The past couple of months have been busy, both when teams have been here and in the times between teams. We had a 3-week break between the February and March teams but instead of staying in Ouaga we headed to Ivory Coast for a week to drill the wells in the village that we couldn’t get to last May (due to the horrendous road). We came in a different route this time – it took 3 days of driving to get there (including 6 hrs for a single 60mile stretch, and 4hrs for a 30mile stretch), but we got there. These were wells that had originally been surveyed and planned back in 1998, so it was a blessing to finally be able to drill the wells and encourage the believers in that village. The journey home took just as long, but we made it back in one piece….eventually.
The March team saw us heading out west again with our Envision (US) partners. Despite getting started a day late on the first week we were able to get 4 wells drilled that week (2 wells, in 2 different villages, in 1 day – that’s a first!), and another 3 wells the second week, including the deepest well that we’ve drilled in Burkina (400ft / 120m). One of these wells was at a Compassion centre, the rest were at existing churches – some just basic hangars, some small mud brick buildings, whilst others were well established churches…but all in need of clean water to help the local community, and to aid share the Gospel.
A two-week break saw us back in the city doing maintenance on the equipment (this was the first time the rig, etc had been back in Ouaga since November), hosting a donor who came to see the wells that her organisation had paid for, and getting ready for our next trip to Ivory Coast. Yes – twice to the IC in the space of a couple of months… This time the roads were tarmac all the way (albeit with some truck-eating potholes), but it was still 3 days driving to get to the villages. That’s a long time to be sitting in a truck. The 3 wells were drilled without incident, though each took longer than expected, meaning that we weren’t starting our homeward journey until later than planned. One Landrover decided that it’d had enough and keeled over at the side of the road. Kudos to Sam (the cook) and Samuel (our Ivorian worker) who towed it the 370miles back to Ouaga – with a detour to Batie to drill a well for a missionary project there. I get the impression that our vehicles don’t like Ivory Coast…
Now we’re back in Ouaga, a few more wells to try and get drilled before the rains come, lots of maintenance to be performed on the equipment, a house to pack up, the tools from the shipment still to be sorted…the to-do list never gets any shorter.
Whilst drilling the deepest well with the March team, I muttered to Mark as I took over the controls “I might as well go through the motions”. It was late, March temperatures take their toll, we were at 260ft (usually the deepest we drill to is 300ft), the geological change that we’d hoped to see had come and gone about 100ft (and a couple of hours) previously with no water. Though we suspected that we’d have to go deeper with this well I had no expectations of anything happening and just wanted to go to my bed. I was tired, and tired of seeing the same grey and red clays that we’d been looking at for the past few hours. But, we drill to 300ft, so that’s what I’d do… A few minutes, and 5ft of drilling, later water was starting to flow. Not much, but enough to encourage us. We called it a night at 300ft, and the next day drilled the hole down to 400ft. There was enough water flowing to make a well, and we pumped water for hours – it seemed that every container in the village that was capable of carrying water was filled by the time we switched off the pump.
Later, I reflected that at times in my Christian life I feel like I’m just ‘going through the motions’. Life isn’t going the way I think that it should, and each day is a struggle. Praying seems really really hard work; prayers don’t seem to be answered, or even getting past the ceiling of my room. Reading the Bible doesn’t come easily; the words seem dry. It’s hard to join in the singing at church, or even be there. The life that Paul describes in chapter 7 of Romans seems very real. At these times, giving up feels like a very attractive option. But, we’re called to press on; told “not to grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6 v9). When I’m at home I love to get to the hills to run. Running downhill is exhilarating; running uphill, for me, is awful. It’s drudgery. Every step takes effort, and I’m wholly focused on simply placing one foot in front of the other; just going through the motions. Sometimes, I need to take a moment to take a look back. To see how far up the mountain I’ve actually come. At different times, God told the Israelites to remember how He had brought them out of Egypt, how He had saved them from Pharaoh’s army, how He had provided for them in the wilderness. When I feel I’m just ‘going through the motions’ I need to look back over my life to remind myself of how God has answered my prayers, how He has directed my path, how He has blessed me, how He has sustained me. I need to remind myself that God will give me the grace that I need to face each day, and that His mercy is new, and sufficient for, each day. I need to remind myself that He understands my weakness, and deals with me gently when my faith is poor – “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103 v13-14); “a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench” (Isaiah 42 v3). I need to keep going through the motions – keeping praying, reading, going to church – not giving up, trusting that it is just a season, and that I will come out the other side saying ‘Oh LORD, great is Your faithfulness’.