April 5, 2010
There is no running water on the island. To use the bathroom, we would fill up a jug with salt water, dipping into a 55-gallon barrel outside the door. When finished, we poured the saltwater into the toilet, making sure that we started high with the water jug and kind of “pushed” the water into the bowl quickly, so the contents would be flushed. If we had used paper in the bathroom, that would be put into a waste container. Only solids and liquids went into the toilet so it would decompose in the latrine more efficiently.
There was a separate 55-gallon drum filled with fresh water that we could use at the sinks for washing our hands and faces. Then a spigot was strapped to a tree outside the latrine that we would turn on to fill a five-gallon bucket every day for one “shower.” I would normally use two to three gallons per shower, only once a day, when the work was done. I stood in the shower and rinsed off first, then applied the soap and shampoo, and then rinsed again. My goal each day was to have about a gallon of water left after the final rinse so I could hold the bucket up and pour it slowly over my head … the most refreshing time of a blistering day on the island of Bocachica, off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia.
Twenty of us from Antioch Community Church went there to work with Jorge and Karen Silva, the founders and directors of “Proyecto Libertad” (Project Liberty), a mission under the umbrella of YWAM. Our days consisted of digging latrines and pouring concrete floors for the people who live on the island. A latrine is five feet deep, wide, and long, and is dug by sweaty Americans and Colombians, using shovels and pick axes. Some teams in the past have had to pound through dirt that is as hard as concrete. The longest time on record is 2 and 1/2 days of back-breaking torture. The shortest time until this year was 2 hours and 29 minutes. I can proudly say that the team I was part of shattered that record by four minutes, finishing our latrine in 2 hours and 25 minutes. Some of you may smirk at this feat, thinking, “That’s nothing!” But you need to know that teams from Bogota have come to the island and attempted to break the American record, sometimes after training, planning, even praying for “victory.” This new record will strike fear into their hearts and provoke them to work harder and faster. The team of Vic, Beth, Mark, Hannah, Lydia, Sydney, Guillermo and Thomas can only high-five each other and say to all challengers: “Bring it.”
The evenings were spent doing a Marriage and Family Conference. After the sessions, I would open it up for questions and was reminded that people have the same needs and desires all over the world. They wanted to know how to work through conflicts in the marriage when one spouse wants to talk about it and the other wants to forget about it. They asked how to deal with a rebellious son or daughter. They asked what to do when a child wants to pit one parent against another in order to get his way. For each question, we looked to the Bible, because it “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”
If you are looking for a place to make a difference, with your time or your resources, ask me more. The people of Bocachica will say, “Muchas gracias.”