Tag Archives: water

No Water

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Every few months we have a weekend with no water.  The city shuts down the water to do repairs on the water pipes and we are all left high and dry.  In our house, we don’t have a reserve water tank on the roof like some houses do.  (We had one in Mexico, but we don’t have one here in Costa Rica.)  So we have to plan ahead.  We always keep about 3 or 4 water jugs on hand for drinking water.

But before the water goes dry, we fill up as many buckets and receptacles as we can find.  We fill up a few Action Packers for sponge baths for the kids, then that water is used to fill up the toilets for flushing.  I keep a bucket of water down on the floor by the kitchen sink for the kids to use for hand washing during our dry spell.  And I usually keep a bowl of water in the sink for washing a few dishes- but this is a good excuse to use disposable plates for a few meals.

During our water outages, I try to think creatively and not waste any water.  I think about the next few steps to recycle the “grey water”.  So this last weekend when the water was out and I was trying to conserve it, I was washing a few dishes in a large bowl of soapy water.  When I was done washing, I pondered my options for using the dirty, soapy water.  My first idea was to use it to fill up a toilet.  But then I imagined soap suds pouring out of my toilet bowl like some deranged I Love Lucy episode.  In the end I decided if that happened at least I wouldn’t have to scrub the toilet this week.  Into the toilet it went.

You never realize how much you use water until it’s not available.  I’m a chronic hand washer, and when the water is out I can easily go through a package of wet wipes in a weekend!  The most challenging things are cooking and brushing teeth.  It’s like camping in your own house.  It makes me thankful that we  DO have it most of the time.  It makes me think about the places in the world where the people go to communal wells or water holes to collect their water for the day.  (It makes me thirsty just thinking about it!)  I’m thankful that I’m only inconvenienced for a short while and that normally I have access to water.  So thankful!

Lucy was here, better call FEMA

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Lucy, my 5 year old, is a living tornado.  If you want it broken, for insurance purposes, just put it into her hands and you’ll have a perfectly good claim in under 3 minutes.  She is easily the most destructive child I’ve ever known.  I’ve known puppies that cause less destruction than this mischevious child.  For example, I’m on my second lap top since she poured a cup of water on my first one.  So I should know better than to leave her alone for any period of time.  But today I had a lapse in parenting.  I got side tracked doing something upstairs and left her alone in the living room watching a video.  I should have known better.  She can not be trusted.

An hour later when I came downstairs, our tile floor was a swimming pool.  There was standing water on the coffee table, a wet spot on the couch, a soaking wet towel covering the foot stool, and a puddle that spanned from the living room to the dinning room and into the kitchen.  I followed a set of dirty foot prints into the half bath just off the living room and I think I found the source of all the water.  This weekend our water was shut off for pipe repairs.  So I had strategically placed buckets of water next to the toilets for flushing purposes.

Our water had come back on yesterday afternoon, but I had forgotten to empty the bucket in the half bath.  Now I’m no forensics expert, but I have played Clue, so here’s how I think the crime scene could be reconstructed.  Lucy is watching a video and absent-mindedly colors on the couch with the capless, brown marker in her hand.  Knowing this will make Mommy very angry, she goes into the kitchen and takes the towel from it’s place by the sink.  She’s too short to reach the sink, but she knows where there is a bucket of water placed at her height… in the half bath.  She proceeds to dip the towel into the water and carry it dripping, no soaking wet, to the couch.  She sponges the marker spot on the couch.  She still has enough water on the towel so she decides to clean the whole coffee table, after all, it’s sticky too.

She takes the still dripping towel back into the kitchen where she gets side tracked.  Her 5 year old attention span zeros in on the refrigerator.  She knows there is a bag of chocolate chips in the freezer and she thinks it’s about time for a snack after all that hard work.  The clip is off of the bag because she’s already been into it today, so she carries the bag upside down to the coffee table, spilling crumbs of chocolate chips all over the floor.  The crumbs look suspiciously like mouse poop, but there’s just too much of it to be anything but a mushy mess in the puddle which now covers 2/3 of the floor.  She goes to get the broom and dust pan from the laundry room.  She quickly gives up on that plan and abandons them in the kitchen.

Looking around, she spots some purple tissue paper on the dinning room table.  Maybe that could work like paper towels!  She carries the tissue paper to the wet spot on the couch and proceeds to rip it in two.  Well, that was fun!  She decides to rip another piece.  She continues ripping the purple tissue paper into soggy shreds that bleed onto the couch and the white tile floor.  And at this point I take notice of the dangerous silence in the house and come downstairs.  I gasp!  I shout!  I spank!  I don’t know where to begin cleaning this disaster.  I should call FEMA.

Feeling the full weight of shock and awe, I try to reconstruct the crime- Lucy with the towel in the half bath.   I think about the time when she was a toddler, she dipped a wash cloth in the toilet and sucked the water off of it.  I am thankful that this PROBABLY isn’t toilet water… at least I think it’s not.  I pray it’s not.  I check the level of the water in the toilet bowl and mentally measure the amount of water on the floor.  Nope, not toilet water.

During the next half hour of cleaning the mess my emotions swing wildly between being angry that I have to clean my floors again after I literally just did them twice yesterday AND being thankful that tile floors are waaaaay easier to clean than carpet.  So is the glass half full or half empty?  I don’t know, but I think that half of it has spilled on my floor.

My child in motion… constantly.

Missionaries should not punch people

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This isn't my pict. and it isn't from Nicaragua either.

You know the saying, “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  Most missionaries I know have a sister saying, “Don’t tell the Grandparents.”  There’s a lot that happens overseas that just can’t be reported back home for fear of insighting mass panic among all the parents of missionaries that daily pray for the safety of their children and grandchildren serving in Foreign Missions.  Over Christmas break I finally told my parents one of those stories, so I feel free now to write about it on my blog.

