As our water woes have continued, the question I keep wondering is, how long will this go on for? If someone just told me: there’ll likely be no water until it rains, I think I might find it a little easier, but instead we keep being told, ‘tomorrow’ or ‘on the weekend’. It’s the ‘what if?’ that looms before me: what if this is our new normal? what if this is just how it is now? I want to know when it will end, when I will be able to return to the convenience and dependability of having running water.
My worldview is, after all, oriented towards comfort. My life has largely been one of reliable water, power, food, etc. There are plenty of things to be patient with but they are rarely the kind as the bottom of the hierarchy of needs! I am impatient with these things; after all, they are urgent!
Our friend Eliud the bajaji driver has been very kindly filling our madumu (20L containers formerly filled with palm oil, the standard way of carting water in water-poor Tanzania but newly purchased in our case.) Though we want to be independent, it’s important that we let him do it; if in the relationship we are always the ones giving and supporting, it’s not truly mutual. One of the best things we can do to express our friendship with him is be dependent on him.
Today as he brought me our madumu, he said to me, “Mama Eli, your problems with water will end.” He didn’t give a time period or a way out of the fix we’re in. This is not a false hope, like those who tell me, ‘tomorrow’. He just said that these problems would not be forever.
He is likely right. I’m worried that it will be months of this but even if it is months, those months will finish. At some point, the water shortage will be something that happened yesterday or last week or in the past. Meanwhile, Eliud cares for us, diligently checking on our madumu levels and re-filling them.
I appreciated his encouragement and I think it is borne of his own patient endurance. When Eliud tells me that this problem will end, it is not a cliche or a platitude. It’s a hard won truth that shapes his own life. Eliud has experienced one hardship after another the last few years, with more befalling him since I first wrote about him. When he sees our water shortage (his water is largely fine) and says it will end, he says so because he also believes that his will see an end as well, even when there is no end in sight.
Like many Tanzanian Christians, he shares the conviction that it’s normal to face trials from time to time but that they are temporary for those who continue being faithful to God. This certainty makes me feel uncomfortable at times: after all, some people die in poverty, cancer is not always survivable. But today, for a moment it lifted me out of my anxiety and reminded me that this trial is perhaps only for a little while.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.