My daughter, Ashley, and I traveled with Marion Medical Mission (MMM) as volunteers to work hand in hand with God’s people to bring them something so necessary but so elusive on the African continent, clean, safe drinking water. This was my eighth mission trip and Ashley’s first. It was wonderful to share this experience with my daughter and introduce a new generation mission.
This year the MMM goal was to install 2800 wells in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania. Ashley and I were sent to Tanzania for two months. We worked high in the mountains. The wells were located on the mountainsides and deep in the valleys. The days were long, the hikes were difficult but our reward was great. At the end of the trip we had walked over 400 miles and assisted in the installation of 247 wells. Now more than 40,000 of the world’s poorest have life sustaining water.
On the last day there were only a few wells remaining. Villages in Tanzania can have a number of residential enclaves over a large geographic area rather than in one contiguous location. When Ashley walked down to the first well she was prepared to only speak Swahili. Greetings were made, the pump was installed, time for the dedication. Ashley began to speak, she had notes for reference but a normally extremely self-confident young woman was nervous, unsure until she looked at the PEOPLE. In the crowd was a young woman who was expecting a baby at any time. The woman looked into Ashley’s eyes and smiled as if she was saying, thank you, we love you, I love you, God loves you, and you are one of us. With a few stumbles Ashley finished the dedication. Everyone was happy, shaking hands. Now it was off to the next well. Ashley and I jumped into the truck and drove the crew along the mountain ridge to the next well. Greetings were made, the pump was installed, time for the dedication. Ashley approached the well and began speaking in Swahili, she looked at the PEOPLE and there was the pregnant woman. She had walked over the mountain to be at the well. Was she there because of the importance of safe water……….or maybe to be there for Ashley? She stood there with that smile, that assurance, that thank you, that look of I love you. With the conclusion of the dedication it was off to the next and final well in that village. Back in the truck, over the mountain ridge. A short hike, greetings were made, the pump was installed, time for the dedication. Ashley was brimming with confidence. She had the dedication down to the last word. As she looked at the PEOPLE and who did she see? An angel in the form of a pregnant African woman.
In Africa love comes easily and is unconditional. PEOPLE with so little have one gift they can give that cost nothing at all, love. Who lifts you up? Who loves you? Look around; it might come from the most surprising places and PEOPLE. Ashley has a place in her heart for the PEOPLE of Africa and it is called upendo (love). What language is more universal than LOVE?