Wade & Kate McHargue's home is a place built with love and sustained by love. Their marriage, their children, the house, the ministry, it's all an expression of their love for the Lord and for people. Without that love they could not carry on the work they are doing in such trying conditions. It puts me to shame when I think of all the times I've whined about the work involved in cleaning my house, after seeing what's involved in keeping up Kate's house with her water situation and limited access to tools and supplies. Vacuum cleaner? Nope. Sponge mop? Nope. Dishwasher? Nope. Washing machine? Nope. Paper towels? Forget it! Trash pickup service? Are you kidding?!?!? Trash gets sorted into three categories - that which is edible and can be fed to the animals, that which can be burned, and that which has to be buried. Floors throughout the house are washed every day because of the amount of dirt tracked in even with shoes being left at the door, and watching Rosa do the cleaning for a week made me cringe over the physical demands on Kate's body.
Dishes are washed in a pot or a bowl with water that has been carried from the well, and most of the time it's not even worth the effort to heat the water for washing or rinsing dishes because of the exorbitant cost of propane to fuel the stove. A generator provides electricity for the barest minimum of needs, which translates to about 3-4 hours of powering lightbulbs each evening so the family doesn't have to go to bed when the sky gets dark like the natives do. Laundry is scrubbed on a washboard in a large tub out in the yard, then hung on a line for the sun to dry. Since my luggage was stuffed with supplies for our Jesus Spa, I brought few clothing items and needed some of them washed midweek, so I paid Rosa's sister Naoza about $2 to perform this service for me.
In a country where the nearest place to purchase toilet paper is 40 miles away, Kate's family has learned to conserve and minimize waste to a degree that we spoiled Americans rarely even consider. Eating the main meal from a family bowl cuts dirty dishes and cleanup by about 75%. Foregoing all plates for lunch and breakfast eliminates the need for water and soap to clean dishes, requiring only a few swipes of a rag to remove sticky smudges and crumbs from the table. Wearing clothing items multiple times regardless of soil and sweat conserves water and energy that could easily be squandered on trying to maintain a rich man's standard of cleanliness. And yet there is no slovenliness. Even among the poorest of the poor, bodies are bathed daily and women's hair is their crown of loveliness. Although Kate's children are properly dressed by our standards, young children of the local citizens are left naked or mostly naked much of the time because it is easier to wash a body than to wash clothing. And local women do their bathing together at a well rather than carry their bath water all the way home every day in addition to the chore of hauling drinking and cooking water for their families' needs. This may offend our sense of modesty, but it is a practical necessity for many who are overworked and under-rested. Kate recognizes that she is blessed to have an indoor bathroom with a toilet that can be flushed with a splash of water from a bucket, and a sink and shower pan where bathing can be done indoors in privacy with drains that carry away the dirty water.
|Would you rather bathe here . . .|
In spite of the presence of litter virtually everywhere the Guinean people are living, whether in tiny villages, bustling towns, or the capital city, inside the homes the dirt floors are kept swept clean with handmade palm brooms. The people do almost all their actual living outside rather than indoors, which is primarily a place for sleeping, so it's not nearly as hard for them to keep their sparsely furnished houses clean as it is for Kate, whose family insists on doing much of their living indoors like other Americans!
|Notice the vultures in the tree.|
Photo taken in Bissau, the capital of Guinea Bissau.
|Bissau city street|
|Much of life for Americans in West Africa still happens indoors.|