Clean. What does that really mean? If the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” was actually in the Bible, you could argue that there is no God to be found in rural Mozambique.
In a place where the water has been out more than it’s been on in the last few weeks, how do you define clean? Clean is such a subjective term. Take clean clothes for example. Shirts can be worn for days as long as you are careful eating and use plenty of deodorant. Underwear – same, with proper use of antibacterial wet wipes. Shorts… now that’s a whole different story. In my opinion, they can be worn until they start to smell.
Clean is a relative term. Actual dirt/sand does not make things dirty here. It’s just a sign that you actually live life outside of a concrete, glass window, air conditioned house. If there is more dirt on the ground than is on you, your clothes are clean from a dirt perspective.
What about personal hygiene? Having a shower twice a week really feels good. You pray there’s water when you get back from weekend outreaches. Brushing your teeth is not an area of compromise in my opinion, and neither is using deodorant or cleaning those areas that need to be cleaned on a daily basis. However, both last year and this year I have encountered people that are somewhat loose on these standards. In other words, it’s not the presence of God on them that causes you to fall backwards.
Whatever color you thought your wash cloth was going to remain, upon first use its new color is dark brown and will most likely stay that way forever and ever, amen.
Weekend bush outreaches bring the standards of cleanliness to a whole new level. The only water you have is drinking water. When you get back, you think you’re so tan from all the time outdoors, but you realize it’s really spray-on tan of the red dirt variety. It’s a shame people actually have to pay money for this in the western world. If you’re trying to impress people back home, it’s important to take pictures before your next shower or trip to the beach. It’s also somewhat more acceptable to wear clothes that smell on outreach. And sunblock, although necessary, tends to interfere with your dirt tan by swirling and clumping on your arm and leg hair.
Disclaimer: I hope you’ve enjoyed this update about life in Mozambique. Your mileage may vary, so enjoy the humor and discard the rest!.