Saturday, February 25, 2012
This little light (that keeps going out)
One of the common conversation topics around here is the power. Unlike our vision trip last summer, when we lost power briefly one morning, the electricity has now been absent for at minimum a few hours every day since we've been in our new house, and most of the nights. I could post a photo, but, you know, you wouldn't be able to see anything. We probably have power about 40-50% of our waking hours. It's usually due to "load shedding": They're not producing enough power for the city, so they're shedding your load. It's developed into a joke over here. My friend was having a moment when she couldn't think, so it was, "Sorry, I'm load shedding."
The lack of power can be hard on small businesses here which can't afford a generator. The reasons are multiple and mysterious: By contract Uganda does actually sell a portion of its power to Kenya. The lake levels have been low, so maybe the turbines aren't functioning properly. Or maybe you don't have anyone that prestigious in your neighborhood. Huh. I think that includes us.
Most of us have an appliance they miss the most. Because I'm a cheapskate who hates to waste, I miss my fridge. But this rivals my computer (aka writing device/livelihood/connection to America), whose power is usually exhausted by school activities and kid stuff; I look forward to the arrival of a new long-life battery and try not to get discouraged. John misses the fan in this heat, if you're able to imagine that in February, especially when we're falling asleep. A coworker misses the fan at night for white noise to drown out the noise of yelping dogs, African drums, radios, motorcycles, whatever. (Ugandans can be real night owls.)
Overall, it's changed our lifestyle some. But part of that change is simplifying, as you can imagine life without electronics would be for any family. We get more sleep, because walking around in the dark makes one more tired, and probably a little more bored. Some toes are a little more stubbed. Our (hand-washed) dishes are a little less clean. We spend more money on candles and malodorous kerosene.
But living here of course changes perspective. A lot of our neighbors and even friends don't really have electronic devices to use; some don't have running water. I feel a little spoiled when the power inevitably goes out when I'm doing something that, hey, it would be nice to have a little electricity for. Say, to see. I can't tell you how many times I've sighed in the sudden darkness: "Are you serious?" (This is especially true in the second outage of the day.) But like anything, God uses it to refine me, humble me, and nudge me. Hello, Janel, Philippians 4:12-13. All of us, kids included, are growing in contentment and joy.
Not a bad product, overall.