No Wheels, No Water

The year 2018 is only 28 days old, and it's been a challenge already.  Last November I wrote a post on the challenge to be content.  Little did I know at the time that  I was daring myself to live up to these words.   I think I'm succeeding, but it's not easy.  The goal of every Christian, as articulated by my friend and mentor Judy Kerschner is "to live each day in peace and joy with justice."  And I'm trying.

That last part, "in justice" is important.  It helps me to focus on whether the challenges I face are "just."  The only way I can do this is to consider the lives of those around me.  Is God asking me to face any more than the people with whom I live are facing?  Almost always the answer is, "No." So how can I not respond with peace and joy?

God has helped me see this clearly by the difficulties we have faced as individuals and a ministry just since the new year began.  You know how you see posts like these on Facebook:

God is teaching me this expanded attitude of gratitude and contentment in ever new was though the events that occur.  To really be grateful, not just give it lip service.  When I'm not grateful in the midst of a difficulty, to consider those around me, who often face greater disasters than the inconveniences face.  (These are listed below)

So here's the latest:

First, our town of San Pedro is undergoing a "facelift" to our water and sewer system.  The city notifies us when the water will be turned off.  The difficulty is, it never comes back on when it is supposed to, and we have been without water in our town for the past three weekends. 

We can fill large barrels of water at the local "pila" (think and on street water faucet" and carry it back to the house where the guys live.  Thanks to the trailer which attaches to Fidel's power chair, this has been a much easier task. (Thank you, again, Mark Richard and Hope Haven). They also have a swimming pool in front of the house from which they can draw water, so flushing the toilet is taken care of, at least until the water runs out in the pool.

Last week the mayor of Antigua came out
to review the work.
It seems to be going slower since her visit!

The first weekend I would stop at one of these faucets and fill water jugs to take back to the apartment with me.  The biggest problem was filtering water to drink, because our filter attaches to the outdoor faucet at our house. . .no water, no way to filter it.  Not too difficult.  I could drive into a nearby town and buy 3 gallon bottles of water when we could not purify it ourselves.  Inconvenient, but not impossible.

Women carrying water from the public faucets
Then another difficulty arose last weekend.  On Friday I was on my way to pick up Ken Exner, a friend from Omaha who was "stopping by" on his way home from Nicaragua.  Just outside San Lucas, a city at the top of a LARGE hill, the car started making a small noise.  Within about 200 feet, the noise grew to a loud banging.  I prayed I could at least get somewhere safe and off the highway.  God answered that prayer when I came to a Shell gas station and pulled into the driveway.  As soon as I hit the parking lot the engine completely died and would not start again.

After trying a number of fixes and waiting for the engine to cool, it was apparent I wasn't going anywhere in this car.  The guard at the station gave me permission to leave the car there, and called me a taxi driver he knew to take me to the airport and bring Ken and me back to see if the car would start after it had sat for a while.

The driver who came was actually a Christ follower who attempted to teach me a song about Jesus in Quiche, a Mayan language.  I did not do well, but it helped to pass the time to the airport and we picked up Ken only a few minutes late. We then headed back to the gas station, tried to start the car, and again had no luck.

The friendly guard called a tow for us, and we road with the driver back into Antigua taking the van to my favorite mechanic.  Chalk up another first experience in Guatemala!

Maynor, my friendly car repair man, just shook his head as he tried to start the car.  It didn't sound good.  We would know more when he had a chance to look at it Monday.  In spite of this, and thanks to the buses and the chauffeur services of Dick, we had a lovely weekend in spite of this.  Every time that ugly anxiety of  "what are we going to do without a car" would raise it's head, I would verbally tell Jesus, "This is your problem and you will provide."  Miraculously, I was able to let it go.

By Tuesday Maynor called with an estimate.  It would cost about $1500 to replace the water pump and head gasket, and adjust the head.  This was actually good news.  The car was repairable and to fix it would cost much less than I would have to spend to buy another car.  So I made my deposit, and they are working on it.  Who knows how long it will take, but we will have a car again.

In the mean time, I am riding buses and enjoying the time to sight see which is impossible when I'm driving.  I enjoy talking with the children on the buses, and hearing where they are going.  I am fondly remembering the first years I lived here when I had no car and the buses and tuktuks were my only source of transportation.  It's harder than driving, to be sure, but it is doable.

While I am on the buses, I see the dozens of people walking up the steep mountainside as we go to Santa Maria.  Most of them are walking because they cannot afford the roughly 50 cents bus fare.  And I am blessed to pay this without a second thought.

Fidel goes to Complete Speech for therapy, and we have to pay a pick up truck to come for him and Mario since I can't take him.  We are blessed, however.  He is receiving free speech therapy thanks to a sponsor and we can pay the pick up to take him there.  This is only a dream to many with speech impediments in this country.

Brenda, our house manager, has to take the bus to the market and a tuktuk home.  Again, we are blessed.  We have the funds to buy more food for the house than she can carry on the bus, and we can afford the $3-5 a tuktuk charges her to bring her out to San Pedro.

All of these are added expenses which were not in our budget.  The emergency fund we were starting to build again will not be enough to even cover the car repairs.  If God would put it on your heart to help us with this financial need, please go to our website, www.reasontohope,org where you will find directions as to how you can make a contribution to offset these expenses.

But then I come to the water!!!  Without a car it is almost impossible for me to carry much water from the local faucets, and today I have used up just about all the water jugs I was able to fill the last time we had water.  I was grumbling to God about how hard it was to not be able to flush the toilet.  I was grumbling about how the dirty dishes were stacking up.  How I couldn't do my usual weekend cooking for the week because I needed to save the water for essentials.

I got on the city Facebook page to see if there was any news about when we would get water again. 

And I was convicted.  One of the first comments I read was from a nurse in town who had a patient who was on continual peritoneal dialysis.  She was concerned because without accessible water, he could be facing serious infection, illness, and even death.  I felt I had been kicked in the gut. 

Suddenly my unflushed toilet and dirty dishes were seen in a new light.  My selfishness stuck in my throat as I read her comment.  And I know we need to reach out to this situation and do whatever we can to help.  At the very least we can help this man store water when it comes back on, because the water is sure to be turned off again.  We can share what we have with those who need it more than we do.  We will survive with water shortages, this man will not.

And suddenly, I am content.  And my peace and joy will return when we are able to help him.  We can't fix this water problem for everyone, but we can for him.  As Andy Stanley says we will "Do for the one what you would do for all."

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