The other day one of our single gals said…

“you two are like house parents.” House parents for a REALLY BIG home; like 60 Bedrooms and 100 kids at a time. We thought about it a bit and yep, that about sums it up. On call 24/7. Trying to organize housing logistics, fix stuff and sometimes fix people.

Occasionally our “kids” meaning our guests, get REALLY MAD at us. Last Saturday night, for example, about 10:30 pm, we get a phone call from our security team telling us they have a situation that needs Mama Judy’s help. The security team, all Chadians, call us Mama Judy and Papa Jim. Mama Judy is already in bed, so I, Papa Jim try and help them figure it our over the phone, but to no avail. I get dressed, walk on over to the north guard station and here are some 30 people coming in and milling around, with three of them yelling. I mean in your face yelling, at my security people. I walk into the middle of it all and try to bring calm, but really want to just punch somebody for treating my security people so rudely. But I don’t! I just start asking questions, trying to figure out what’s going on. Sound familiar parents? It seems the yellers have a reservation for a room, but the guards can’t find the key. (Yes our security team checks reservations and hands out room keys)  The yellers keep yelling, now at me. Finally another guard arrives and explains that there was a mix up and the room was given away. This really infuriates the three visitors. About this time I start asking, who are all these other people? It turns out they have reservations and are given their room keys. This also infuriates our yellers because they were here before the 30 arrived. I get on the phone with Judy, she gets on the housing computer spreadsheet and figures out how to resolve the problem with our three yellers. Mama Judy finds a different room and they are consoled. About 11:30 PM I finally get home. I make a mental note, the three yellers will not be allowed to house here again.

Then there was yesterday. I, papa Jim, was prepping a room for day laborers to come in and start some cement work when I got a call about a refridgerator freezer leaking water all over the floor of an apartment. I go to my office to get a key for the apartment and when I flip the light on, one of the fixtures goes bang, shoots out a flame and pops the circuit breaker. I use my flashlight to find the key. I get to the apartment and find its a simple problem, the outlet quit working, but before I can fix it, I get a call to fix a stuck door before the guest arrives. Our buildings are built on sand cuz that’s what’s here. Over time the buildings move, settling we call it, the walls crack, doors and windows are hard to open, or just don’t. Sometimes beating items into submission temporally fixes them. Sometimes I have to get out the grinder and make more clearance. Then sometimes we have to completely bang out the cement around a door or window and rebuild it. This door fix was going to be a grinding job.  I get the shop 110 volt grinder, most all our power tools are 110 volt tools. Yes, we live in a country that has 220 volt electricity, not 110 volt. I suspect most of our volunteers have come from 110 volt countries and leave their tools when they go home. Very nice of them. I also have to get the power transformer, the 110 volt extension cord, oh and a 220 volt cord for the power transformer. I get to the door and there is an electric outlet right there, wonderful, except, its hanging off the wall a bit and lo and behold its broke in two. I go get a new wall outlet and try to find the circuit breaker box to shut off the power.

The first breaker box I open is a subterranean electric box, obviously installed in the dry season. Right now its the wet season and the box is half full of water. You can see where the water line was before I pumped some of it out. The circuit breaker is above the water line, but all the wiring goes below. This can’t be the right breaker box. I find another breaker box on the side of the building, somewhat normal from an American perspective. I find the right circuit breaker and it is stuck open, I can’t turn it off… I need to change the circuit breaker. I go get a new circuit breaker and in the process of changing it, the wire breaks. Now the wire is too short to reach the new circuit breaker. I go get a wire splice and some new wire. I actually get the circuit breaker fixed and decide to celebrate the little things and get a cold glass of water from my refrigerator. The refridgerator has started making a death rattle noise…my celebration cut short. I go back to the wall outlet, change it, turn the circuit breaker back on. My grinding on the door jam is a success.  Yes they are steel here and once again the door operates normally. For a while… Now I go get the sump pump for the subterrainen breaker box…

Author: jimjudywycliffejourney

Jim and Judy have been with Wycliffe since 1984. They have served in aviation maintenance/management, motorcycle, and 4X4 training, recruitment, and facilities maintenance in multiple locations in the US and Africa. They currently work with America's Area, North Region, Scripture Access services team. They are a mobile USA team using the internet and face to face encounters with churches, ministries, Native American communities, Diaspora communities, refugee aid organizations, and individuals, introducing them to Through this website, those who did not grow up speaking English can access the Bible and other Scripture resources in the language they understand best. Would you consider becoming a part of their Wycliffe ministry partnership team? You can join their prayer or financial team by clicking on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s