Mar 30, 2013

Saturday SHINE.....

Today's Reading: Numbers 31

Happy Saturday, SHINE sisters! I have a special Easter treat for you today. :)

Your SHINE sister, Mary Kay Jackson, is posting. If you missed her story from November, go here and catch up. It is very inspiring!

I will let her explain why she is posting today, but it will truly bless your socks off!

This SHINE girl is making a difference! She is shining brightly in the country of Africa. 

Read, and be blessed. 

Happy Easter!

Dear Shine Sisters,

Easter greetings from “the Dark Continent”, which of course, is a lot less dark these days!  Here, we will wear our black funeral cloth  as we go to Good Friday services.  The services will be long – Africans love funerals, and who deserves a bigger funeral than Jesus?  Our longest worship experience ever was our first Good Friday service here in Ghana.  We were in church for 6 hours!  Sunday morning, though, the streets will be dazzling under the equatorial sun as everyone heads off to church in new, bright white clothing, and the air rings with greetings of “Christo asore!” – “Christ is risen!” in Twi, one of our local languages.  The Light of the World shines brightly in the darkness of Africa!

Mary Kay and Charlie

 But what I really want to share with you this morning is an amazing “God-incidence” we were all a part of last week.  Yes, you were involved, too!  And I want to introduce you to a friend of mine.

Didn’t you just love last Friday’s Fun Friday Challenge?  It was so refreshing to spend the day focusing on the Living Water, even as we got a sip of physical water.  We soaked up the Word like a sponge, didn’t we?  I bet you even drank more water than usual.

When I read Friday’s post, however, I knew I had to get on the internet as soon as possible to send Jill a comment.  And Friday my power was out all day, which meant no internet or computer at home, which meant a trip into town to the internet cafĂ© (closed for renovations that day) or the lobby of the Holiday Inn to send my mail.  You see, the UN has designated March 22 of every year as World Water Day!  Can you believe it?  Isn’t it amazing that God had us celebrating World Water Day, even though Jill didn’t even know about it?

We don’t tend to think about water so much in the US.  We take it for granted that when we turn on our taps we will have safe, clean water flowing out.  Every time.  But according to the UN, 780 million people (that’s one out of every eight of our brothers and sisters), almost half (42%) of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa, don’t have access to clean drinking water.  According to UNICEF, 600,000 children die in Africa every year from diarrheal disease.  Water-related disease is the number 2 cause of childhood death in Africa after malaria.  Rural African families, usually the women and girls, spend much of their day fetching water for various household uses, often having to walk several miles carrying a heavy load.  But the picture is not all bleak; progress is being made.  Since 1990, 2 billion people worldwide have gained access to safe sources of drinking water. 

Yagzuri Latrine

 Now, on to the introduction.  Since Jill asked for water bottle photos, I couldn’t resist sharing these two.  This is Helen from a little village in northern Ghana called Yagzuri.  When the photos were taken about a year ago, by my friend Kim McGee, she was 2.  Helen could easily have become one of those statistics in the paragraph above.  Her village had a couple of open, contaminated hand-dug wells (think Jack and Jill without the little house on top) and no sanitation.  So when Helen had to go to the bathroom, she would just squat wherever she was and go. 

Helen getting water from a well

Helen's water bottle

Now, thanks to the vision and generous hearts of a church in St. Louis, Helen’s chances of making it to her 5th birthday and beyond have gone up dramatically.  Her village now has a deep well and pump, so she can have plenty of safe, clean water  to drink.  And she can go to the bathroom in a well-kept community latrine.  And she knows firsthand that Jesus loves her, because she has seen that love shown to her by new friends from halfway ‘round the world.  I only wish I had thought to put a Bible verse on the water bottle we gave her.  But thanks to Jill’s inspiration, we will be doing that in the future!

This Easter weekend, I am traveling to the north again to visit Helen and other children like her.  I will finally be showing my sweet husband, Charlie, some of my projects in the north, like Helen’s borehole and toilets.  Because he is usually teaching (he is a math professor at Ashesi University,, he doesn’t normally get to travel with me and has never seen any of my projects.  I am excited to share Helen’s story with him, as I have shared it with you.  We also will be arranging for the next set of 8 wells to be drilled in April and May, before the summer rains come.  And on Sunday we will don our white outfits, shout “Christo asore!” and dance with abandon as we celebrate again the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, the Living Water of the world!

With love for you all, my dear sisters!

Mary Kay

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