After spending two days in Bloemfontein, South Africa, we drove “home” to Maseru, capital of the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Abby and Jonathan are currently being housed in the AIM-Lesotho headquarters, which is a small townhome in a comfortable but modest neighborhood, just across the border from South Africa.
This is the room where Lacy, Kyle and I are camping out. That's Kyle's bed, between ours on the floor. A wall of books greeted me as I first walked in the room. Try to imagine my thrill at discovering my bedroom is also the AIM-Lesotho library! God blesses in unexpected ways! I surveyed the collection and settled on several I wanted to start: a book by Amy Charmichael, nineteenth century missionary to India; a biography of Corrie ten Boom; a Bible study of the Gospel of Mark; and my favorite book so far--The Freedom of Simplicity.
Pulling on wool socks against the shock of freezing floors, in the morning I make my way downstairs to the kitchen to warm up with a hot beverage. On the menu is standard American fare: cereal or oatmeal or eggs and toast, juice, and tea or coffee (or both!) We typically gather upstairs in Abby and Jonathan’s bedroom to eat our breakfast since it’s the warmest room in the house.
Once everyone is fed and Kyle and Ellee are changed, we will head outside for the better part of the day. The sun is delightfully warm and inviting. If I jockey my chair around, I can enjoy every ray as the sun makes its low, compact arc across this Southern Hemisphere sky. Wearing short sleeved shirts and pants, we are very comfortable for five hours or so. After hanging last evening’s clean, wet diapers on the line, we talk and read and play games such as Scrabble or Yahtzee. Jonathan is often found with his nose in a history book about missions in Lesotho, stopping often to share a paragraph here or there that he finds interesting. He also reads alound from the Bible in Sesotho, practicing language learning.
Jonathan and Abby are slowly picking up the language of the mountain people, although it’s not going as quickly as they would like. The people here in the capital city of Maseru typically speak English, which means the benefit of total language immersion isn’t an option. They’ve worked weekly with a language tutor to study Sesotho, but she is now out of town for the summer.
Meanwhile, as Abby feeds Ellee, Kyle will “run, run, run fast boy” around the tiny yard. He plays in his new sandbox, bounces around on his Wahoo puppy, and generally passes the day chattering and being 100% All-Boy. He’ll bring Lacy or me a book and climb up in a lap to hear a story, providing one can read it in a hurry. Then he is off again to investigate some rock or leaf or whatever catches his two-year-old fancy.
Around three o’clock, we face the fact that we will soon need to move indoors. You would think that the house would warm up during the day. But don’t be fooled. It feels like an icebox after our day in the sun. I head upstairs to start putting on layers-- that usually consists of long pants, long johns, several shirts, a fleece or wool sweater and a couple pairs of wool socks. If I’m up and about, say, working in the kitchen, that is usually enough. If we are planning to sit around, I grab a blanket or two for added warmth. No, I’m not exaggerating. We sip hot tea and eat a rusk, a hard cookie similar to biscotti. After an hour or so, Jonathan will usually agree to turn on the heater. We draw the curtains around the small family room, conserving the warmth. The heater runs on gas and is quite expensive to operate, thus the necessity of using it sparingly.
For the evening routine, we prepare supper and bring the plates into the family room to huddle around the heater and watch a movie. Afterward, we wash the dishes by boiling a small amount of water in an electric heater and adding it to some frigid water from the tap. There is a hot water spigot, but since the hot water heater is only turned on for bath time, we don’t want to waste it on the dishes. Besides, heating water in the electric kettle is quick and relatively painless.
Moving upstairs, we cycle quickly through the shower, never spending more than a minute or two each getting clean. After that, it’s time for Abby, Lacy, and me to wash diapers by hand in the tub. Paper diapers are super expensive here, twice the price of what they are in the States. My girl is all about saving money, thus the new nightly routine. They recently purchased a washing machine, which will go with them up to their new mountain home of Makhotlong. But for now, it remains under the stairs, not hooked up to a water supply. So, nightly diaper duty it is until then. We gather at the end of the day in Abby and Jonathan’s room again, for playing a game or talking. Kyle has a bedtime Bible story with a cookie and milk before being put down for the night. Ellee is ever present, typically cradled in someone’s arms.
Speaking of Makhotlong (pronounced: Ma HOT long— the k is silent), we are planning a trip up there early next week for Abby and Jonathan to hopefully see the house they will be living in beginning next month. I am excited about seeing all that gorgeous countryside, the incredible mountains, the shepherds, the round stone houses with thatched roofs, and the little town where my girl will make a home for her family for the next three years. Our plan is to drive about halfway on Monday, to a town called Oxbow, and stay in a rondavel (round house) for the night. Then we’ll drive the rest of the way up the VERY STEEP and curvy mountain road to Mokhotlong, spending most of the day looking about town. We’ll drive back to Oxbow to spend another night before traveling back to Maseru on Wednesday.
God is teaching me a lot on this trip, mostly just to rest and trust Him in everything. I’ve learned that I can get by with very little if I have to. I only brought a couple pairs of pants and a few shirts and sweaters. We wear the same clothes for several days since the lady who does the laundry on Tuesdays can only handle so much. I really like this simple life and I do think I could get used to it. Internet is expensive, so like everything else, we use it as little as possible. I find I can do with it a lot less when I have to. This is a pattern I hope to continue when I return home to the states. I have a deep desire to pitch about 75% of our stuff when I get back.
I miss everyone at home, though I try not to think about leaving Lesotho. I’m not sure when I’ll see Abby, Jonathan, Kyle, and Ellee again in person. So for now, I’m just living in the moment, enjoying this beautiful and simple life, and thanking God for providing so abundantly for my girl and her family as they live out their call to train up leaders in Lesotho for the Gospel of Christ.