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My Barrel Runneth Over

November 30, 2012

The availability of water has been on ongoing issue for me here, as it is for most people in Haiti.  I have become very good at conserving water, but there is a limit to how little I can get along with and still be happy.  Since moving to my new home a bit more than a week ago, I have again been mulling over how to address the problem.  The house has indoor plumbing, but sits on a hillside high above the public waterline, and there is inadequate pressure to feed the plumbing.  The standpipe at the bottom of the slope in front of the house occasionally yields a modest trickle for a few minutes, but most times it is dry.

I have been carrying water by the 5-gallon bucket up the steep slope that is my front yard, up my temporary front stairway with its foot-high risers, and pouring it in a 45-gallon plastic drum in the house.  But the flow from the pipe is unpredictable.  If I am around when it is running, I get a little water.  If I am away, I miss it, and the water level in my drum gets pretty low.

Tuesday I was only able to get a couple of buckets of water.  Wednesday the pipe was dry all day.  There is another collection point where the path from my house meets the highway; that pipe, being lower on the hill, usually yields water even when my standpipe will not.  But on going there I was greeted by a few people sitting on their buckets in hope that there might be water soon; their wait was in vain.  All day I was nervously watching the water level in my drum drop and was considering paying someone to haul water from the nearest available source.

Evens, my friend who owns the house I am living in, dropped in after my return from work to get some help with his homework from the English class he is taking.  I was just explaining that water was becoming a serious concern when he jumped up.  He had heard the sound of running water.  We quickly grabbed buckets and went to collect what we could.  Evens then hauled an empty drum from the house so that I could dump the water into it and wait for morning light to carry it up the slope rather than do it in the dark.  We then came up with the idea of removing the fawcet from the standpipe and piping the water directly into the barrel.  Fortunately we had a few plastic pipefittings, and working by flashlight, accomplished our plan.   Just as we finished, however, the water stopped flowing.  But we had managed to collect four 5-gallon buckets of water by this time.

Yesterday morning, awakened at 4:30 by the bell of the church directly across the highway that calls congregants to prayer, I heard the glorious sound of running water.  I rushed out and discovered the barrel was half full.  A few minutes later the flow stopped again, but by then I had three-quarters of a drum of water.  I would be able to do laundry!

I had used the last of my filtered water for drinking yesterday and was considering my options for getting more.  My biosand filter has not been set up as yet. Then Evens arrived and pulled a ceramic bucket filter from among the tools and construction materials in the back room.  It will serve me well until my filter is operational.

This morning when I awoke I discovered the barrel at the standpipe overflowing!  God provides!  My morning has been spent washing clothes, washing mats, washing dishes, washing floors.

It is amazing how changed circumstances turn the mundane into the miraculous.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

― Albert Einstein

I choose the latter.  In my conversation with Evens Wednesday night I learned that so does he.

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