Thursday, July 10, 2014

Skip to the Loo, My Darling

Some of you love a "fly on the wall" glimpse into the lives of missionaries. This glimpse gets pretty personal. It's real. It's... well... Weird! But nevertheless, it is our lives. So sit back and get ready to chuckle. Get ready to be shocked. Don't worry... just go with the flow. And get ready to pray more fervently for us. Some of these lessons we have had to learn on our own the hard way!


It wasn’t taught in Missions class in Bible College.

It wasn’t taught in candidate school at the mission board.

One of the most elementary needs of any human being has been totally neglected in the training of new missionaries for the foreign field. (How can this be overlooked year after year?!)

But don’t worry. With the help of a few missionary friends, I am about to help teach this vital class. We will flush this problem away in one post. So grab a cup of coffee and a bottle of hand sanitizer...

Welcome to Toilet Tutorial 101.

While we were on deputation, we spoke to many children's Sunday school classes and Christian schools. Inevitably, the class clown of the group would raise his hand during the Q&A session to ask what he thought was a funny question. He would try to hold a straight face, stifling his laughter with all his might. The other children all knew something funny was coming. When we acknowledged his raised hand, he would stand. What did he ask?

"What do you eat there?"


"What is the weather like there?"

Not even close.

The question was...

"How do people go to the bathroom there?"

Giggles would erupt across the room. My husband and I, however, answered the question with all seriousness.

"Actually, that's a great question," he would say. And it IS a great question.

So, Mr. Class Clown, this post is for you. 

I would like to begin this class with Exhibit A.

Helen Christian, Belarus

I know what you are thinking. That’s a kitty water dish.

Kristine Lien, Indonesia

Sorry, Squatty Potty Lips. That water is not for you. (Yes, that's actually the cat's nickname... Potty Lips.) That is an Asian toilet, affectionately called… the squatty potty. It’s name explains itself so there will be no demonstration. You simply stand on the bumpy foot spots and do what you have to do.

The squatty potty is very difficult for many westernized people, so some countries have attempted to accommodate the East and the West.

Anne Williams, Thailand

Some countries have tried to reduce conflict in the home by not using toilet paper at all. There is no argument of which direction to put the paper on the roll! Instead they have opted for alternate cleaning methods...

Charity, Southern Asia

Just aim and squeeze the trigger. This is why the left hand is considered "dirty" in some countries. Other countries take cleanliness to the next level...

Jennifer Smith, Argentina

No, that's not a second oval office for your buddy. That's a bidet. It's like a miniature shower.

Susan Callahan, Japan

I am not sure, but I am guessing that faucet is for your hands. At least... that's what I hope!

Some countries believe in separation of church and state. Others... separation of toilet and sink.

Jen Bauer, Australia

I am not even going to try to explain the logistical problems of them being in separate rooms.

Some countries go all out with their facilities! No... really. Outside. This luxurious log cabin is actually an outhouse. You can literally skip to the loo, my darling.

Dee Snyder, Furlough replacement missionaries

Not enough wood? No problem! Grab some sheets or a lot of cardboard or old newspapers. Dig a hole and there you go. Bonus: if you use the newspapers your guests will also have reading material.

Sarah Reasoner, Russia

Don't forget that in some countries it is customary to tip the "valet" for helping you "park" in the garage. Yes, even outhouse attendants get a monetary "thank you" for tending to the powder room. TP is an extra charge.

Sarah Reasoner, Russia

What? No cardboard, newspaper, sheets, or wood? No problem! People in some countries simply find a wall. No joke. Pick a spot and go... outside...

Rachel Winkler, Estonia 

Don't worry about the people in the apartment buildings behind you. In this country, it's only important to be sure you are not seen from the street.

Rachel Winkler, Estonia 

Apparently trees and shrubs just aren't as good as they use to be. There has never been a better reason to fence in your property.

If you need a little more privacy than a wall outside, how about trying the "earth closet." Yes, a closet with its own honey pot.

Carole Shull, Greenland

Unfortunately, someone has to it clean out.

Carole Shull, Greenland

If cleaning the thunder bucket is not your cup of tea, try a more relaxing and tranquil atmosphere. Head to the beach! Build a dock and drill a hole above the water.
A self-cleaning toilet!

Cricket Young, Panama

Just pick a different beach for swimming...

Other funny adventures:

Speaking of potties . . . last week, we were visiting another ministry here in Thailand. Some bathrooms have waste baskets there so that you can throw you used toilet paper in to the basket instead of throwing the toilet paper in the toilet. Then, you just use small buckets of water to flush the toilet down. So, I am not paying attention. I threw the toilet paper in to the toilet, just like I would normally do. Tried my hardest to flush and flush so that the toilet paper will go down and that it won't cause anything to be plugged up. Eeekkkkk!! The paper just would not go down!! I finally had to stick my hand in the toilet to get the toilet paper out since I didn't want to leave it in there for others to deal with. Gross!! I know!!! It was a clean bathroom, and I washed my hands very well for like a million times that day. -Panan L.

 My husband went to a mountain area for a mission trip with the church, and they stayed in a house where they had a big screen tv, a giant propane tank, and an outdoor squatty potty. (Nothing but a hole with a small building over.) Our American values just don't "get" why someone would pay for a tv and extra large tank instead of, you know, a toilet. -Sarah C.

I've successfully learned how to hold my child (2 yr old) above any type of potty so she isn't touching the potty seat. -Mandi A.

