After almost 2 solid months of travel and living out of our backpacks we are finally in our own house!! Not that we have not learned a ton and appreciated the amazing hospitality of those we stayed with but I must say it was rough to always be on someone else’s schedule and sharing tight spaces with Annikah. We are blessed now to have more control of our time and way more room to spread out. It even has started to feel more like a home especially after a Mexican dinner including home -made tortillas (it is amazing what I can do when there are no other options and you are craving; no desperate for, Mexican). Although after just a few days I have realized why it really is necessary to have someone to help me with cooking and cleaning, I literally was in the kitchen all day (which I did not mind as I have missed cooking) but I am sure it will get old soon not to mention I need to attend language school and attend team meetings. We found a house helper and she starts Monday: yeah!! We were sold on hiring her after we found out she makes multi grain bread and sells it on the side, yummy! Our Mlinzi and his family also moved in to the small house outside our house. Mlinzi is like a watchman but really they also help with everything that we clueless Mzungus need help to understand like where to dispose of waste (there is NO waste disposal here, we compost and then he buries the rest-crazy! And he is even going to help us plant some veggies in our yard. He has a wife and two little girls, the oldest one is a little older than Anni and the girls are already rafikis. When Anni gets up she wants to run outside to greet her and they hold hands and walk around; too precious.
It is so hard to get used to being a small family but having the bigger space and they are loud, music blaring and up early in the morning to sweep. Ah, cultural differences, we will learn a lot from each other. They speak no English at all so it is also good for us as we have to speak; however broken and incorrect, Kiswahili to them. They laugh at us often but we are used to that by now. I shared some Swedish pancakes I made for breakfast with them and they thought they were a bit bizarre but happily tried them and seemed to like them. They also offered us some of their dinner of rice and veggies last night. The family is very grateful to have the job and we hope to build a relationship with them as we live together. In my cooking and baking frenzy I made some apple spice cakes made with the fresh island spices and we walked around our neighborhood armed with the few phrases we know in Kiswahili in an attempt to meet our neighbors. We met about 15 people, mostly women and children and tried to stealthily write down names so we can try to remember them as we handed out the cakes. We were invited in to a few yards and homes and people were very gracious to us and seemed pleased that we are trying to learn their language. Although moving in has by far been great we have also had a few setbacks. It seems that there must be a universal rule here that not everything is allowed to work at one time, that would make life too easy, too predictable, too manageable. We bought all used appliances because there is no way we could afford any new. We started with the fridge and oven and after hauling them home and scrubbing them we discovered the oven did not work we had to go pick up a fundi to fix it. Luckily we had negotiated a one month warranty so although it took most of the day it did not cost us any extra. Once the oven and fridge were working Jason went out and found a washer. In other words we got a little too bold. The washer required our friend coming over to help us hook it up (nothing is simple) and after numerous trips out to the hardware store and one search through some stuff our Mliniz (see did I mention he is awesome?) to find a random piece of rubber (it is amazing how resourceful people are here) it appears to be working (I am running a test load as I type so we shall see). Yesterday as Jason and Eddie were working hard on the washer and in need of cold drinks we realized the fridge was no longer very cold. Of course this is after a trip to the market to stock up that morning. We had our boiled milk that needed to be cooled, some yogurt I just made, and cheese that is very pricey here we got as a special treat for pizza. As an aside we are still eating only veg as after several great trips to the market I thought maybe I was ready to beef up my courage (pun intended) and actually go to the butcher. I walked over to the window with Anni on my hip, a huge straw basket full of veggies and there they were: about 6 goat heads just sitting on the counter. I swear they were staring at me, eyes glazed, and I freaked and made a mad dash back to the veggie market, ahhh carrots and tomatoes, my comfort zone. I will keep you posted on my meat attempts. So far no complaints from Jason as I have been cooking up some yummy veggies. I digress, so after running all our food over to another team mates house for safe keeping we are one step forward and one step back. Since it is Sunday we may have to wait until tomorrow to begin our crusade of getting the fridge working again. Jason also continues his epic journey to get Internet but that is a story I shall let him tell as there is no way I could do it justice; a computer geek with no Internet, a tragic tale of the lengths he went for love. From my sense of needing to accomplish things this stuff is so frustrating but I am learning that I can get by just fine without everything I once thought a necessity, I am learning contentment and I that has never been my forte. I am also learning to not count on everything working all the time. Power goes out, things break (or never work), and everything takes time, lots of time. I can chose to let it get me down (which it has) or I can chose to look at things that would otherwise annoy as opportunities to be kind, gracious, and love people. This is hard for me but I am growing. It is easy to focus on stuff and getting things done but everything good here so far has been about people. Thank God we have friends here that who have already gone through most of this and are helping us cope, what a blessing!We are still working on the fire ant situation and got some powder that came highly recommended so we shall see. We had a ton of rain last night which brings them out and I do not have the courage yet this morning to go see how many have gathered to greet us. Some other exciting news is that got some furniture. We even have a hand-made wooden dining room table with 6 chairs (it only cost about 90 dollars) and only took a few days to make! We never had anything this nice in the states. It is so different here as some things cost way less because the materials and man power are cheaper and then some things (like appliances and plastic junk are so expensive) because it is an island and everything has to be imported. We bought a used bed from our friends who wanted to have a new one made and a carpenter made Annikah a canopy (for her mosquito net) bed that really is pretty. We also got some cheap rope furniture made for our living room and although it is not very comfortable at least we can sit and invite people over. Although there are many moments each day where we feel like we just cannot survive here when nothing works and we have uttered more times than I would admit “lets just hop a plane home.” These are mostly expected and fleeting emotions. Overall, I am feeling less overwhelmed and more like this could be home; a bit more settled, ready for what is next, and confident He has a plan.