It happened that while we were in Language School in Costa Rica our visas expired and we had to leave the country for a few days.  Back in those days everyone was on their own to plan a visa trip.  So when we had a long break at the beginning of August we bought bus tickets for our family of 4 (at the time).  We planned to go to Granada, Nicaragua for a long weekend.  Everyone said Granada was beautiful, colonial, and historic.  They failed to mention that Nicaragua had not cleaned up after it’s Civil War and that Granada looked like it was still in an active bombing zone.

When the Bus service dropped us off on the edge of town at 9pm the entire city was in a blackout.  To make matters worse, there were NO marked taxis anywhere near the bus stop.  In the pitch black we “hired” some guy with 4 wheels to drive us to our hotel.  The hotel was also completely dark.  With a flashlight, the desk clerk directed us to our room.  The minute we shut the door we were engulfed in an inky blackness.  Without air conditioning or light, I felt like I was in a tomb.  Claustrophobia gripped me!!  I dug in my bag and found my own flashlight.  With no electricity there was also no water because the whole system was run off electric pumps.  That meant no showers, no brushing of teeth and no flushing of the toilets.  Great.  I’m loving Granada already.

We had a hard time sleeping that night in the suffocating darkness.  We didn’t dare open our door for air for fear that some creeper would jump out of the darkness and… well, do what psychopaths do.  So the door stayed shut.  In the morning things looked a little better.  We learned that for about 2 hours every morning we would have electricity.  We filled our bathtub with water to save for when the power would go out again.  That way, at least we could give the kids a bath in the evening then scoop the bath water into the toilet for flushing.  We’re missionaries, right?  We can handle this.  In the light of day we also discovered the pool area, which would grow green and funky within a few days since the other hotel guests decided to convert it into their own not-so-private bathtub.

It was hot in Granada.  I mean hot!  So just to be outdoors we spent hours wandering around the historic center and killing time down by the lake.  I was hot and irritable.  We tried to stay out of crowds because the children begging were so aggressive.  Beggars swarmed me on more than one occasion and though I carried no valuables I was still overwhelmed and angry at being pulled on and pushed around.  They didn’t believe me when I said I had nothing.  Even when I turned my pockets inside out and showed them they were empty, the children still pulled on my clothes and arms and hair until I had to use my voice to firmly tell them NO.  I don’t like to be that way, but they wouldn’t leave me alone!

One day we were standing on a raised patio that ran along the front of all the historic buildings in the center of town.  We were waiting for “The Running of the Bulls” to pass by our way.  We thought that being up higher on the steps would be safer if the bull charged or the crowd surged.  Vaqueros on horseback were entertaining the crowd with their roping and riding skills while we waited for the bull.  Slowly, slowly the oldest bull I’ve ever seen ambled down the street on arthritic hoofs.  When it would pause for a rest the crowd would taunt it and the vaqueros whip it with their ropes.  Then the old beast would teeter and sway one way or the other and the crowd would go wild as if it had tried to jump into their laps!  I watched the crowd.

While I was observing, I noticed a man trying to pick pocket a tall Germanic looking tourist.  He wasn’t a very smooth operator because she caught him trying to reach into her bag.  Either she didn’t want to scold him in her language or he intimidated her, I’m not sure, but she just cast a withering scowl in his direction and clutched her bag tighter.  I wondered what I would do in that situation.  Do I have the Fight or Flight instinct?  Which one would immerge?

The crowded again Ooohed and gasped as the bull lazily swung it’s horns in our direction.  My attention was diverted again.  With my right hand I quickly thrust my camera above my head for a random crowd shot, my left hand was wrapped around my backpack hung on my front side.  Suddenly two teenagers pushed and giggled their way through the crowd to my right.  I wondered what was the point of all that excitement; the bull wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Then I felt a hand on my left thigh.  The hand moved up my leg and started patting the bottom of my backpack.  I swung my gaze to the left and saw the face of the same man who I had witnessed pick-pocketing the German woman.  We locked eyes and instantly my instincts took over.  My left hand, which was curled around my backpack, flung straight out in an arc and my fist made contact with the guy’s face.  I have never seen anyone go airborne and land flat on their back except in the movies.  He landed a few feet away from me and I started screaming, “Quit touching me!  Back off!!” in English and gesticulating largely.  I was causing a huge scene.  The crowed instantly formed a circle around us, all eyes on the two of us.  The man on the ground tried to scramble backwards away from me.  My husband quickly scooped up our two kids and backed away against a wall as I continued screaming and rushing towards the stunned pickpocket.  At some point I regained my senses enough to realize that I had caused the excited crowd to become volatile.  I said, “let’s get out of here,” as the crowd collapsed on the thief and starting swinging their own fists!

We retreated to an ice cream shop a few blocks away to cool down and think through what had just happened.  Hot and irritable had turned into shaken and exhausted.  I no longer cared about the bull or the crowds or the beggar children.  I realized that missionaries probably shouldn’t punch people, but in all fairness, he didn’t know I was a missionary and he did have it coming.  My instincts just took over!  He’s just lucky that I’m not left handed…

Later we circled around the square again and saw the police arresting the thief and a couple of his teenage companions.  The crowd remained in a circle around the squad car, yelling and throwing a hail of trash down on the handcuffed men.  I asked a bystander why the crowd was so angry with these guys.  “Tourism is important to our livelihood.  Those guys make us look bad and it’s bad for business!”  I thought, yes indeed, it’s bad for business.  I, for one, will not be going back to Granada anytime soon.

And that, my friends, is a story that we did not tell the Grandparents… until recently.