This experience is starting to feel like a blur as one day fades into the next. I just realized today that we’ve been here nearly two months. I rarely know the day, let alone the date. The passage of time for me is marked by the diminishing of supplies and books read. I’m down two tubes of toothpaste. My church shoes and flip flops are both ruined, and I’ve read The Book of Matthew (Seminary), Jacob-Mosiah, Mary Poppins (to Charlie and Ivy), The Light Between Oceans, and am now making my way through Anna Karenina.
I love reading, and it is glorious having time to do it. Ruby has always been a voracious reader, but it’s been so great for me to watch Simon, Charlie and Ivy all come to the library and finish book after book too. That has definitely been a positive thing about being here to me. Love it!
I will give you a little snippet of what a day in the life of Kayla is like here in Zuannah Town.
5:30am, awake to the Imam’s call to prayer next door, and then listen to the Muslims prayers (which are a lot like singing chants) for the next half hour. This is a beautiful way to wake up!
6:00am, Andy and I roll out of bed, but all older children are up and about already, busily getting their chores done before they have to leave for school
This week was awesome because Simon had a late start to school, so I didn’t have to do early breakfast. Due to this slight change in our routine, Andy and I went on a jog together each morning (except once, when it was raining). I discovered that this small thing could be the key to my happiness – an exercise date with my love!
Usually though…. by 6:15, I’m in the kitchen making breakfast for my family. – eggs and toast, banana pancakes, hashbrowns and eggs, oatmeal, fried plantain, cream of wheat – something like that.
6:45am, family prayer and breakfast
7:00am, Simon and Ruby are off to school and I clean up breakfast and start the coal pot for the oven. I make 6 loaves of bread every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Two for my family and 4 for the 20 other people. They are BIG loaf pans. 1 is equal to about 1 and 1/2 a regular loaf I used to make at home. Anyway, this bread making process can take anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours depending on if the coal is wet or dry. The coal pot is my nemesis! I SO miss the ease of baking with the ovens I have known my whole life. I’ve always loved baking. Now I dread it, because it is so time consuming and the outcome is so unpredictable. I WILL figure it out though!
By 9:00am, if the sky looks favorable, Charlie, Ivy and I start laundry. I really try to do a load each day or else it can get overwhelming very quickly. I only do mine and Andy’s washing. The kids all do their own. If it’s a smallish load, it takes about an hour. Double that for a bigger load. Andy designed and had built a standing washing station built over by the sink, which really saves my back. I have to pump 3 buckets (about… 3 gallons each) from the well to fill the washing and rinsing tubs. I have noticed pronounced arm muscles growing on each one of us! The washboard is between these two tubs. Soak clothes, scrub clothes, rinse clothes, wring clothes, hang clothes. If the sky is being temperamental, that last step can last all day – hang clothes, run and take down clothes QUICKLY, hang clothes back up, run and take down clothes QUICKLY, repeat as needed 🙂
In between these chores I start Charlie and Ivy on their lessons. After an explanation of the math concept for that day is taught they are pretty independent with their assignments. It’s so great. And I love that just being here and having this experience, and doing these chores are all part of a valuable education too. They love staying home and the quiet time we have while all the others are off at school. I don’t regret the homeschool decision one bit.
11:30, Charlie, Ivy and I make some lunch. Usually Ramen, or PB&J with the bread I just made. And fruit. Oh yes, we have made sure we always have an abundance of fruit! All fresh from the market, sourced from surrounding villages and farms, and organic. And cheap!
12:15, the little kids come home from school. Usually our lessons are done for homeschool but sometimes not, and we can’t play yet.
I also take an hour for myself during this time before the older kids come home, to prepare my seminary lesson for later that afternoon.
2:45, everyone is home from school and I do a “Proper English Class”. Usually it’s just reading Hymns or a Shel Sylverstein poem together, enunciating each sound and listening to each child make the sound. In their accent they typically drop the last sound off of nearly every word, making it so hard to understand. It also means they have a hard time spelling the last half of many words 🙂
After this class, I do homework help, reading lessons, and multiplication flash cards with any and all children that want it.
5:00pm, Seminary class is held. I have 9 students. It is slow and difficult having to explain each thing in such detail. And having them do the journal writing they’re supposed to be doing during class is very time intesive. Any reading aloud is VERY SLOW. I started homeschooling Simon through Seminary, apart from this class. It was too tedious for him. Besides, I’m only ever able to make it through about 1/4 of the material. I’d like him to get more out of it just because he can.
Sometime between 6 and 7 is dinner. We always eat what is made for dinner (different from my plan in the last blog post which was to only share dinner meals three times a week). It’s usually fried chicken or fresh or dried fish with rice (ALWAYS), and some sort of “soup” – cassava, bitterball, potato greens, palm nut, etc…. Some are better than others, but my kids are being real champs about the food – better than I, I’ll admit. Simon and Ruby actually love the rice bowls a lot.
Between 7 and 8 we do dishes and take our bucket baths.
8pm, is devotional. We all gather in the Palava House for Hymns, declaration of “thank yous” for good deeds done that day, talks (assigned the previous night) on topics from For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet, sometimes a reading and discussion of one of the rules of the home, and discussion of any issues that need brought up.
9pm, brush teeth and go to bed. It’s amazing how much sleep we’re getting. The heat is just exhausting. We NEVER sleep in past 7 though, even on the weekends. We’ve all been having wild and vivid dreams. The kids often dream about going back to SLC and finding no one missed them – haha! I dreamed the other night of M&Ms – peanut, plain, pretzle…. We all had a good laugh at that 🙂
That’s about it! Reading through this, it doesn’t seem much different than what I was doing back in the states – cooking, cleaning, laundry, helping kids with school work, church callings, family spiritual nourishment. I guess the biggest difference is the time it takes to do those chores. It really is hard work. It’s not hard to feel just fine about not exercising, when your everyday tasks make your muscles burn and sweat run down your back. Because of the extra time required little attention is given to leisure.
Things I’m happy about right now:
1. Saturday shopping. For the past few weeks, every Saturday the Jones fam hops into the 4WD truck and makes the trek into town. This is a big deal for me – being the only day, apart from Sunday, that I get out of Zuannah Town. I can tell Andy hates it because the traffic is so bad and he battles with it all week, but it is the highlight of my week! I love just having our own little family time, and buying snacks on the side of the road from vendors – meat pies, tea bread with mayo, cinnamon rolls!, COLD water bags.
Things I’m looking forward to:
1. Internet. A tower is being built right now so that we have internet access out here in the bush. While I do not desire any more connection than I’ve had for myself – DIS-connecting was one of the top things I was looking forward to! – if having internet HERE will allow Andy to be here more, the sooner the better!
2. The completion of the DOME HOME.