“Not just survive, but thrive” is a phrase we say a lot around here.  Culture shock, home sickness, spiritual heaviness all hit hard after the initial high of moving cross culturally and it’s easy to hunker down and just live for the next break out of Afghanistan.


We were definitely in survive mode only a few weeks ago.  Cold weather moved in to stay for a while and the logistics of life gets much more difficult.


shop keepers and pedestrians getting a little warmth as they can


Windy City in the snow

Windy City in the snow

sawdust heaters and shopkeeper

Our house is a lovely mud-brick home with thick walls but very high ceilings which make it hard to heat.  So, like our Afghan neighbors, we mainly live in two rooms that we heat with wood and sawdust.  The bedrooms and big hallway and bathroom all stay around 55 degrees so it takes some courage to get out of the warm living room to take a shower or go to bed.  Mr. Incredible spends a good deal of his time lighting and maintaining our stoves and threatening dire consequences to the next person who leaves a door open.

Our house and front yard through snowy pomegranate trees

Our house and front yard through snowy pomegranate trees

We get electricity every third night, so I start cooking dinner early, knowing that by 5:30 I’ll need a headlamp to see if the ground beef is browned enough.  Electricity is erratic during the day, but usually strong enough in the mornings that I can get a load of laundry done — if the pipes aren’t frozen.  The electricity we do get is often so weak that we can’t pump water to the roof, so rationing and conserving water becomes my main concern.  I’ve yet to be committed enough to washing dishes to go out and melt snow.

Mr Incredible thawing water lines with my tea kettle

Mr Incredible thawing water lines with my tea kettle

And my favorite quirk of living here?  With low or no electricity and an unheated kitchen, the refrigerator becomes the place to store things you don’t want to get TOO cold and items you want to stay chilled are left out on the marble counter top.

Dressing in lots of layers to go to bed, seeing your breath in the office or waiting two days for chicken to defrost — these are things you can plan for and get use to.

But, it wears us down.  And so, once a winter we try to get away, to warm up and gain perspective on life in Afghanistan.  It wasn’t easy.  I can’t yet write about our favorite restaurant in Capital City that was blown away while we were on a beach in Sri Lanka.  Still looking for those words.

But I will write about it and about the trip to Sri Lanka.  I’m trying to get into the habit of posting more.  I miss it and it’s one of the things that will help me thrive here I think.  Because that is what I want to do.  Thrive and enjoy life here and be a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than my comfort levels.  So, stay tuned.  Next post may feature monkeys.  And not just the kids.