Friday, September 11, 2009

Cleanliness ISN'T close to godliness?

(I'm sure it's in there somewhere. Try Proverbs 32.)

The longer I live in Uganda, the more I am humbled and awed by -- what? Western technology? I do appreciate cars and computers and the Risograph at MTI (and the technician who fixes it), but no. Electricity? I mean, where would civilization be without electricity? Yes, I love the sound of the refrigerator humming along and I do love that green Internet light glowing on the modem and I get really tickled by the fact that I'm communicating to you back in the States almost instantaneously from AFRICA, for goodness' sakes, but no, I don't spend a lot of time contemplating the wonder of it all. And I don't believe civilization is dependent on technology or electricity. Both Greece and Rome seemed to get along just fine without either satellite communications or Hummers.


I am becoming more and more entranced with water.

Just stop and ponder for a moment: How long would any person/family/town/state/country last if its water supply were cut off? Would people begin to die of thirst first? Or disease?

Or let's put it another way. Let's say you live one kilometer away from a water supply. Only one kilometer. About six-tenths of a mile. And you can have all the water you want from that water supply, but you must walk there yourself and take the water home in whatever kind of container you can make or can afford to buy. One gallon of water weighs eight pounds, which means that the five-gallon bucket you managed to buy and that you're proudly using to carry the water in weighs forty pounds. Every drop of water that you drink, cook with, wash clothes in, and clean house with has been carried by you in five-gallon, forty-pound increments from that water supply six-tenths of a mile away.

I'm sure you see where I'm headed with this. After you have saved out enough water to drink -- because you must have water to survive -- exactly how much water would you use to wash your rice and beans before you cook them? (And both rice and beans are quite dirty until they're washed.) How often would you feel it necessary to wash clothes? dishes? yourself?

And how good would you feel those rare times when you were able to be completely clean and still have a cup of water in your hand to drink? And how much easier would it be to think of spiritual things when you didn't feel, well, filthy? Okay, okay, so I know that "Cleanliness is next to godliness" isn't really in the Bible. But I think I understand the reasoning behind the equation a little better now.

Praise God, even though I live in a third-world country, I still have the marvelous gift of running water. But I watch people every day who do not. The mission team, as part of their efforts to serve the people of Mbale, offers a well for public use. The well sits just inside the grounds of Messiah Theological Institute, and it is very rare that you come to MTI that there is not a group gathered there, waiting their turn to get free, clean water. Today it was a group of children, pumping water to take home to their families.

(As always, click on the photo to get a high-res version.)

I tried to get an unposed shot, but the moment they saw the camera,
they all turned into little hams.

The writing on the ramp says,
"Let anyone who is Thirsty come to me. John 7:37"

Water is precious. Water is life. So is it any wonder that Jesus talked about water so much? And that he referred to himself as the Living Water? And is it any wonder that the people listening to him found that statement overwhelmingly attractive? To never have to go to the well again...

"Whoever drinks this water will thirst again,
but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give him will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
John 4:13-14

Thank you, Jesus, for being our source of Living Water.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Joys of Drudgery

This morning as I was drinking my morning tea and reading my Psalm of the day, appreciating the fact that I did not have to jump up and go anywhere for a few hours, it suddenly hit me: Power had stayed ON since I had gotten up, instead of the seemingly constant on/off/on/off of the past week or so. I turned on the kitchen faucet and - yes! - city water was on. Staying home + stable electricity + city water = LAUNDRY DAY!

I managed to get three and half loads done before Umeme (Uganda power company) decided that I'd had enough excitement and turned off the power. (My yellow load is condemned to sit in the dryer until power returns or until I hang it up in the bathroom to dry.) But still, three and half loads!

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of plenty of clothes. And thank you for the gift of a working washer and dryer. And finally, thanks for the gift of electricity and water.

Funny, it doesn't seem like drudgery anymore...