Outages: When Lack Increases Gratitude

This week was full of nothings.

First nothing: No screen.

We came home from church on Sunday to evidence of a break-in attempt on our study. They actually could have slipped our Mac computer right out the window. We are incredibly grateful that whoever tried to break in apparently didn’t know what some of the things were on our desk, or how to unhook them; or else we would have been out some important valuables. We couldn’t imagine why they didn’t take them, unless we surprised them by coming back from church too early, that being only our second week on a new schedule since our teammates returned from their trip to the States. We had just replaced that screen too, with a stronger wire instead of soft mesh. We are thankful for God’s protection.
IMG_1073

Second nothing: No electricity.

Our “ghezi” is usually dependable; so when it went out Sunday morning at 8, we assumed it would come back by dark. The electric company—the only one in South Africa (there are definite perks to capitalism)—“fixed” it in the evening for only one hour, before leaving us in the dark again, just as we were sitting down with the children to thank God for the electricity returning. We were beginning to worry, because only eight random houses were out, and now it appeared that it it wouldn’t be an easy problem to fix. We were out for less than 48 hours though when it was repaired—and we’ve had it since.

Third nothing: No water.

When electricity goes out, it knocks out the water pump in the village. This used to be a problem for us, but almost two years ago we purchased a large tank for times when the water is unreliable, which happens more often than electrical outages. The tank can last our family about 8 days, unless I wash lots of laundry. We’ve never had to worry that it might completely be used up before refilling, because the water in the village has always come back on at least once a week.

But by yesterday, we were down to less than 100 liters and were discussing how we would get water today if the tank didn’t refill. I asked the Lord to let it refill so Seth wouldn’t have to take the time and energy to resolve a water problem. Late last night, my ears heard a wonderful sound—there was just enough water pressure to start filling the tank. It only had pressure for under two hours, but it was enough to give us about 1,000 liters. It’s amazing the depths of gratitude you feel for such simple things as electricity and water when you have to go without these necessaries for a while.

Fourth nothing: No bathroom light.

This is weird. On occasion when a light bulb needs to be replaced, the replacement(s) will immediately burn up as soon as we screw them in. If we wait for a month or so, it will accept the new bulb. This scenario is playing out right now in our bathroom. So we have a small lamp sitting on the back of our toilet…told you it was weird.

But we didn’t need electricity or water to accomplish our everyday tasks in homeschooling!

However, we did need M&Ms. (Colin was learning “M” this week, and needed M&Ms for some of his games.) Which was our fifth nothingno M&Ms!

Maybe the thief walked off with them? South Africa does sell M&Ms, but it’s hard to find them where we are. Then SA has its own M&M-type candy called Smarties. But Seth couldn’t find those either. He did eventually find a colored candy to substitute. And after all that trouble, they disappeared!

I looked collectively for probably over an hour through the house for them and could not find them. So I asked Seth to pick some more up for us. The difficulty of finding them made me grateful for the candy itself when we obtained it; but more than that, the willingness of my husband to purchase something high-priced and hard to find, not once but twice, made me even more grateful for him!

Learning, and trying not to eat, with M&Ms (well, something like them).

Learning, and trying not to eat, with M&Ms (well, something like them).

Sixth nothing: the almost-somethings.

Almost-somethings aren’t really nothings, but they are sort of. While you try to figure out that statement, I’ll move on. Caleb has a lot of almost-somethings to report this week! But since that would ruin the pleasure of actually reporting it next week when he completes it, I’ll just say that he’s almost done with some things.

For history, we studied the Phoenicians. I gave him 3-4 choices of hands-on activities we could do in relation to the history we’ve been studying, and he chose to make the African music-makers; which made me laugh, considering our close-up experiences with African music. We made shakers and a one-string plucker. Well, that much is accurate: rhythm is definitely more important to Africans than melody!

Shakers and the one-string plucker (from a tissue box).

Shakers and the one-string plucker (from a tissue box).

I’m also so happy with myself for putting in the effort to have another drawing lesson this week.

Seventh nothing: No air.

I’m late to write my report this week because I taught at our ladies’ group again this week. It takes a lot of time for me to prepare for that meeting. Did it take 3 or just 4 people yelling at me in Tsonga or English, “YOUR TIRE!” before I figured out that both of my back tires were low? Actually, I figured it out before we had even reached the next village down the road. If I went over 60 kph with the load of ladies, the back started to fishtail a bit. That was nerve-racking.

To be precise, five people called out to me as I came back from the ladies’ meeting today. The first four yelled about my tires. The fifth yelled, “Mulungu! (white person) I love you!” Which gave my fellow ladies and me a gut-busting laugh, especially when I mentioned that I AM pretty lovable! I get a secret pleasure when church members see how other people treat us as white people in the village. They get used to us, so it’s pretty funny to them to see how their own people act towards us sometimes.

During the week, Seth taught at LBI and ran church ministries. This morning, he dug post holes on our new church stand to start to put up a fence. He had two helpers. I can imagine what a hard job it is—dirty, extremely hot today, and digging with heavy iron lengths for hours. I mention that because a missionary’s job can encompass so many other jobs that we never would have thought…it really is a Jack-of-all-trades. (Probably could be said of many pastors as well.) He brought home a sample of some thorns that are all over our stand, especially on the one shade tree that will be right next to the church. Isn’t that a picture of redeeming the curse!

Ouch. Those iron diggers took a toll.

Ouch. Those iron diggers took a toll.

Ni-i-ice 'stache of thorns.

Ni-i-ice ‘stache of thorns.

Hopefully next week I’ll have something to talk about. Was your week a week of somethings or nothings?

(Hmm, is that another way to ask if the cup’s half-full or half-empty?)

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About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
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2 Responses to Outages: When Lack Increases Gratitude

  1. Pingback: Fudge-Filled Bars | Ita Vita

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