Wednesday, August 15, 2007

simple homes

I’ve mostly settled into this week’s accommodations and am very thankful for them. I’m staying in the Guest House in a roomy room that has two desks (that’s pretty much heaven for a writer!); a small kitchen (though the stove is out of cooking gas—there’s a country-wide shortage, apparently) already stocked with cereal, milk, juice, tea, eggs and cooking utensils; a dresser; plenty of great windows with great views outside them; and a bathroom. It’s quite refreshing to have a space for alone time but to be able to find people in the Guest House common area if needed and to hear folks around outside and know they’re easily accessible if needed or desired. I feel like I’m on a writing retreat or something. Perfect. Well, except for one thing: it would be nice if there was a heater. Seriously, it took me a long time to get warm enough last night to sleep well. Yes, contrary to this evidence, I’m really in Bomet, Kenya, not Bomet, Antarctica. But, other than that, perfect.

This morning as I was ready to head out for my day of interviews and the sun was shining so nicely outside, I looked around this cement-floored room and wished for a moment that I could always live like this. Uncluttered (my traveling belongings seem quite sparse in this space). Alone but not alone. Simple. I’ve got my computer, a small stack of good books, enough clothes and soap and cereal, a view of green trees and plenty of things to write about. Nice indeed.

Fortunately, the rain held off until we were inside Joyce’s tin-roofed home. I suppose you could stretch the usual definitions and call her place a condo or an apartment since it shares walls with the units next door. Linda and Sammary (pronounced something like “summary”) and I visited Joyce so we could interview her for a story in which she’ll be the main character.

Shortly after we entered the one-room condo that was roughly 8 to 10 feet by maybe 7 feet, the dark clouds put some power behind their darkness and let rain fall hard onto the tin roof. We stayed dry but struggled to hear each other over the din that would have, though, made for good background noise for a nap. (It really doesn’t take much to get me thinking about naps.)

For much of the interview, Joyce sat on the room’s one bed which was set into the back wall. She held and sometimes nursed her youngest son who will turn one in September. Her four- and eight-year-old sons as well as a neighbor boy sat along the edge of the bed and listened quietly while we adults talked. Sammary and I sat on a lace-like cloth-covered wood bench along the side wall. Two neighbor girls sat beside me. Linda sat on a stool across from us.

I’ve seen pictures of homes like Joyce’s. I’ve also now seen similar homes in person, yet still from a distance, in Ghana and Kenya. But I’ve never been invited inside one. So it was an honor to visit Joyce in her home. A home whose cement floor was clean. A home in which the few belongings each seemed to have their place. A home whose furnishings were sparse. A home that was simple. A home with an amazing view of the hills when you stepped a few feet outside it. A home that was graced by the clear eyes and gentle smile of a woman who’s praying for God to keep her on the right path and provide for her family. Please join her in her prayer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your Mom forwarded your letter and I received it today. The USPS must have a hard time tracking all my moving.

I'm so glad to be reading your blog.

Praying with and for you and your new friends!