Our new home is interconnected with a couple of other houses and courtyards in an African apartment complex. The floor and walls function as a continuous concrete “u” that is open to the hot sun. A hallway leads back to a series of metal doorways breaking an otherwise continuous concrete wall about eight feet high. These doors open into small household courtyards for each family. Ours is the first courtyard and you have to carefully creak through a door without a bottom hinge. The courtyard is about twenty feet wide and fifteen feet deep. The door is at the end and rest of the wall is lined with a low concrete open flame stove. I found it cool that the pots sit on a small rebar triangle over the three flame compartments. Looking around you see brightly colored plastic bubs and buckets of various sizes; a large bag of charcoal; a small wooden stool; five pairs of sandals; a bundle of straw wrapped to form a broom; various cooking accessories; a wash board; and is roofed only with close lines. The things look strewn but imagine your kitchen/laundry room void of all cupboards, shelves, and fancy organization tools. Oh, I forgot that they do have these shards of metal attached to the top of the wall that nicely organize some of the drying laundry. The primary water source is a city supplied spigot in the corner that does not always work. On the right side of the courtyard is the door to the bathroom and a storage closet for the food and water. The shower head and toilet in the bathroom do now work as you would expect. You have to help the showerhead by lifting cup-fulls of water from a bucket over your head and then it works perfectly. The toilet is even easier, you just have to pour some water from the same bucket into the bowl and hope you still have enough water to operate the shower. They conveniently attached the toilet paper dispenser to the end of your Left wrist. Which you should not confuse with your spoon attached to your Right wrist.
The floor steps up slightly to form a small porch with a tile covered floor that continues into the house. I suppose the two large metal doors with multiple locking mechanisms look foreboding, but the lace curtain flowing in the opening throughout the day offsets any negative feelings. You walk immediately into the living room/dining room, obviously after you left your shoes outside with the others. There are several wooden chairs and bench with cushions; a coffee table; TV; DVD player; boom box sitting on a wooden chair with a vase of plastic flowers on top; a Dell computer hidden under a dust repellant piece of fabric; a remote still wrapped in the packaging; a colorful fruit collage table cloth over a small table; a basket of assorted silverware, plates, and cups; and a small stuffed Tigger. The door to our room is the far left corner. Inside we have a foam mattress on the floor, a wood cupboard full of the families stuff, and a fan for which we are very grateful.
Along with our new big brother and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Bomba, we have two little nieces. Grace is four years old and quite a little princess. Only slightly less adorable than her younger sister, but she is quite the passionate little lady. She loves to be a part of things and have your attention, so often she throws little fits when things are not her way. Regardless, it is hard to walk out the door with the words, “I want to go also,” following after you. My younger niece, Cephorrah (I think), is one year old and loves to use your leg hair to pull herself up to see what you are doing. See is quite the looker Sunday mornings with makeup on. Mr. Bomba is a primary school teacher, but unfortunately the schools have been closed for a couple months. He and the other teachers still meet several times a week to talk and drink tea. I can imagine it is just as hard on the teachers as it is the students for the schools to be closed for the last three months. Mrs. Bomba is the first one up and spends a lot of the day, at least when I see her, cooking and cleaning. So far our interactions with her revolve around: your bath is ready and the food is ready, but particularly this last week she has been more eager to engage with us.
In short my first two weeks have been, soccer every Wednesday and Saturday morning at 6:30 with some guys from the community; tea with fifteen or so teachers three nights a week, one of whom I play soccer with; prayer with the Pastor and a few people from the church Wednesday morning to midafternoon (about six hours); doing stuff with the youth of the church, particularly Sunday afternoon; visiting brothers of the church; working twice a week at Village Baptist; and riding bicycle everywhere (we got the trip to campus down to just under 30 min). It is a lot of relationships, in fact it is very difficult to find alone time. It is hard for my mind to necessarily feel like we are accomplishing things, but my better judgment tells me otherwise.