I have to remind myself frequently that we still live in Africa. South Africa is so different from Malawi. Life is fast-paced, convenient, and full of a dizzying variety of options. Despite all that, every once in a while we are reminded of a simple and limited life in Malawi. Today I had two such reminders.
The power is going to be off this evening. This was a regular occurrence in Malawi, so we just shrug and life goes on without electricity. The power outages here are about 4.5 hours long, as opposed to anywhere from 2-25 hours long in Malawi. However, in Malawi, power outages were an expected part of life, so we had all kinds of back-up options to help us: solar power, an inverter, a generator… but here in South Africa we haven’t yet invested in a back-up option. As the frequency of power outages increases, we are talking more and more about what a good back-up would look like. We don’t mind the dark, and with outages of only 4-5 hours, the refrigerator is ok if we keep it closed the whole time. It’s the productivity that suffers. No power means limited computers, no printer, no internet, and – more concerning – no cell phone coverage or data. The cell towers don’t have adequate back-up, so when the power is off, all communications go down. In Malawi, even when the power went off, we still had phones and cellular data, so this is a new one for us. We have some ideas of how to solve for this, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, we are enjoy having more “technologically advanced” power outages. We have an app on our phones that tells us when the power will be off!
The green text tells us we don’t have load shedding (power outage) right now – which is why I can post this now – but just below that it tells me to expect the power to go off at 8pm. It’s nice to know!
The other reminder today of a simpler, more limited Africa was in the form of texting with a friend here in Joburg who has gone days without water, only to have it on a short time and then off again. We quickly learned in Malawi that as much as having the power off was inconvenient, having the water off is much, much worse. You need water to live. It’s also nice for taking showers, flushing toilets, and doing laundry. Thankfully, many families in the church have opened their homes to this friend and her family and have helped them through these days. What a blessing to share such a basic staple of life with those in need.
So with power outages and water outages, Malawi has been on my mind today. We miss it, but reminders like these today are sweet.
Please be praying for Malawi. They have had a rough few months since the last Presidential election in May 2019. And then Monday, this announcement:
I know many are relieved and hopeful at this outcome. The protests and riots are over. Please pray for Malawi in the coming days and weeks.