The Day Everything was Broken
I have commented before how we find many people State-side want to help us fix things that are uncomfortable. We tell stories about our life in Rwanda and it seems, to them, that just a little bit of money could make it easier. We could buy more teaching supplies, eat out more often, put rugs on the hard floor, replace our foam mattresses, purchase a generator etc. While it is true that more money would allow us to do those things, it wouldn’t really “fix” our life. It would simply open our eyes to more things that are uncomfortable or different or broken. The cycle would never end. Instead, we’ve learned to accept the broken-ness as a fact of life and see past it.
Last Wednesday my family got to experience the enormity of what our life is like when *everything* is broken.
The week before my family arrived our houseworker, Theo, had an accident on his way home from work and needed to take the week off to recuperate. To put it into American terms that is like losing your vacuum cleaner, dishwasher and washing machine all at once (since our mechanical washing machine as also broken). He was able to return to work for a few days during their visit, but still had an open wound on his hand that kept him from doing laundry or dishes. Our dirty clothes started to pile up as we used friends’ washing machines for diapers and necessities.
The men working on improving the road above our house are apparently unaware what a water line looks like. Also a power line. Both items were cut on Tuesday. We have reserve water, but still asked everybody to be conservative with showers and flushing toilets just to be on the safe side. The power didn’t seem like such a big deal at first because we expected that everything would be resolved quickly. We sent everybody to bed with candles and hoped for the best.
So Wednesday rolled around.
Without power…or water…or Theo…
We took everybody out to Bourbon Coffee for brunch when the power wasn’t back by mid-morning and we couldn’t think of another restaurant that would be open. We had to use both of our cars for their visit because we couldn’t exactly fit six adults in the Mercedes with a carseat. The Samurai didn’t want to start because the morning was cool, so Dad and Jeffrey stayed behind to tinker with it and came to Bourbon after us.
That afternoon we attended our a holiday party. I arranged with a friend to combine our taco fixings with her planned taco meal and just eat dinner at her house. As I drove the Samurai home to pick up the stuff for dinner I felt both the clutch and gas pedals hit the floor. Smoke began wafting out of the vents. We still aren’t exactly sure what happened (the mechanic is *finally* coming today), but Jeffrey and I discovered 1. that the battery had jumped onto the engine and 2. the smoking, charred end of the accelerator cable stuck in the gas pedal. We pushed the Samurai into a friend’s compound and caught a ride home.
So at that point on Wednesday our life looked like this:
-No “washing machine” and lots of dirty clothes
-No cell phones because they couldn’t be charged
-One car for 7 people
It was pretty overwhelming.
My family was great, though, and put up with everything. They traveled in two trips to a strange house to eat dinner with almost-strangers and didn’t even ask when we thought the power would come back.
It came back while we were gone and, somehow, every other problem seemed much less significant in the light.
And I decided that sometimes it’s ok to wish that things wouldn’t be so difficult all at once.