Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green


Let me introduce you to my new little friends. 
Last week I learned more about amps and volts and watts and how to power a house than I ever cared to know.  If you live in a place where you flip the switch and the lights always come on, be thankful.
 
So now we have this little system, called an "Inverter System" wired to our fuse box.  Think giant recharageable batteries.  'Cause that's what they are.  Power is on; they get recharged.  Power goes off; batteries come on.  They only work for lights and fans, but we're thankful for that because now we don't have to choose between darkness or running our $2-an-hour generator.  Of course, we still use the generator for things like the washing machine or TV or cooling the fridge for a couple hours, but still a lot less than before. 

We can add solar panels to the system later on if we want to cough up more money.  And I am seriously considering purchasing a deep freezer that can run on compressed gas (like my stove). 
For now we are in very good shape.  Which is more than I can say for a lot of people.  But of course, it's always been that way.  

To whom much is given, much will be required.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wish There Was More to Tell You

People keep asking me about something. 

What is it again?

Oh....that would be Lily. 

Not that I've really been thinking about her.  Very much.

I haven't really had much to tell you.  I promise, if I did, I would be shouting it from the roof tops.  I would probably even use CAPITAL LETTERS.

We've just been waiting. 

Social worker in Mwanza told us she sent the police report.  I keep calling the social worker down here (we'll call her Mrs. A) to see if she has received it.  Yesterday and today I made the hour drive to go see her in person.  Yesterday, no luck...she wasn't there.  But today we talked.

She hasn't received it.  But she also explained in detail to me the many layers of bureaucracy that must happen before she receives the letter.  Apparently the procedure changed in the last year, so things are going differently than with our previous adoptions.  Once that police report gets down to Dar, it goes through at least three other desks (for a stamp, a signature, a glance...) before it actually gets to Mrs. A.  And apparently there is pretty much no way to trace it until it appears on Mrs. A's desk.

So our police report could be in three possible different places.  Or four, if you count the Mwanza social worker's desk, since we still don't have irrefutable proof that she mailed it.  Or five, if you count the post office, stuck behind a wall somewhere. 

Once Mrs. A gets it, she will write the final-final-final letter which allows us to go pick up Lily.  But she will write it by hand, someone else will type it (if there is power that day), and then it will go back through three other desks for signing and stamping before we can receive it.

It exhausts me just thinking about it. 

I so much want to bring Lily home before August 8th.  Because that week, we plan to go on vacation to our favorite beach house.  And it's the very last week before Gil starts teacher meetings, and two weeks before Grace starts kindergarten.  I so desperately want us to have that week together as a family before we all split up again. 

Will you pray?  I know so many already are, and it means so much.

It seems impossible.  But we are trusting God is in control, and we wait for His will. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Thing I Know the Light of the World

I am scared for my country.

The electricity situation is grave indeed.  During November-April, we just kept thinking, "It will be better in the rainy season, it will be better in the rainy season."  And it was, for the month of May.

Then June hit and again we took a nose dive.  Very, very bad.  The rainy season is when the hydroelectric dams are supposed to fill up for the year.  Apparently they did not.  So if we are just on the other end of the rainy season, and are having 60-hour-per-week power cuts, that is very, very bad news. 

Yesterday we read a news article which states that it's possible that in the next two months, the dams will dry up and the the entire country will go to blackout.  No power.  At all.  Rain is supposed to come again in August and September.  But unless it is miraculous, El Nino-type rain (which is not expected), we will plunge once again into the hottest time of the year with little or no electricity.

The implications?  Well, for the vast majority of Tanzanians, who are subsistence farmers and never have electricity, it won't affect them at all.  But in the cities, where industry is growing the economy and the standards of living of millions of people, everything will grind to a halt.  Every small business that depends on electricity:  carpenters, welders, bakeries, internet cafes, salons, restaurants will be economically devastated.  How will factory food be processed and distributed?  What about the huge cell phone industry?  What will happen to food prices when the grocery stores have to run generators all day?  What will happen to the very successful dairy industry when none of the small shops can carry their products?  The tourists will stop visiting Tanzania; the hotels won't be able to afford the cost of constant generator use.  How many jobs will be lost?  How many businesses will crumble? 

It feels like the scale of a natural catastrophe because of the implications for the economy.  Fear.

And closer to home....It costs HOPAC about $300 per day to run their generator.  And even that won't run air conditioners.  When you've got heat in the 90's and humidity also in the 90's for days on end, it's really tough to teach and learn without air conditioners. 

I'm mentally preparing myself to get used to life without a fridge.  Can I do it?  Of course, silly, I tell myself.  Billions of people don't have a fridge.  But can I maintain my same lifestyle?  Going grocery shopping every day is not in my schedule.  More importantly, how will we sleep? 

Yes, we have a generator and it is wonderful.  But it also costs about $2 an hour to run.  Do the math, and you'll see it's not terribly realistic to use for hours at a time. 

Today we will go to town.  To investigate solar power, battery power.  Hey, it's good for the environment too, right? 

I wish I could say that we are all just being paranoid.  But I've lived here 8 years, and I've learned a few things, and I know that the worst could happen.  I know that for me, I'm worried only about a superficial comfort level and probably a loss in productivity.  But what of those whose whole livelihood is at stake?  What of a country that is already one of the poorest in the world? 

"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are not grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Waiting for that Straight Path

Camp was amazing, as it always is.  Every year as we are getting ready, we say we won't ever do it again, and then afterwards we admit that it's worth all the stress and fuss and hassle.  Kids opening up in conversation who never do at school.  Kids singing worship songs who usually sit with their arms crossed at school.  So much laughter.  So many forever memories bonding us together with our students.  The Facebook posts the day they get home: "Camp was the best week of my life!"  And of course, the addtional ministry to the team of teenagers from the States who come to put on the camp.  Seeing their eyes opened; their lives changed.  And we know we'll do it again.

My days were spent taking care of the First Aid campers.  Making arrangments with the kitchen staff.  Making sure the rooms got cleaned.  Spending time on the beach talking with students.  Watching for Grace and Josiah's little heads, making sure they didn't get lost in the shuffle.  They never did, of course, since they were being loved on by 50 teenagers.

But my nights.  I would put my kids to bed and wait for them to fall asleep.  And then I was Jacob, wrestling with God.

The police report just needed a cover letter and an envelope with a stamp.  A week after the social worker got it, she told us she mailed it.  Ten days after that, we found out that it had yet to be mailed. 

Two more weeks, wasted.

And so I wrestled in the darkness of that little cabin at the beach.  Dark moments of doubt.  And worry.

Worry....because every day that passes, our little girl inches closer to the age of 3, which is the "magic" age psychologists say by which time a child must make a permanent attachment or risk attachment disorder.

Worry...because every week that passes, our chances diminish of the adoption being finalized in time for us to visit home next summer.

Worry...because every month that passes is a greater assurance that our home assignment plans will be screwed up two years from now.  Lily will not receive American citizenship until she has lived with us for exactly two years...not a day less.  Thus every day that passes is another day we will have to push back our home assignment. 

And I hear her scream.

This is not a good plan!  I told my God.  I don't like your timing!  We were not supposed to wait this long; we already went through this with Grace, why are you making us go through this again?  Don't you see my carefully laid out plans?  Don't you understand that my plan is the best one?

Lean not on your own understanding.

Lean not on your own understanding.

You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are.  You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies--though that never occurs to you.  Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God's] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is.  (Jean-Pierre de Caussade, quoted by Ann Voskamp)

God showed up in both Grace and Josiah's adoptions.  I'm waiting with expectation for how He will show up in Lily's. 

Cheer up if your world is crashing at the moment and you are abiding in Christ's will.  Tomorrow or next year will look completely different.  We see but middles. ... The eyes of faith are more reliable than the eyes of sight.  (Andree Seu)

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bamba Camp Memories, 2011

6th Annual International Youth Camp, and our very first International Middle School Camp!
Thanks, Faith Community Church, for sending us such an amazing team to put on our camps!  We could not have done it without them.