Are you a creature of habit? When you go to your favorite restaurant do you order the same thing every time? Do you have alternative driving routes that you insist on taking even if it frustrates your passengers? Do you have a specific way you fill the dishwasher? Hang your clothes? Do you have a routine that if interrupted requires you to start over from the beginning? Even in Africa, as disruptive an environment as you could imagine, we have found ourselves settling into our routines.
On the occasion of our residence in Uganda rounding out one hundred days our class was invited to visit a local resort on the Nile River. The class and the family spent a day swimming and fellowshipping together about 35 miles north of the Equator. Needless to say four of the children, who do not have red hair, got their summer sunburn seven months early. The children had a great time because it broke up their normal routine of daily chores and homeschool. The sun comes up at 6:30--every day. In Texas we had a weekly routine for breakfast: eggs, Monday; oatmeal, Tuesday; French toast, Wednesday; etc. Here, toast and a banana is the routine, adding eggs and bacon is a rare treat.
We even have built routines around things we could never have imagined would be the norm. Zoe points out taking motorcycle rides with random black men has become an unexpected norm. Sharing public transportation with livestock and taking cold showers also have lost their initial fascination. Walking through the village and having children shout, "mzungu how are you?" is still fun especially when they join us for the walk.
Enjoy your routines. We have started building routines for contingencies. When the power goes out we have routines for the distribution of headlamps and a couple of solar powered lanterns. When the water gets interrupted we gather buckets and trek up the well to collect reserves for washing and filtering. We've also collected rainwater when a storm has been the cause of the water pump failing. Routines are nice, routines are helpful, and routines can help you keep your sanity.
Even after one hundred days there are still some things I'd like a routine for. These hot Africa afternoons, there just isn't an escape, even with cold showers the heat is so pervasive. Relying on public transportation to get shopping done. Even though the availability of bodas and taxis are frequent it is always a challenge of timing to catch a ride. How to keep the red clay from getting everywhere. Avoiding mosquito bites without drowning daily in bug spray. And always the final challenge how to move forward in a nation without an In-N-Out Burger location.
One hundred days has freed us of a lot of the unproductive routines we had in the States but it has also separated us from you. As this course draws to a close, and we prepare for the work to become the full-time endeavor instead of the part-time application, losing our classmates threatens to further emphasize our distance from those we love. We will make new relationships and hopefully ministry partners to affect greater change but please pray for us as we seek new routines.