Paul and Marty Law

My Morning in the Congo (Marty)

September 14, 2009

It is 11 o’clock in the morning and I have been up five hours. What have I done of any significance?

I was up by 6:00 and dressed. I got to the kitchen a few minutes later in order to start the fire in the wood stove. I began with some old paper and some kindling. Once the fire was going well, I kept adding the larger pieces of wood. I was hoping to get the oven hot enough before the cook arrived, so she could bake homemade biscuits for us.

Of course, each time I added wood, I had to wash my hands again--seemingly a never ending task. As I added wood, the flames shot out, and I looked at the wall behind my stove and at the ceiling above. No wonder, after being painted 3 times in the last two years, it is brown again--even though we painted them a soft white. A dingy kitchen is rather discouraging.

I made sure each water pot on the stove was full, as well as the water kettle, so there would be enough hot water when the workers arrived. I took the water out of the barrel in our kitchen--a barrel that is filled with 20 liters of water each morning and evening. (This water comes from the stream down over the hill!)
I then got the small thermos from where it sits daily on a tall stand in our dining room. (This thermos provides cold water throughout the day, instead of getting into the kerosene refrigerator several times a day and letting the cold air escape).

I placed the thermos on the kitchen table and took a bread pan of frozen ice out and placed it on the thermos, so it would drop from the pan into the thermos once it had warmed up enough to do so. I then added cold water from the refrigerator to the thermos.

Then I took one of the water pots that was on the kitchen table and put it into the water filter. I refilled the bread pan with water and placed it back in the refrigerator freezer, and I also filled up and replaced the jerry can of water back into the refrigerator.

I added water from the filter into my tea kettle, and then opened up the gas bomb that connects to my gas stove to heat myself some water for tea. (Gas is very expensive and has to come up by boat and then truck from Kinshasa, so we use it very sparingly!)

I then went to change the water in the wash basin in our dining room. This basin sits on a small table so that Paul and Pastor Kitambala (who usually eats with us both breakfast and lunch) can wash their hands when they come in from the outside. I poured the old water from the basin into a bucket in the bathroom that is used for flushing the commode.

(By the way, that’s only a small part of how we get and use water here in the Congo. We have another barrel of water in our bathroom that we use to flush and to bathe with. Since we do not have running water, we get hot water off the stove and add it to the water in the bucket from the barrel, so that we have warm water for bathing. The barrel in the bathroom is filled up each day by one of our outside workers, who gets it from a large open tank by the back of the house. The water for this tank comes from the rain running off of the roof. The worker gravity-feeds the water from the tank into buckets, then carries them into the bathroom where he places a cloth over the barrel to catch any “unwanted creatures” or dirt that may have gotten into the water.)

By the time our cook arrived this morning, the oven still was not hot enough for her to cook the biscuits in the wood stove, so I got down on my knees with a flaming piece of paper in one hand and the other up on a dial to turn the gas on for the oven. (I have to do this since there is not constant gas to the stove.)

In the meantime, our outside workers have arrived and I asked one of them to empty the two twenty liter containers into the barrel in the kitchen. I sent the others to the back of the yard to carry a large and heavy old sawmill piece down the station to the carpenter’s shop. It took 9 men to carry it!

When they returned, I also had them take an old truck frame that had been sitting in the back of our yard for 3 years. They lifted it over the newly constructed bamboo fencing. (I am trying to ‘help’ the appearance of our back yard!)

While this project was going on, one of the conference evangelists arrived, wanting to see Paul. I informed Paul about his visitor. He wanted to ask Paul to type up a member registration for each church on the computer.

My Bible class worker had also arrived and was waiting for his work. I gave him a chair, since it was after breakfast-time and the morning was moving on.
My laundry worker then informed me that we were out of charcoal for the charcoal iron, so that was something else I needed to take care of. (Our laundry is done by hand with the water from the tank outside, except for dry season where our worker has to go to the stream to do our laundry.)

