The Lost Art of Being Resourceful

How to use your resources to their maximum potential

Mongo (October 14, 2010): We are writing you from the middle of the country.  We are staying at the home of our friends who are working to develop one of the languages here.  While here, we are stretching our resourcefulness to the limit. We are learning how to be resourceful as we try to live in this new, challenging situation.

Being Resourceful is using the resources available to you to their greatest potential.  It’s what you need when normal channels are no longer available to you.  As things get more difficult, it means learning about new resources we may have overlooked.

Our time in Mongo during the dry season has been a University Course in Resourcefulness for us all.

Being Resourceful with water

Resourceful with water for Showers, etc.In the four days since we have been on our own in the Aviles home, the town water has only run once, at 4 AM, giving us about 25 gallons (100 liters) of water into one of two plastic barrels in the kitchen. Such conditions push you to use the water to its greatest potential; we are re-using the water for rinsing the dishes in the morning, to wash them in the afternoon. Then we re-use the water for washing the dishes, to flush the toilet. In fact, we are gathering water in basins from the bathroom sink, from our showers (max 2 gallons per shower) and from washing the dishes to flush the toilet. So we use the water 2-3 times before we finish it.

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Waiting patiently, but waiting in vain

How to make our moments of waiting more profitable and exciting

“Wait patiently” doesn’t mean the same thing in Africa as it does in the United States.  In America, we might decide to come back later if the line has seven people waiting in it.  We might call back if the waiting time is longer than ten minutes.  Even 5 minutes microwave cooking time can seem like too long to wait!

Waiting in line to go to a concert in Germany

And yet, when we wait in line in America, we hope that our patience is rewarded in the end.  One of the features of life in the Third World, or where a disaster strikes, is that our patience isn’t always rewarded as we would hope.

How can we learn to make the most of the times we spend waiting for something, even if it ends up being waiting in vain?

Back in September 2010, our family needed to find a place to live in eastern Chad.  We had just arrived back in Chad and were living in the capital city of N’Djaména, 14+ hours west of Abéché.  A friend in the capital promised that we could rent his home in Abéché.

To start moving in, all I needed to do was to pick up the key from the Sultan, his brother.

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Our return trip to Abeche

This post was written while we were in Chad.

Today was our trip to Abeche, from Mongo! This trip was the result of five months of planning and prayer. We were so glad to make it here at last!

Sharon is still recovering from her illness, and from a busy, big day of preparation yesterday. I started yesterday off by refilling our water supply from the well in the courtyard. This involved throwing a bucket with a roped tied to it down the well. It was difficult for me to get the bucket to tip into the water so it could fill up. I didn’t realize how heavy a bucket full of water is when you are pulling it back up! After many successful attempts, I obtained about 65 gallons of water, and it took me until 11 AM due to my lack of experience. So, that’s why our friends, the Avileses, are so careful with water!

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A quiet, productive day to wait

kid waitingThis post was written while we were in Chad.

I “lay low” today, recovering from the trip and the tiredness I was feeling even before I left. This provided me with a chance to put the stuff I brought with me into storage here at Bakan Assalam. So the car is empty, and we can return home when our work is done here.

It seems like the bulk of our work today is to “wait”; wait for a key to become available, wait for my friend offering his home to us to return from France and to get back to me, wait for the staff at the orphanage to return tomorrow. We are working on alternatives: I went into the house we lived in last term, took pictures, knelt and prayed.

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The boy who jumped over the wall for food

This post was written while we were in Chad.

I got up very early this morning, thirty minutes before the Fajr prayer time (which is one hour before sunset). Last night, the winds and the rain were violent, and the lightning and thunder were fairly close together.

Garibou boys; photo by Mary Newcombe

photo by Mary Newcombe

So I shut off the solar system, and read a book or two on my handheld and fell asleep.

As I worked at my desk this morning, there was a tall twelve-year-old boy, walking around in our yard! YIKES! This isn’t supposed to happen!

I fearfully but loudly yelled out the window, asking him what he was doing here. With a pleading voice, he told me that he was at the Madrasa (Qur’anic school) up the road; they hadn’t any food for a while. Their Qur’an Master was visiting the fields, and had left him and his fellow students to fend for themselves. He was told that there was a “nasara” (foreigner) in the home here, and that he would give him food.

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