“Water problems affect half of humanity,” according to Global Issues research. The following two statistics now affect us:
– Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
– 1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
Our new home is one luxuriously large room, with no running water or electricity (hence the statistics above). Our new home is about a 10 minute walk from our friends’ homesteads, people who have said, “When you move to Maseni, we will plant a HUUUUGE garden together…” and “When you become my neighbor, we will buy some chickens and raise chickens together. We can get fat and have a business….” and “When you go to clean your new home, I am going to come over and help you clean.”
Our new home is about 32 square meters or 105 square feet, approximately 4.5 times larger than our last home. As far as we know, there’s not a white folk living in Maseni. It’s very likely that most of neighbors don’t speak English. It’s likely we will get lots of visitors, wondering who we are, what we’re doing there, what we want, and even what we can give them. My neighbors will be curious. And I am curious.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s gonna suck. I’m fully aware that living in a Swazi community will be awful somedays. They will be hard days, where I struggle with boundaries, privacy, an inability to communicate with my neighbors, goats eating my garden (did you READ about the neighbors’ dogs eating my chicken?!), bathing in a 1/2 gallon of water because I just don’t feel like fetching more, and going to bed at dusk because we ran out of candles again and didn’t charge the headlamp. There will be those days where one of my neighbors presents a problem (like an infected limb, a dead child, or empty corn bins) that I will feel completely inadequate to respond to. Unfortunately there will be days that my selfishness gets the better of me, and I lock my door, eating chocolate, hoarding pleasure or life, refusing to share with God’s Creations. And those days will have some awful in them.
But there will be days that are awesome. There will days where I giggle because I’m bathing in a 1/2 inch of water. 😉 Or when I just can’t take the heat, so I walk the kilometer to the river, sit down among the bubbling waters, and start chatting with my friends from down the road. There will be days of tragedy where I learn from my neighbors how, in fact, to be a neighbor, supporting each other, grieving together, offering love and grace once again. We will have days of laughter in the garden, and making bread in the outdoor oven, and looking at the stars together, dreaming of a better future. There will be days where our milking goat gets stuck in the fence and everyone walking past shares a laugh as I try to get the pesky thing OUT of the fence, without swearing. 😉 Then someone will have pity on this umlungu and help me! Then the chickens will wake me at 4 AM, on the same night that I got home after midnight, attending to another pregnant woman in our community. And these days will be awesome.
Why are Sean and I moving? 1) The Taylor family whom we ‘sub-leased’ our teeny room from for 11 months is moving. Therefore, we have to move as part of the package. Knowing this Sean started looking in Maseni for a place for us to rent. It didn’t take him long, after asking Siboniso to visit the rondavel that will be our new home. 2) Moving into a community IS half the mission in coming here. Being among the people we work with, learn from, teach, and have become friends with seems the most natural thing to do. It’s also 25% of our goals for our first year of moving here (granted we missed the one year mark!) because we see Christ, who dwelt among the people he came to bring Good News to. And we see that by LIVING intentionally, people believe what we say a lot easier. It’s difficult to preach “Jesus loves you” from a distance, isn’t it?
Sure, it’s also a move of “downward mobility,” if you want to go there. About dying to myself’s selfish desires and whims (like running water – at least for now), and saying, “I could have a FANCY, expensive 2 bedroom house with running water, electricity, 2-car garage, a refrigerator, and private yard (and get wealthier folks, like those with internet reading this blog to actually FUND this), because of my background, place of birth, draw of the cards, education, family, and privileges in my life. But what if I said, ‘No thanks, I know what it’s like living at the top 20% of the world, even top 10%, but what’s it like at the bottom?”
Somehow, this King I follow, this God-Man I seek to be like has wrecked my comfortable life with His call. His admonishments and political statements about, ” It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25) Plus his proclamation that He actually IS among the “least of these”, and when we care for, feed, clothe, and offer even water to any of the lowest of the world’s population (read: bottom 20%?), we are actually serving, loving, feeding, clothing GOD himself. (Matthew 25:31-46).
The story is complex. Yet the story is simple.
We have a new home. And I am excited.
From the inside, looking out 1 of 2 window. Can we saw awesome cross-breeze = good sleep!