Last Sunday, Tim, Sara, and I visited a mountain church for Sunday morning service. I’ve been there several times before, but our visits have always been fairly quick. This time was different, though. This time, I was on a mission to learn more about where the community gets its water. We knew people had to hike to a water source, but that can mean many different things here.
The impetus for wanting the information stems from a couple of projects going on in the area. For years, the pastor of the little church on top of the mountain has sought help for the community. For years, he would talk to anyone who would listen. For years, this man has hiked 90 minutes up a mountain, six days a week, to serve the people of Gardere as a pastor and school teacher. That’s some pretty solid dedication, people.
And now, finally, some help is coming to the community.
Our friends at GAP Ministries decided to help by building a new church/school (they meet in the same space) to replace the current mud and stick structure. The walls are up and the floor will be poured in a few days. After that, the roof will go on and a rain water capture system will be installed. Water will be stored in a cistern built inside of the church. It sounds simple enough, but this is hard core life changing stuff going on here.
Remember that water source I talked about? Let’s just say that getting water is not a simple task. The path is narrow and rocky. With every step, the loose gravel underfoot feels like it will give way causing you to stumble and fall. Upon arriving at the first source – the one that is used for collecting drinking water – I was shocked to see a woman ladling water into a container. My expectation was to see water pouring out of a wall, a crack in the rocks, or a pump, but that was not the case. The water comes up from the ground creating a shallow puddle (ergo the need to use a ladle). It looked as though it was only about an inch or two deep.
Given the amount of people waiting their turn and the depth of the water, collecting drinking water is not something that can be done quickly.
The pastor explained that a second source is used for collecting water for cooking, washing, cleaning, etc. We hiked another 10 minutes to reach the location and found that it was just as crowded as the first with women doing laundry and young girls filling buckets with water. It was obvious that a pump had been operational at one time, but someone broke the concrete to gain access to the water below. People lower themselves 3-4’ down into a hole to scoop the water out, and then hoist their buckets up above their heads before climbing out.
Given the amount of people waiting their turn and what it took to reach the water, collecting water for everyday tasks is not something that can be done easily.
After visiting this location, we started the arduous hike back to the village. From time to time, the three of us needed to stop along the way to catch our breath and/or rest our legs. Our Haitian friends, many with heavy buckets of water on their heads, waited patiently for us before continuing on.
Though the explanation is brief, perhaps having an inkling of how difficult it is to get water can make you appreciate the idea of a cistern even more. It won’t always be full, but when it is, the task of collecting water for the day’s activities will be much easier. Water Project for Haiti is taking it one step further by partnering with the Rotary Club of Harrisburg and Rotary International District 7390 to install a large size biosand filter that will ensure safe drinking water, whether the source water comes from the ground or the cistern.
I suppose I felt a need to share this experience with you because (1) I took a lot of pictures that I thought you might want to see; (2) I think it’s pretty awesome that GAP Ministries, Rotary International, and Water Project for Haiti are able to help this community; and (3) there’s quite a life lesson going on here.
Sometimes, that which we need is close at hand, like turning on a faucet to find water. Other times, the journey is more difficult, like hiking up a rocky path while carrying a 5-gallon bucket of water on your head. Sometimes, answers, and resolution comes quickly. Other times, it takes years of persistence and patience. Isn’t that true of life in general? Isn’t that true of our faith walks?
In the 3+ years that I’ve known Pastor Smith (yes, that is his real name), I have never seen him angry or show frustration with the slow progress in seeking help for this community. On the contrary, he simply smiles and in his soft spoken manner, he says, “Bondye kapab.” In English, this means, “God can.”
I never cease to be amazed at the faith we see lived out each and every day here. Likewise, I never cease to be amazed at how much I still have to learn about what it means to truly live by faith.
“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles,
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.”
You can see the pictures at https://web.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10212605737123142.1073741854.1375991144&type=1&l=3a72a05065