Yes, you read that correctly. Yesterday, I found myself rapidly calling a teammate and saying “help, come quick and please save my toilet!” As many of you know I have been moved out of my house and staying in temporary housing here in the village for the last 8+ weeks. The projects and move all started with a need to re-roof my house, sounds simple right? We have an expression here called WAWA which means West Africa Wins Again and yes the re-roofing has been full of those moments where I just throw up my hands and my prayers and say ok God, your plans, your timing and not mine.
Imagine this, my house runs on solar and all of my solar panels are on that roof that needed to be replaced AND there is no ceiling in my house which means when there is no roof on the house there is not only no solar, but it is open to the sky, the elements, the critters, the dirt and everything else. In addition to the re-roofing we needed to replace several of the cement blocks that make up the exterior walls, replace some wood beams and then the majorly unexpected fix was a need to replace some tile. Did you know that direct sunlight, at least West African sunlight can cause tiles that are not installed properly to lift up!
Yesterday began what I hope is the final project before I move back in to my house next week. Two young boys came to do the manual labor of demolishing the old tiles and today they will begin chipping holes in the cement floor to install the new tiles properly. You heard me use the words demolish and chip, yes there is no such thing as being gentle or finesse. So, yesterday when I walked into my house and saw that they had started the demo at the area around my porcelain toilet and had a chisel and large hammer hitting the porcelain toilet I hollered “wait, stop, don’t do that!” I then called a teammate who is skilled in tile work and knows what toilets are to help them in being cautious with the toilet and not damaging it. Ok, I know you are thinking Alison this is just a toilet relax. Well, toilets are not easy to find here, toilets that fit the holes in my cement are definitely not easy to find and when you do find one they have been sitting in a warehouse or shipping container for years and the gaskets are dried up and leak; so it is a big deal. You also might be thinking didn’t those workers know to be careful of a toilet. Well, indoor toilets are rarely seen here and they don’t really understand how they work and how fragile they can be. More than once we have had toilets damaged by people standing on the seat and squatting to do their business. Yes, things are different here in West Africa.
The toilet survived the demo and hopefully will survive the rest of the project and this morning as I was reflecting on yesterday the reminder of me panicking to save my toilet gave me a good chuckle so I figured I would share this with you. I am sure there is some biblical lesson in here, maybe it is about embracing differences, letting go of stuff like toilets or just laughing at yourself and embracing the joy and challenges of life in West Africa. Whatever it is, I hope this blesses you in some way today and I appreciate your prayers for my toilet and the rest of this project. I am ready to be back “home”.