Last week there was one moment when I looked at the plastic bottle of water on our table and really felt overwhelmed by the simple conundrum of how to dispose of it. Then I realized how silly that seemed, and how this bottle represented one of the myriad of ways daily life here in Kananga is a far cry from that of the U.S.!
In the U.S., it feels like trash pick-up is predictable and efficient – you can choose to recycle a variety of things, and the rest of the trash gets dumped in a land-fill and you never see it again. The city of Kananga, on the other hand, created just one year ago a system of installing cement receptacles in the neighborhoods for trash collection. The theory is that a truck will periodically come around, collect the trash, and take it to a common land-fill. People gradually got in the habit of taking the trash to the receptacles, but unfortunately, the trucks have not been taking the trash away, which means the road may soon be taken over by the encroaching piles of trash. Frustrating! I end up storing up things to throw away because I’m not sure what to do with them. We are able to recycle, but we have to personally go find people who want re-use things that we want to throw away (tin cans, glass bottles, etc.).
Grocery shopping, of course, is another adjustment. It is fun to reconnect with the women who I made a habit of buying from, but it does feel like more planning, patience, and time is required for buying the daily groceries! Last week I was reminded that in Kananga if you see something that you might want to buy soon, you had better buy it immediately or you might not find it again. As one seller carefully measured out the sugar for me, I was tempted to move on and tell her I would come back for it. But I checked myself, and found the patience to take one thing at a time. Each item on the list is its own transaction!
We have been blessed with many friends and colleagues who have come by our home to welcome us back to Kananga. Each one, before getting into any conversation, says a prayer of thanks to God for His protection on us in our travels and for bringing us back to Kananga. We anticipated the interruptions, and are grateful to reconnect – but sometimes I still struggle to know the right way to handle unexpected visitors! Last week we had arranged for one friend to come see us in the evening with his wife. Since he would arrive around 7pm, we made extra food and planned to eat with he and his wife. At about 6:45 that evening, as we were in the middle of cooking, another good friend, Mamu Therese, showed up to visit. We invited her in and took a break to talk briefly. But we really preferred not to have her and our other friends at our house at the same time…so I told Mamu Therese that we really wanted to see her and her family, but that we needed to find another time. I felt bad (we didn’t even serve her a drink! Oops!), and I wondered how she had perceived the situation. But, we pressed on, and 5 minutes after she left our other friends showed up, and we finished cooking and enjoyed our dinner with them of beans and rice.
We are figuring out our “system” for daily tasks so that it does not always feel like extra steps are required (e.g. fill the water bottle before brushing your teeth, or have the gloves, matches, and kerosene handy to start the fire in the morning). We wrote out a list of the daily tasks – like boiling drinking water, feeding the parrot, and giving tea to our night-guard, simply because it feels like the daily tasks here are far different from those we might do if we were living in the U.S.! As we adjust to the rhythm of life here, we are able to have the mental energy to engage with people around us and plunge back into various ministries that we had been involved in before we left. We appreciate your prayers for our transition!