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Getting use to life in the bush!

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Full moon over Africa!

3 generations of moon watchers! And here we are in Africa!

It’s January 27th and we are settling in for our first night in bush camp.  This is a conflicting environment.  During the day it’s hot (but only if you are not in the shade) but in the night it can get rather chilly.

We gathered together in a rectangle formation in the center of camp sitting on planks laid on the ground. (Not an easily accomplished feat for me, I can tell you!) Blankets (not the Karamajong ones) were handed out and orders were taken for more b/c there wasn’t enough.  I was curious as to why we needed blankets but during the night I not only put on the jacket I had brought but pulled that blanket over me that had been lying at my feet. When I had gone to bed it was comfortably warm and I didn’t need the blanket. All of that changed in the night with the onset of the chilly breeze that invaded our sleeping space. Brrh!

We didn’t bother with pj’s b/c they wouldn’t have been warm enough in the night; opting instead for whatever clothes we wore during the day.  In the mornings we usually kept these clothes on and came out of our tukals wrapped up in our karamajong blankets and when it warmed up, we would take off the jackets (or the blankets we had wrapped up in!)

Our 3 Karamajong friends wrapped up in their blankets.

Our 3 Karamajong friends wrapped up in their blankets.

It’s Jan. 28 and I awoke at 5:30 a.m.  Why, you may ask?  I thought it was about 7:30! I hadn’t slept well at all due to the cold (my blanket was stiff and of a rough texture, wasn’t cooperative when I tried to tuck it in around me to keep out the cold, ugh!) Oh well, going back to bed was not an option so I found a place to have my quiet time and journaled.

My son fixed something like potatoe patties for breakfast and with the cookies bought in town, we had a tasty breakfast.  Assignments were made–dig a latrine, walk to a nearby town and buy sugar, clear the camp area of rocks and thorns.  They were going to dig 2 latrines (his and hers!) but after the laborious act of digging one, it was decided one was enough! This took a few days and in the meantime you had to walk a good distance from the camp, find a secluded bush and well, you know!  And yet again, prayed you would not have an audience.  (This did happen but thank God not to me, although I had some close calls!) This was manageable as long as you did not have to hurry–and I’ll leave it to your imaginations as to why quick trips might become necessary.) Oh, but that’s another story!

Due to the scarcity of water a daily shower was not an option but after a couple of days in camp I felt the strong desire to change clothes and wash my hair.   But because the showers weren’t built yet we had to improvise.  This meant we parked the two vehicles downhill from the camp side by side, hung the karamajong blankets over the windows (so no one from camp up the hill could accidentally view a showeree) and stood in the space between the vehicles to wash off (yes it was open to the world on each end).  The process involved carrying a plastic wash basin to the area between the trucks, stand on the plastic mats laid on the ground and pour the water over you with another smaller plastic container to rinse off after soaping up. (Oh, that would be after you disrobed and soaped up and prayed no local Karamajong would be strolling by.) I was extremely appreciative of the lavender soap that my tukal mate had given me as a gift. Simple pleasures become luxurious in such situations.  My gallant son helped me by carrying my shower water for me and standing guard while I cleaned up.  And btw, completely disrobing was not an option for me; not by a long shot.  That’s just a little too much vulnerability for me.  The day the showers were finally built was a happy day for me.  It’s amazing the difference 4 walls make when you are taking a shower!

This is a double shower, actually.  The view is from the side so you can't see the shower beyond.  And this picture was taken before the doors were added.  Until then we just hung our Karamajong blankets over the open space and prayed the wind wouldn't blow it down.

This is a double shower, actually. The view is from the side so you can’t see the shower beyond. And this picture was taken before the doors were added. Until then we just hung our Karamajong blankets over the open space and prayed the wind wouldn’t blow it down.

Well, that’s enough for today.  Next time I’ll share the exciting news about bush latrines.

 

A glimpse of the missionary life!

