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Africa Inland Mission
February 3, 2017 7:05 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

During my days of construction in Salawe – classrooms, teacher’s houses, church, mission residence, ancillary buildings, etc. – water was very hard to come by. When we first started the work, we used a tractor and trailer to haul water in 50 gallon drums from a pond about 7 miles away. We were making our own cement bricks which needed water not only for the initial molding, but for curing them over a period of about 5-7 days (depending on the weather!). So, the tractor and the “water men” were kept busy going back and forth from the pond.
Later, we found water a bit closer. Down the road from the mission station we found water seeping out of a section of laterite rock. With a bit of work, we were able to break away some of the laterite to create a basin from which we could collect water to fill the 50 gallon drums.
My Land Rover pickup would hold 3 or 4 drums in the back. With workmen, we made our way back and forth. By this time most of the bricks had been made and cured so we were able to keep up with a 2 or 3 times a day trips. The men selected by me enjoyed the trips – I believe mainly because it took them away from the more arduous work!
Once, we went down right after a rain shower. Near the water hole, the road took a hard right turn. The rain had been light but had penetrated the sand to the clay base and, as I took the turn, the Land Rover went into a skid and the grass on the side of the road abruptly stopped the skid.
The workmen in the back were safe. They held onto the body of the vehicle so were in no real danger. EXCEPT one. He decided to hold onto one of the empty water drums. The skid tossed the drum out of the vehicle – and he didn’t have the presence of mind to let go of the drum so he followed it out.
What a hoot and holler from the other workmen! Fortunately the “tossed out” man wasn’t hurt but the incident provided the others with a real occasion for mirth. When we got back to the job with the water, they (of course) told the other men – we had about 40 at that time – and they all had a good laugh at the poor man’s expense.
Just in case, I gave him 2 days off and a jar of good-smelling pain cream (liniment) in case he needed it. I am sure he used the cream liberally even if he didn’t need it! The smell was the reward, I am sure!

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