustrations” – people – is up to me.
With a few tears, I was able to give thanks for the lesson and then peacefully return to my day which, like so many, was completely falling apart but I went about to make the best of it. It really was okay to have another dipper bath that night. And the plumbing was fixed the next day, not the end of the world to be sure.
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Post Script: Okay, I’m sure all you ladies out there are wondering what happened to cause the problem with the water line. Somehow, some very large, very nasty bugs had gotten into the tank and died. Their slowly dissolving bodies then came through the supply line and clogged the feed to the bathroom, hence the foul smell and gradually diminishing supply of water. This blockage also managed to slow the supply to the kitchen though the odor wasn’t as detectable there. My wonderful handy-man husband made some sort of modification to keep bugs from getting in again. Just more adventures in the romantic life of the jungle missionary wife!