Friday, January 9, 2009


For the second time since we’ve come to live in Africa—almost six years—we’ve been without electricity for more than 24 hours.

The power went off Monday evening. Now it is Friday evening. It is still off.

Tuesday afternoon...I know the routine now. Take everything out of the freezer and lug it to the freezer at school. Take some stuff out of the fridge and put it in the freezer, which is still somewhat cold. Throw out a bunch of stuff. So much for planning ahead by making extra leftovers.

And so the days have progressed.

Keep the kids occupied. I spend more time face-to-face with my kids—that’s a good thing! Can’t work on my computer, can’t bake anything that needs refrigeration, can’t do a lot of things I usually do. They can’t watch TV or listen to music. So we play. Games, puzzles, the sprinkler outside. They get extra time in the bath.

Figure out what to make for dinner. Thankful for my gas stove. Think of something that uses only non-perishables and won’t create any leftovers. Kids get powdered milk. Lots of tuna and peanut butter. My friends in the village have assured me that mayo doesn’t need refrigeration—I am trusting them! After dinner…quick! Get cleaned up, get the kids into the bath and into bed before it gets too dark to see.

Light candles. All the rechargeable flashlights are no longer charged. Gil stays home in the dark. I run to school for a precious hour or so to get some work done….emails written, on-line coursework, lesson planning for my sixth grade Bible class.

I come home; Gil leaves to sleep at a friend’s house. It’s a little cooler than it was when this happened in December, but still too hot for my very warm-blooded husband to sleep without A/C or a fan.

Darkness surrounds me. I’m not used to it being so dark. Or so quiet. I’m used to white noise. The kids sleep fine, of course….but I jump at every noise. I make sure my hair is very wet before going to bed. I watch something on my computer until the battery runs out. Thankfully, sleep comes.

The uncertainty of it all is hardest. We call the power company daily—“It will be fixed today!” they tell us. Every day. So do we wait this out? Go to someone’s house? Certainly it will only be one more day….

And then there’s the battle.

“I can’t live like this!!!”

Yes, you can. My grace is sufficient.

“I’m hot; I’m tired. I don’t get to see my husband. I can’t cook, can’t entertain, can’t get any work done.”

Yes, you can. My grace is sufficient. Get creative. Choose joy.

So I think on Zimbabwe. And the millions there who are starving or sick from cholera because of a tyrannical ruler. Where a day’s wage—if you can get work—will buy you a loaf of bread—if you can find bread.

And I feel ashamed.

A missionary friend laughingly told me this week, “We Westerners are fragile creatures, aren’t we?”

Indeed. Of course, I don’t like to think of myself that way—after all, I am a missionary in Africa! But I am not as strong as I would like to think I am.

My grace is sufficient.

Sometimes, this week, I have won the battle and chosen joy. Sometimes I have been grumpy. I hope I’m doing better this time than last month when this happened.

Hmmm. I wonder how many times God will let this happen until I learn it completely?
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