When clean water comes to a Haitian village for the first time...

I’ve heard it said that “you will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

Let me tell you, those words are true. I’m not entirely sure how it works, but I’m pretty sure that when God formed me He buried part of my heart in the Haitian dirt. I lived a good amount of life before traveling to the land of the forever hallelujah, but part of me came alive, a piece inside I didn’t even know existed, when I breathed in the air,  built bridges with smiles, and saw heaven come down to earth. I’ve gone to Haiti twice and I’ve been back home for nearly seven months now, but part of me will never be completely at home again.

There are one hundred stories I could tell you, several moments I long to paint for you with words that pull you in, making you believe for just one moment that you’re there, not here. For whatever reason, God often stills my fingers and asks me to hush, to wait for Him to say write.

Today I get to share with you about the water source and in all of my moments there, of all the stories I’ve shared before, I’d like to simply say that this one is my favorite. Because He is so big and I am so small. Because He showed off in the most beautiful, simple way. Because He is the Living Water for all people.

When clean water comes to a Haitian village for the first time...

It started with a circle back in 2014. As we were driving in one of the villages, we came across a small patch of shade with two benches underneath, and so we stopped for a quick lunch break. As I was licking peanut butter off my lips and mentally figuring out how much water I could drink and how much I would need to ration for the rest of the day, several Haitian men began to walk up and silently sit with our group. Right behind the men, a machine was drilling down into the earth yet again, continuing the search for clean water.

Our translators explained that although S.A.V.E. (our organization) had raised thousands of dollars for the process of finding clean water and building a well, there isn’t a guarantee that the machine will hit water before it hits a rock. And if it hits a large rock, a piece of the machine will break off and the process must start over again – with a new machine in a new spot. It is expensive, time-consuming, and in my opinion, frustrating.

And so we sat there, offering peanut butter crackers to new friends, laughing with the children who shyly hid behind the weathered tree, and listening to the elders of the village tell us of their brokenness.

When clean water comes to a Haitian village for the first time...

They spoke of how they had seen nearby villages being helped and had prayed for years but nothing changed in their corner of the world. They looked at us and dared to speak the truth of what life had looked like for so long. “We thought God had forgotten us,” they said. “We asked Him what we had done wrong and why no one would come.”

All I could do was blink fast and pray hard and wonder why in the world I hadn’t come sooner. But just yards away from where we sat, a machine kept drilling and drilling and so I prayed for water, for clean and safe drinking water, to be available for the first time for this village and these people who felt forgotten.

The next morning we were getting ready to leave for the day when we received the news. “The machine hit another rock and is broken. They’re going to try to fix it and then drill a few inches away.”

I was so sad and then immediately indignant, thinking things inside like, well:

A few inches? Are you serious? How about a few feet? Several yards, perhaps? This keeps happening over and over. What makes them believe a few inches will make a difference?

Mmm. Yeah. God had a lot to teach me.

When clean water comes to a Haitian village for the first time...

As our time in Haiti came to a close, we found out that the machine had cleared the rocks and hit water – just a few inches over. They would soon begin building a well in that very spot, right next to the circle where I saw heaven come down to earth. And I laughed. I laughed at myself, at my own self-righteousness and belief that I knew better, and I laughed because what is a few inches to the God of the universe?

On our first full day in Haiti this spring, our team set out of Boukeron, loaded into the back of a truck and a tap-tap (which is sort of like a taxi in Haiti – dozens of people climb into a space fit for 8 and when they’re ready to get out or jump off the side, they tap the vehicle). We drove several hours and rode through many different parts of Boukeron. As we left the zones to head back to our compound, we stopped at a well we had passed earlier that morning.

Someone had said it hours earlier – hey, I think that might be the well from last year! – but I scrunched my nose up and stared until we rounded the bend, trying to reconcile what I saw with what I remembered. There was too much green, too much life, for it to be the same place.

When clean water comes to a Haitian village for the first time...

But then we drove by it again and the vehicle slowed to a crawl. We all piled out and as I stood there looking at plants growing and children smiling by the old, weathered tree, I could picture the circle in the midst of the greenery where only dirt had once been.

I stood there taking it all in, perfectly still, until one of my team members came up behind me, patted my back and said, “Oh, this is going on the blog.” I turned to her with tears in my eyes, laughed and simply said, “Yep.”

So can I tell you how we all lined up with water bottles in hand, and they opened the gate to the well and pumped clean, beautiful water for us? Can I tell you that the land was dry, the people felt forgotten, and now the empty patch of earth is springing up new life because the water source is there, but Living Water didn’t forget them for one single second? Can I tell you that water has never tasted sweeter?

When clean water comes to a Haitian village for the first time...

God was there. In the sprouting leaves, the laughter in the air, the pearl white smile of the man pumping the water for us, and in the gentle breeze. I never wanted to leave.

My heart will never be completely at home on this earth, but it is at rest in Him. Because He is the living water, the water source we all are in desperate need of, and a few inches can make all the difference. He knows better than I, but just in case I’m ever tempted to forget, there’s a picture hanging across from my bed, the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night. Because God? He can look one million different ways, but sometimes He looks just like watching your clear water bottle fill up with clean, life-giving water in a place where God always was. Even when you can’t see Him, He’s there. Look just a few inches over.

{Images 2, 4, 5 and 6 by this talented friend.}

31 days of posts - only three words!

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