One of the questions I (Elna) frequently get asked is,

“What does a normal day in your life look like?”

Today was pretty ‘normal’. So here you have it:

4.30am – Sebastian turns in his bed, and kicks the wall. The cat wakes up and calls in the hallway. I decide it is close enough to my normal wake-up time (4.45am) that I get up. If it was earlier, I would have just ignored Jasmin. She usually just calls once or twice when she wakes up, realises nobody’s coming, and then waits until I get up.

4.31am – Start making morning coffee (lovely locally grown coffee!), feed Jasmin a little to keep her quiet.

Jasmin looking out at her queendom…

4.40am – Finally sit down to have quiet time. (It takes about 10 minutes to make coffee and give Jasmin enough attention that she’ll leave me alone for the rest of my quiet time.)

6.00am – Normal wake-up time for kids. Nothing. They are still sleeping. I leave them in peace, we don’t have a school bus to catch. 

Get out today’s worksheets and textbooks, and use the ‘extra’ time to type out a story translated by one of the Literacy students, a letter (one of the few ways we can help people here is typing and printing letters for them). Download some articles to read for CPD (Continuous Professional Development). 

7.00am – Sebastian wakes up. We cuddle a bit, and start the day – he wakes up hungry, so first order of business is cooking some oats. By the time it is ready, Calista is also up. They play with the cat, have their breakfast, make beds, brush teeth. I clean up the morning dishes. You know, the normal morning stuff… 

7.15am – Nacho barks outside. I check, and it is a neighbour walking down to her garden. I go out to greet her and reassure her, and thankfully Nacho obediently stops barking. 

7.30am – Put Jasmin outside with her food – she’s still getting used to being outside without us. We start school with Bible. 

7.45am – While the kids work on their workbook, I start a load of washing (no, couldn’t do this in the ‘extra’ time earlier, because I had to wait for the sun – our solar system has to absorb a bit before it is ready for me to start washing).

7.55am – Nacho barks, Jasmin cries. Calista goes out to fetch her. She’s puffed up but fine.

8.00am – Start with next lesson.

8.01am – Nacho barks again. I check through the window, my language helper is early. I go out, get Nacho to be quiet (again, thankfully, he obeys). I make coffee for Wila and take that to her, along with some blocks and a cup of water for her son. We continue our reading lesson. Wila is happy to wait, she knows I will come as soon as I’m ready. She is enjoying her coffee – sugar is a luxury here, and though the people grow coffee, they do not process it for themselves. So sweet coffee is like desert!

8.20am – Ryan comes to sit with kids while they work on their worksheets. I go out to hang up washing.

8.21am – Amelia calls me for an opinion. A little boy (about 18months old) has a pretty bad burn on his leg. I take a quick look, tickle his feet (he is so cute and ticklish!), we decide on a plan and I return to hanging up my washing.

8.30am I check in with kids. They’re almost done with their worksheets. They are used to doing their independent reading and handwriting while I am busy with language. They continue with this (with Ryan close by in case they need help). I go out to start my language learning session. Today, I ask Wila to help me check a story that was translated from Tok Pisin to Do for our reading practice class. 

Plugging away at their school work…
Wila’s son, Manu. Last year, he did not come with her as his older sister watched him. This year, she started school and so I get an extra dose of cuteness during language sessions. He’s pretty shy but warming up to me slowly…

9.00am – Calista comes out, they have recess. She greets Wila, little Manu and big Nacho. 

9.20am – We finish with the story, and decide not to start with another one. I ask a couple of culture questions, greet Wila, and go back in. (She is now heading out to her garden to go and find food.) Learning about the local culture is very important. It helps us live in an understanding way with our friends here, and helps us identify areas that will need to be addressed during teaching later.

9.30am – I cut up a pineapple and give that and pretzels to the kids as a snack. 

9.45am – We start with school again.

10.30am – Nacho barks. I check, it is a young man who wants to see Ryan. Ryan goes out to walk with him up to the house, as he’s very scared of Nacho. They talk for a while. He wants Ryan to type out and print a letter for him. Ryan asks him to return in the afternoon.

11.00am – Kids have a ‘brain break’, I use it to start working on lunch. Ryan joins me in the kitchen, and does the hard work (peeling potatoes). 

11.15am – I call kids back in (they love checking on the Canns’ kittens), get them started on the next subject. Then I return to preparing lunch, and do the dishes.

12noon – We have lunch. I forget to feed the chickens (Sorry Cass. Keep reading, they’re not hungry anymore!) We quickly clean up after lunch.

12.40pm – I remember about the chickens, and send Sebastian to feed them. The kids spend time with Amelia – they do Afrikaans, and have some fun playing a board game. I use this time to check e-mail, reply to some messages, go through my notes from today’s language session and prepare for Saturday’s reading practice class. We’re playing syllable bingo, so I make and print out the cards we’ll use. Also have a quick ‘meeting’ with Ryan about logistics. 

2pm – The kids return. We drink ‘baby chino’s’ while I read to them from our Geography textbook. Then we complete worksheets, and they do the map work by themselves. 

2.30pm – We let the chickens out. This is quite the process, as a few of them (Ryan dubbed them ‘The Broody Bunch’) are broody, and need to be removed from their nests. Thankfully, Calista loves that job. 

Calista is at her happiest when cuddling an animal or inspecting some kind of critter…

2.40pm – I check the work the kids completed today, while they finish up their independent work. They both ask a couple of questions about math. 

3pm – We’re done with school. Happy dance! Sebastian is hungry (no surprise!) So they each have a scone. I have my afternoon cup of coffee.

3.15pm – The kids are off to play by in the rain. I work on this blog, and go through some common phrases in Do that I am busy memorising. A lady comes up to ask if we have a pen she can buy for her child for school. We don’t have many extras, but we sell her one anyway.

Enjoying the rain!

4pm – Kids come back in, take turns to shower. We are busy with a lego sorting project, and I help them with that for a while.

4.40pm – Prepare dinner.

5pm – Dinner. A friend stops by just as we sit down – I told her that I want to buy corn, and she’s brought me some. She is very happy about the sale, as she can now go buy some ramen noodles to add to their meal.

5.30pm – Weekly family prayer time. We each bring requests. Ryan reads a Proverb and we discuss it. It is Amelia’s turn to bring information about a missionary that we can pray for. When we’re done praying, the kids run off to play and the adults chat for a while.

6.30pm – We decide to watch an episode or two of a series we’re busy with. 

7.30pm – Ryan reads Bible to the kids, we pray together. They read a bit before lights-out.

8pm – Lights-out. But kids giggle and tell jokes for a while in the dark. Ryan and I both do some reading before heading to bed.

Not too exciting, right? Well, even when you live in a rainforest, normal days are just that. Normal. There are momentous days in between. But for the most part, we just keep doing what needs to be done…

My aim every day is to obey Paul’s instruction to Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:5 “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.”