Monday, October 29, 2012

Bem Vindo a Nossa Casa (Welcome To Our Home)

Casa Ercoli

Here is our humble abode. Our front yard comes complete with a spot to park a motorcycle and keep an old toilet. They have promised to come pick it up, but I'm not holding my breath.

Here is our main room - the windows and door face the front of the house. Until recently, our stove was under the utensils hanging on the wall, but we moved it into the newly renovated kitchen. This is where we eat, (that's a bowl of rice & beans on the table), the kids do school, and hang out with friends when the kids are in bed. The door near the windows goes to the kitchen and the other door near the table is for the bathroom. Our bedroom is also off this room on to the right.

Previously, this space housed a toilet (please see photo#1 for a visual) and a sink. We tore those out and had an actual sink and countertop installed. Shawn is planning to put up shelves, but that will probably get done after his trip to South Africa. I painted this room in a shade I call "Acunya" which is Makua for white person.

Now this might not be exciting to you, but please notice the faucet under the sink. This makes filling water buckets much easier because I don't have to fill a small bucket to fill the big one. I just turn on the faucet and let it go. Assuming there is water. 

Our stove. It's no small miracle that there is even a stove here, and it's even more miraculous that it hasn't blown up yet. Shawn kindly labeled the knobs for us: Left Rear, Left Front, Oven (Lo, Med, & Hi), Front Right, and Death.

This bathroom used to have a broken toilet (now fixed) and a shower with 3 shower heads. That was great for parties, but since there's not enough water for more than one dribbly shower it made more sense to take two out and put in a sink. I purposefully waited to post pictures of the house (especially this bathroom) until we made some improvements. I didn't want a well-meaning/horrified friend or family member calling the UN for an emergency evac. I haven't gotten to go snorkeling yet and it's almost mango season.

The master suite. Shawn turned the bed into a 4 poster so that we wouldn't have a droopy mosquito net. Not pictured is an armoire that holds our clothes, extra sheets and towels, school supplies, shoes, and electronic equipment we rather not have sitting out getting sandy. And under the bed I have some suitcases - one is called Target, one Costco, and the other is stuff we're saving for our return trip through Switzerland that we don't use here. Like pants and socks.

This is the "office." When we first got here, there was a set of bunk beds for one of the kids to use, but we felt that the enormous cracks in the walls and the cracked and sinking floor made it better suited for hammock time and facebook trolling. 

This is where the kiddos sleep. Asher is on the bottom bed in the back. Luciana is on the bottom with the pick pillow and Judah got stuck with the top. So far, it hasn't been too hot for him up there, but it's not summer yet here. I stood on their dresser to take this picture, so they have that and another window on the left.

And just so you don't think I sit around all day drinking out of my American sized coffee cup and sweep, I had a really great meeting with one of the volunteers (Anthony from New Zealand) who has worked for the last 6 months straightening out the well-drilling program. IRIS Relief has just been handed the well-drilling project and since Anthony is leaving in a couple weeks, it's my job to maintain all the hard work he did. I've been going over all of his paperwork to get as familiar as I can with the ins and outs of the admin of the program so that the transition will be as smooth as possible. 

Shawn has also been working on a well project of his own. When we first got here, things were a little slow and I know in Shawn's mind he was thinking, "I did't pay all this money and come all this way to watch Joy sweep." So, true to form, Shawn looked around and made up his own projects. One was to renovate the house, another to clean up all the trash nearly covers every inch of ground here and build a suitable containment solution for it, and the other was to fix a stinky maggoty muddy drainage problem at the well near our house. He drew up a plan, secured funding, bought materials, and found helpers. I have a before photo but I'm still waiting for the after. They should be done today, but


  1. It's so good to finally have a visual of where you are living! Honestly, I pictured your living conditions to be much worse, so I'm glad my standards were low to begin with. But, then again, it sounds like your humble abode was once more humble.

    We just mailed you a care package! There were a few items we forgot to stick in the box, so we may send another box around Christmas :)

    The other day, Luke was watching videos of him and Shawn shooting and he kept replaying the part where Shawn was laughing. Then he said quietly, "I miss Shawn..." It was pretty adorable. You are all loved and missed very much!

  2. Hey Joy and Shawn & kids!
    The sacrifices you are making to pour out love on this community and nation are real (esp. as a mom, Joy); your humility & humor are awesome to me! I'm proud of what you are doing and inspired by your adventure. I shall try to think of you guys when I feel myself being grumpy because of one of my first-world-problems :) Looking forward to following your story!

  3. I love seeing photos of your home! You have done a great job making this house a home! We miss you so much and are praying for you all the time. There have been so many moments this past week where I thought of you and sent an extra prayer in your direction. We are exceedingly proud of your family!!!!!!!! xoxo