A Story of Water

In Namibia there is a river that mainly flows underground. Elephants and other desert animals try and follow the path of the river and dig down into the ground to find a place where the waters are not buried deep beneath the earth. But then about once a year a heavy rain falls. It is a rain so heavy that the river breaks through the ground and the blessed arms of its waters touch all around. It soaks that which has been dry for so long, and quenches the thirst of animals that had traveled far across the desert in search of this treasure. It is a miracle.

At home when I need some water, I simply go to a tap and turn it on, and water flows without obstruction. Conserving water, beyond the regular do not leave the tap flowing while brushing my teeth or doing the dishes, has not been a big part of my life. Where I am from, we are not always thinking about how much water we are using because it just happens to be there. In fact, we launch water balloons and squirt excessive water through waterguns at each other without worry.

But that is not the story of water everywhere. It has been a special circumstance here for me.

In our area it is the politics of water that create the water shortage. We do not have running water every day. In fact, when we are lucky, they flow just one day a week—Wednesday. So on Wednesdays we would fill up what we had used from the tank on the other days. You get used to not having running water on the other days (bucket showers can be quite refreshing). Wednesdays were a blessing. But this is what I meant by the politics that effect water supply. When election years start coming around, road projects start springing up. Ghanaians want to see roads being built and dirt roads being paved because it means an easier time on the roads and infrastructure not just being a word but an action. These projects, however, start but often don’t get completed for years if ever at all. So in our area such a project began. But some of the water pipes were also along the roadway that they were digging. So then the pipes bursts. And they were not fixed. Then Wednesday after Wednesday came without the flow we had relied on. There was no water and no real roadwork. Instead, just a neighborhood of people waiting and praying for water.

Six weeks. That’s how long it had been since any drop of water had made its way through the tap. Our tank is big, but even a big tank gets drained over weeks when a household is using it to take a bath, clean, cook, flush the toilet, and other things. This is not a good season either to rely on rainwater. I do not even remember the last time it rained here, nor am I sure when the next rainfall will come. It is the dry season—everything seems to be turning to dust. So you use less for everything that you need to do and make sacrifices in other areas too. But one could not help but wonder, especially when we were down to less than the last ring of water in the tank, when we would run out.

On Tuesday, George took some of the workers to see this large dam in the town of Akosombo. We ate lunch at a hotel high atop a hill that had tables overlooking the dam and the waters below. The size of artificially created lakes astounds me. It was an impressive sight. On the way back we stopped to walk across a large bridge spanning the waters of the river that eventually dropped off into the Atlantic. Standing on the suspended bridge, with the cars zooming by rumbling the ground beneath me, my heart was filled with wonder. I could gaze across the water at the beautiful islands ahead and take in the lush greens around me, and the rising hills all around. God really has graced this world with so much natural beauty. And those creations need water to survive, and so I believed that it would be provided, one way or another.

Yesterday was the last day we were going to wait on water. George had made some phone calls about the price to buy water to fill the tank, and the price was more than they had expected to pay. That morning during prayer, we prayed strongly that we would be blessed with water. We then went about our morning routine, and as I was getting ready to go make some breakfast, I heard a familiar sound, followed by shouts of joy that confirmed my suspicions: the taps were flowing. Water had come at last.

The rest of the morning was spent running around with the hose, filling every single bucket, container, and drum in the house. Then filling up the tank for the garden and the large tank for the house. It is hard work collecting all of that water, dragging the heavy buckets around, making sure water does not spill everywhere, but the alternative is no water. And that is no alternative at all. Finally, when I could sit down and eat my breakfast of boiled sweet potatoes and soup, I closed my eyes and thanked God for the miracles that we can only fully appreciate when we really need them.

It’s Not About Perfection, Simply Happiness

Last week I asked a friend of mine who is living abroad in Germany if she thought she was where she was supposed to be, and she answered that was sure 95% of the time. I started wondering about that 5% and what it was that made her unsure, but stopped myself. I instead switched my question and asked her if she was happy. She told me that the days had their tough times, but at the end of the day she was happy. I think that was the better question.

My last year at Harvard, I felt as though I constantly saw people thinking hard about their future with a face that seemed to say: But what if I make the wrong decision and I fail? Harvard is a place that breeds a culture of always having to know what you will be doing to the next millionth step in front of you. It is a culture that does not teach its students very well that sometimes they are not going to have the perfect answers and they are going to fail. But just as my friend answered that she was 95% sure she was meant to be in Germany right now, I have learned that it is less a question of dwelling on that last 5%, but more a question of figuring out what makes me happy. And failure—well sometimes that comes with the territory of going after what I want because happiness is not always a straight and narrow path with obvious answers.

Happiness has been the hot topic between my friend Melissa and myself this year, and I am sure to return to the topic many times. I have decided that even if it doesn’t always make sense to others or is the apparent answer, as long as I am not intentionally hurting anyone in my quest, I must always move toward happiness. What makes me happy also makes me rise in the morning with a smile on my face and sigh with contentment at the close of the day. And when I can’t have everything around me at once that make me happy, I wish and work for the days in which I can have those people and those things around me again. I move towards them.

I realize that I’m not always going to have the right answers, nor am I always going to do what might be best to do, no matter how hard I try. But I do know the one thing I can do for myself is to seek the beauty that comes with feeling joy and happiness. Because 95% IS perfection, as long as there is happiness within it.

Some Photos from the Holiday Weekend

My godson
Evans' mom and one of my Ghana moms
With Evans, my old neighbor in Adenta
This shot of Emma and I clearly shows which one of us has been working out, and that person is female 🙂
I had this dress made from some material my mom gave me before I left
I finally figured out how I can have a type of cereal. I just water down the Tom Brown (corn, soya, and groundnut mixture) and add sugar and fruit. A great substitute for the fresh milk and more filling