Again, I found an old post from a week after we had moved to Nyankunde in July 2015 and am reposting it below. I’ve commented below again like this for you to compare along with me the differences that a term have made in life and thinking.
So now I write you from Africa. Amazing how one minute you are standing in Europe and then a day later you can be in Africa. Travel is amazing.
Life is already so different for us now it amazes me daily. Below are some first impressions, thoughts and just life things that are different now.
- I’m in Africa. Sayyyyy WHAAAAAAAAAA??? Hahaha!
- French, my sorta second language, is more useful with the local people than English
- Not having the ability to communicate with some people, even with the little French I know, because they speak an entirely different language (Swahili) is difficult. This is still a frustration but we hope to work on our Swahili this next term.
- Sleeping under mosquito nets here is not a fashion statement or whimsical addition to your room. They still add that feel, yes, but they are actually used for their original purpose. They are mostly just annoying these days but necessary. They become a part of life. I hope our new curtain-style one will give our bedroom a more elegant look and be less annoying.
- I now nurse under a mosquito net, in the middle of the night. Not nursing anymore but I remember the pain of this.
- Mosquito nets now make middle of the night nursing a bigger chore because you have to climb out of yours, go to the baby’s room, uncover him, lift him and carry him to either your bed or a spare bed that has a net (that you set up before you put baby to bed) and then climb under that net before nursing, while making sure that the net isn’t touching you. Oh and then reverse the process when you are done and try to stop baby from grabbing the interesting net when he is more awake because you are fumbling with nets . . . .
- You have to bring a flashlight with you if you leave after dark or will be out after dark. There are no street lights here or city “light pollution” to help you out in any way. Not only will you not be able to see where you are going but you could get hurt or step on a creature, possible a snake, without one. Always carry a flashlight. A lesson well-learned there but you still on occasion forget and have to borrow one – like when you just drop-in on a friend in the late afternoon for “just a minute” and end up talking until it’s dark out. Yeah, those kinds of things happen.
- It is DARK here. There is NO extra light pollution here. If you don’t turn it on, you ain’t gonna have any. That means you cant see AT ALL in the middle of the night. No, your eyes don’t just need some time to adjust, because it is THAT dark. This is true during one part of the cycle of the moon. Otherwise when the moon is full or close to it you could almost read outside during the night the light is so bright and amazing. Still carry a flashlight though for creatures.
- You can’t just grab a glass from the cupboard and fill it from the sink for a drink. You have to get filtered water. I’m so used to this now I have to ask myself if I can drink from the sink when we are back in the States, even though I grew up there.
- You cant just run your toothbrush under the sink faucet anymore. You have to pause and then use filtered water. Unless you add a Sawyer filter directly to your bathroom tap . . . .then you can.
- The same goes for cooking, use filtered. Yup.
- Prepping vegetables will be a post in itself I think, but I haven’t done that yet. It involves a bleach soak in the sink. We use plastic bins to free up the sink for dishwashing and nowadays I try to use a vinegar soak instead of bleach – especially for anything coming out of our private garden.
- It’s the rainy season here right now. Last night the Thunder storms rained so hard it left my ears ringing and even drowned out Daniel’s sound machine.
- Rain on our tin roof feels like home. Dave grew up with it and actually, so did I. My room at my parent’s house was separate from the main house and was attached to the garage, which had a metal roof just like here. This is still nice.
- It can get “hot” here with the humidity but not “HOT” here. Hottest part of the day is hot and you do sweat, but it’s cooler than it was in France and is in parts of the States right now. You only sweat because of the humidity, not the actual temp. So this was written during rainy season – yeahhhhh it get’s hot during the dry season for sure but it is still a lot nice than an Illinois summer with humidity. It’s humid but not overly so.
- It’s cold enough here in the early morning to actually WANT a cup of hot tea. Yup. And hot enough during the day to want iced-tea. The tea-drinker’s dream. Sigh. Still love this, though some mornings in dry season it’s still iced tea weather.
- I have geckos on my walls, mainly outside, but I’ve spotted one in our bathroom that quickly scurried away. I actually like them.
- Unrefined cane sugar is the norm here; yes, it’s that slight brown-tinged sugar that you pay more for in the States that is the normal. So, keep that in mind when you are searching your pantry up and down for that white refined sugar, then thinking you don’t have any sugar. Hahaha! I actually prefer the nice cane sugar over white these days for most things. It can come too large to work with easily but you just grind it to the size you want and you’re good to go. At least there are still some vitamins and minerals in the brown cane sugar over white.
- If your kitchen isn’t immaculate (meaning ever tiny food scrap is gone) the ants will come. You can either see them as a nuisance that you must wage war with or see them as a blessing in disguise – the cleaning fairies that make your kitchen immaculate once they are done. They are not fairies when they overrun your entire house. I have discovered Raid Ant Gel and coincidentally so have the ants thus, ants no more.
