Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Back in Mshewe

Yesterday I arrived back in Mshewe and I confess I wasn’t looking forward to returning to the village, even though it’s only for a couple of weeks. I had started to settle into town life and was enjoying some measure of routine, which comes with more office-based work, as well as the delights of electricity (most of the time anyhow), easy access to shops and the companionship of a housemate and other English speaking friends. However, I reassured myself with memories of the beauty of the Mshewe countryside and the fun I have with some of my village friends, and so drove back to the village with at least some sense of anticipation. My pleasure grew as I bought myself some grilled corn-on-the-cob and left the noise of the town behind, driving past buckets full of mangoes being sold at the side of the road before turning up the dirt track to where I live.

Arriving, I opened the kitchen door. My friends had kindly left me a bunch of bananas, but some other very unwelcome ‘friends’ had also been at work. The kitchen was a mess. Someone had left a bag of peanuts on the worktop – a fatal mistake. Mice love peanuts and the result was that not only were peanut shells scattered across the counter but they had also sampled the label on the bottle of oil, a pen lid and a box of matches, among other things! Entering the main house to check the situation out there I found the usual pile of bat droppings behind the sofa and had an unpleasant surprise in the bathroom – a filthy mess around the bath. When I turned on the tap to clean up the dirt, the water that came out was black and took about half-an-hour of running to become just about clean enough to shower in.
A couple of hours of cleaning and unpacking later, I finally took a shower in the almost-clean water and felt refreshed and ready to face living here once again. The sunset was stunning. My friend popped over to say hi. I cooked some food. I lit my new scented candle. I sat down to write this blog post to the music of the cicadas outside. It’s not so bad being here after all!
Waking early this morning to the dawn chorus and someone calling “Hodi!” at my gate, wanting to speak to me, I wasn’t so sure again. He wanted money for a sound system at his church! Did he have to come and knock before 6am in the morning for such a request?! I feel weary. But it’s a beautiful morning, I am working with my faithful colleagues today, with the chance to read the Bible together, and so there is much to be thankful for.

I know that I need to trust God to strengthen me for whatever lies ahead. The line of a familiar song comes to mind once again, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” Amen to that!