Dig Your Wells in the Dry Season

As our days are starting to get warmer here, we think about water a bit more especially when it comes to cooling off, or maybe watering our plants. In Sierra Leone where I work for let them lol, the warmer, dryer months can present life altering, even life threatening circumstances. We call that time of year the dry season. The dry season usually extends from January through parts of May until the rains come again. During this time a landscape that was once lush, green and full of life becomes dry, dusty and will not support life or growth.

For many people, their usual water sources go dry during this time. That means they have to walk even further to get water. Often through dangerous terrain. And usually that water they are gathering is contaminated and unsafe to drink. On top of all that, they have to carry this water (usually in a 5 gallon, 40 pound container) many miles back home. Some villages are lucky enough to have a hand dug well in their community. Many times dug by the locals, its nothing more than an open pit with a bucket. Accessible, but unhealthy to drink, and usually very shallow. These almost always go completely dry during the dry season.

As part of our work and mission to bring every village access to clean, safe drinking water, hand dug wells are one option we may provide. Though our preferred method is to drill a deep (its called a borehole) well, many villages are inaccessible for our large drilling equipment and so we go with our next best option which is a hand dug well. The process of digging a hand dug well, is long, labor intensive and very difficult. Our drill team take turns being lowered into the hole, with a shovel, pic axe and a bucket. Bucket by bucket the well is deepened, until at last they hit water. The well is then lined with concrete, and a pump is installed.

What we have discovered over time is there is only 2-4 week window in a year when we can hand dig wells. We have to do this during the driest month of the dry season. This is the time when the water table is lowest. By doing this, we hit the water at its lowest point, thus ensuring that for the rest of the year the well never goes dry.

This got me thinking…

We all face dry seasons in life. Times were it seems like everything is hard, and maybe we are even under a cloud. This could be a time of sickness, loss, or even the accumulation of exhaustion from going through hard or challenging times. Its often during these times that our well, our source of faith and hope seems dried up. Exhausted, the idea of digging down deeper to find what we need seems to be too difficult. So we begin to wander, outside the village looking for another source. What we find is even if we think we have found something that will satisfy, it ends up being contaminated and makes us sick. Just like the water people in Sierra Leone walk many miles to find in the dry season. Like them, when we go to another source, we have to carry the burden and weight of that back into our village. And its not good for us, and we end up even more exhausted and empty.

It seems so counterintuitive, but if we would only dig our wells in our driest season. Many of you have probably experienced the joy and intimacy that can come in your relationship with God, when instead of turning away in your dry season, you lean into Him. You put your shovel and ax into that hard, dry, dusty ground and you dig deeper and deeper. Digging so relentlessly and desperately until you find the source. You hear His still small voice in the darkness of that hole. Allowing yourself to go to the place of no return. He has to come through, a spring has to be under all the rock or you won’t make. And He does, He always comes through. He always gives His people just what they need at just the right time.

Once the well is dug, it is done. That spring of pure, fresh water will last for decades. It is the same with us. When we dig our wells and lean into Jesus in our dry seasons, the things He shows us and the faith muscles we have built will refresh and sustain us later in life when more dry seasons come. The beautiful bonus to water that comes from so deep down is that it is actually cool in temperature. It is refreshing. And just like the wells dug by our drill team are not just for their refreshment, they are for all those around the village and even the next generation to come, so our spiritual wells drilled in our dry season will be a refreshment to others.

So instead of running away in your dry season, pick up you shovel and dig a deep well.

Hope in the Loss

Yesterday, I learned of the death of my friend Mariamma. She was one of our housemothers at our children’s home and wife to Emmanuel, our former director of the home. During the trip to celebrate the opening the home, we discovered that both Emmanuel and Mariamma were extremely sick. After testing, we learned that they both had a terminal illness. As a result, they could no longer work in our children’s home. Emmanuel passed away nearly a year ago and Mariamma has been sick for a very long time. Her passing was not a surprise but still painful as she is leaving behind three children, and we grieve with them.

During my April visit to Sierra Leone, I searched for Mariamma. I finally found her in a dusty shack, in a small room. When I walked in, the room smelled of sickness. But her face filled with joy when she saw me. Her body was weak and she was significantly thinner than what she was when I saw her last just a few months before. She had multiple, large, painful boils covering her body. I confess given the nature of her disease, I was at afraid to get too close.  Then something happened, I was overcome by love. It wasn’t me it was Jesus in me. I embraced her frail body in my arms; I kissed her face and held on to her hand. It was one of the most beautiful and memorable moments of my life.

What we can learn about Hope in the Loss:

  • The Greatest Hope of All: Mariamma was a follower of Jesus, and we have a great joy in knowing her suffering is over and we will see her again!
  • Hope Takes the Risk: You won’t regret stepping out and giving hope to someone in their suffering and despair: That moment in her small room in a shack in Sierra Leone is etched forever in my heart. I will go back to it time and time again for inspiration and courage to continue to love greatly & give completely.
  • Hope is an Opportunity: We all have opportunities: some big, some small to be hope to someone. Don’t let that those moments pass you by. Don’t be paralyzed by fear, be motivated by hope & love, you won’t regret it.
[well]Have you had the opportunity to give hope & show love to someone in his or her despair, or did someone meet you in your suffering? Please share your story.[/well]

I will write & share Emmanuel’s story at a later time, but in the meantime, you can watch this video in his memory.

Why Hope?

def. desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.

Why Hope? As the Director of a charity working in Sierra Leone, Africa it is rare that a day or two passes without something amazing happening.  As these moments come up I can’t help but share them with others. The more and more I’ve shared them, the more people have been encouraged. It is really fun to see someone’s eyes twinkle when they hear a wonderful story. It is even more exciting to be a part of watching someone’s life turn from despair to hope, as we so often get to see with our friends in Sierra Leone. Hope is truly contagious and this is why I was looking for a place to share these hope stories. May they inspire you to believe you too can make a difference in the world.

Why Savvy?

def. practical know-how.

Why Savvy? Well, Jack Sparrow of course. I have found I sometimes take life too seriously and I love Jack Sparrow’s whimsical (and often strange) outlook at life. In fact I find him weird and well I relate to weird ha ha, enough said. The point isn’t really Jack, the point is a light hearted continuous joke can lighten the more challenging moments of leadership and life.

The true definition of savvy is: “practical know-how”. While I am journeying myself, I hope to share my thoughts on experiences and things I’m learning along the way to provide encouragement to others.

What is let them LOL?

A few years ago, my husband Joe and I learned that there are nearly 1 billion people on our planet without access to clean, safe drinking water. And even more heart wrenching, approximately 4,000 children die every day from water related disease.

We weren’t sure what to do, but we knew we had to do something. We weren’t ok with 4,000 children dying every day just because they didn’t have access to clean water. We also knew that there were a lot of other people who wouldn’t be OK with it either.

My husband Joe has a very strange laugh. It’s the kind that turns heads; everyone looks and then starts laughing. So we put his laugh on a ring tone, and sold the ring tone to raise funds and awareness about the water issue. We called it “let them LOL (laugh out loud).” “Let them” because we believe many people in the world are experiencing unjust suffering only because they lack the most basic resources for a better future. By giving them a basic resource like clean water, we are helping them embrace a better future. And “laugh out loud” because we are using laughter to raise awareness about this issue.

When we started it we didn’t have big ambitions to start a huge organization, we just wanted to help people. We underestimated the power of friends, family and communities coming together to change the world. To date we have funded 80 clean water wells! Thousands of people’s lives have been impacted.

To learn more about let them LOL, follow this link.

“We all cannot do great things, but we all can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresea