Since the Overland Mission's base began back in 2004, we have functioned on generator power. The generator was turned on from 9-12 in the morning and from 6-10:30 at night. We couldn't use things like hair dryers, washing machines, or clothes dryers because they drew too much power. We had to do computer work in the evening because the internet only worked when the generator was on. We always went to bed at 10:30 because that's when everything shut down. The generator was good, but electricity would be better.
We have been in the process of contracting "Zesco", the electric company in Zambia, for 3 years. For over a two years now roads have been cleared, holes have been dug, and deposits have been paid. YESTERDAY it bore fruit. It was a momentous occasion when at lunchtime the generator shuddered to a stop and the lights flickered back on with magnificent silence! We have electricity! Bring on the lights in the middle of the night, the TV, the hair straightener, and the washing machine! Bring on comfort! Bring on a Western lifestyle!
As much as we are thrilled to have electricity, there's a part of me that mourns the technology. It was so nice to read a book at night with a headlamp, instead of watch TV. It seemed so simple to be forced to do something outside the office in the afternoon. I'm used to planning my life around the generator times. And I'm used to walking around with wrung out, handwashed clothes and messy hair. I kinda like it.
But I really like being able to turn on the light in the middle of the night to change Kya's diaper. I REALLY like that. I suppose I can get used to everything else.
Overland director, Sharon Smethurst, sent out the following update last night, and I thought it was beautifully put. It's true that for now and forevermore, when I go looking for a lightswitch, it will be there. (Until the power goes off due to loadshedding, which happens up to 3X a week... Maybe I won't put my headlamp away after all.)
Every people group has amazingly rich qualities and traditions that capture our imaginations when read in books or seen in history and national geographic channels. If I could single out one of those captivating qualities in the African nations it would be the simplicity of their many languages. Not in terms of grammar or eloquence but their ability to express logic derived from the simplest things found all around us. E.g. In trying to resolve a conflict you might hear "When two elephants fight it's only the grass that suffers", or, when an NGO worker concluded her report of the need for electricity in the many villages she'd been operating in she said "so at night, when the woman went to look for the light switch, it wasn't there" (this picture made more beautiful when you understand that she was talking of villages with huts made of mud and grass roofs). I can never get tired of listening to the African speech. So it is in that spirit that I want to make a very, very momentous announcement for the R14 Base. After 5 years of operating under the lights of costly and limiting generators we are pleased to say "that tonight, when we go to look for a light switch, it WILL BE PRESENT". We are now connected to power lines and have 24 hour electricity. The God of our forefathers is indeed AWESOME! Thank you for your support, love and faith through all the many different phases of Overland!