Stephen & Laura Holt | Sierra Leone, West Africa

The Simplicity of Water

“Welcome to the ministry,” Stephen tersely said as he off-loaded our 55 gallon drum of water from the truck. It is 8:45 AM and he and Alfred are due to leave for Bo in 15 minutes.

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Our well being cleaned and deepened to assure good supply during the dry season

Two weeks ago we developed problems with the electric submersible pump which fills our water tower tank. Nothing is quick and easy to repair here and this job has required two trips to Bo and one to Freetown, and it is still not finished. But no problem; we can use the hand pump at the well head to fill our auxiliary drum. However, while trying to make the repairs, Stephen needed to remove the pipe from the side of the well head which feeds water to our tank. The new opening was apparently too irresistible for a large lizard who promptly fell to his death in our well. Now the water is unfit even for bathing. The smell is horrid and the contamination renders it useless. So now we must drive across town to the British mining company to fill our drum. Not a long distance but certainly an inconvenience. I know I can make the 55 gallons last the three days Stephen will be away.

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One bucket at a time the dirt is removed

Finished with the water, Stephen has only to refuel the generators. He will just be a few minutes late – or so we think. Refueling complete, oil check complete, start the generator; but it failed. Now a new problem arises. After an hour of trouble shooting, it is determined that there is water in the fuel; the result of condensation which collects as the fuel storage drum is heated and cooled.

Now Stephen is a mess of oil and diesel fuel and must use more water than intended to get cleaned up and ready to go. I assure him that I can manage just fine with the amount of water he is leaving and should the generator die again – well, I will just deal with it as I have in the past.

So an hour and a half late, he is off to preach and teach the Bible for three days in Bo: you know, the ministry stuff we were sent to accomplish here. It is difficult to convey the amount of physical work it takes to keep things going. While that is true of any ministry, it is much more sharply brought into focus here due to the inconvenience of daily life.

The irony of this morning’s adventures is not lost. Our inconveniences were all because of something simple: water! First, because we did not have access to water where it should have been and secondly, because there was water where it should NOT have been.

****Post Script: Our water woes lasted 6 weeks before repairs were complete and the pump was again usable!

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