Friday, August 1, 2008

The Cost of a Good Night's Sleep

Preparations for departure are continuing to ramp up. We purchased several packages of Ziploc bags and garbage bags for added protection in storing personal effects, along with a few rolls of tape to help seal boxes and bags, and have started packing. Several friends have offered us storage space in their basements for our temperature and moisture sensitive stuff. Non-sensitive stuff will go into my father’s barn like last time. We’re thanking God for each of these folks because the cost of a commercial storage unit is just not in our budget! It’s another example of the importance of teamwork in our ministry.

I’ve started making some inquiries about the cost of shipping a few things overseas via airfreight. Some of you may be wondering why we don’t ship by sea. Wouldn’t it be cheaper? The short answer is yes. But for what we have, shipping by air will not cost that much more, provides less opportunity for theft, will be much more direct, and will take only a couple of days max compared to several months by sea freight.

One of the main things we want to ship over this time is a box spring & mattress. Isn’t that a bit extravagant, you ask? Well, first of all, you need to be aware that box springs & mattresses as we know them are not available anywhere in Burkina. They simply don’t exist. Nor is there any company importing them.

During our past terms in Burkina, we’ve tried virtually every form of bed available except a roll-up nylon mat on the ground (which is about as comfortable as an air mattress without any air). When we first went over to Africa, someone suggested a waterbed, reasoning that the water would help keep us cool in the hot season. So we tried that… and discovered that exactly the opposite was true! Both the air in the room and water in the bed would heat up over the course of the day. At night, however, the air would cool a bit, but the water took much, much longer for any noticeable drop in temperature. The end result was like sleeping on a big hot water bottle for most of the night! And no matter how many baffles are in there, anyone turning over would cause the other to bounce around like a ship at sea (and a stormy one at that!).

We’ve slept on camp cots with thin foam mats. That’s doable for a couple of nights, but soon gets quite uncomfortable. There are thicker foam mats, but it’s soft foam that you sink right down into. Imagine spending hot nights with that stuff wrapped around you like insulation and you’ll be cooking just thinking about it!

A few years ago, they came out with a harder foam for use as a mattress. The problem was that it was too hard. It was like sleeping on a table! (Go ahead. Ask us how we know that :) Thus the box spring & mattress idea, born out of desperation to get a good night’s sleep. After trying everything else, we're convinced it’ll be worth every cent that it costs to ship those things over there!

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