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Things That Matter Most

September 24, 2014

I sure hope these typhoons stop coming. As soon as one ends, another comes roaring in. It’s been crazy lately… out of this world wind that makes it sound like waves crashing into the side of the house… rain coming in, in random places. Lee said the kubo was shaking all night… I couldn’t sleep. I kept checking on the kids, who were sleeping in the middle of the front porch / living room. They still get enjoyment out of things like that. And I let them because it can get pretty hot in the room when there is no electricity. Also, the wind was blowing entirely too hard for any mosquitoes to bother them. Dengue fever has been going around. Riley said they sprayed their school for mosquitoes. Most of our battery powered items are dead, including my phone and I really do not like not knowing what time it is. I don’t know why. John thinks it is funny that I always have to know the time. No electricity means no running water but there is more than enough rain to catch. We use it to flush toilets, brush our teeth, wash the dishes… I am not smelling too fresh right now. I keep waiting for the electricity to come back on. That rain water is coooold! At night we have been using John’s grandfather’s glass oil lamp. What an awesome reliable tool! I think that is one of the best items we brought with us besides each other. I love getting to know my kids in this way. Kendall’s heart breaking for her friend whom she fears is drenched in the storm, because there is just no way his house can withstand the wind and rain. Riley reminding her to keep praying… Saving food from their plates so they can feed the dog and cat because they have been going without. We have like no food… but we live with amazing people that can find food anywhere. All we have is a barrel full of rice but this morning you could find Lee jumping and knocking papayas down from the tree to cook so that they taste awesome with the rice… or his sister yanking leaves out of a tree to form an amazing soup that you might find in an expensive authentic restaurant. We couldn’t get to town if we wanted to. The road is flooded. We get our drinking water down the street from a covered well and pump it by hand. Then, we filter it through an awesome little filter we were blessed with. (Thanks guys! Without your blessing, we would have been doing a lot of boiling. ;-/ )

I did end up doing some boiling… There is only so much grime a body can take. Since the rain water had run in short supply, I had to pump my water out of the pump we have in our yard, which is linked to an open well so it tends to have a lot of floaty things. Therefore, I came up with a solution. I pumped the water, let it sit a while so that everything deposited at the bottom. Then I poured the top of the water into a bucket and continued in this way until I had enough generally clean water to bathe with.

I was just realizing that I have had to take a boiled water bath many times before but I don’t think I have ever actually boiled my own water and prepared it all for myself. My amazingly loving and sweet husband has always done that for me. Man, am I spoiled or what… I think I have had to grow up a little and not rely on my hubs so much in the midst of these physical trials in his absence. He has always been the one with the solutions… the one to make me as comfortable as possible despite the impossible. I really really miss that man!

The kids all bathed in the rain later that day by running around with soap all over them. By then it was coming down so hard that it felt like we were directly under a waterfall. So there you have it… Even though things have been more difficult lately, God still provides in mighty ways and fills our hearts with abundant joy and knowledge of the things that matter most.

Random Things…

There is a woman here named Merly. She lives across the street. She is hard working and strong! I have seen her carrying very long bamboo trees on her shoulder down the street all by herself. She is often covered in dirt with leaves in her hair. She has broken teeth but always has a smile. Last Sunday, at church, she had a deep looking cut across her leg and said it came from her goat. I sat with her in the street one day, resting under the shade of a tree, as the rain had stopped, and she looked through my hair for lice. I really like Merly.

I decided to walk down to the beach to see the strong waves as a result of the storm. It was beautiful and windy. I took my hair down and let it swirl about my head. I thought about John… all the way on the other side of that ocean. I heard children calling for me from the trees. “Sister Mandi, Sister Mandi,” they shouted with their adorable little accents. I went to them and they were using rocks to crack open the shells of the nuts that had fallen from the trees. Many of them started handing me the nuts they had worked so hard to obtain. I ate and started pounding with a rock as well. It was one of those indescribable peaceful moments, that I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars.

I guess Lee decided that we needed some meat because he killed and cooked one of his chickens for dinner and the next day’s lunch. And when I say “killed” and “cooked”… there is so much more to those measly little words…

“Killed” – He grabbed the chicken by the feet, put a bowl under its neck, slit its throat, drained all the blood into the bowl, as it flapped its last few breaths… All while I was holding a flashlight so he could see in the midst of the brownout. Then he decided that it wasn’t dying fast enough so he needed to cut another vein. Liam volunteered to cut it and did so, trying to regain his manhood because he was not able to hold the chicken’s feet, or its wings, without letting go and jumping back. I guess since it was the knife that actually touched the chicken, it was easier for Liam to do. ☺ I just stared in silence… shining the light.

“Cooked” – Lee already had a pot prepared of boiled water that he gently swirled the dead bird in, pulled it out, and pretty much rubbed the feathers right off. If a section got difficult, he would stick it briefly back in the water, until he had all the feathers off. He said, “If you know the technique, it is easy, Mam. If you do not know… it is hard.” He obviously had it down. Then, he proceeded to chop off limbs, pull out insides, and even take all the yellowy stuff out of the stomach. He even pulled off the inner lining of the stomach. In the meantime, I was still holding the flashlight, sprinkled with wet feathers because of the speed at which he removed them, and standing next to a bowl of coagulated blood. I had to ask… “What are you going to do with the blood?” He explained how it is delicious of you cook it with the chicken. But I think the expression on my face made him decide against it, because he snickered and said, “But we don’t have to use that one Mam.” I followed him to the barrel of rain water so he could see as he rinsed everything off. And then he cooked the chicken in a soup with papaya. All in all, he killed, plucked, and cooked a chicken faster than it takes me to prepare most of my meals. Sometimes we call him Jet Lee. ☺

Oh… did I mention that when I was cleaning up as he cooked, by dumping a large bowl of stinky water with feathers, a chicken head, intestines and other parts, I came across the feet in the sink when I came back to clean out the bowl. I know, from experience that the feet are cooked and eaten, so I picked them up and cut off the string that was still attached. Then, I put them in a bowl of hot water with other leftover parts. He said the technique for that, was to remove all the yellow, but to leave it in the hot water for a moment so it would be easier. So, after a few minutes I took them back to the sink and stripped the outer layer off. As I was removing it, I called Kendall into the dark kitchen with me. “Momma that is disgusting!” “I know,” I replied, “But don’t leave me here alone with these chicken feet!” She laughed and we were intrigued by how the skin seemed to be over their nails too. It popped right off and there was a clean, new, shiny nail underneath. It was weird… and a definite first for me. Lee took all those parts and rubbed them with salt, since there was no way to keep them cold, for our lunch the next day. I like to think that I am a country girl, but I suppose to be a country girl, you ought to know how to clean and kill a chicken. I think I can check that one off my list, amongst other things.

Remember how I said our dog and cat have been going without… Well, Uging (Charcoal), our cat, is really amazingly awesome. As I sat doing the kids homeschool studies with them, we heard crunching under our seat. “What is that sound?” Neely questioned. “What is that smell?” Liam responded. We all got down on our knees and looked under us, to discovered Uging chowing down on a bird. I mean cracking the bones and everything. She is a hunter, eating crickets and lizards as well. Have you ever had an animal eat rice or bread? Uging loves them both… and so does our dog, Gus Gus. Later that day we saw Gus Gus with a fish in his mouth. It would not surprise me if he caught it himself. Even the animals amaze me here!

One Comment leave one →
  1. John T Sneed permalink
    September 25, 2014 10:54 pm


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