First Impressions

Heat and dust are inescapable here.

We awaken the moment electricity shuts off, around 5 a.m. Without a fan the heat is stifling and we cannot sleep. With the power off until 7pm, we ready ourselves in the dark.

DustAs the sun appears it struggles to penetrate the early morning haze. Orange clouds billow over our metal fence, engulfing the compound. Cars and trucks pass by all morning, each one adding to the waves of dust. We take refuge on the far side of our veranda hoping that putting the house between us and the road will provide fresher air to breathe while we ponder Scripture and eat our breakfast.

With temperatures soon to climb towards 110 degrees we soak in the morning breeze wishing the coolness of 86 degrees would last throughout the day.

Compound houseCleaning only serves to keep the layers from becoming overwhelming. The dust settles in every crack and crevice, including the insides of my elbows. Even if I cleaned every day I would not be able to rid the house of its all-encompassing reach! Yet, I continue to try.

Rivulets of sweat run down my face mixing with the dirt and grime as I walk to the Darfurian school for language lessons. By the time I return home from class and the market my sandal-clad feet look tan and my 2 liter camelback is empty. The sun has turned my brain to mush. I can barely concentrate on reviewing the vocabulary from my morning Arabic lesson so I turn to less mentally taxing activities like splashing in water as I hand wash our clothing.

It’s only going to get hotter and dustier as we enter into the peak of dry season.

This is Malakal.

This is where we live.

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