Warning: If you don’t like reading funny but kinda gross bathroom stories, please stop right here!
Going Potty in East Africa is a Walk of Faith.
On of our first mission trips to Kenya in 2004, we were escorted to the pastor’s toilet. Walking outside his flat I came to a little wooden outhouse. I opened the door expecting the luxury of my America toilet. Behold, there was a little ceramic hole carved in a concrete floor. I was shocked. What was I to do? I had preached and had slacks, a long sleeve shirt and a neck tie.
“Do I really have to squat here? Do I have to aim by faith?”
That event inaugurated my ongoing seven-year love affair with the East African potty endearingly christened in Swahili, the “choo.”
Of my many choo tales, I’d like to share two.
The Maasais are the folks with the big ears, the big earrings, the lion hunters and blood drinkers.
They are also some of the globe’s nicest people and a nation which God is touching poignantly with revival. Daily, are Maasais being added unto the Lord.
I was invited to teach a Bible conference in the heart of Maasai land in Simba, Kenya.
I was met by pastors on the highway to Mombasa, Kenya. After enjoying cold sofdas ( soda baridi) we commenced our track into the Simba bush and to the pastor’s home. My bags were hoisted on bicycles.
The savanna was tall and there were tons and tons of mud ( matope ).
Simba had been experiencing nonstop rains for weeks.
Today, was to be no different. The skies above were menacingly black.
As we went, the heavens split and down came the blinding rains.
No umbrella, no trees to hide beneath, just mud and flowing gullies of water all around. I was soaked to the bitter bones. All that we could do was to get more and more drenched.
In ankle deep mud, we lugged and dragged until our arrival to his cow dung hut.
As the rushing rains continued , his wife met us with towels. I went into my tiny bedroom and changed everything including my water logged handkerchief.
Now this pastor did not have a choo.
His choo was the bush.
Tonight the walk to the potty would be in drenching rain, ankle high mud, and who knows what kind of night critter to bite me as I bent over.
I prayed and made my deal with God.
“Ok Lord, I’m going to ask you a big favor,” I conjured my demands to the Almighty.
“ While I’m in Simba for the next five days, I don’t want to go Number Two. I want you to honor me and until get to my home town of Kitengela and my America toilet, don’t let me go number two. In the Name of Jesus, I bind Number Two from coming out!”
I was done with my prayers and went to sleep in my six by eight foot room.
At three in the morning, I woke up to roar of hammering rains, and an irresistible urge to do Number Two. I could not believe it!
“God, I told you that I did not want to do number two for the next five days!” I quipped.
The need just got worse and worse. I was angry at God.
“But God, you need to honor my deal!…”
Now I knew that if I did not proceed to the rain and into the mud I would do number two in my room.
Let me teach you some basic Swahili, so that when you guys go to Kenya on your safari, you will know these words.
Number one is “short col”
Number two is “long col.”
I got my roll of toilet paper and flashlight.
The pastor was sleeping in the other room.
“Pastor, pastor, I have to go to the choo, I have to go long col.”
Dutifully, the pastor rolled the big wooden door aside.
I pointed my flashlight into the gaping night, its beams catching the huge drops of rain.
As I stepped into the mud, the rain stopped. Bang!
From a trouncing down pour to a nothing in sixty seconds flat.
I looked up in disbelief.
“ My God you are so great and so good!”
I went to my bush choo full of confidence and did my long col.
Going potty in East Africa is a walk of faith.
My second and more dramatic choo story occurred in Kisangaji, Tanzania.
Kisangaji, is even more remote than Simba.
The pastor’s cow dung hut was a couple of miles from the township of Simba. Kisangaji, however, is about 10 miles from the nearest town of Mbati.
I was here on a five day Bible conference.
In Kisangaji I did not have a bush choo but the regular rural choo which is a hole in the dirt inside of a tiny structure.
I did not pray what I had prayed in Simba, but my wish was just as strong.
“Lord, until I get back to the pastor’s nice home in Arusha, Tanzania with my American choo, please don’t let me go long col in Kisangaji.”
What made it extra tricky was that our food for five days , was, ahhh yes, rice and beans. Beans, beans and more beans.
Everything, was so far, so good. It was Sunday, the fourth day of the conference. I was heading out to Arusha the next morning.
No urges for long col. Praise Him!
After the Sunday morning service we walked for nearly two miles to a small river in scorching heat.
We were to baptize several converts.
I muttered under my breath as I sweltered with perspiration running down my face.
To my utter amazement, these Tanzanians who had nothing, went on leaping and praising God, drums banging, and voices raised all the way to the river.
Africa, has taught me how ungrateful, spoiled and pampered I can be.
On the journey back, the crisis hit me.
OMG, I got the worse urge to go long col of my whole life.
I had no toilet paper, and there were no trees. It was just rocky grounds spotted with occasional Acacia trees.
“What am I going to do Lord, have mercy on me!”
I was bursting and busting. Panicking, I fold one of my fellow walkers.
I marched like a high-speed soldier, legs tucked in, frantically doing the penguin shuffle, trying just to make it back to the camp.
I spotted my wonderful Tanzanian hostess Teresia whose house I was lodging in.
“ Teresia” I gasped, “long col!” She muttered something back to me.
“ L O N G C OL!”, I articulated.
Little did I know that the Tanzanian Swahili is different to its Kenyan counterpart. She had no idea what I said!
I froze in time, now beyond exploding. Suddenly, another pastor rushed to the scene and spoke to her.
Teresia grabbed my hand and rushed me to my bedroom.
I hysterically dug through my luggage, got the roll of toilet paper and lunged to the outhouse.
Breaking in through the roosters and children I must have looked like an utter fool.
As I pulled my pants down I sprung for the hole, but did not make it.
The diarrhea came out on the floor, all over my pants and my legs. As a penguin I straddled over the hole and finished my business.
“ Oh, God, how could you allow this to happen to me?” Squatting over the hole I continued my diatribe with God.
I swear that in the midst of my complaints, God sent an angel who tapped the roll of toilet paper, which I had let on a mud ledge inside the outhouse, with his finger.
As I looked up, the toilet paper fell off the ledge, magically rolled right towards me, in between my legs, and into the hole!
“ Oh My God!” This was the utter low blow!
I think that I heard God chuckle and say, “ LOL! This is what happens when you complain too much!”
What could I do but put my diarrhea pants back on and proceeded back to the bedroom.
Past the children and the roosters I stumbled once again; I was so embarrassed!
From my door cracked open, I said. “Teresia, could you please bring me magi ( water) and soap?”
I washed myself down, put the dirty clothes in a bag and proceeded with them to where the pastors where. Quietly I told them what happened. Laughter erupted everywhere. No one mocked me. It was just so darn funny.
In conclusion, the women washed down the choo, and proceeded to stick the dirty clothes down the magical hole. I had my bottle of anointing oil in the pants. The joke was that Kisangaji had been permanently anointed.
As I said Going potty in East Africa is a walk of faith!
The Rural Choo Hole
The infamous choo in Kisangaji Tanzania
The rural choo in Masat, Kenya, home district of Mr. Obama and his family