We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The "Very Bad Week"

We are now on Day 15 of "The Flooded Basement." With our squeegee mop and old towels, it has been a case of as fast as we mop, water rises again. It all started on November 26, the day that Mendriad and Hosea left. That was the beginning of a Very Bad Week. The heavy rains created havoc for us not only inside the house, but also getting out of our house with our driveway washed away one day, a tree down outside our house another day, and a power line hanging across the road (duck or buzz). Power was out for three days and nights (not a good thing for our freezer), and with the constant rain, the sun was not charging our solar lights, so when our candles ran out one evening, (and all lights, computers, phones and kindles etc. were dead) we felt rather like we were giving up, but unable to do anything we were supposed to be doing, in the end just went to bed at half past eight! We were so delighted when it finally came back on, but the delight was short-lived as after a few hours it was gone again. Mopping water in the dark isn't particularly fun. Mopping every few hours isn't particularly fun and the repetitive squeezing of sodden towels makes ones hands and thumb muscles rather sore. But one good thing about the flooding was the water drowned the snake we found one morning (I wasn't sure that snakes could drown?)
Then Louisa was pretty sick with a high fever and aches and pains, and when she wasn't improving, I took her to the clinic and she was told it was malaria. Despondent to get more tablets (after the recent amoeba sickness and vile tablets) Louisa then rallied herself with the hopeful thought that it would great in heaven as she will never be sick! But then the next night I stumbled out of bed in the dark (why can you never find a torch in these situations?) when Louisa was panicking with a bout of croup out of the blue. It was all rather worrying especially for Louisa and also Amisadai watching, but a steam bucket and a towel saved the day (yes - we managed to find them, despite the overuse of buckets and towels at the time). But I felt sick and by breakfast was throwing up and lying down in between moppings while Tim invigilated his end of term exam at the Bible College.

I got better, Louisa improved and after four days went back to school.  But then at some point in this crazy saga of a week, my computer came to a very sad end. With a smashed screen, it proved to be unusable which was very gutting and added to other rather expensive problems (which has led to the unhappy end of hot showers). But as I was wiping away my frustrated tears, a man arrived to "sort out" our flooding problems downstairs. But any hope that that help was at hand was quickly dashed. After surveying the damage and the lay of the land, he asked me (Tim was out) for Tim's hammer. I gave it to him (I've no idea why I did ... it was not a wise move). I followed him into Tim's flooded study and watched as he bent down and then raised the hammer to the tiles. I shrieked loudly. I belted out in Swahili to STOP! Rather taken aback, he stopped. When I asked him what he was doing, he replied that he thought he would bash a hole in the wall near the floor and drain the water out (well, words to that effect!). I struggled to explain why I didn't think this wasn't a good idea. But he was trying to explain to me why it was. In the end I convinced him to wait until Tim got home. I can laugh about this now, but at the time I felt like crying! I was never so glad to hear Tim come home! I ran outside and frantically and rather madly told him to hurry as a man was trying to knock a hole in the wall. He hurried.
Trying an alternative solution - digging outside rather than bashing inside
Into the chaos, Phil Norris arrived. He brought Christmas pudding and couscous and chocolate and various other things which cheered us all up immensely! I was making every effort to be positive and with electricity actually on that morning on, I planned a stuffed baked Tilapia (fish) with roast potatoes for his welcome meal. But it was not to be. I unstuffed the poor fish and chopped it into pieces and fried it on the gas ring. The "roasties" were likewise chopped up and fried. And eventually we had a candlelit meal. I think it was three evenings before Phil went to bed without a candle. And then it was on and off which made for some interesting half-baked breads and cakes.
Phil pitches in with the mopping
On Phil's first day with us we went to visit the stoves group and were horrified to see that the deluge of rains had resulted in a river which, carrying the debris and rubbish, had run smack-bang straight through the middle of our new kiln built just the week before. Needless to say, it was destroyed. Gutting.
Surveying the damage
The path of the floods
On Phil's second day with us, we went to Gold Crest Hotel to have a nice coffee and charge everything up and take a short break from the routine mopping. We also met with Assistant Bishop Mbuke and was great to chat to him about the work going on in Mwanza and hopes for the future.

In it all we knew that despite all that was happening to mess up, slow down, de-motivate and discourage us, we are here with work to do! And we so appreciated all the kind words and prayers that encouraged us and kept us going! Thank you!

Small things seem like big things when everything hits at the same time, but really, all these things were small problems. And they seem even smaller when we look around. The rains that came were devastating to many others. Children (and some adults) lost their lives in the gushing waters and many people (including Mama Minja) had far worse problems in their homes. So we know we have much to be thankful for ... including the opportunity we have to live and work here!

We try to give you a taste of life here, so I figured you should really get a taste of this week! But it isn't all bad (today we noticed a significant reduction in water levels downstairs and the electricity is significantly better now) and in the next blog I'll let you know about some of the good things going, as we persevere!

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