Our first day we traveled to a village called Bonzan. It is the location of the most recent Dry Tears well and we had been told that it was completed just the day before. We were so excited to see it and especially to meet the people whose lives were going to be changed by clean water.
After 5-6 hours of bouncing across dirt roads and paths, we finally arrived right at dusk and to our great disappointment the well was not finished. Apparently the crew working on drilling it were so confident that they would be finished by the time we got there that they told us it was completed. The deep water drilling rig had broken and they needed a part to get it up and running.
We were all pretty disappointed but kept up a good front. That night, in anticipation of our arrival, the village had planned to throw a huge celebration. Pastors from 4 neighboring villages all showed up to have a kind of “tribal meeting” with Logan and Conner (the 2 Dry Tears guys who were on the trip with us). It was amazing hearing them tell how the water was going to impact their villages…not only physically, but spiritually as well.
You see, as people come to draw water, these pastors visit with them and tell them about Jesus, The Living Water, and the hope He brings. These pastors told us that they would need bigger churches because there would be so many people accepting Christ once they heard the about Him and His love for them.
As is their custom, the villagers brought out buckets of warm water that they had heated over fires for us to bathe with before dinner. Knowing that water is such a precious commodity, it was such a gracious gesture for them to share it with us like that. Bathing was interesting…it was basically go stand behind a 5 foot wall and use a cup to pour the water over yourself. It took a little getting used to!
Dinner was rice, spaghetti noodles in a peanut sauce, chicken (cooked whole minus the head and feet), and toh (sounds like toe). My son, Logan, describes toh as a cross between jello and rubber. The village fed us first and wanted us to stuff ourselves and, only after we had eaten, would they eat (assuming there was still food left—if there was no food left then they would go without).
After dinner the party began!!! Hundreds showed up for singing, dancing and banging the drums. It was amazing. Logan and Conner led the way for all of us as they jumped right into learning the African dances. It was kind of like doing the electric slide but in a constantly moving circle—way fun!!!! The natives greatly enjoyed laughing at the white guys as we tried to grasp the complex dance moves. Heck, we laughed at ourselves as we felt like total doofussses. But it sure was fun! Well we danced until around 1:00am and then we crashed on our cots underneath a breathtaking African sky.
The pastor had to ask the villagers to take the party down the road as we had to get some sleep. So they moved about 100 yards away and continued to sing, chant, dance, and bang the drums until 3:00am!!! They were so excited that we had come and that a well was being dug.
I fell asleep staring at the most stars I have ever seen in my life listening to the poorest people I had ever met sing songs of joy over the prospect of clean water arriving. I couldn’t help but think about how rich and blessed we are in America and how we take so much for granted.