Jeff and I had no idea what to expect when Kevin Rodgers dropped us off at the Phiri’s home Friday morning. As we pulled up to the small brick home, several kids appeared, seemingly excited about their guests for the weekend. Kevin introduced us to pastor Benson who showed us inside and to our bedroom.
The Phiri’s were kind enough to give up their bedroom for us while they slept in their living room. As we entered the house, the air felt 20 degrees warmer than outside. Pastor Benson had built their home but has not had the funds to install windows so the window openings were bricked up to keep the house secure. In doing so, however, there was little ventilation so the heat was nearly unbearable to us.
Jeff and I went into our small bedroom and looked at each other. We instantly read each other’s minds. “How are we going to make it this weekend?” It was hot. The room was small. Our “shower” was nothing more than a small stall with a wash basin and a drain. The only toilet was outside, which was another stall with a hole in the ground. This was sure to be an experience.
We unpacked our things, decided we had to make the most of it and have faith that we could endure whatever discomforts may come. We sat down with Pastor Benson and visited for a bit and were served hot tea with bread and butter before we went into town.
All weekend we rarely spent anytime with the Phiri family as a whole. In traditional African culture, women are still considered second-rate people. Agnes stayed in the small kitchen with the girls much of the time; I even caught a glimpse of her lying on the concrete floor taking a nap as the breeze coming through the house flapped the sheets hanging in the doorway.
She prepared our meals and the girls often served us in the living room but never joined us for a meal or tea time. African women are strong; some of the strongest in the world and can endure some of the harshest circumstances imaginable. Coupled with this resilient strength, though, is oppression unknown to most.
I have more to share from the weekend stay at the Phiri’s, such as the traditional African wedding celebration we attended. That will be a post all its own. Until then…
Me with neighboring kids at the homestay
The Phiri's home
The Phiri's church in the village
Jeff and I with some of the kids after church
Living room in the Phiri's home
Jeff and I with the Phiri family