Thursday, April 9, 2015
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” ― Mark Twain
We have lived here now for ten years or so, but there are some things with which I will just never be truly comfortable. For example, for almost sixty years of my life, if you wanted to turn a light on you turned the switch “up” and if you wanted it off, you turned the switch “down”—not here. Here down is up and the light switches all work backwards from the way they did back in the good ol’ USA. Now it’s not all non-African missionaries who have this problem because both the UK and Australia have the same fixtures back home and the same way of switching lights on and off. In addition, it seems almost every country on earth, except for the U.S. uses 220V systems and only America insists on 110V. We have to be careful when ordering appliances to make sure they will work on 220. Nowadays, almost every single computer, cell phone, television set, and video game console all work on 110-240 so their products will work in any country in the world without any additional equipment. We do have some things that only work on 110 and we have to have a step-down something or other to convert our 220 into 110 for that glue gun or tooth brush charger. Of course, we also have no dishwasher, no automatic ice maker, no washing machine, no automatic dryer, and no vacuum cleaner. Everything has to be done by hand (happily other hands than mine or Karen’s). Even when the shopping is done (must be done every day), the rice and beans must be cleaned the way that Jesus’ mother, Mary would have done it—holding it in baskets and throwing it up to let the wind carry away the chaff. Hearing the swish, swish, swish sound of Juliana cleaning rice out on the back porch always makes me smile inside and sometime outside, too. We have no such thing as “fast food” and no restaurants (except for the Serengeti Stop Over about twenty minutes away by car and past two police check points with only three dishes on the menu). No one stocks frozen food in Bunda, nothing microwaveable (although some missionaries do have microwaves—I guess for popcorn or stuff they bring from home countries), and even things like frozen bacon that we can only get in Mwanza or Musoma can disappear for months on end. Coke Zero was here for a while, disappeared for three months and is now back. We can go to the store and just not find what was there just the day before. Sometimes, there is no gasoline or diesel either. I have no idea how anyone could teach the concept of “scarcity” in the U.S. You can get anything you want, anytime you want, and almost anywhere you want. My son in New York City can have almost anything he wants delivered to his apartment in less than forty-five minutes. But here’s the thing, if you can’t get stuff, you stop wanting it. We can get beef but not cut into any kind of steak or roast or ribs or anything you can find in your supermarket. Here, we get it in chunks that weigh about one to two pounds apiece. We can grind it or cut it into strips but that’s about it. Even chickens are not cut in any way resembling what we remember but are simply hacked into chunks and fried or roasted. No one here has ever heard of dark or white meat—save that which surrounds my skeleton. We do manage and never feel like we are sacrificing or suffering any. It’s just different. In fact, here we are more like the majority of the world’s countries than those of you living in industrialized worlds. We have gotten so used to this lifestyle that when I was in the U.S. for a couple of weeks about five years ago, I felt I had to have a Big Mac, did, and got violently ill almost immediately after. Guess I’m more American/African than I thought. We love all ya’ll and would love to have you visit so we can show you in person how much fun it is to live here. We can sleep sixteen, have hot water showers, and western style toilets (not squat holes). Come on over and we’ll keep the light on for you (if the power isn’t out).