On Tuesday, 16 October 2012, the power went out at 5:55 a.m. I remember that exact time, because I had started waking up and had just looked at the clock. Shortly thereafter, the fan in my bedroom stopped (and I had not got out of bed to turn it off). Even though that is an unfortunate thing to experience early in the morning, it wasn’t that unusual. I got dressed and ready for the day. I shuffled into the kitchen to make some coffee in hopes of finding other positive aspects to the new day instead of dwelling on a power outage.
Well, the power outage drug on throughout the day and into the night, and never did come on. I’ve learned how to do a little cooking by using a small “camping lantern” that I bought at one of the stores here in town. Even though the lantern gives off plenty of light, it is still challenging cooking by this lantern which is why I don’t cook much when the power is out. Sometimes I make oatmeal or simply have granola and I mix up some powdered milk. Plus, I don’t want to repeatedly open and close the refrigerator door since I honestly rarely ever know how long the power will be out.
This particular Tuesday evening, the lantern had enough, and stopped working. The battery had died, and the lantern simply needed to be recharged. I’d have to wait until the power came on in order to recharge the lantern. After the lantern stopped working, I was left to my candles and the flashlight on my mobile phone.
On Wednesday morning, 17 October 2012, I woke up and realized the power still had not come back on. After the power being off for an entire day and night, this was starting to get old. Slowly, I got going wondering if the power was ever going to come back on. I also started thinking about possibly going to stay at one of the area hotels which had air conditioning, hot water in the shower and digital TV if the power didn’t come back on this Wednesday. All the hotels that I know of have a large generator to keep the lights on when the city lights are off.
After breakfast I visited an LBT friend and colleague who helped get my new laptop set up. Back home, I had some lunch and then called the power company. Surprisingly, the power came back on about quarter past one in the afternoon. Praise the LORD that the power came back on after being off 31 hours! Yes, you read correctly—31 hours. This is not the longest time I’ve endured through a power outage, but it ranks high up there.
I really don’t like enduring through long power outages, because there is so little I can do especially in the evening. In addition to the small lantern, I have three decent-sized candles which also shed a tiny bit of light, but not enough to do anything. I can’t read a book by the camping lantern. I can use my laptop but only for an hour or two—maybe longer—but I would never run my laptop battery down during a power outage, because I never know when the power will come back on and I don’t want to be stuck with a dead laptop in case I needed to do something important.
There have been times in which the power went off, and my mobile phone soon died, because the battery needed recharged, but I was unable to recharge the phone since the lights were off. This can also be an added stress factor. This particular week, my mobile phone did not die.
It was great having light to cook supper by Wednesday evening. After supper, simply to add to the recent random outages the city water stopped flowing into my house. I have no idea why the city water stops flowing into the house. It just happens. Thankfully, I have a water tank that I can use in the mean time while I wait for the city water to return.
I also discovered Wednesday evening that the filtered water tank is nearly empty. Refilling the filtered water tank is usually fairly quickly when the city water is flowing, because there is more water pressure to go through the system. The filtered water tank can be refilled with just the outside water tank, but it just takes a lot longer, more than 24 hours.
I say this simply to explain a little more about my daily life. I don’t write these things in order to portray a “sad, sob story.” I’ve said it before, but the reality of daily life here takes much more effort and energy each day and week. And this is why I have said at the end of a week sometimes, “Boy, I’m tired,” when I haven’t actually finished a long list of projects. Instead, I have simply been “living.” “Just living” can take it out of you at times, but accepting the situation that I live in as “normal and good” is part of my on-going adjustment to life in West Africa.
It’s true that some days I want things to be like they are in the United States, but that is wishing and hoping for something not possible. I think it is human nature to often want what you cannot have, or to conclude that the grass truly is greener on the other side. This dissatisfaction can be resolved by finding peace and joy and rest in Jesus Christ alone.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14.27)
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15.11)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11.28-29)