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OCMC News - Hauling Water in Mugen, Kenya

by Emily Robertson (Posted 8/6/2019)

OCMC News - Hauling Water in Mugen, Kenya
On the second day of their work as an OCMC Mission Team, helping build a lab and library for the students of St. Athanasius Secondary School in Mugen, Kenya, team members haul 5-gallon canisters of water up a hill for mixing the concrete that will be used for the facility's slab floors.

When our mission team arrived at St. Athanasius Secondary School in Mugen, Nandi County, Kenya, we were joyfully welcomed by the students and faculty with songs, smiles, and handshakes. Our team of 5 adults and 4 kids had come to help build a laboratory and library for the school’s nearly 400 students. We were flying high on the adrenaline and excitement of finally having arrived and having met so many loving people. We knew our time was bound to be transformative.

Over the course of the next six days, following morning prayers, we would pack up backpacks full of water bottles, snacks, rain gear, sunscreen, and lip balm and head down the road from Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church to the school. On our daily 20-minute walk through the rural town of Mugen, we would pass fields of tea growing on the side of the road, watch children race to school, and wave to people passing on motorbikes known as “piki pikis”. We would wave good morning and say “Habari!”, and they’d reply in unison, “Nzuri!”

On our second day of work, we were to bring 5-gallon canisters of water to the site so the local workers could mix the concrete that would be used for the lab and library’s slab floor. How hard could it be? We eagerly began the task. Sure that we could do the work just like the Kenyans we were working alongside, we each grabbed jugs for water and headed to the well. We learned it was across the street, down a hill, and further away than any of us could carry a 5-gallon jug of water. The local Nandi women carried their water jugs alongside us on their heads, often using no hands, while barefoot. One woman I passed was carrying her jug of water on her head with a baby on her hip. She smiled and said “Habari” as I watched in amazement. It was then that I stood face-to-face with humility.

Several of us tried to keep pace, but it was a fruitless effort. The only way we were going to contribute to this day of work would be through teamwork. Forming an assembly line with one team member starting at the well, carrying a single canister 50-75 feet uphill to the next team member, and so on until the one single bucket of water made its way up the hill, slowly. Some of us could only make it 20 feet before dropping the bucket to the ground with a thud, water splashing out, and our arms shaking. Our hands were raw, our shoulders and backs ached. And all the while, the local women carried bucket after bucket all the way to the top, passing us along the way while smiling and greeting us.

With each step, we were facing our own shortcomings, growing in gratitude for our team members and Kenyan co-laborers, realizing that none of us could complete our work without them. I had arrived in Kenya with the belief that I’d be bringing the people I spent the week with the gifts of love and hard work. It was on the second day of team experience, carrying 5-gallon canisters of water, that I was transformed by the love and hard work of others.

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God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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