- I am a spectacle here; a muzungu (white person). Daniel is an even bigger spectacle and something downright worthy of starring at. Still true. I’m an even bigger spectacle when I’m dirty from working in the garden, taking pictures in odd places (like balancing on top of a hospital bed’s railing over patients to get the best angle of the missionary doctor who asked for pictures) or driving my 4-wheeler around town. Craaaazzzzy white woman here folks, embrace it.
- Finding the balance between being protective of your child and being careless is going to be a lot tougher here. Yeah for added parenting challenges. I think I have a balance achieved. There will always be room for improving as he gets older and things change but for now it seems to be going ok in this area of parenting.
- It is beautiful here. A tropical paradise. Praise God for the green beautiful landscape I get to wake up to there. It refreshes my soul every day.
- This is the most-beautiful, spacious home we have ever lived in. I feel spoiled. Yup. Still do and it is truly home for us. Other missionaries talk about how they or another family used to live in that “same” house before – that house was destroyed to a burnt shell with no life. It was restored and has been masterfully customized by my husband. It is OUR house. They may have walked on the previous foundation but it is our house.
- My baby is one lucky boy, to get the opportunity to grow up here in Nyankunde; a child’s dream. This is still true.
- I love the creatures here; the insects, birds and other animals I have seen here. The diversity of God’s creation is amazing. All Praise to Him.
- I have already seen some rather hard realities of life here and in Uganda. The most shocking thing was not that actual scene of children digging through the trash outside the missionary compound in Uganda, but the lack of compassion from some of the missionaries there who saw it as part of everyday life. May God keep my eyes fresh. Shocking at first but when you are surrounded by it everyday you do grow accustomed to things that shocked you at first. This is one of the reasons why I love doing photography. Taking photos, studying people in that way makes you see. Ahh – I see my next thing says this too.
- My hobby of photography will help me to keep fresh eyes for the hard things around me because I’m always looking for the little things to take pictures of, the hard, strange, unusual and challenging. I love photography and in this situation, photography loves you back. True, and I want to get better at it. I’m investing in more things for my camera this furlough like a new lens, tripod, flash and more.
- My internet is better here, in Nyankunde Congo, than Albertville France. Wanna Skype or Facetime? We can do that. Hahaha!! I guess I’d forgotten this part of life in France, though the internet can get pretty bad in Nyankunde, depending on who is doing what on it at any given time. The more families and more streaming the worse it gets.
- I love it here and I hope to someday share it with family. I do love it there and have the blessing to share it with some family now.
- I’m not scared. I want to be smart and careful about things but I’m not living with a sense of fear. Still true to this day, even despite some very difficult moments of feeling unsafe like a shooting that happened or growing unrest.
- I’m a serious minority here. Serious minority. Yup.
- I’m one of the richest people in the country here. A “patron”. A “benefactor” by English terms perhaps. Money bags indeed. Strange coming from the US where you are below the poverty line and then you move here and are one of the wealthiest people in the country just like that. This can still be a strange thing at times but it’s all about what you do with it that makes the difference in the end. Giving perspective, being a good witness of a different social standing, helping where you feel it is appropriate and will do good instead of enabling, are all good things to work out concerning this. God leads in His timing for these things.
- I could just weep at the beauty of the local church here. Their worship is genuine, raw, and beautiful. Depends on what service you attend. I’m less of a fan of the large French service and more of a fan of the Swahili churches. We will be looking into a smaller Swahili church when we return.
- I will have a hard time not taking all the children, animals, and children home with me. I’ve already come close with a kitten, two baby goats, and the entire village. Well . . .I’m not admitting anything but I may be turning into the strange cat lady that now actually has room for goats.
- My baby sleeps and naps under a mosquito net. We all do and will continue to do so.
- The birds here sound almost fake and made up at times. Hahaha. Sometimes yes. There is one around where we live that sounds like the noise on the silver parachutes in the Hunger Games Movies. May the Odds be ever in your favor bird.
- It is peaceful here. Yes. Love, love, love it.
- I’m actually more of a morning person here than a night owl (GASP!! I know right?) It starts getting light around 5:30 with the sunrise more around 6:00am and it’s completely dark by 7:00pm . . . .every . . .single . . .day . . .of . . .the . . .entire . . .year. No daylight savings switching or seasons changing when it’s light or dark early/late. Equator baby. And I love it. This has been one of the hardest adjustments coming back on furlough. It’s light FOREVER here and my body is being messed with.
So those are some thoughts from the last few days.
We get our shipment tonight and we are both excited and ready to really get settled in. Daniel has been having a hard time adjusting after all the weeks of being unsettled, packing, traveling and being in unfamiliar places with new people. He is improving every day but it is going to take some time for this to feel like home for him and we still have a lot of unpacking to do, changing out furniture, etc. that hinders that process of familiarity. Prayers are appreciated. This is still true when we are traveling – we need prayers and the unsettled feelings of transition on furlough are there. I am happy to say that Nyankunde is home for us and Daniel thinks of it as home. He is happy when we return there from any trips we take and he talks about it all the time; he was even crying about wanting to return to our ‘Congo home’ last night before bed. We love our home and look forward to being back there once furlough is over.