The sunflowers were just beginning to turn their faces to the sun as we enjoyed a scenic drive past boerderies (farms) and groves of orange trees to the rural South African village of Mmametlhake. It is here that our friends, Joseph and Wilheminah, are working on their house.
After an hour on the road we pulled into a petrol station to go to the toilet. Wilheminah asked the attendant where it was and he went into a lengthy response in another language.
“It’s a long drop,” he was explaining as if I may not want to use it. Obviously the man could not have known the many long drop or pit toilets (for Americans think outhouse) I have used from here to Mozambique and Zimbabwe. My “bum” has seen all kinds from a hole in the ground with no seat to the keyhole shaped, concrete ones to those with an actual toilet seat.
Another hour later we arrived at Mmametlhake. The plan was to secure a builder to finish up some brick work then Doug and Joseph would work on getting a pit toilet in place. The biggest part of this job is digging the hole for it. Most are a little over 2 meters or about the height of Doug which is around 6’2”. Doug and Joseph alternated in digging. The next morning I awoke to the smell of fresh dirt as they had begun digging again. While Doug was shoveling, the neighbor man was talking to Joseph.
“I’ve never seen a white man digging in a hole before.” Joseph would later tell us the words of his neighbor. I wonder what the neighbor thought when the men brought back their own welded pit toilet they had created with their own hands.
|The finished product
|Setting up the toilet
Even when the builder arrived to work the next morning, he had to come over to check it out.
“Is it good?” I asked. “Good,” he replied.
In the afternoon Doug and Joseph brought back a trailer load of bricks. Wilheminah and I helped unload them. The next morning another neighbor lady came.
“These white people sure do work,” she said to my friend. They continued to converse in their language. Wilheminah shared with me that she told the neighbor that not only are we white people but we are Americans and most importantly we are Christians who love the Lord.
I asked my friend why they think white people don’t work. She explained that their parents/grandparents were probably servants of white people and they expect us to be like them.
Since our first mission trip to Mozambique in 2006 we have been told a few times: “You’re not like regular white people.” We don’t know exactly what it means, but we consider it to be a great compliment.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Lord, let us be known by our love for you as believers in the body of Christ where there should be no distinction by the color of our skin. Amen.