Friday, April 5, 2013

Bare Necessities on the M-Field, Part I

Do you remember that "Jungle Book" song, "The Bare Necessities"?

"Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities..."

 Here on the missionfield, I have those "bare necessities" - those items that I use almost daily and I find "essential" to have here. While some are indeed "necessities," others are simply "comforts." :)

- A "torch" (flashlight) - Because Uganda was once a British protectorate, there has been a lot of British influence here, including on the language. Thus, a flashlight is called a torch here. I would be lost without my torch, especially in making evening or late-night trips to the pit latrine, and not knowing what critters I might meet on the way, as well as using it for my book light almost nightly as I read before sleeping. (Having replacement bulbs for my MagLights is a must, too.)

- An umbrella. I have used an umbrella more here in Uganda than I ever did in my home state of Oregon, which is known for its abundant rainfall. But I use my umbrella here more for protection from the sun, like during the long boat rides, than I do for protection against rain. It also makes a pretty good shield against spray while on the boat. :)

A good pillow. Finding a good pillow here can be a challenge. Most Ugandan pillows are filled with what I would compare to firm couch stuffing - not the best for a good night's rest. I have brought two different pillows from the U.S. and actually found a good one in a store in Kampala, the capital city. :)

My newest coffee press and a bag of "Good African Coffee" (yep, that's the real name of this brand.) :)

- A French press. Coffee is a must for me in the morning and since we rely on solar power at SHIM, which isn't always ready in the morning, a French press is a must. I brought a couple from the states, but was so excited when I found a HUGE selection of French presses, in about five different sizes at a Kampala store. So, I "upgraded" to a larger one, 'cause sometimes it is a two-cup morning. :)

- A good pair of flip-flops. In Uganda they are called "slippers" and they are the most common footwear here, whether you are traipsing around your own compound, in the bathing room, digging in the garden, working on a construction project, or just getting from here to there. Thankfully, it is easy and cheap to find a good pair of slippers here. And they come in some cool colors, too. :)

- A good water bottle. It is so easy to get dehydrated here, so I carry a water bottle everywhere - when working in my office, to school, on the boat, to Jinja, well, you get the idea. Better yet, it's better to have more than one - because I have dropped mine off of bodas (motorcycles), lost them, etc.

- Sunscreen - I apply sunscreen here more often than I do makeup. Thankfully, after three years of exposure to the sun's rays, I don't burn as badly as I used to, but my nose is always a nice shade of pink or red. :)  Sunscreen is a must when you are living near the equator where the sun is most intense.

My trusty backpack and my newest pair of "slippers" - both in my favorite color, blue. :)

- A sturdy backpack. If there is one item I use almost daily and sometimes several times in a day, it is my trusty backpack. After struggling with a cheap backpack on my first trip, I spent a little more money and bought a good one that has lasted more than three years and traveled literally thousands of miles. I can carry up to three laptops and books in it, or make it my overnight bag for Jinja, or my carry-on for trips back and forth from the U.S. It had endured sun, rain, dirt, being overloaded and overstuffed, and dragged from here to there and everywhere. I would simply be lost without it.

- Handi-wipes - They are just so handy and I usually try and keep some in my backpack. They make great sweat-wipers, blood-soppers, dust rags, compact sanitizers for hands, silverware, etc. 

- My Kindle. I really have few books here, mostly because books are quite heavy when it comes to packing them. That is why I was so excited to receive a Kindle for my birthday last year! I love that I can carry my "library" with me - to school, to Jinja, on the boat, etc. - and easily add books and magazines to it. It is one of the best gifts I have ever received!

One of my "essentials" - a Kindle.

- Rechargeable batteries - Since I use batteries all of the time in my torch and camera and batteries here are expensive and bad quality, I invested in a good battery charger (that can handle Uganda's powerful 220 volts) and a number of quality rechargeable batteries. A very good investment!

- A portable music player - There is just something about having music from home or recognizable praise music (most of the time I do not know what is being sung, even in church), which can be such an encouragement. I also love to download audio books and sermons for long boat and taxi rides.

Some things that I thought would be essential, but that I haven't used all that much - mosquito repellent (believe it or not, I hardly apply the stuff), and a watch - I never wear one here because this is such a laid-back culture and my cell phone, which is almost always with me, has a clock. :)

I will come up with some other missionary "necessities" for a second post soon. :)


  1. Made me grin. SO familiar. I loved living with the flip-flops and backpacks. And the torches. So many are the same. Glad you are blessed, having some really nice ones.

  2. Joanne, I am glad this post made you grin! Thanks for the comment. :)