A Seventh-day Adventist Organization

Under the Mango Tree

By Zachary Gately, MPH - zgately.com

Work. Sleep. Wait. Talk. Wait. Attempt Internet. Wait. Read. Swat flies. Sleep. Work. Wait. Repeat in any order you want.

This has been my life these last few weeks. Lots of waiting, lots of working, and lots of attempting to use the Internet. Anything mobile works great with my tablet and phone but any research or downloading papers takes forever. I would say its like pulling teeth, but that’s not too hard (at least with enough anesthetic). Imagine with me: take dial up from 1998. Then put giant apps, HDR photos, interactive websites, viral clips, and in depth PDF’s right there at your finger tips. The computer knows what to do but at the same time cannot complete the command because the simple HTML website will not load, the app will not download, or the link doesn’t work because it need the new java/adobe/QuickTime update that you can’t access. This is where the waiting comes in. Click. Wait. Fold clothes. Refresh. Sweep room. Click next link. Wait. Ah-ha! Found it!

I have been experimenting with downloading apps for my tablet. I started with a 3 megabyte app: success! Then 8 megabytes: success! Ok we are on a role, so lets go big or go home: 33.6 megabytes: SUCCESS! I attempted a few others but time did not permit me to wait hours for it to download. But I saw an new app that I just had to download. The only problem is that it was 88 megabytes. I pay 800 CFA ($1.60 USD) per 60 megabytes. So that equates to at least $2 for the app itself, plus connection time, ending up at about $5 for the entire download plus about 6 hours of download time. But it downloaded! Oh yeah!

Lord, I did not pray for patience so why am I having to practice it so much?

Needless to say, that is actually one of the hardest things to get use to here. The food is tasty, the people are friendly, the flowers and birds are exquisite, and I haven’t been sick for 4 weeks now! It’s a simple life but I am enjoying it.

Every lunch, Charis and I head over to our host family’s compound. Compound is the word that best describes the way people live. There are usually 2 or more families living on one compound. Several buildings are usually scattered along the walls: sleeping quarters, a cooking hut, an outdoor bathing area, and maybe one hut for storage. The livingroom is the common area outside in the middle. Our compound is split up into three sections hosting two families (brothers with their wives and kids): front, middle, and back. Front is living, sleeping, and cooking while the back was originally for volunteers to rent. Valerie, the host dad, said while he was studying at university last year in Cameroon a storm knocked down their two room hut! They (Valerie, wife, and two children) are having to cram into one of the volunteer huts while they saved to build their new home. This Thursday, construction begins on their three room hut! This is very fancy for this area. He’s using the best bricks and cement while others use mud bricks and mud for mortar. He cares for his family and wants his kids to have the best life that he can provide.

Even with this new house, I think their favorite room will still be out under the mango trees in their middle section. They have two magnificent mango trees providing the perfect over hang. It allows for a cooling breeze, shade, and enough space for the largest mat available in the market. As we rush over for lunch, sweating from the short jaunt, the refreshing “bon jours” and “lapias” on arrival just add to the comfortable atmosphere our family and the mango tree provides. Before lunch we play with Valerie’s children and any others that may be there. After lunch we take naps or just lay on the mat haveing tickle wars before heading back to work. The kids then proceed to say every phrase in every language for good bye. We miss them and they miss us but we know we’ll see each other for dinner!

Spending time with this family has been an unthinkable blessing. They welcomed us into their home and we have enjoyed spending time with them. They have had their rough time but still they open their home to the Nasara. Maybe they want their kids to grow up knowing many types of people or they just like hosting. We now spend hours under their mango tree, making funny conversation in broken French and body language, laughing, dancing, climbing, and napping. Walking under the mango tree, I leave my worries at the edge of the shade. This play time, meal time, and family time. Nothing can break that!

This blog took far too long to produce. I’ve been healthy but everyday brings some other challenge or time vortex! We are working on setting up our blog for the projects that we are working on. We made a video along with some pictures! I’ll be sure to keep you up on those happenings too!

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