Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Via Satellite and Miracles from God

For many months the Cash Africa home has been enshrouded with the heavy cloak of internet silence. No World Wide Web. Ever. Oddly, a receipt paying for monthly service rests in the stack of paid bills. But no service for the payment. The Cash clan grew weary of that irony and Mr Cash set his sights to solve the problem. Satellite services were located. Negotiations began. Loads of equipment must be secured and monthly fees must be understood and written down and budgeted. Months of work followed and finally on a glorious day in January, a satellite dish was purchased with brackets and bolts and two very sensitive pieces we are to transport in a car with four children and luggage and NOT BREAK. An internet technician (hereafter referred to as Internet Guy) would be sent from Kampala to set up the service. We bought the satellite, but understood that as with all things technological in the Third World, we needed a miracle.


The day began peacefully. A Saturday. No school. Just housework. Visitors were on the way and it was my desire to have our home warm and inviting. And clean.

I was in my pajamas and heating water for coffee. And the phone rang.

It was Jeff. He was informing me that Internet Guy was at our gate. Now.

And Jeff was not even in town.

Which leaves me. And the Internet Guy. To set up and configure a satellite dish.

I hadn't even had my coffee.

I smiled warmly and welcomed Internet Guy into the compound. I began to point out the dish and its brackets and such.

He and I both realized with alarm, that a piece was missing.

A Very Important Piece.

At least from Internet Guy's perspective.

He began to shout at someone on the phone. And I, having lived in a third world country for awhile, realized that if Internet Guy felt fine about shouting at another man on the phone...

The female in front of him has no chance.

He began to say how disappointed he was. How IMPOSSIBLE it was to begin now, without Very Important Piece. "IMPOSSIBLE!" he told me, over and over again.

I encouraged and troubleshot. I offered a soda and lunch. Internet Guy--from Kampala---must be encouraged to stay.

He spent about one hour, yelling and fussing at someone on the phone. He huffed and marched around our house.

I prayed.

Every once and awhile, he would turn his (ahem) attitude my way. I was a dumb, crazy woman and what in the world did I know about satellites and who was I to tell him he could begin on the process without Very Important Piece. His time was wasted, WASTED he told me. He huffed and puffed and I said, "I think you can! I think you can!"

After some time, the tirade outside seemed to calm. I peeked from my hiding place inside and noticed Internet Guy pulling his tools to the back of the house. I stayed out of the line of fire until he asked for me. He, with many sighs and grimaces, was going to begin the IMPOSSIBLE process.

He wanted to hang the satellite in the worst place ever.

Just outside the back door. Where the children play and people walk and we live.

I knew, my directives would not be well received. So I played the husband card.

"Please don't hang the satellite dish, here, Internet Guy. I need to ask my husband first."

As I'm dialing Jeff's number, I hear drilling.

I rush outside to find TWO LARGE HOLES in the wall of our house.

I stare incredulously. He looks at me as if he is interested to see if my head will explode. I'm pretty sure it might.

Jeff answers and gives me two more locations for Internet Guy to consider.

Internet Guy shoots both ideas down quicker than you can drill holes in my wall.

Internet Guy says placing the satellite anywhere else would be IMPOSSIBLE.

Terrific.

I still haven't had my coffee.

Jeff hears the tone of my voice.

He also heard me when I said, "THIS IS TOO HARD! Please get here and do this!!!"

I was only screaming the first part.

Jeff inferred how badly he was needed and assured me he was on the way. With Very Important Piece.

Internet Guy keeps drilling.

Remarkably, he succeeds with hanging the satellite. Overcoming the impossible.

He then transfers his work station into the house. He sits for two hours at Jeff's desk. He attaches wires, types on his laptop and makes a million phone calls. When I eavesdropped it sounded like he was asking someone about lunch plans.

He asked for ladders and bolts and wire...and with the amazing resiliency of a woman who has had her coffee (finally)...I delivered the needed items.

And we waited.

Internet Guy eventually left for lunch. He said to call him when Jeff arrived with Very Important Piece. I was encouraged that he left his laptop on the desk.

Jeff arrived (with roses for me!) and he and a much happier Internet Guy succeed in configuring the dish and getting the signal.

Then Internet Guy leaves. We still don't have internet. Apparently there is yet another step that must be completed in Kampala. Any other way was....impossible.

Monday comes and goes with a phone call from Internet Guy informing Jeff of a technical difficulty preventing our receiving the internet.

Funny. We ALREADY HAD technical difficulties with our old system.

But with a huge satellite dish dangling from our back door (almost) we set ourselves to wait.

Because we don't get to do that very often in the Third World anyway.

