I am taking advantage of limited opportunities to charge the laptop and get a good connection, by posting an excerpt from an email as a blog post. A concerned and worried loved one had a lot of questions for me. Here is my attempt to provide a few answers, which other friends and family may also have but have not asked…
I’m sorry that you feel so tormented by worry. I know that in your language, worry translates to an expression of love. And I feel that. Thank you for loving my family so much.
Because you got my email and I got yours, be encouraged that we can communicate in this way – hooray!
To answer you questions:
1. Why are we not in our dome home yet?
It’s not finished. Our first container with the vehicles is already here! Andy’s time has been spent running around Montovia getting official paperwork completed so that it can be released to us. Getting anything “official” done is quite the inefficient process, so to answer your question, there hasn’t been time yet. We are comfortable in our current situation though.
2. What are we sleeping on?
We each have a 3 inch foam pad. In the kids’ room there is a linoleum-like floor that their pads are on. They each have a bottom sheet, a top sheet a pillow and a mosquito net. They each have one shelf and bamboo rod hung from the ceiling to hang their clothes up. Their room is painted white with 2 Windows with bars on them. They have curtains and a lock on their door. It’s in a building that also has a storage room and a library room. Andy and I are 10 feet away in another building. I can call to them from my window and they can hear me. Our room is a lot smaller than the kids’. Probably 7 feet by 7 feet. We have a queen size foam mattress that is atop a bamboo bed frame. We have more bamboo clothes racks, a 4 tiered shelf and a chair. We also sleep under a mosquito net. We sleep soundly and well.
3. How does food prep work? Are we healthy?
They have a very organized chore system. One of the older girls is in charge of the main meal each day, with younger girls helping with food prep. It is primitively done with coal stoves, but works just fine. They have a big metal box with a glass front that works as their oven, once you put a coal pot inside it on the floor. I have taught them to make bread. It’s delicious! I have so far only made one meal – yes, for everyone. I made tortillas, and then mixed together beans, onion, eggs and some chicken seasoning. Not too shabby 😉 I’m learning. I’ve started helping a lot in the morning to make sure the kids have food before leaving for school. As with every family, school mornings are rushed!
We are healthy. Ivy had a little itchy heat rash on her face and arms the first week, but that has gone away now. She also threw up a couple of times Sunday night, but was right as rain by morning time. They are all eating so well. The other night there was a drum stick atop our plate of rice and all of my kids did like everyone else, and ate the ENTIRE BONE! Ha! I remember hearing that you shouldn’t feed a dog chicken bones..?? anyway, not for me, thank you. But I did eat it the meat down TO the bone. My family probably may have more protein in their diets now than they did in SLC!
4. Do we have private time with our family?
It’s true that there are MANY more people around, but I still manage one on one time with each of them. I am often in my room journaling or preparing lessons for seminary or the elementary school. My kids come in and talk to me, do their homework, journaling, or we lie on my bed and read together. At night the 6 of us gather in the kids’ room and have family prayer and then I read the kids a chapter out of the book I’m reading to them. After we get this container, Andy will be around A LOT more. And when the village drill gets here in the second container, Simon will be working with his dad. I’m excited for that.
5. Am I expected to “parent” the orphans?
Well, my children certainly come first, but if a child is crying, an argument has broken out, or little people say, “let’s play cards”, I certainly don’t just walk by. We are also free with affection, as they seem so hungry for a hug, or a story read to them. It is natural and easy to oblige.
6. Can I grow a garden?
They already have one in place, but I did bring several types of heirloom seeds and gardening supplies given to us by a dear friend before we left. It is still the rainy season though, so I’ll wait a bit. The rain is truly unbelievable!
Thanks for sharing about the new RM booklets. Haven’t even thought to try to get on lds.org
. If I get any reception out here, which is very rare, I’m usually trying to look up a recipe that I could fix with the ingredients available here.
I’m not sure how General Conference will work. We’ll figure it out. This week we have a regional conference with 3 general authorities coming!
Yes, we will go to church each Sunday. Andy has already been earmarked for Young Men’s, and Simon has already taught in his Quorum. I teach seminary out here at the home each evening to the 10 teenagers. Ruby, Charlie, Ivy and I didn’t make it to church this past Sunday because it wasn’t our turn in the car, and it was a complete downpour. Since Andy and Simon had responsibilities at church, they donned rain suits and hopped on the motorcycle.
8. How far away are the missionaries?
They have come out here to the home 3 times because they were teaching Mercy the discussions. Simon and I sat in on them, along with two others Andy had invited to join the discussion. She was baptized last Saturday, and asked Andy to do it. I met the mission president and his wife (from Midway, Utah) at church. Andy already knew them well. They’re great. The missionaries that taught the discussions were from Ghana and Sierre Leon. The missionaries at church were from Nigeria and California.
9. Are we clean?
Haha 🙂 Yes. I even scrub behind my ears. Ivy often takes her bucket bath with me and Charlie with Andy – so we make sure they’re thorough. You get yourself all wet, then suds up from head to toe and then rinse. No big deal. We bathe every night. It’s nice to get into our beds clean after these sweaty, humid days.
We do laundry often, before our load gets overwhelming. Doing it by hand is quite the chore! We will all come home with more arm muscle.
10. Am I sure my kids are safe?
I feel just as comfortable as I did in Rose Park. Our compound is completely gated in, and the kids stay within it, with the exception of school and church. They never go anywhere alone and walk to school in big groups. Starting next week I will be teaching phonics at the elementary school where Charlie and Ivy are.
We’ve met all our neighbors here in Zuannah Town – 26 houses. Everyone already knows and loves Andy and are happy to meet his family.
11. Are we planning on doing this every school year?
No clue. We’ve been here two weeks. We’ll see how it goes, make it a matter of prayer, weigh our pros and cons and have a family council about it. We love our children and want what’s best for them. I guess we’ve learned that sometimes what is best isn’t always the most comfortable or the most easy option.
I know this is different from the way of many. I’m not “running away”. I just find a lot of value in different experiences and different cultures and we wanted to share that with our children. They may decide they have no appetite for this kind of thing, which is totally their opinion to form and deserves respect. We decided to have a family experience this year though. One that would challenge us and provide a wealth of learning experiences that will hopefully lead to growth for all.
I love you! Thank you for your love and concern.