It’s nice to have a conclusion at the end of a story. I’ve been putting off writing this post because this story hasn’t reached its conclusion, but then I thought, maybe that’s the point?
So it begins one week ago. I noticed the toilet wasn’t flushing well. Not that we ever actually flush our toilet because that would take way too much water But when I would pour a cup of water into the bowl, it would drain away leaving everything else just sitting there. So I thought, gross, it’s clogged. I’ll flush it for real and maybe that will push the clog down. So I let the back of the toilet fill with precious water and then flushed. Ha! Bad idea. Water came flowing over the top of the toilet and all over the floor. I don’t have a plunger but I texted our team leader, Tom, to bring one to our Sunday service. That night I start plunging away and not only did I not fix the clog, but I broke the seal with my frantic attempts and water started leaking from the bottom of the toilet!
As a rather delicate woman, I am over my head at this point. At 10pm last Monday, I once again text my team leader indicating that I probably need professional help of the plumbing persuasion. He had plans the next morning but he took pity on me, canceled his plans and came over to help early Tuesday morning. I will not nauseate you with the details. Suffice to say, Tom is a saint. He worked for three hours, barefoot in a room that I could not pass without gagging…literally, gagging. Three hours later, nothing. He went back to the capital city to get liquid plumber and used an entire bottle. Still nothing.
It was time to call the plumber. All day Wednesday I waited for him. At 5pm he showed up. He came, he saw, he left. Another day with no toilet. I should also mention that the shower drain is connected to the toilet drain so no shower either.
Teammates have been more than kind in offering their homes to us when we wish to shower or use the toilet. Of course our closest teammates are a 15-minute walk and the farthest are a 30-minute drive. So we have become dependent upon our downstairs neighbors. And while I am eternally grateful for their willingness to share, their toilet does not have a seat and my thigh muscles are just not up to snuff when it comes to long-term high squats.
Thursday rolls around. We generally spend every Thursday in the capital city and this past week was no different. We came home to a toilet that had been ripped out of the floor. I asked the neighbors what was going on. They told me that materials needed to be purchased from the capital and then it could be fixed.
The following day, some friends came over and I told them the situation and asked if they thought the plumber would come that day. No, they said, I think not. Today is a short day- I think he will not come. Of course, Friday is a special day in their religious traditions so most shops close and workers stop their work around 11am. Their words were prophetic as we saw not hide or hair of the plumber that day, nor the following day.
As you may understand, this situation has proved more than a little stressful. My emotions have yo-yoed. I have felt depressed and discouraged more often than not. I’ve placed blame; I’ve asked for prayer; I’ve prayed repeatedly; I’ve cried; I’ve felt sorry for myself; I’ve sighed; I’ve thrown my hands up in exasperation. And yesterday I developed a head cold. Finally the constant stress of the week has sufficiently lowered my immune system, and I am now a walking snot bomb. Sorry for the graphic detail. I’ve already gone through three packets of tissues…today. No medicine has had an effect. As I’ve taken to telling my neighbors, “Je suffre” or “I’m suffering.”
Today, after a wonderful Sunday service and a birthday celebration, I returned home with Tom. My landlord needed to show us something. We go into the downstairs bathroom and low and behold, there’s about a foot of piping that has been cut out. He explains that that is where they thought the clog was. But no, it is actually closer to the septic tank, behind some tiles and cement. So we can either tear out the cement today, then replace the entire pipe tomorrow or we can wait 3-4 days for some stronger liquid plumber to come from the big island and maybe that will work. Tear it out, we decide.
And that’s where we are. The story is not finished. I do not have a toilet or shower. I have a sinus headache; my throat is sore from the nasal drip; I’m running out of tissues and I can’t stop sneezing.
Wow. What a bummer story, right? I started off this week thinking it was a real bummer too. But I’ve been studying James lately and I was reminded of James 1:2 which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trails of many kinds […]”. So I started trying to feel joy. I worked really hard at it. Feel joy. Feel joy. Feel joy. It wasn’t working! I was still depressed; I still dreaded coming home each night.
But then I remembered James doesn’t say, “feel joy”. He says, “consider”. It’s a mental exercise, not an emotion.
Remember the lesson from my last post? I’d already forgotten it. I worked and worked all week, just trying to keep my head above the waters of depression. But I was sinking fast. God began prodding me, through his Word to let go and consider it pure joy. What do I have to be joyful about? When I began to consider I was overwhelmed. I have neighbors who let me use their bathroom and their water. I have teammates who love and pray for me and open their homes to me. I have friends and family at home who pray and encourage. I have a strong roommate to suffer alongside and laugh about our problems when we can. I have a kitchen sink that still works. This lets us use way less water and we haven’t had to buy any in almost two weeks! And I have a King who loves me and works all things for good for those who love him and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
I can’t say that I’ve arrived. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy about this. I still struggle with self-pity at times. I still wish things worked a little bit faster here. But I can see some good. And that is a start.