April 1, 2011

Thirst

This is the second entry on my series on Haiti. Bondye beni ou...God bless you.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6
For much of the year Haiti is a dry, dusty place. The sun bakes the hard packed earth and a breeze blows clouds of dust across open spaces. Even though it has many lakes and is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, Haiti feels more like a desert than a tropical island.  

At least it did when I was there.

On our worksite, which was a large open plot of land our primary task was to dig foundation trenches for the vocational school. We used pick axes to break up the rock solid earth and shoveled out the loose dirt. With each tossed shovelful of dirt, the breeze carried a cloud of dust, covering all in its path. We quickly learned to stand upwind, but still we ended each day covered in dirt and dust. I flossed my teeth one night and even found dust between my teeth!

Parched land leads to parched people.  

As our team spent entire days working in the hot sun, our mantra to one another became, “Take a break and get a drink.” How we savored those breaks to fill up our water bottles for much needed refreshment.

But for Haitians water isn’t always a blessing. The source of life is often a source of disease and even death as water often carries bacteria, parasites—and recently cholera. Few have easy access to clean water.

Less than one-quarter of urban Haitians have tap water in their homes. Folks in rural communities gather rain water in cisterns or travel miles to fetch (often polluted) water. A family might have to make one large bucket of water cover all their needs—cooking, drinking and washing--for days.

I have no experience with this kind of scarcity.

At one worship service we attended, members of the church brought in a cooler and gave each of us Americans a cold bottle of water to drink. We thankfully, but reluctantly accepted their gift of love and sacrifice knowing that our hosts needed that water far more than we did.

A few children sat on the laps of our team members during the service and watched the water distribution with great interest. After a sip or two for themselves, most from our team shared their water with the kids. I watched as one little girl tipped the bottle to her lips and emptied its contents with one long, enthusiastic gulp.

The people of Haiti are indeed thirsty. And not just for water.

Thankfully Jesus knows a thing or two about thirst because the folks we worshipped and worked with have parched spirits. As that little girl gulped from the water bottle, their spirits thirst for the Living Water that only Jesus provides. They worship with freedom, eagerness and enthusiasm. The overflow from their hearts poured onto us and quenched a thirst in each of us that we didn’t even realize we had.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
How remarkable that while our team went to Haiti to help meet physical needs, God allowed our spiritual needs to be satisfied far more profoundly.  

Building water purification facilities and digging wells are some of the greatest ways we can care for and love our brothers and sisters in impoverished countries, but offering them—and receiving for ourselves—the living water that Jesus offers is the most precious gift there is.
Is your spirit parched? Are you drinking from the well the world offers and feeling dissatisfied? Have you met Jesus at the well and discovered His living water? Does it overflow from your life onto others? 
We don't have to travel to poor countries to find people who are dying of thirst. Our mission field is outside our front door.
Lord, give me a thirst for You--To experience You. To know you. To love you. To worship you. Fill me to overflowing so that your life-giving water flows into the lives of others.

Haiti has been so severely deforested in the last few decades that rain runoff causes extreme erosion.
Taking a much-needed water break in the shade

A little girl going to fetch water. (She's not even wearing shoes.)
Receiving the Living Water at a powerful worship service
One of several pump wells in Camp Hope
Lake Sumatra, one of Haiti's largest lakes, is said to have cholera in it.

7 comments:

Cheryl Barker said...

Too often we take our clean and abundant supply of water for granted. We got a small taste of not having it when a flood and resulting oil spill hit our town a few years ago. Can't imagine what it must be like to have an ongoing need...

And the Living Water? May I never take it for granted!

Kelly Combs said...

Hi Kelli! It was so nice to hear from you today! I see you still have such a heart for missions and ministry!

I am going to She Speaks this year. Any chance I'll see you there?

I'm on facebook too, if you are "there" and want to catch up. (Kelly Eastman Combs)

Mary said...

This really puts it in perspective, Kelly. We are blessed in so many ways in the good old USA and yet so many people still focus on the trivial and make life much more difficult than it needs to be. God is great! And even though life isn't perfect, we have so much comfort that we take it all for granted. Here we complain because we didn't get a raise this year or we have to pay a $10 co-pay to visit the doctor. And other people don't have jobs or homes or safe water to drink or even basic toilet facilities. I am humbled beyond words.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I can't imagine such physical thirst. I can understand spiritual thirst... of needing a ladle from God's well for daily sustenance. I can picture the scene of water sharing in my mind. Undoubtedly, that was a shaping moment for all of you.

I'm so glad you said "yes" to God to go... just as the disciples did. I'm not sure where's He's calling me to next, I just know that he'll be there when I arrive.

peace~elaine

PS: Are you going to She Speaks this year?

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

So glad, Kelli, to get to hear more about your trip. A great way to debrief your experiences.

On this post, I can hardly make it past "parched land leads to parched people." No place to put that in my little head. Thinking . . .

Fondly,
Glenda

Terri Tiffany said...

Each time I read about that area it amazes me how those people survive. I know I wouldn't. I'm glad your team made a difference.

Sue J. said...

It's just all so different. That picture of the girl getting water with no shoes....how does she do that? Yet, that's what they do every day, and have done. We can't really try to plug into that life with an analogy; it wouldn't be appropriate.

But every time you have written about them, their graciousness and love shines through in everything! We have much to learn about how to live with that kind of heart. How wonderful to see their response to hearing the message of the Bible!