Thursday, July 25, 2013


At the recommendation of a cherished friend, I've been reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.  It's a very short story--only 115 pages.

It's based on a true story of events that took place in Sudan not too long ago.  I wouldn't say it's an enjoyable read.  If you're in the mood for a light, breezy summer book, do NOT read this one.  I'm eager to get to the last page and be done with it...And yet, when I'm reading it, I can hardly put it down.

Shall I share a brief excerpt?  Yes, I think I will.

 "There was a big lake three days' walk from Nya's village. Every year when the rains stopped and the pond near the village dried up, Nya's family moved from their home to a camp near the big lake. 

  Nya's family did not live by the lake all year round because of the fighting.  Her tribe, the Nuer, often fought with the rival Dinka tribe over the land surrounding the lake.  Men and boys were hurt and even killed when the two groups clashed. So Nya and the rest of her village lived at the lake only during the five months of the dry season, when both tribes were so busy struggling for survival that the fighting occurred far less often.
  Like the pond back home, the lake was dried up.  But because it was much bigger than the pond, the clay of the lakebed still held water.
  Nya's job at the lake camp was the same as at home: to fetch water.  With her hands, she would dig a hole in the damp clay of the lakebed. She kept digging, scooping out handfuls of clay until the hole was as deep as her arm was long. The clay got wetter as she dug, until, at last, water began to seep into the bottom of the hole.
  The water that filled the hole was filthy, more mud than liquid.  It seeped in so slowly that it took a long time to collect even a few gourdsful.  Nya would crouch by the hole, waiting.
  Waiting for water. Here, for hours at a time.  And every day for five long months, until the rains came and she and her family could return home."

(For a visual to go with this story, watch this quick video from Water for South Sudan.)
Imagine spending almost all of your waking hours in a day trying to collect water--any kind of water, even if it wasn't clear and clean. I don't think I could have really imagined that before I spent time living in Haiti. Now, I can.

Since we've been back in the US from Haiti, I am often asked, "What's changed the most while you were gone?"  I wonder if most people are really asking what I think has changed most about America. I dunno.

At first it took me a while to think about my answer to that question, simply because so much has changed.  But once I found my answer, I was able to respond quicker and easier.

What's changed the most is my perspective on water.

I know a year ago, water wasn't on my mind like it is today.  Every time I touch the faucet and clean water instantly emerges.  Every time I shower in the same clean water.  Every time I fill a sippy cup for my daughter.  Every time I wash dishes.  Every time it rains. Every time I see sprinklers running on lush green lawns.

I think about my friends in Saccanville, Haiti, who are blessed to have clean water to draw from pumps in the village.  I think about my friends in Haiti whose homes are flooded by muddy streams when it rains.  I think about people like Nya who work all day for muddy, contaminated water.

During my first week back in the US, I took my kids to a nearby park to play.  It was hot and our water bottles emptied quickly.  We spotted a drinking fountain and went to fill up. 
  "Mommy, can we drink this water?" Elli asked.

  "Yes, it's clean water," I replied as she pushed a button and began to sip.  As we took turns refilling our bottles, Elli looked down.
  "What's this part for, Mommy?" she asked, tapping part of the fountain jutting out near the ground.  I was stumped, but a woman waiting for a drink near us spoke up.  "That's a doggie water bowl." 

Ummmm, what?  Did she say 'doggie'??  Yeah.  A convenient spot for your four-legged buddy to get a drink at the park.

Whoa.  So, American dogs drink better than 780 million people around the world.
I was reeling.

We're slowly but surely adjusting to life in America.  There are things we love about this country, and things we're not so excited about.  Days we wish we could tap our heels together and be back in Haiti, and other days we are overwhelmed with thankfulness to be here where we are.

We've been tremendously blessed through time spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, church family and many dear friends that we missed terribly while we were away.

We've enjoyed privileges like the post office, public parks and libraries, and access to SUPERFAST internet.

We've been to the movie theater, celebrated Independence Day with fireworks and sparklers, been swimming and bike riding and fishing...  We've been eating our fill of summer fresh foods like watermelon, strawberries (seriously. a pint a day--no joke!), leafy lettuce, sweet corn, cucumbers, peaches, apples, and more.

And, we do our best to indulge in ice cream as frequently as possible.

Somewhere in the last few weeks, we also managed to relocate from Illinois to Kentucky!  The path to Lexington, KY began to be forged while we were still in Haiti and we're pretty excited about following God's lead to this place.  We're praying big and waiting expectantly for God to direct us to the work He has for us here.  Mark has some new business opportunities, I'm on a job hunt, the girls are registered for school, and we've been told that we're now living in one of the biggest basketball cities in North America!  Perfect, huh?!  GO UK!

However, if you're a new neighbor, please accept my apologies now.  You know that car that stopped in the road ahead of you?  The one with the windows down and people gaping out the windows at the horses on the hill?  Yeah.  That was us.  Sorry 'bout that, ya'll.  (Note that I'm working to assimilate to local twang! Does that earn me a few points?)

For all of our Illinois folks... Lexington is a quick 5.5 hour drive.  (Yes, 5.5 hours does qualify as "quick" in my book.  Haiti is MUCH farther away.  It's all relative, right?)  We'll be back often!  Mark will continue to do business in Illinois and we still have catching up to do with people we love and missed.  And if you ever feel like taking a road trip, we'd be happy to have you! 
Prairie sunsets can't be beat.
John 4:7-15  When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 
  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”