God has provided us a home away from home that more then adequately provides for our needs. However, homes in this part of the world have different quirks then what we are use to back home. In fact, the family that we are borrowing this home from left us a six page document giving instructions on how to handle the quirks. And, we are glad they did. This document has become well worn over the past two weeks as we refer to it almost daily.
Here is a list of some of the quirks
Lighting/Electrical: Electric here is pay in advance, 220V and is wired to British standards. This means the light switch on position is opposite of America light switches, outlets are 3 prong British, and each outlet has an on/off switch for each receptacle. We must have adapters for electrical items we brought from home and more than once I have plugged something in or turned a switch and wondered why it hasn’t sprung to life only to realize that I forgot to switch the outlet on. Couple these differences with the reality that electricity comes and goes without warning or reason. We have been fortunate thus far in that outages have had minimal effect on our lives.
Security and Garbage: Interestingly, the security and garbage fess are combined. As a side note, the charge for security is $12.50 a month and garbage is $2.50 per home. Garbage is picked up twice a week and they provide garbage bags that are slid under your gate once a week.
People at the gate to the house: Part of our briefing was that if anyone knocks at the gate we are to ask who it is before we open it. If we don’t know the person, don’t open the gate. One evening a man, who apparently does business with the normal lady of the house, came selling cards. Since we did not know him Terry got up on a chair and conducted business with him over the top of the gate. (We did buy a couple of nice handmade cards.)
Water: The city water provides water 2 to 3 days a week and we haven’t been able to figure out the schedule yet. The cold water tap in the kitchen is plumbed direct to the city water so if there is city water we will have cold water in the kitchen. To have water when there is no city water, the house has three storage tanks. The in-ground tank receives water from the city line. There is a storage building in the rear that has a water pump that pumps from the in-ground tank to the attic tank or the extra storage tank. We flip a combination of valves located by the pump, turn on the pump, and then go upstairs to listen for water flow into the tank in the attic. The attic tank generally takes about 10 minutes to fill but listening for flow lets us know it is full. When it is full, back downstairs to turn off the pump and reposition the valves. The process for the extra storage tank is the same. The attic tank provides water to the upstairs and the hot water heater while the extra tank is a reserve for extended periods without city water.
*The in-ground storage tank and the attic storage tank.
Hot Water: The water heater is only turned on as needed so showers require planning. It takes about 45 minutes to heat so either turn it on and come back or set the timer. The timer is how we have hot water to shower when we wake up.
Kitchen Water Filter– Though the locals drink the city water, our bodies wouldn’t do well. Therefore, there is a 7 stage water filter in the kitchen that we use for drinking, brushing our teeth, washing vegetables etc. However, we do wash our dishes and our clothes with unfiltered water. So far neither one of us has gotten sick. Please pray this continues.
Washing Machine: The washing machine is plumbed to city water so if there is good pressure for the day it may work with just that. But, filling the machine can take up to two hours. If no city water the water pump can be turned on to provide ample pressure to fill the machine.
Dryer: Our dryer is the old fashion clothesline. This becomes tricky because we are here during rainy season. However, there are clotheslines on the enclosed porch and we have rigged a temporary line in the living room to hang things. The longest we have had to let an item of clothing dry on the line is 2 days.
Heating/Air Conditioning: The house has neither. Since we are here during Kenya’s winter months we have not actually needed air conditioning. In fact, we have been a bit chilly and we have been told that July will be cooler. With the house being constructed of cement and tile the floors, early mornings can be even cooler.
Ants: We share our home with ants and they think they have rights to anything remotely sweet. Therefore, food is stored tightly and carefully. Crumbs are quickly wiped away and floors swept several times a day. Friends of ours baked a cake before church and stored it in the oven while at church. When they got home they found the cake covered by ants. Hence, another cake needed to be bake.
We have been told that Africans consider ants to be lucky because it means you have food to eat.
Noise: The noises are different here. Each morning we hear a rooster off in the distance as we start our day. Somewhat nearby is a Mosque with sounds of their call to prayer and worship throughout the day and night. This neighborhood is full of children’s voices coming and going as they play outside, go to school or have recess on the soccer field. We hear our Kenyan neighbors speaking Swahili as they go about their daily lives. Also, there is the sound of gates opening and closing as people enter and reenter their homes. I have to say the noises are different then what we are use to back home but they have not kept us awake or been particular disturbing. However, Ramadan starts this Wednesday which may take the noise level up a notch or two.
That sums up most of the quirks. However, I would be remiss to not state the most important part of this home is that God is among us, quirks and all.
“My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
We hope you are enjoying your homes with all of its quirks.
Until next letter,