The trial of water

August is dry season in Kigali. The rains left in May, and we were desperate for their return.

Rwanda Since the genocide of 1994-95, restoring, restructuring and privatising the economy have been the emphasis of the last decade. The government has made great strides to excise ethnicity from politics and society. It has full freedom of religion, with 89% of the population identifying themselves with Christianity.

The grass was crunchy and brown and the usual green of this land was covered in red dust. With dry season came significant water issues for many, but not all. Some people in Kigali had no water issues at all, they managed to keep watering their bright green grass. Others were experiencing water rationing and needed to be careful, their grass was brown and crunchy but their clothes and children were clean. And then there are those who just don’t get water at all.

Unfortunately we fell into the latter category. We rely on water being distributed through water lines and filling our tank. For 21 days in August the pipes only supplied us with half a tank of water. We need approximately a full tank of water a week to function normally and there seemed little hope of the situation getting better anytime soon. So I dusted down my six jerry cans and went out in search of alternative water sources.

Lambrechts water tank

The Lambrechts family’s 5,000-litre water tank.

Conserving water became a mild obsession in our house. We pulled out the the water heater plug, as there was no water to heat, we resorted to bucket showers with cold water, catching used water to flush the toilets. We had strict rules on when the toilets could be flushed and when they must be left. Washing our clothes became an issue, as a washing machine uses around four jerry cans of water and when you only have six jerry cans you need to prioritise.

“Going without water was a great reminder of who is actually in control of our water.”

Going without water was a great reminder of who is actually in control of our water. Water is a gracious gift from God, it is him who sends the rains and it is him who has measured the waters of the earth in the hollow of his hands. And so I am able to come to the God who holds all the water and ask him to meet my needs. Despite the 21 days of drought there was not one day where we went completely without water. We always had enough for our basic needs. Through the trial of water I prayed every day for water, and my dependence on God grew, even for my most basic of needs.

On my better days, it was exciting to see how God actually provided for us.In these circumstances my temptation is to become incredibly grumpy and frustrated. But I know that in the trial of water God did not leave me. In fact he has drawn even closer to me, comforting me and teaching me such valuable lessons about who he is and who I am through this time of need and frustration.

Lambrechts jerry cans bike

Transporting water… by bike!

For most of the 21 days without water I looked on accusingly wondering why God allowed others to be free from water issues, while we had to endure. But as I reflected and prayed I came to see things differently. God must really love me to let me pass through this trial, because it is the only way he can make me less spoilt and more like his son, Jesus, and change my heart away from self-sufficiency and towards dependence on him.

Water is life, and I have come to appreciate water more than ever before. But what I am most grateful for is that I know ‘living water’ – “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him, will never be thirsty again, the water that I will give him, will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

In the grand scheme of things my tiny little trial of water is just a blip, a precious blip that has drawn me into deeper fellowship with God, but a blip all the same. What fills my heart with joy and hope is that I have drunk of the water of life, that has welled up in me and that means I will never thirst again. For in Jesus I have have life, life eternal, for he is the living water!

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