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Tukals, our homes away from home!

Tukals, our homes away from home!

It’s January 26 and we (13 trainees & their 4 children, plus the 4 missionaries & their 4 children, plus 2 volunteers-me and the other lady who would be in charge of the school for the children) set out for the bush camp, our home away from home for the next several weeks.   The missionaries and we volunteers arrived at the bush camp first, to unpack and set things up before the trainees arrived.

 

From the borehole to the jerry can.  From the jerry can to the black tank.  From the black tank to our Nalgene's - maybe!

From the borehole to the jerry can. From the jerry can to the black tank. From the black tank to our Nalgene’s – maybe!

Water is in short supply in this arid region so one of our first responsibilities was to get the black tank filled up (see picture above).  Not as easy as it might sound for that process involved a trip to the borehole (a hole is bored into the ground until they hit water)

A borehole. Not as easy as it looks. We made quite the spectacle for the local children!

A borehole. Not as easy as it looks. We made quite the spectacle for the local children!

which we took by  vehicle! (well we did have to fill up more than a few jerry cans)  The borehole was located on the outskirts of a nearby village about a 5 minute drive from camp.   (Yet, when the locals need water they set out early in the morning to walk to the nearest borehole to fill up their jerry can/s.  This is a daily routine for them.)  You might be interested to know that a full jerry can equaled about 40 lbs.

And, oh yeah, hopefully the drinkers of such water needed to not mind a chlorine taste,  for in order to make it safe to drink, good ole chlorine had to be poured in.  (I preferred drinking the water from the filters brought in to use at camp. After adding some grape flavoring  it became tolerable).  That chlorine taste was a bit too hard for me to swallow–literally!  Notice the picture below.  These are the type of filter I referred to. Two of these types of filters were brought in to be used at camp.  Each of the missionaries had these in their homes–an item no missionary’s home would be without–especially in this area.

I would fill up my Nalgene with water from this type of water filter.

I would fill up my Nalgene with water from this type of water filter.

Once the water was provided and set up for use in camp, our attentions were directed to an increasing problem.  A grass fire, common in this area, began creeping closer and closer to our camp.  Finally, we were put on alert to be prepared to run.  A lone soldier from a nearby military camp was bravely fighting the flame.  His efforts were multiplied when some of our guys joined him.

The wind was in our favor and so was the position of the fire because the fire was burning north of us.  Our concern was that if it moved around our hill and started burning south of us then the wind would drive it up the south slope and burn out our camp.

The army guy and our guys worked hard to contain the fire as it crept ever closer to our camp.  A backfire was strategically started at the edge of the camp area and eventually the fire burned itself out.  So thanks to the skill of our firefighters and God keeping the wind contained we stayed out of danger.

The fire had crept up to the very edge of our camp.

The fire had crept up to the very edge of our camp.

Our first day at camp might have been considered a harbinger of things to come because 2 more times these types of fires threatened our camp.  Here are a few pictures.

The black ground reveals how close the fire got!

The black ground reveals how close this fire got!

This fire was way too close.

This fire was way too close.

 

Quick action on the part of our trainees kept my tukal from catching fire.

Quick action on the part of our trainees kept the tukal I lived in from catching fire.

You can see the burn line and how close it got to the tukals.

You can see the burn line and how close it got to the tukals.

The fires were likely started by young shepherd boys who were trying to capture a certain kind of rat.  These rats are considered edible! (I don’t care what they say.  There is no rat in existence that’s edible in my personal opinion! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! )The burns are also considered a way to keep the grasses from growing out of control.

I felt like I had walked back in time and was living out my life much as our pioneers lived before the days of electricity and indoor plumbing.  It was easier for me than it was for the trainees because I got to return to my son’s home along with the missionaries about every 4 days.    So, next post I’ll pull back the curtain a little more for you to catch a glimpse of what our missionaries get to experience.  It’s an unusual and fascinating way to live.

 

 

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