What a great day we had!
After worshipping with Pastor Johnson's congregation in Kpeve and spending the night in Ho, the team boarded the bus and headed toward Adigbo Tornu. Pastor Johnson drove David and me to a hardware stall in Ho to pick up a few plumbing supplies and we met the group in the village.
We gathered in the shade with the chiefs and elders for a formal visit. John Cromer spoke for the Grace Church group, extending their greetings. Then we explained formally the reason for our visit. It was gratifying that the folks in the village remembered us. We had heard that one of the fellows we trained last year, Mr. Blackson, had passed away; we expressed our condolences to them at his death.
David had copies of several photographs we made last year, and we located the individuals to give them their pictures. That was a lot of fun for both the giver and the recipient!
Last year, Waters Edge Ministries installed our very first purifier in this village and they are our "flagship" effort. Pastor Johnson has been terrific as our "man on the ground" here, checking on the system and how the village has been using it. There were some cultural issues to be addressed -- the women would bring the water to the tank, but sometimes the men would not run the system in a timely manner. We determined that installing a pump might solve that problem.
When we arrived, we noticed right away that they had built a steadier foundation for the polytank, and constructed a ladder along side of it. Near the edge of the lake, a gasoline-powered fuel pump was installed. The villagers had also hand-dug a trench through the rocky soil and laid a pipeline from the pump up to the polytank -- approximately 600 yards. Impressive!!!
As David checked on the system itself and talked with the gentlemen in the village who were charged with running it, our team took time to walk through the village, talk with the people, and get an idea of what life in an African village was really like. Many of the children tagged along with us, taking our hands and letting us show God's love through our caring. I recognized Mary, a teenage girl, as one in a video we filmed of last year's "Water Dance" celebration after the installation was a success. She walked with me, as did tiny Allison -- who seemed a bit frightened at first, but soon was smiling and laughing as well.
We saw the kitchen huts, where the majority of the cooking is done using a clay oven. Young boys wove colorful kente cloth on looms that stretched many feet. At the edge of Lake Volta, fishermen were hauling in some of their catch of fresh tilapia as others mended nets. Ladies carried tubs full of freshly caught fish atop their heads back up the slope into the village, where the fish were dried and smoked and ready to sell in the market. Men were chopping the ground with picks, clearing away some brush so that more cassava could be planted. The thatch-roofed mud huts are clustered around neatly swept red dirt yards.
At the far edge of the village the kids attend school in a building constructed of mud walls and a palm-leaf roof. They sit on wooden benches as they recite their lessons. We spent some time singing and talking with the kids there; the Grace team also made some balloon animals to share with them.
Soon it was time to leave -- we were going to install a new system in the village of Bame. This system was provided through a grant from the Southern Baptist Association.
After a long drive (I think ALL drives in Africa are long!!!) we turned off the main road and onto a rocky rippled road that led into Bame. The yards were neatly swept around the mud huts in this village at the base of a mountain. Plastic chairs of blue and white were arranged underneath shade trees -- they were expecting us.
We met Pastor Zogli and hiw wife Georgina as well as the elders of the village. John extended greetings from the group, and then Pastor Zogli addressed us. "I cannot express my joy," he shared. There are about 600 people who live in this area, and when Pastor Johnson said we were going to install this system for them, he rejoiced. "It is one of the greatest gifts in my life, " he said. I got chill-bumps all over when he made that remark: that is exactly WHY we do this -- to show God's love through providing pure water an letting them know that it is the LIVING WATER of Christ that has placed this on our hearts. It makes me grateful, so very grateful, for Christ in our lives.
Dottie, Zach, Sidney, and MacKenzie sang, danced, and worked with the children of the village as we got to work on the water system.
A permanent well about 30' deep serves the community. The village had already prepared a platform, atop which sat the polytank, and they had installed a gasoline-powered pump with the pipelines already in place. They had filled the tank in anticipation of our arrival. It was obvious that they were willing to join in this endeavor.
Joseph, Emmanuel, and Komola have volunteered to work the system in Bame. These three gentlemen very carefully followed the instructions, interpreted by Pastor Zogli. His wife, Georgina and another lady, Senna also listened carefully. David, assisted by Sid, Bobby, John, Julia, and Christi explained and demonstrated putting the system together and testing the water for chlorine. They went over it several times, then stood back and allowed the men to try it. They quickly put it together a couple of times -- and then the two ladies wanted to try! They also had figured it out. So there are 5 people there that are able to put the purifier together and run it! AMEN!!!
They set the purifier into operation and allowed it to begin working. While we waited, we talked with Pastor Zogli and visited with some of the folks there. At around 6:00 the chlorine level read 5 parts per million -- BINGO!! A successful installation!!! Another "Water Dance" celebration, with candies for the children, and a prayer of praise!
Darkness was approaching, and we said our goodbyes and began the drive back to Ho. We promised to try to return next year -- it is not just about the water....it's about establishing the relationships, showing people there that we care and that GOD cares.
And as we drove home in the darkness, I smiled and said, "Thank you, God, for a VERY GOOD DAY!!!"