Friday, December 19, 2014

In the Christmas Spirit

Having fun this week making decorations with the kids. We made Christmas trees, reindeers and decorated a couple trees. Not sure the kids understood what a reindeer was. You may notice one with an extra eye and both eyes placed in the wrong place, but for many kids here having a chance to use scissors, glue and glitter is a real treat. =)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Blips, blunders, and lifelines.

I just returned from a week of drilling wells near the Niger border with the team from Friends in Action. Much like all the missions here in West Africa, the crew at F.I.A. have had many of their teams cancel their short term mission trips here to Burkina due to the fear of Ebola, and the late civil unrest and ousting of our President. But all of this does not change the need. and certainly does not lessen the work to be done. So when asked to help drill some wells this week, I was excited to join in to get the job done.
I make it sound easy enough, but I knew it would be a tough week. My mind and my body are in two very different ages of life. And there is nothing like living in the bush, without bathrooms, showers, or even tents, and working up to 18 hours a day in the 100 degree weather lifting steel rods, and shoveling gravel and sand to help communicate the reality of the body, to the fantasy land that is my mind. They were in need, and with a full staff at the orphanage and school, there was no real reason I should not be there for them.
The first well was at a Bible school in the town of Fada. It had a well, but they had an agricultural project there that helped subsidies the costs of the pastors training there. They also have opened there well up to the local community making it a very busy watering hole! A second was desperately needed. All started fine, we began to dig in the afternoon. Then it happened. We tried to start the compressor, and nothing. After a new battery and new starter brought in by bus the next morning, 16 hours later, we were back in business. We hit water, we put in our pipe, and lined it with rock and started pumping the initial water out with our electric pump. This was FINALLY the last step before heading to Well #2........ until a break in the pipe allowed our gravel to fill in the first several meters of our hole burying the pump 52 meters under the earth under a few meters of gravel. 8 hours later, we were able to remove the pump and we were back where we left off. With over a hundred empty jugs waiting, they began to pump away first thing.

Then we were headed to the bush....... DEEP into the bush. To a village of 1200 people that a pastor has been visiting for 3 years. The village tried several times to ask for a government well, but were rejected each time because the village was "impossible to reach by truck". The pastor said, "God can do this!". The village prepared for months, cutting a path through miles of trees, and building a make shift bridge over a dried river bed. One leaf spring and a few scratches later, we are in a village that has never even had even a in it, let alone large trucks such as these! Back at it, Drilling through the night hours, we are up to our knees in WATER!!!!! God provided one of the most abundant wells I have witnessed to date!
Despite the difficulties of getting there, and a few small problems, the 2nd well was relatively easy, so we head to the third site where we are told is right off the road.......... guess I should have asked HOW far off the road. As we continued back farther and farther into the bush, We soon came to realize that any village this deep into the bush had it's share of challenges! Once we finally arrived we found a large gathering of excited villagers, who again has never had a vehicle in their village. This was a tough place. The nearest hand dug well where they could get dirty water was 6.5 km away. Because of the heat of the day, and their responsibilities, the women generally left the house at 10p.m. and started their journey to the well where they would walk, and then wait in line for sometimes hours, and the make the long journey back carrying 10 gallons or more of water the entire way! Yes, I was intimidated! We began drilling late morning, our hopes were to drill and finish that night. But you never know when you are drilling. After an hydraulics failure that could have been devastating, and late drilling that seemed like it would never end, we found ourselves 270 feet down into the earth without water. It's difficult when you see such need, and run into a situation like this. I was out of time, and my responsibilities at the orphanage demanded me to return, but that's part of missions. You need to know without a doubt that God is in total control, that He loves these people more than I, and that all things happen according to his will and timing. The great news is that the team of F.I.A. has commited themselves to return tomorrow, and make the necessary repairs to take another crack at bringing water to a village that man said was impossible, but we as Christians know so much better! Through all the blips, blunders and mishaps....... God is always there.