Many of you have followed closely our water saga since we returned to Addis. We are happy that our new tank system has allowed us to have water most days since we put it in. It is nice to be able to take showers, wash our hands and flush the toilets. Well, it has mostly been nice to flush the toilets. Earlier this month, we were hosting our good friend, who is also a Professor at Johns Hopkins University. You know, he is sort of a big deal. We had a really nice visit, but we noticed while he was here that there was only a single bathroom that was working. The other bathrooms flooded every time that we flushed the toilets, so we were very careful about how we used the facilities during that time. One morning while he was here, he was in the upstairs bathroom getting ready and was in the shower. I was downstairs in the kitchen getting breakfast and heard some water running. I walked out of the kitchen and saw, and smelled, sewer water streaming down the stairs and forming a pool of sewage in our entryway. We investigated and the sewer water was coming out of the toilet running out of the bathroom, down the hall, careening down the stairs and nearly running out the front door. We were able to get everything mopped up and bleach. That night we went out to dinner, because honestly we weren’t ready to eat in our house again for a while and we had to use the bathroom someplace, and when we got back, again the whole house was flooded with sewer water. The next day, I was taking our guest along with the girls to Soddo so that he could visit our residents down there. Bekah was headed to her trip to Northern Ethiopia with the eight-grade class from Bingham. We hadn’t packed yet for our respective trips, so our guest insisted on cleaning up while we got the girls packed and ready for bed. We couldn’t find our rubber gloves so our friend, the Johns Hopkins professor, put plastic bags on his hands to mop up the mess.
We were able to arrange for the plumbers from Bingham Academy to come and look at the plumbing in our house. They were able to locate the problem and determined it was due to an obstruction in the sewer line causing a backup that overflowed every time we added any water into the drainage system. This was due both to a design flaw in the system and a little gift from one of the girls. It seems that one of them had flushed a pair of their underwear down the toilet at some point and that was causing the back up. The Bingham plumbers were able to get the pipes cleaned out and repaired allowing the free flow of water again but not without one more insult. The blockage had caused a build up of pressure and when the obstruction was removed, it exploded all over one of the plumbers. This happens to me from time to time in the operating room when I am operating on an intestinal obstruction. They told us that the blockage had probably been there for some time but we hadn’t noticed because we hadn’t really had any water for more than a month.
We are finally back to normal (for Addis) water situation. We are grateful for all of your prayers and words of encouragement. Sometimes it feels as if we have made a great sacrifice to be here, but honestly we have it pretty good here. I am occasionally reminded that things like water shortages and sewer backups are pretty trivial. This week I talked to one of the graduates of our training program, who has been facing real difficulties. He has recently had his life threatened for standing up and doing the right thing. He has been serving his community faithfully for several years, working night and day and yet some feel threatened by his honesty and integrity and hired some thugs to try and kill him. Praise God they were unsuccessful and he was unharmed. Whenever we face situations that are uncomfortable or inconvenient, I am reminded that the difficulties that we face are nothing compared to what our residents will face when they are out in practice. Please pray for Dr. H as he struggles to figure out what to do next. Pray for his safety and his continued witness for the Gospel.