Next, some of the other workers arrived back with more water, so I directed them to put the water into the kitchen barrel.

We finally got to breakfast about 30 minutes late. In the meantime, Paul had sent most of the workers to the water with machetes and shovels. (They were continuing the work at the stream, where a work team from Round Rock, Texas, also will be coming out next summer to work and install a new water system for the mission. What a blessing that will be! I might actually end up with running water sometime in the next year or two!)

After breakfast, I moved the vehicle near the garage, so that the man responsible for the fuel would be able to hand-pump the diesel fuel from the barrel into the car. As soon as I did that, I had a village mama waiting on me. She wanted to collect her money for the firewood that she had brought into our back yard so that our wood man could chop it up for our stove.

Then I had to give our Bible worker some things to do--like cleaning up all of the outside toys/games for the children, and getting those in order.
Paul got ready to go to town to pay for our supplies that had arrived on a boat and had been trucked in from the river port. (For those of you who ‘might’ remember… this was our woodstove and kerosene freezer that had ‘finally’ arrived after 2 ½ years getting here. Yes… two and one half years! Flexibility is the name of the game here.) Paul planned to haul them out from town one at a time, since they were bulky and heavy. (I will finally have a freezer! Yeah!)
Paul was going to take one of the workers with him, so I decided to give Bertain money to get eggs and peanuts from the market. Pastor Kitambala gave me the figures for the workers advances, so I also got money for him from the cash trunk, since he was going with Paul as well.

(Side note: I recently did some shopping in Kinshasa--like purchasing 50-kilo sacks of milk, and cartons of this and that. Since boats are unreliable and full of rats and roaches, we are starting to send most of our groceries by air. I only spent about $500 on freight, but the plane has not even arrived yet after 4 days!)
Next, one of the teachers from the trade school came by to say hello and visit, while another young man in the yard waited his turn, since he wanted to change some of his Congolese francs for dollars.

His turn came, so we sat for several minutes as I counted and verified his money. I needed his change, so I changed 300 pieces of paper money for a twenty dollar bill!

Somewhere in there I showed the cook what to fix for lunch--like handmade (everything is handmade here!) tortillas and the fixings. I then showed the house boy where the dirt and grime were on the kitchen shelves. (We do not have cabinets--but shelves--so things get dirty and dingy pretty quickly from the woodstove.)

I showed another worker where to clean the walls and paint in the bathroom.
He had to move all the loose items out--such as buckets, wastebasket, portable towel racks, etc.

Since the rains have started again, I talked to the yard man about planting grass in several places that are barren and need grass. I also fed the chickens and guinea.

Then it was time to put up my mosquito net and make up my bed so I could sit down (hopefully without any interruptions) and have my quiet time!

As my Mother used to say, my day is well spent, and this was just my morning.
This afternoon, I will do some bookkeeping. We will not have our Bible memory class today, but will do so next week. My Bible worker and I discussed Bible class on Wednesday. We will work on that class tomorrow.

Life is very different out here, and there are times I feel like I spend so much time on ‘just living’--which I guess is true--doing simple things that you have machines to do for you (like a dishwasher to wash the dishes, electric stoves for cooking, microwaves, hot water heaters, washing machines and dryers, 24-hour electricity and running water). We do not even have one restaurant in all of Lodja!

Paul and I hope to have the new District Superintendent and his wife and a new teacher and his wife for dinner this Saturday. It will take us two days to prepare.
Last weekend the new D.S. had three days of fasting and prayer and teaching. Paul was impressed and is excited about this new leadership.

Please keep us in your prayers. Life here is full, yet much more relaxed than stateside stress. Paul and I love sitting out on our little screened porch each evening after dark to just visit. It is a good time to catch up with each other and our day. We pray about what has happened and what is to happen.

Right now, we are asking the Lord for the perfect “new but used” truck for our work. We are being delayed in much of the work by not having our own truck, yet the Lord knows this. Our time schedule is not His, and too many times our thoughts are not His.

Pray for us, Marty