Earlier today I was trying to remind myself of all the things I have to be grateful for in a world that seems to be smitten with disappointment and oppression. Each time I would have a discouraging thought, I would search for the positive. By mid day, I was mentally exhausted.
I honestly do not know what God is trying to teach me through the situation with my landlord. Back in October he promised electricity and running water. The electricity that he eventually provided was not hooked directly to the grid as he said it would be. Instead it was strung precariously from a neighboring building, which may have been strung from another building. The current coming through was so bad it destroyed various electric equipment. For example, light bulbs, cell phone chargers, fans, refrigerator, etc. Last month a large truck passed in front of the apartment complex and snagged the wire bringing electricity to the complex. Now during the few hours each day that the city provides power, our apartment building has none.
I reminded myself to be thankful that we have a generator and an inverter. Even though it is costly to run them, our neighbors who have no power at all (including the family of the landlord!) are able to charge their phones at our house because God provided the electricity.
In May, the landlord decided to stop paying to have the reservoir (otherwise known as the well) replenished with water. This is not drinking water; it is water for cooking, cleaning and bathing. His decision forced the tenants to band together and for each household to pay the equivalent of $5 US every week to have the reservoir refilled. No one was happy about it but we had no other choice.
It has been said that I am a patient person but this past week stretched my limits. All tenants gave money and we were told that the reservoir would be refilled this past Sunday afternoon. Knowing this on Saturday, we scraped the bottom of the reservoir to fill a final 5 gallon bucket with water. (Yes, sand and pieces of concrete were in the bucket too.)
Sunday came and went. No water. Monday came and went. No water. It’s amazing how quiet the courtyard area has been. There was no water in the well. Women did not congregate to wash laundry. Children were not laughing and playing in the courtyard. Each time I passed by the well this week there was no one to say hi to. Since there was no water, no one was there. The courtyard was barren. Several of the boys said it during the week and we finally wrote it on the white board, “Dlo se la vi” which means: Water brings life. Fortunately it rained Tuesday night and tenants eagerly collected rain water in any bucket we could find. For a short while that evening there was life in the courtyard.
Wednesday we learned that the landlord had not paid his portion to enable us to have water delivered! (Yes, he lives in the building also.) Two tenant households pitched in to pay his portion so that water would be delivered today, Thursday. Tomorrow morning the courtyard area will be alive again with women talking happily as they sit beside their individual wash tubs, hand-washing their stockpile of laundry. Children will be playing alongside their mothers or the family servants during that time. Water will bring life to the courtyard tomorrow.
“Dlo se la vi” has had me thinking throughout the week about how Jesus told the woman at the well that those who drink the water He gives will never be thirsty again. Of course, He wasn’t talking about physical water or physical thirst. He was talking about being truly alive.
So often in Haiti people get their hopes up that something will happen and then for reasons completely outside of their control, that thing doesn’t happen. I have been amazed by the resiliency of the Haitian people, the multitude of disappointments seem to roll off their shoulders. They tend to accept situations and go on. A few disappointments are one thing, but repeated disappointments day after day, month after month, year after year can start to feel like and become oppression, whether it is realized or not. People often talk about the “crab theory” here.
The crab theory is where a bucket of crabs can be set down and walked away from. The person setting the bucket of crabs down does not have to fear that any of the crabs will get out. This is because if one crab tries to get out of the bucket, the other crabs will pull him back down into the bucket. How it relates to Haiti, I have been told by numerous Haitians, is that if one person tries to make their life better, people around that person will attempt to discourage him (or her) and keep them in their place.
Fortunately the boys God has me working with here have not succumbed to that mentality. God has given them beautiful, generous and loving spirits. Earlier this week we discussed how, oftentimes, the limits we face each day are the limits we place on ourselves or allow others to place on us. Many people think the situation in Haiti is hopeless. It is easy to see why people think that way but because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done.
We talked about how, for years, people believed the mile could not be run in less than 4 minutes. However, once one person did it, many people have since run the mile in less than 4 minutes. Fear can stop us from becoming the unique individuals God intended for us to be. Fear does not come from God. He created us to be free to live within His boundaries and sometimes it takes one person to lead the way and change the world. I am convinced that God is using these young people of Haiti to do just that because they have Jesus, the source of Living Water.
John 4:14 – But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline