I think I can say, from my own personal, sometimes sarcastic point of view, that the two most precious things we have in America are: a functioning toilet and running water.
Now I understand there are many wonderful blessings of America GREATER than these, but after the last two weeks, I am going with those two.
Two weeks ago, we drove to Turkwel, which is in Pokot Country, with around 20 people from the church and two visiting pastors from America.
I had been there last year, so I knew how things would go, but going out into the Bush country, there’s always a possibility for something new.
The people there are sweet, generous and loving. They love hearing the Word, and dancing in their worship. Just because of that, I enjoy going. But then, there’s the few, white person moments that take place and remind me of how good we live in the States. And how I don’t appreciate them as much as I should.
In Turkwel, there are latrines that are built up on a staircase, with cement sides going down over 8 feet. Of course, they are close to where most everyone gathers in line for the meals, so anyone going up, will definitely be noticed. Especially, the muzungu.
So this time, Coney brought his faithful, portable toilet for me to use. Especially when nature calls at night, and pitch black isn’t even dark enough for what’s outside.
First time using it lasted less than 10 seconds before I crashed on the floor, cracking my head on the wall. Second time using it, I crashed again, scraping off the skin of my elbows as I tried to break the fall. Of course, this had never happened to him, so obviously I had done something wrong. I used the latrines after that, and never drank liquid after 4:00 p.m.
We were fed every meal, breakfast consisting of chapatis or mandazis with milk tea. Delicious, I looked forward to it every morning. Lunch was ugali or rice or cabbage and dinner was roasted GOAT! Unfortunately, tea was my main dish of choice, beans and cabbage becoming problematic, along with so much liquid.
But eating together was great fellowship.
Turkwel is next to Lake Turkwel, a man made lake providing power to the generating plant below and to the outlying areas. The only power we had was a plug in our room where everyone borrowed cords to keep their phones alive.
The women there are mostly wearing t-shirts, skirts and a cloth (lasso) tied around them. but stylish hair-dos have come to the village and many of the young girls had braids and beads adorning their coiffures. And some chin jewelry.
We bathed each night in a cement-like room the size of a latrine, with a drain out the back. Using a basin of warm water, and with almost nothing on which you could hang your towel or your clothes except a thin piece of twine sagging a good 5 feet, you try to get clean. If you’ve forgotten your soap or a cup to throw water on you, good luck, no one is around.
We had 4 services each morning and another at night, and usually the crowd met in the church (which became an oven with that many people) and sang and danced all night. They were happy to be there, thankful for 3 meals a day and appreciative that we came.
On the last day, we stood in an enormous circle, praying and singing, It was very moving and emotional.
We came home, as I was sniffing and coughing the entire trip, thankful for a regular shower and my own bed. And some cold medicine. Which they don’t carry over here, but thankfully, I had brought some.
4 days later, we took off again, for Kapatawoi, Uganda. We stayed in the same mud hut as last year. Home, away from home.
Again, we had latrines and water fetched down by the stream with big containers carried on the young women’s heads. I had a headache just watching them.
We had church again 4 times each morning, once at night, and singing and dancing all night long for those who showed up. The first night, I doubt any of us slept until at 5 a.m. when Coney roared out of the hut yelling at the musicians to ‘Shut it down”. Effective, but a bit too late.
The people there try very hard to make the muzungus comfortable. They wait on us each meal, bring us tea twice a day and provide as many amenities as they know. This was one of the “bathing rooms” constructed for us.
They had a cooking shed for just the pastors and visitors, and they worked from dawn to dusk every day. Again, their favorite dish…goat.
Water for tea, and a women shredding cabbage, up above.
Upon departure, we were given gifts. Coney and Frank each received a goat, and many of the boys and members of the church were given gourds filled with sour milk. Someone got a chicken.
Heading home was again looking really good. I was ready to sleep in my own bed, not worry about insect bites and eat something normal.
But, a day and a half after arriving home, we ran out of water at the house. Thankfully, our visitors were leaving so they didn’t have to deal with toilets w/o flushing and funny things like that.
Four days home, and we still have no water. We did get barrels of water from the boy’s home to get us by.
But a functioning toilet and running water, we do not have. I will never complain about anything ever again…
At least not for a while.
From Mama Lani, Latrine expert