The Water Side of Life

Early Monday morning Ben took off for the Kenya border town of Moyale- a hefty days drive away.  Right now Water is Life has a lot of projects going on in the Borena region.  Ben seems to be down there all the time these days, checking up on the drilling efforts and problem solving with our team there.  This week he’s introducing some visitors from the U.S to the projects and doing some reporting for donors that have been supporting our work there.

I live vicariously through Ben’s photos these days.  Although I don’t miss staying at shady hotels, I do miss being out in the field and seeing the impact that clean water has on the lives of the people we’re working for.

Now Ben has been saying he’s going to write a post about what is going on with the water side of our lives, but 3 ½ years in and it still hasn’t happened, so until he gets around to it, here are some photos from his trips to Borena…

Collecting water

The ‘hood

The drilling in progress…

Clean water!

 As hard as parts of this job have been, it’s been really awesome to see the progress that’s being made. Ben would have numbers and budgets and data to confirm the progress, but I just look at these pictures and see these faces and I’m pretty convinced.

Back to reality

Ben and I had one day together in Awassa before he flew the coup and headed down to the Kenya border for work. Selfishly I hated to see him go. Ever since Elaine was born I’ve been surrounded by family that loved to hold and love on Elaine. I was spoiled. Big time. Then, all of a sudden I was alone…with a baby…in Ethiopia. It was a little bit of a shock to my system. But thankfully, I am surrounded by awesome people here in Awassa who took me in for meals and tea and and rides and offered hot showers and kept me company and loved on Elaine and listened to me gripe about being home alone. What would I do without them? I do not know. I am blessed abundantly.

On Sunday we were invited over to our worker’s home for her daughters birthday celebration. Somehow Elaine turned into the guest of honor. Not sure how the birthday girl felt about that. But bring a white baby out here in Awassa and she’s sure to steal the scene.

Elaine with the matriarch of the family

LemLem and the Birthday girl, Saron

In other news, Elaine is adjusting to the temperature change by rebelling against clothing.  This is her preferred attire and napping position.

Exhibit A & B

Ben is home for the moment and heads out again on Wednesday.  Actually he’s in the field right now and technically isn’t at home, but he’s close by if I need him.  I’ll let him tell you more about his trip down south later.  WiLi is doing work down in the areas hit hard by the current famine that’s going on right now.  More on that later.  I can’t do the stories justice.

That’s all for now.

Peace.

Breaking in the New Rig

Yesterday we spent the day out in the field with our entire water team.  All the drillers, the community workers, administrators- everyone.  It’s rare we’re all in one place at the same time.  We are usually scattered all over Ethiopia doing our own jobs.  But yesterday we were all together to break in the brand new PAT rig.

It was incredible to see this machine working.  The trainer from my motherland, Kenya, flew in to show our boys how to work this new piece of equipment.  It was awesome to see it break ground for the first time.  It may be small, but this rig is powerful.

I loved the part of the day when they first started demonstrating the down the hole hammer method and it sounded just like a machine gun letting loose.  It was hilarious to see the faces of the drillers and then to see the reaction of the community members watching- sheer panic.  Hilarious.  I really shouldn’t say too much.  I ducked too.  I guess all of us lived through a war in this country so when you hear something that sounds like a machine gun- more likely than not it is one.

We so excited about what this rig means for Water is Life.  We can take it almost anywhere- it’s much more portable than some of the big rigs in country.  And it is also FAST.  We breezed through meter after meter.  The drillers were loving it.

The 1st day went well and by late afternoon Ben and I were fried.  There were no trees where we were drilling and we both forgot hats- brilliant in this African sun.  Ben is back out there today as the training continues.

Here are some photos of the rig in action:

Figuring out the monster air compressor

Praying over the drill site

The grand stands

At work- drawing quite the crowd

It’s a great way to end a good year of drilling here in Ethiopia.  We’ll try to post more of an update on all of that later.

I have a feeling 2011 is going to be a big year!

Uganda

I just opened up our blog and was scanning through and saw recent posts about sushi, monkeys, pop tarts and turtles.  I thought to myself- dang, it really is true- 99% of what we share on here is of absolutely no value to anyone whatsoever.

Now, here we are in Uganda at a conference with brilliant people doing incredible things around the globe, and I’m about to post pictures of animals.  Yup, animals.  Man, I need to work on substance…someday.

Today, all you get is animals.

Lions at a park near our hotel

Monkey in a cage- i’ve never liked the whole zoo idea. at all.

my absolute favorite animal (besides Mac)

I could sit and watch them for hours.

giant spider.  photo does not do this monster justice.

And my favorite animal of all:

Demonstrating our new health and hygiene education equipment.