On Wednesday, just after Jeff left the house for the day, he called me and with apology in his voice asked if I would be willing to talk to Internet Guy on the phone to get our computers online. (Jeff had already spent one hour on the phone in the early morning with IG trying to get things going.)

Terrific. Me again. As the phone rang I wondered if I had anything in the house stronger than coffee. You know. Like Dark Chocolate M&M's.

I answered the phone, sat down at Jeff's desk and began to try to decipher the Ugandan accent of Internet Guy over the phone while coding our computer.

Good times, my friends. Good times.

It took a mere one hour.

One hour of:

IG "please find the command screen."
me silence
IG "do you know what the command screen is"
me silence
(me pushing buttons and praying hard)
me "found it!"
IG "now hit 'ping' and a million numbers.
me "bing?"
IG "ping"
me "ding?"
IG "ping"
me "ting?"
IG "P I N G"

Only after about 10 rounds of this did IG think to say "P as in Paul". Which moved things along considerably.

Then we had to do the wire dance. "Unplug the yellow wire from here and re plug it there. Is it plugged? What does the screen say? Now unplug the yellow wire again and switch with the black wire. Unplug the black wire while holding the yellow wire but not touching your feet to the floor." Just kidding on that last part, but you get the idea. Complicated and difficult.

And then...

When I thought I was going to lose it in such a way that roses, coffee or dark chocolate M&Ms could never fix...

The Yahoo page popped up.

POPPED UP. It wasn't there. The wires were criss-crossed and I was pinging and then...

IT WAS THERE!!!!

Joy, my beloved. PURE JOY.

My tears were real. And flowed freely.

Two mornings later, while drinking coffee and making biscuits I had a chat VIA SATELLITE with my Dad in far off Texas. I explained to Silas the technology we were using. "The message I am typing here in our Africa home bounces off that satellite you keep bumping your head on, into OUTERSPACE then bounces back down to America, to Texas, to Nana and Papa's house."

Silas exclaimed with BIG wide eyes, "It's like a MIRACLE!!"

Yes my dear. EXACTLY!

13 comments:

Cathy said...

Miracle indeed, and what I've been praying for. I knew that you must have been in the internet void, but also knew that God was working on it. It's funny (not ha ha) but when I see "no" posts from you, I know that you are struggling extra and then you must know that I'm praying extra. It's comforting to me that my prayers do not return void because once again, today when I looked on "my" computer, there you were. I love you all and am constantly in prayer for all of you.

The Reeds said...

So glad you guys are online! We enjoy keeping up with you Fort Portalians!

Georgia

Kathy said...

I'm glad you're online again because I love that you tell stories so well! I will look forward to many more, but I hope you don't have to endure more of that kind of frustration for me to enjoy good stories!
I'll be praying you and the bumps on your little boys' heads!

Jason Hill said...

This makes me very happy.

Laurie said...

Welldone! I'm coming to visit Mbale in early Nay and would be happy to pack a large bag of Dark Chocolate M&Ms. :) I'm sure by then, there might be another situation that would require such sustenance.

laura said...

YEA YEA YEA! We are jumping for pure joy in Bolivia that you are reconnected! I can only imagine how hard it has been without internet... Praise God for working technological miracles for the Cash family!

Amanda Rae said...

I am so happy for you guys!! Sorry you had to go through all of that..especially on the phone! Good job for figuring it out- that is awesome! I hope the kids don't hit their heads too many times on the dish! Give everyone a hug for me!!

Diane said...

Oh Cheryl, I was with you every step of the way on that story! The technology may change (ever so slightly) but some things about Africa never change. I appreciate your perseverance, resilience and patience. God's hand was certainly on Jeff's shoulder when He introduced Jeff to you those many years ago. Grace and peace, Diane

Trisha said...

Hooray for the miracle! A blessing for us all!

Jill Moudy said...

Okay, Cheryl. That was HILARIOUS. I laughed til I hurt. When will you ever publish a book of your missionary writings - they are incredible!!! And to those of us who have been there - hysterical.

Joshua and Julie Marcum said...

Oh, Cheryl. I laughed and cried with you over this. Oh joy for beloved internet connection. Yeah for you for being persevering through the whole process.

Campbell Family said...

I am so glad you are back in the land of the blogging... your story made me laugh (and hurt). I wonder if we will face some of the same struggles someday when we are trying to make our home in Angola.

I look forward to more funny, insightful, thought-provoking posts now that you are back online!

Love, Laura

Julie-Anne said...

Dear Cheryl,

I found your blog through another blog. We have felt a pull to go to Africa for most of our married life. I wonder if there is a way I could e-mail you and share more in detail? Your blog has come at a very interesting time in our lives. There is so much more to say.

Julie-Anne Mauno
julieannemauno@yahoo.ca