Friday, July 29, 2011

The Light(ning) Side

In Kenya we were told that the 'long rains' come in Sept/Oct, which was easy for me to remember as it should be 'fall'. Only not really.

In Congo, things are similar in the sense of dry - then wet - then dry - then wet. [Cultural tangent: We have met people who do not know how old they are in years, but how many wet seasons, which unfortunately doesn't count the years of drought...] But the timing is a bit different here. I was told when we spent time in the rainforest that the long rains come Aug. 25th. Sure enough, they did! But here on the savannah, I'm told they come end of July. Given that the past week has had at least 2 hours of rain each day, I guess they are right. So end of July it is! (not the time to go on vacation apparently...) It's been SO cold (down to 60 degrees!!)

Rain here is not in the same universe as Seattle rain (figuratively!). It is more like my limited experience with New York rain. Sun, then dark clouds, then crashing thunder and drenching downpour, and back to sun. If Seattle rains like a street band (all day long just singing my song to make a few bucks), then New York rained like the tune of a commercial (throw it at you fast). If Seattle rains like a flute solo, New York rained like a heavy metal band.

Well, over near one of the world's largest rainforests, we have heavy-metal rain. No shock there! The thunder booms in the East (always in the east) and approaches town. By watching the flashes and counting the seconds, I keep track of how close the center of the storm is from our house. You see, lightning strikes are a very real menace.

People have been killed or maimed in town by lightning. When the thunder rolls, the streets empty out like the end of a movie (forgive me. It's analogy day). A few minutes and a thriving neighborhood looks like a ghost town (see?)! If you drive by and look closely, people are crowded under porches or the overhang of a storefront waiting it out.

Once in the last two years our neighbor's house was struck. We didn't see it coming (who does?!). I was typing right here at my computer when the outlet on the wall in front of my desk (at eye level) suddenly arc'd! Thousands of watts flowing through all these wires and right over to my face. Very scary. The sound came immediately after the arc. We lost some of our equipment in our house due to the proximity and spent $300 replacing it. We were lucky! Much more could have been lost.

So now when the lightning comes within 5 miles, I disconnect us from the grid manually (just flipping a switch) whether the power is on or off. This is easy enough. But when you wake up at 4:23am to flashes and rolling thunder, it's not so fun. I sleep on the light side, so it makes sense for me to be the designated 'Lightning Control Monitor'. I'm up anyway.

Often I sit and marvel and the phenomenal light show and sheer power God displays in these storms. The fear of God makes sense and heavy metal rolling thunder becomes my awe-filled song of worship. There is nothing God cannot do!

1 comment:

Linda said...

Great read, Kim! We live in an area with lots of thunder and lightning, too. In fact last year a lightning bolt set our refrigerator on fire! I thoroughly enjoyed your descriptions of Seattle rain compared with yours. :)