Truth be told, we’re not just lounging around with animals here in Uganda.  We’ve only actually left our hotel/conference center 1 time in the last 4 days.  We’re learning a lot, sharing a lot, and are excited to get back to Ethiopia and put some of these ideas into action.  Solving the world’s water crisis is obviously no easy feat- but being reminded that we’re working alongside people that are intelligent, imaginative, and passionate about the same things we are is pretty encouraging.

All that said, my brain is fried.

good nite.

A Quick Langano Weekend

Last night Ben and I got back from a weekend at Lake Langano.  Now, sitting at my desk munching on a guava from the backyard and screening through the emails in my inbox (or avoiding that obviously), it feels like a long time ago.  I don’t even know what day it is.  Someone mentioned they were on fall break and it blew my mind…is it fall already?  Besides the dying passion fruit leaves outback, there is no evidence of autumn over here.  Ooh, a pumpkin spice latte would be so nice right about now.

Ok, back to the weekend.  We were able to spend a little bit more time with David and Ryan {our house guests for the past few weeks- David’s the one who took our new pic up at the top of the page} before meeting up with the Church at Charlotte team and my momma.  I don’t know what it is about Church at Charlotte, but they somehow always manage to send really neat teams out here. We enjoyed spending time with them and showing them a little glimpse of what WiLi is doing out here.  They are always so excited to see and hear about what we’re doing that it makes our job really easy.  Their strong NC accents don’t hurt either- feels like home:).

Of course the highlight of the weekend was getting to see my mom for a few brief minutes here and there.  In true motherly form, she came laden with american goodness- like cheddar cheese and turkey (for their favorite- Ben) and shampoo and other necessities too. {Danke mom!}  Tomorrow we’ll get to spend about an hour with my dad before we head out to Uganda.  Bad timing.

We’re looking forward to a little detour from the routine {did I just say routine?  I didn’t know our lives had any of that}  but yes, we’re looking forward to a change of scenery for the next week and a half as we meet with Living Water International and talk Water for a few days.

Parting shot courtesy of David Strauss:

The Decision

It is now official. After a lot of praying and talking and anxiety and more praying and talking, we feel really at peace announcing that we will be staying on in Ethiopia a little bit longer than planned. Originally we had signed on for two years, which would bring us back to the U.S in the summer of 2011. We are now adding on a year and will be sticking around till 2012. Goodness, that seems like a long time from now when I see it in writing.

This was not an easy decision to make. Especially making it in the wake of Ben’s medical problems and a rough few weeks. But when all is said and done, we really love what we do. We work with an incredible team of Ethiopians, meeting a critical need in this country. We get to see God working in crazy and wonderful ways as we travel Ethiopia and work to bring clean water to the thirsty. And on top of all of that, we get to spend everyday together…all day long. Right now we think it’s a pretty sweet setup.

Making the decision even harder was that we really miss a whole lot of people back on the other side of the ocean. Life out here would be so much easier if you all didn’t exist (i kid, i kid:). But it’s been so fun to host multiple Hardings, Jeff (Ben’s roommate) and Jen (his wife), Jennifer (Ben’s sister), Kristen (my sister) and Andrew, and pretty soon the Taylors will be coming, and then my roommate, Bryn and her husband, Reed, are joining us for Christmas. We feel so overwhelmingly supported out here. God is so good.

We may not be signing up for the long haul like a few generations of Hardings before us, but we are confident that for at least one more year, God wants us right here. We will try to be better at posting updates and letting you know what’s going on in our lives- besides the new tricks Mac has learned or the latest recipe we’ve mastered- we really do get some real work done:). We are so thankful to have you along on this journey. We ask that you continue to pray for us as we go through the ups and downs of life out here. We’re anticipating that we may hit a “did-we-really-sign-up-for-another-year-of-this” wall. Pray that we will continue to feel God’s peace in the midst of all of that.

So there you have it. It’s official. Now come on out and visit!!

Love,

The Taylors


Stuck in the Mud

Went on a little road trip with Jennifer and our survey team leader, Sammy to a rural community up in the highlands of Ethiopia where we’ve done a series of projects over the past few months.

The rains have made their mark on the already pitiful roads up there, and it was quite the adventure to get to some of our drill sites. About half way there we managed to get stuck in a little bit of a the mud hole.

One thing that continually amuses me here is that you can be on a completely deserted road, but within minutes of when you stop, dozens of people appear out of no where…word spreads fast when a Ferenjie (foreigner) comes to town. This is very convenient when you get stuck in the mud. Not so convenient when you have to go to the bathroom. Anyways, with the help of several men and their hoes and dozens of women and children staring on amusedly, we were out in record time and on to our sites.

Some photos from our most recent projects:

A contaminated hand dug well- the communities previous water source

The setting of the new well (the pump is behind the fence)

Clean Water…

…it’s a beautiful thing