Saturday, January 21, 2017

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” — Thomas Fuller

Our water crisis has passed, and we are now in good shape, but it has left us feeling guilty.  It turns out we should be cleaning our well every three or four years and not let it go twelve years without maintenance.  It is now three meters deeper (total of fourteen meters or almost 45 feet) and the seams (whatever they are) are now unclogged and flowing such that we have a five-meter column of water in it before pumping, and it regenerates in about ten hours.  We saved a small fortune by not trying to hook into city water so that part was good, but we have water while so many others do not.  We couldn’t just do nothing but help ourselves, so we had the well guys clean and try to reinvigorate our shallower well, too.  They managed to get water back into it after removing all the trash and putting some gravel in the bottom.  We only have a two-meter column of water in it but that will be enough to let our neighbors get water from it twice a day.  We will have to limit use to one hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, but it will make us feel better to know that our neighbors will at least be able to get enough water for the day.  It’ll be dry by the end of the day but will regenerate overnight, for now, at least.  I can’t begin to explain how we felt when we saw the pump just hanging in the air and no water in the well—either one.  We have children to water and feed.  We need the water for just about everything and for one day at least we couldn’t flush a toilet, wash our hands, wash our clothes, wash our dishes, and had to use bottled water for drinking, brushing our teeth, and watering the dogs.  We still had some small supplies of hand sanitizer and used it often.  Make no mistake, we were really worried.  I knew how important that water was to our mission and had bought the best submersible pump I could get back in 2005.  For a while anyway, we didn’t know if we would have to close our doors and move away because of the lack of water.  Our neighbor, Bwana Jackson, has a hand-dug well like ours but uses buckets to haul it up every day.  He offered to let us use his because it is very deep, and his offer almost made me cry.  There was no way it could be enough to meet the needs of a working mission with two schools on the premises and cooking for almost a hundred children every day, but he made the offer to share what he had and that was a powerful message to me.  There are hundreds of wells in the Bunda area, and our well guy has dug most of the hand-dug ones, so he’s about as expert as we could get.  The really deep wells around the area were dug by machines and some go down 300 meters.  We are in a rocky area, but the rocks can be broken up or dug around.  My friend, Pete O’Neal, in Arusha had to dig one hundred meters down through volcanic rock for his well, so we have been lucky getting a forty-foot well to meet all our needs.   We replaced the storage tank about a year ago, and I thought that was all we’d ever have to do.  I was wrong.  God has been taking care of us and sent the right people to do the job that we needed.  Because I am a believer, I am convinced that the restoration of our well is an act of God that is telling us to continue our work because it is pleasing to God.  Others may scoff at my simplistic faith, but God has kept me alive over and over again when I should have died (several times in 2016 alone), so I guess He wasn’t going to let a clogged and dirty well keep us down for long.  We did have to have water trucked in for two days, but today we all had baths, even Sissie, and all our dishes and clothes are clean.  It’s such a relief just knowing that the living water was just hiding.  The name of our mission is Maisha Na Maji, literally “Life and Water” and idiomatically “Living Water,” so it would have been truly tragic for a lack of water to have forced us to abandon our efforts here.  God is good all the time, but it would be really nice if He could send some rain for all of us.  I have a friend on Madagascar who said it’s just as bad if not worse there.  They have not had a drop of rain for the entire rainy season.  Those living near lakes will not suffer as much as those in the more arid regions of Tanzania, but there are people near Lake Victoria who are hungry from the crop failures.  They may not die of thirst, but hunger will claim many lives before this is over.  Many of our neighbors have wells, and every day many women walk by with water containers on their heads, but I still can’t help but feel guilty that we have the water we need and can afford to buy the food we need when so many cannot.  It helps to know we are feeding and providing water to so many orphans and children every day, but we were scared for a bit that we were not be going to be able to keep helping.  We live to serve, to help, to teach, to feed, to clothe, to bring the light of Christ’s love to children and adults here in Bunda.  We are so thankful to God for allowing us to continue to do what we were called to do.  The scare we suffered was a lesson that we learned that will not have to be repeated.  God has blessed us with gifts that we must keep giving, and we are so grateful and thankful that our deeper, cleaner, and better understood wells will allow us to continue to give and serve.  You just don’t know how good you have things until they are taken away.  I pray you don’t take your blessings for granted and use them to glorify God and to serve others in need.  We have a renewed spirit to make 2017 a great year for God and His children.
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