By Christina Roberts

Here in Ethiopia, we are blessed to have a grid for electricity as well as city water. However, the power and the water are never on all the time. The water is turned on every three to four days, and the electricity comes and goes as it pleases. I am still trying to figure out if there is rhyme or reason to the electricity and water supply.

We have three large water storage barrels that we use when the water is off. We have never run out of water completely, but we have come close. Our backup plan is to pay for jerry cans to be brought in from a local borehole.

The electricity will usually be out during the day but on at night for lights and fans. However, every now and then it will be off for days at a time. Usually, multiple days without power and a shortage of water don’t come together. Yet there are those rare occasions when they do. When this happens, I must confess, I get rather annoyed.

A few weekends ago, it happened.

The water hadn’t come for three days. With the seven people on our team plus two guards, we were running out.

Then the power was shut off.

When the power is out at night and there are no fans, no one sleeps well. The house is very hot and if one person moves, either inside or outside, everyone hears it.

By day five of no water, we had less than a quarter of a barrel left. A few friends had already come by the compound with jerry cans asking if our water was on. This informed me that there was a shortage of water all over town, meaning that the option of deep well water was quickly diminishing, if not already gone. Thus, bathing is only to happen if an emergency.

Lack of sleep, heat, and little water unfortunately put me in a not-so-good, very grumbly mood.

While visiting with my friend Nyaret, I made a comment about how I hoped the water would turn on soon so that I could bathe, as it had been four days since my last bath. Immediately, she perked up and told me that she would go home, get one of her jerricans and bring me water.

Whoa.

I knew that she only had two jerry cans and that water was difficult to come by. I couldn’t take her water, especially when she has seven kids. Without hesitation I told her no, that I was okay and the water would come soon. She didn’t say anything more about it, and after we were finished chatting, she left.

About thirty minutes later, the gate swung open, and in walked Nyaret with a jerry can on her head. I tried to tell her that I would be okay and she needed to take the water back to her family, but she insisted I keep it.

Talk about being humbled. This small act of kindness made a huge impact on me. In my time of need, my friend provided water from her already small supply. I thought I had sacrificed to come help the Nuer by working for an organization that provides access to clean water.

In reality, the Nuer have helped me and taught me so much about life, family, caring for others, and sacrifice. In the Nuer culture, if someone is in need and no matter how much or little another person has, they share it. It’s completely biblical. Unfortunately, I am usually not so quick to give like that, especially when it is something so precious.

I pray that I will one day be as generous as Nyaret, sacrificing whatever I have, small or great, for the glory of God and to show the love of Christ to those around me.