My potty story was from back when my little girl was 2 or 3 and it was -20 something outside at the church in the city (which still does not have indoor plumbing, by the way!). So, here we are bundled up in long coats, thermals, tights, boots, dresses that like to drag the floor if you don't hold them up, not to mention, gloves, hats, etc. So, Beka has to go potty. I get her in there which, by the way, in the really cold weather looks like a freezer due to the ice stuck to the inside walls of the toilet room (no insulation on the walls + warm air inside the toilet area for understood reasons makes for vapor which freezes on the walls). Anyway, science lesson over...I am trying to help her squat, hold up all the clothes, keep mine from being contaminated since most everyone is apparently bad at hitting the target, and also hold all the stuff since there is no where to put it down for a bit. Long story a bit short, one of my favorite gloves was sacrificed to the great abyss, but my daughter made it out safely. We were both "relieved", in both senses of the word!  -DeeDee S.

Oh the art of squatting! It should be an Olympic sport! Squatting in an outhouse at 30 weeks pregnant seems to be my latest challenge! -Amber P. 

When my daughter was about 4 or 5 we had a village ministry in Russia. There was no plumbing on the property, but there was an outhouse. My daughter was terribly afraid of using the outhouse, but she was a pro at just squatting outside. I remember during the winter months she would excitedly tell me, "Mommy, I'm melting the snow". -Rachel W.

After living with an earth closet for six months we moved to a house with indoor plumbing. The first night there I dressed my two year old for bed and sent her to put her clothes in the wash. A few minutes later I heard one of my older children yelling from the bathroom. The two year old had put her clothes in the "new washing machine" in the bathroom! She had NO idea what the toilet was really used for! -Carole S.

Since the people live on islands very few people have a bathroom in their home! They do have a tank for dipping and showering in the yard but no privy. The privy is out over the ocean. There is always a strong breeze there! The door is usually a light shower curtain. It is a minimum of a 3 foot drop to the water. That way it can be used at high or low tide and during storms. Since everyone uses it you need to bring your own paper. No one wants to clean it so they don’t have any trash cans in it! There is a plank with hole that has been carved by a machete. What is fun is to time the paper drop so that it hits the water and doesn’t fly away! -Cricket Y.

The worst one I was in was the bus station in Buenos Aires, Retiro. No toilet seats. I kid you not. Stall after stall of toilets with no seats. And you are supposed to pay for tp and tip the 'cleaning' lady. :/ I didn't stay long enough for a pic, just squatted over the toilet, tipped the probably-homeless lady, and left. -Jennifer S.

[The] potty actually wasn't as bad as the totally enclosed holes in the ground potties we used on the way to Kalmykia. I didn't get a picture of those though. Oh the horrible smell of those, I will never ever forget! The smell of hundreds upon hundreds of people having gone potty in the hole and it just sitting and festering in the hot southern Russia heat was awful. I almost lost it every time. And to think we had to pay each time just to go potty in a dirt hole. The worst part about this potty I sent a picture of is that ladies would be lined up to use it and there was not much privacy! -Sarah R.

Here in the Philippines, they call it a CR (comfort room). When we first moved here, we went to get our Philippine license. We had only been in the country for a couple of days. They make u give a urine sample, so they took me to this small little bathroom down this alley. As we were walking down the alley, there were several people all watching me and they were all standing outside of the cr when I went in. It was one of my first times using a squatty potty, and then having to pee in this little cup was quite a challenge. So, I am in position and I look up and there is a spider the size of a dollar bill on the wall right next to me. It was the biggest spider I have ever seen!!! So of course, I am freaking out but I know all those people are still waiting outside and I don't want to look like the crazy American who is afraid of spiders. I watched it the entire time and prayed that it wouldn't move cause as soon as it does I am out of there! -Amanda M.

Our funniest bathroom story is when we were driving from the border to Mexico City the very first time. We were in 2 vehicles and needed to stop for a break. We saw a nice looking restaurant on the side of the road and figured they'd have bathrooms. We went inside and bought some sodas to go and then asked where the bathrooms were. They told us around back. Nothing strange about that. However, the men's room was nothing more than a hole in the ground. No seat, nothing. To say the least our 12 year old was having nothing of it, refused to go, and so we stopped later further on down the road. -Lori B.

I have learned not to drink much and hold my bladder at times lol. Most of the time we did not have running water at the church in the winter or if we did several times we had dead mice in the commode. (one time frozen in ice) Usually at wakes in the community centers and when we did our Christmas programs the bathrooms were pretty bad (our missionary partner took a pic of a puke covered toilet but I usually can't get pics like he can incognito. I sure am happy that I don't have to deal with squatty potties or as our mission director once referred to one in asia "the mouth of the dragon" hahahahahaha -Anon.

One time we had a young lady visiting us. We were in the interior of the country and we needed the bathroom. We had to pay to use it . . . OK . . . It is down a little ally and in back of the store. At the end of the ally, you turn to your right to enter. On the left were "rooms" with just enough room for the bed and to the right was The Room we needed. I was asked what the rooms were for . . . . I told her that the rooms were rented by the hour . . . . for what . . . I said for prostitutes and their Johns! (It is legal here) Her face was priceless. We then used The Room we had come to use. Low and behold there was no running water in the sink . . . just in the toilet . . . I stuck my hands in the back tank to wash them . . . By the look on her face you would have thought that I stuck them in the toilet itself! ! ! This person is now a missy! -Cricket Y.

Thank you to all those who contributed to this post!
by Charity, Southern Asia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally HILARIOUS and so TRUE. Thank you for show and telling like it is!