Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Living out of abundance: team learns the importance of water

We arrived in Pignon late Saturday night with our short-term team from the Bridge Church. After a full day and night of flying and a 5-hour bumpy truck ride through Port Au Prince winding up into the mountains, our team showed the signs of weary travelers. A big Haitian meal awaited us at the Mission House. We discovered there an interesting challenge: our water pump was out, 

This meant no running water in the house for washing hands, showers, flushing toilets.

As a hostess to this group, some of whom I did not know very well, I began to feel responsible. I wondered how they would handle it. My hubby pointed up at the pair of Gumby dolls perched on the frame of a large picture on our living room wall. 

"Those are up there to remind us to be flexible," he quipped.

Our Haitian friends and the team sprung into action. Ericlee went down to the school and started pumping water there (also known as the best CrossFit WOD). We put buckets with cups in the kitchen for washing and the shower for bathing. We purchased 5-gallon drums of filtered water for drinking.

Let's be real: it wasn't that bad. 

We still had more access to clean water than most of the Majority World ever does.

After half a dozen times of walking into the bathroom and not even one drop coming out of the faucet, I started to weigh the lesser of challenges in my mind.

Which is worse? No air conditioning? No electricity? No running water?

I knew I could - and have - lived in Haiti without air conditioning. It's uncomfortable but certainly not a necessity.

Over the last 12 years of spending time in Haiti I've also learned to live with intermittent electricity. We've adapted. We've learned to keep battery-powered flashlights and fans on hand. We have a kerosene lantern and candles for  desperate times. 

Of course, this is how most people in rural Haiti have lived until recently. In the last year, power has been available to the city. Most people can not pay their bill, of course, so we wonder how long it will last.

We installed solar panels last week but we are discovering the new refrigerator we bought and ancient electric oven drains even the power generated through the panels way too fast.

Our Haitian Director Peter and the nine young guys who are his apprentices worked around the clock to get the water pump working. They discovered the pump burned out, and we would need a new one. We weren't sure at first if we would have to drill for a new one or just replace the old.

A friend from another non-profit in town bailed us out with a used pump he had on hand. The giys switched it out. And it worked! True miracle.

Yesterday the music of water running in the shower and toilets flushing filled my ears. Many of the highlights our team shared that night at "team time" involved the blessing of running water. Even our 4-year-old Giada sang praises to God for her shower.

As a group, we reflected on the importance of water. We know people around the world walk miles, sometimes hours, to retrieve water that is often impure. Here in Haiti we see people lining up at neighborhood wells with huge buckets so they can carry water to their homes. Women and children line the dusty roads balancing these buckets of water on their heads.

We were humbled to think about how easy it is for us to get water back home in the U.S., how a day without running water in Haiti is only a minor inconvenience. 

And water isn't only important in the physical sense. It's a picture Jesus often used in his teaching. A familiar story in the gospels depicts Jesus asking a woman at the well for a drink and offering her living water in exchange.

Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life." (John 4:13, 14 MSG)

Dust swirls in front of our house in Haiti. The sun beats down, so bright. I feel sticky. My skin glistens with sweat. I often find myself thirsty. I am longing for ice in my glass, for a cool lake to dive into at the end of the day. 

But even more I find myself longing for His Living Water. The only running water. The only well that never runs dry. The only water that can truly quench a thirsty soul.

1 comment:

Abby Bain said...

Thank you for journaling your ups and downs for us. We love you guys.Keep on keepin' on.