Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Water Problems

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dear Family & Friends,

Noon Saturday: no water.  We had been trying to conserve, but we knew it would eventually run out.  It is always a shock when it finally happens though.  We had alerted Elder Randall, who is the one that handles water deliveries, that the pipes would not be fixed and to arrange for water delivery. The entire group of old and young missionaries deal with this regularly.  Many collect rain water in buckets and try to conserve, but if someone can’t fill up your water tank, Elder Randall brings you barrels of water.  We had about 6 Jeri cans of water to use.  Even with conserving, they seemed to be used up quickly so Jim said he was going to go down to the springs below our house and bathe with the natives—they actually did have more water then we did!

Jim saw this mosquito pond near a well and told the community to fix it, NOW.  When they didn’t move he began to fix it himself, and eventually they were shamed into helping him.

There is a curfew every last Saturday of the month till noon.  The purpose is that the people are supposed to clean up their area.  If they see you on the street walking or driving they give you a ticket. This may work on the main streets but they ought to go to the places we do, where the garbage never gets removed!  Anyway, the Randall’s came to meet the landlord at Burns’s house so they could review some of the problems that needed to be fixed.  Even though they had dealt with him on the phone, they had never seen him before.  We were all surprised that this was a fairly young man—hard to tell their ages, but he had to be less than 40.  He was very tall, slender, and handsome and very well educated and is going to school taking international studies. Sister Randall told us that he is a rare landlord because he really cares about his several rental properties.  He agreed to replace the dryer that spins around but doesn’t dry the clothes, was going to figure out why the washing machine tries to walk out of the laundry alcove each time it spins, and to fix a few other minor problems.

The first topic of conversation though was about the water, how the city had cut it off.  He confirmed that the city was working on the waterline above to make improvements.  He told us that it would be three weeks before it was fixed (the date keeps getting moved back).  He did assure us though that he knew this for certain because his cousin was one of those working on this repair. 

The moment that we all did a happy jig in our minds was when we heard that he was going to hand deliver many Jeri cans to our tank! He was going to see how much was used over a week’s time so that he’d know how many cans it would take to keep the tank full!  We were so surprised and delighted!  Sure enough, on Sunday morning as we returned from church we saw a young man who had delivered a number of cans of water to our tank.  I never thought that the sound of a flushing toilet could be such music to my ears…but the shower, it was still cold.

In the meantime, we asked E/S Randall if it would be cost effective to add a rain catchments system to the tank here and they said it would.  At the mission home they have several tanks above and some below.  They catch the rain off the roof, which goes into the tanks on the ground, after which they pump the water up to the others above.  Thus, during the rainy season they only have to use rain water, saving on delivery till the rains quit.  They stopped off at the mission home to see the system so that Jonathan could give Burns’s a price for the system, which will probably be paid for by the mission. 

This councilman tried to take credit for one of our wells by etching his name in the concrete.  Notice though that someone else knew what he was doing and added his own words to refute what he was claiming after the man left.

We were also told that the electricity bill needed to be paid—city power is on about half the time now, saving fuel.  If more money is not added to this bill, we’ll be burning fuel all of the time for the generator—just another thing to worry about making sure we don’t run out, but then learned that Elder Randall went down to pay the bill and load up a lot of months on the card.  Even though there are many months that no one gets electricity, they still have to pay a monthly bill!  Also, when city power is on the microwave won’t work because the power is weak.  Whenever the generator is on the lights are brighter too.  I can’t begin to describe the rigors everyone goes through to get things done in Sierra Leone.  Sister Randall said that each couple takes on a project while here to help things run more efficiently.  For Elder Peterson long ago it was to remove the squatters by the mission office so that they could complete/move their wall—it took his 18-month mission to accomplish that task.  It is the same for everyone.  They have a saying here, “We’ll let the next (couple, mission president) take care of it.” Indeed, they fix some problem or other knowing they won’t be able to fix most of the problems while here.

When we see this, we are not inclined to help them.  If they do not clean the well, they also don’t fix it when it breaks.

We were sad to learn that Turay did not get elected.  He did say that if his party gets elected in his area, that they will give him another post so that he will have some government job.  He and another older man were having a runoff election.  The other man had run three other times so the delegates asked Turay to give him the vote and support him and then they’d give him something else to do.  If they took it to a vote again Turay would win; so he will campaign for his party so that if they get in, Turay will also have a government job.  Jim saved just three wells to look at on Monday and wanted Turay to go with them as he takes a break from the campaign.

Jonathan and Amarachi ate dinner here on their last night and then they discussed all the things Jonathan needed to do in Kenema and then Waterloo.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jonathan so sad before and so reluctant to leave, knowing the soonest they’d see us would be in 18 months when/if we train the new couple.  And because things change, who knows if we will come back or not?  We gave long hugs and said our tearful goodbyes.  That’s all, love from Africa  

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