Friday, November 25, 2011

Things I (may) have took for granted but for which now am SO thankful

Being as it’s Thanksgiving I thought I’d try to catch up with all those Facebookers who have posted one thing they are thankful for each day this month. I thought I’d add a little spin on it, writing 24 things I appreciate so much more after 8 months of living in Congo.
  1. Running water-I have it here, but if the generator doesn’t work to pump the well water to my tank, I have to draw it from the cistern. And I have a garden, but to water it you have to pull water from the cistern-there is no hose, and no automatic timers. And I’m thankful the cistern is right next to my house, so I don’t have to go far for water. Some people walk at least half a mile or more with large containers for water. 
  2. Electricity-this too is such a precious gift. Being a ‘rich missionary’, the house I live in has a solar panel and a battery to store the energy, and an inverter to change the DC current to AC current. So I have current pretty much all the time. The rest of the town gets 3-4 hours a day, alternating between afternoon/evening and late evening. And sometimes not at all. Many places do not have electricity. The hospital has electricity but it is tenuous. We have solar panels and generators, but there is often something going wrong with one thing or another, as well as lightening strikes taking out fuses and breakers. Without electricity, we cannot run our oxygen concentrators, surgery is more difficult (and we generally don’t like to do it without electricity), and patients care suffers. 
  3. Hot water-the only way to get it here is to heat it yourself or wait till midday on a sunny day when at home-the pipes get hot and voila-hot water!
  4. Refrigerator-for me, this one is a hard thing to live without. I didn’t realize how much I depended on the idea of a fridge until I was here and didn’t have one. It really changes how you think about preparing meals, and even more challenging when it’s just you eating it. You can keep left overs, you just can’t keep them cold. So making just the right amount takes some finesse. It also involves more frequent trips to the market to buy fresh produce.
  5. House with brick walls, windows with screens and glass panes-keeps out the mosquitos, and many bugs, despite infestations of flying termites.
  6. Bed on a frame, with mosquito net that has no holes. 
  7. My bed is a water bed, so it keeps me nice and cool during hot nights. Or hot days. Sometimes I retreat there when it’s at it’s worst.
  8. A bike, and the ability to ride it. I have a means of transport other than my feet.
  9. More than one pair of shoes.
  10. More than two or three outfits, and none of them have holes or tears.
  11. Mobile phones-(when the network works)-I can reach the others here easily, I can call family back home, and I can live at the mission when I’m on call rather than living at the hospital.
  12. A supportive family and friends-without them it would be so much more difficult to be here, even though I have good support here in Impfondo. 
  13. I’m thankful I can afford toilet paper. Some people have to choose between soap and food. I can not only buy the soap and the food, but also the toilet paper, and buy all in bulk if I desire. 
  14. Cheese. I miss it. Laughing Cow (or ‘La Vache qui Rit’) cheese is just not real cheese. And I cherish the cheese we can get in Brazzaville, though there is no cheddar.
  15. ICE-you can only have this with a functioning freezer. And on a hot day, it is SO great in a drink!!!
  16. I mentioned hot water, and running water, but I am also thankful for CLEAN water. 
  17. Having a functioning oven (when we have gas). I can make my own bread (that has taste!) and other goodies. Makes me feel more at home with some home baked goods.
  18. Internet-and at a sufficient speed to video skype with family in friends! Truly it is a different age for missionaries. I can communicate with way more than just two-way radio or letters taking months to arrive home. 
  19. My computer
  20. My iPhone
  21. My Kindle-all these electronics are way more than almost any one has here. I have seen one or two laptops among patient caregivers here, and one iPad. But for most, the most advanced electronic they have is their cell phone-and they are not smart phones by any stretch of the imagination.
  22. My education-my teachers were all there each day. Never had a day when the teachers just decided not to come, and then not come for days on end. I was taught a wealth of information, I had my own textbooks to use, and I was provided lunch during the day. I was able to finish high school without a war interrupting my education, and even continue on to higher education. 
  23. Being raised in a Christian home, able to go to a Christian college, and continue to have Christian friends to encourage me and pray for me.
  24. The ability to speak another language. I never thought I’d be able to speak another language fluently. While I’m not fluent, I can carry on a conversation well enough. And now I’m learning a third.
  25. God’s mercy, grace, and love. Without it I am nothing. 
It's easy to take for granted the things we have every day. But most of the things we have in the US are not found in the majority of the world. Most of the world's population still draws their own water, do not have electricity, and live in mud houses.  So when your water stops running, or your electricity is cut, or your computer dies-remember you still have WAY more than most people in the world today. It's a lesson I'm still working on learning.

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