A Story of Water

In Namibia there is a river that mainly flows underground. Elephants and other desert animals try and follow the path of the river and dig down into the ground to find a place where the waters are not buried deep beneath the earth. But then about once a year a heavy rain falls. It is a rain so heavy that the river breaks through the ground and the blessed arms of its waters touch all around. It soaks that which has been dry for so long, and quenches the thirst of animals that had traveled far across the desert in search of this treasure. It is a miracle.

At home when I need some water, I simply go to a tap and turn it on, and water flows without obstruction. Conserving water, beyond the regular do not leave the tap flowing while brushing my teeth or doing the dishes, has not been a big part of my life. Where I am from, we are not always thinking about how much water we are using because it just happens to be there. In fact, we launch water balloons and squirt excessive water through waterguns at each other without worry.

But that is not the story of water everywhere. It has been a special circumstance here for me.

In our area it is the politics of water that create the water shortage. We do not have running water every day. In fact, when we are lucky, they flow just one day a week—Wednesday. So on Wednesdays we would fill up what we had used from the tank on the other days. You get used to not having running water on the other days (bucket showers can be quite refreshing). Wednesdays were a blessing. But this is what I meant by the politics that effect water supply. When election years start coming around, road projects start springing up. Ghanaians want to see roads being built and dirt roads being paved because it means an easier time on the roads and infrastructure not just being a word but an action. These projects, however, start but often don’t get completed for years if ever at all. So in our area such a project began. But some of the water pipes were also along the roadway that they were digging. So then the pipes bursts. And they were not fixed. Then Wednesday after Wednesday came without the flow we had relied on. There was no water and no real roadwork. Instead, just a neighborhood of people waiting and praying for water.

Six weeks. That’s how long it had been since any drop of water had made its way through the tap. Our tank is big, but even a big tank gets drained over weeks when a household is using it to take a bath, clean, cook, flush the toilet, and other things. This is not a good season either to rely on rainwater. I do not even remember the last time it rained here, nor am I sure when the next rainfall will come. It is the dry season—everything seems to be turning to dust. So you use less for everything that you need to do and make sacrifices in other areas too. But one could not help but wonder, especially when we were down to less than the last ring of water in the tank, when we would run out.

On Tuesday, George took some of the workers to see this large dam in the town of Akosombo. We ate lunch at a hotel high atop a hill that had tables overlooking the dam and the waters below. The size of artificially created lakes astounds me. It was an impressive sight. On the way back we stopped to walk across a large bridge spanning the waters of the river that eventually dropped off into the Atlantic. Standing on the suspended bridge, with the cars zooming by rumbling the ground beneath me, my heart was filled with wonder. I could gaze across the water at the beautiful islands ahead and take in the lush greens around me, and the rising hills all around. God really has graced this world with so much natural beauty. And those creations need water to survive, and so I believed that it would be provided, one way or another.

Yesterday was the last day we were going to wait on water. George had made some phone calls about the price to buy water to fill the tank, and the price was more than they had expected to pay. That morning during prayer, we prayed strongly that we would be blessed with water. We then went about our morning routine, and as I was getting ready to go make some breakfast, I heard a familiar sound, followed by shouts of joy that confirmed my suspicions: the taps were flowing. Water had come at last.

The rest of the morning was spent running around with the hose, filling every single bucket, container, and drum in the house. Then filling up the tank for the garden and the large tank for the house. It is hard work collecting all of that water, dragging the heavy buckets around, making sure water does not spill everywhere, but the alternative is no water. And that is no alternative at all. Finally, when I could sit down and eat my breakfast of boiled sweet potatoes and soup, I closed my eyes and thanked God for the miracles that we can only fully appreciate when we really need them.

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