Friday, June 29, 2012

water water everywhere

Eight months. Six plumbers. Thousands of meticais (the Mozambican currency). After countless visits, drilling, breaking, bucket bathing, replacing, cold showering, leaking, hand washing, hammering, episodes of flooding, and meters of new piping, I FINALLY have adequate plumbing in my apartment.

I’ve learned a great deal throughout the process such as new Portuguese vocabulary and patience I never knew was there. I’ve realized much about Mozambican culture, work ethic, time and money management, and crisis mitigation. I’ve gotten to know my landlord and the Indian neighbors below me quite well throughout the process (and have even had a few conversations with them that don’t involve screaming about their kitchen ceiling dripping).

Now each of my fixtures has a story to tell; like how the bathroom sink has been on and off of the wall four times. And now every time I close a faucet and it stays off or every time I watch dirty water magically disappear into the wall and not the floor, I realize how truly blessed I am. I will never again take for granted the ability to wash dishes in a sink. I’ll never stop being amazed at the hot water falling from the showerhead. I’ll never forget the back-straining, knuckle-tearing hours of hand washing of clothes I endured for weeks on end, only to turn around and dump the dirty water in the toilet, because that was the only “drain” that worked.

But at least there are stories to tell and sighs of relief to be had. For those stories that words cannot capture, here are some visual highlights of my glorious plumbing process. 


Friday, June 8, 2012


“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” [Unknown]

Whew, I’ve been in quite the busy season lately. Since writing so long ago, I’ve been in over my head managing two important grant proposals, have welcomed my mom, bid farewell to teammates, hung out with other teammates beachside, hosted friends, duplicated the number of furniture in my apartment, traveled to Swaziland and South Africa, and added a new women’s Bible study to my schedule. By the end of the day, I’m usually exhausted, uninspired, and sick of looking at my computer screen, so I’ve had little motivation to update everyone on the ins and outs of my life.

It has been a challenging past few months, in which I’ve grown and learned a lot. I’ve encountered about every emotion possible, but in the midst of everything, I’ve found glimpses of peace and hope. These states of being haven’t always come easily, and have often made themselves apparent only after a deep search. But somewhere in the midst of my reading and reflection a few weeks ago, I came across the quote above. Its simple complexity struck me. And I began meditating on it as my email inbox made me want to retreat into a curled ball under my desk. I thought of it as I contrasted the turquoise glass of the ocean with the roaring motor of the boat taking us out to our snorkeling location. And I began to recognize it under the noise and energy of my vibrant church members dancing and singing on a Sunday morning.

As these seeds of growth took root, I decided to seek the joy and peace of present moments, no matter how much chaos or confusion under which they are buried. And to commemorate this process, I’m hosting a get-together in my apartment tomorrow entitled a Life Celebration Party. Maputo has such a transient community where people rush in and out of the capital for a few weeks or months at a time. Regardless of if they’re language-learning, job-hunting, retreating, or volunteering for a short time, people seem to whisk away just as we make a deeper friendship. Because of these realities, I want to celebrate the friends and community that is right here, right now. Maybe their term will be over soon, or maybe we’ve only recently become friends. Still, I want to acknowledge the joy found in being together today, regardless of what tomorrow brings. Through this, I’ve found great peace in celebrating the present.