I doubt that one can be half-mad, half-crazy or even half schizophrenic. I guess your are or you aren’t, but yesterday I felt that half-madness had overtaken me. I’ll try to explain.

Night before last Jessie and I had a dinner guest, a woman from England who suffers from MS but who is a volunteer English teacher, something we hope never to have to teach again -(gerunds, dangling participles, simple-past negatives – oh horrors)! It was a warm night so we opened the back door in order to have some cross-ventilation. We had not opened the back door before because we are gone most of the day, and the nights are delightfully cool. Looking out the back door and seeing that our kitchen drain had emptied a lot of garbage out there and making it look like the world’s cess pool, and being that it was late and I still had the kitchen to clean up, I said to Jessie: “I think I hate Africa. I’m tired of the daily dirty beggars, tired of cleaning my shoes every day, tired of not knowing if we would have water or the internet, tired of dim lighting that has probably permanently ruined my eyes, tired of dirt and dust, tired of my skin and head itching from the dryness, tired of the suffering, tired of the starvation poverty – tired-tired-tired.”  Africa seemed hopeless to me that night and I guess I had a real case of “poor me.” Perhaps I am not mad but human and feeling helpless in the face of so much suffering.

Now here is where the real “go figure” comes in.

The very next day I had an English conversation class. Usually Jessie and I do this class together but she had another class at Bishop  Stanway so I went alone never expecting the fall-out that was about to happen. The conversation lesson for the day was to identify items one would find in various rooms in a house or home. They had been prepped for this with small pictures of the average western home and they named all the items – sofas, chairs, lamps, desks, computers, showers, toilets, cookers (stoves), cabinets, towels, sheets, pots, pans, microwaves and on and on. I knew that they not only didn’t have those things, often they didn’t even know what they were (Stupid lesson).  When we got to a garage and what one might find in an average American garage I suddenly teared-up. They said a water hose to water grass and flowers. When I asked how they bathed or washed they said: “with a bucket.” I felt so horrible for having such an “attitude” the day before. They are such dear people and I couldn’t bear that I use water indiscrimately – turn on the faucet and voila, I have water. Fill up a tub of hot water just for a soak, push a button or turn a knob and the outdoor watering system comes on. Here they thank God for a glass of water. Where am I going with this; I honestly don’t know. I only know that I told them it was our last class and I walked around the room and shook all of their beautiful black hands and wished them God’s blessings and then I left crying.

I stopped at Sandy’s on my way home and said: “last night I hated Africa and today I am crying over leaving and I love Africa”. She said: “welcome to Africa – now you are becoming a missionary. I’m not sure I even know what that means. Maybe I have a love/hate relationship with Africa. I do know that something is not right with this picture but I sure as heck don’t know what to do about it. Keep on keeping on, perhaps, and try to remember Mother Teresa’s wisdom – we can only do small things with great love or “better to light one candle than curse the darkness.”

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