Field Notes

A Mission of Mercy

November 19, 2011

While it’s true that Living Water works around the world to drill and repair water wells, our work is more than that. Each well is a stone in the water, causing endless ripples throughout the communities where we work. Often, we don’t know the extent of this ripple effect; but one Sunday in Burkina Faso, Living Water’s Burkina Faso Country Director Geoffrey Richter got to witness it first-hand as the well he helped repair last summer opened the door to save someone’s life. Yes, we know clean water saves people’s lives...but this time was a little different. Here’s Geoffrey’s story.
Each Sunday morning we visit different villages in the area to worship with the Dagara people. We choose the village we visit randomly, hoping to just be a part of their normal Sunday morning routine. I usually leave Dano around 8 or 8:30 AM, depending on how far away the village is, but this morning I wasn’t even sure where I was going. We hadn’t chosen which village to visit yet—but the choice was about to be appointed for us.
Around 7:50, my phone rang with an urgent message from one of the church leaders, Hippolite, in one of the most remote villages where we serve (V-8). Hippolite’s wife was very ill; she had been sick for five days with no sign of improvement. I agreed to travel to V-8 and bring them back to the hospital in Dano, where our team had repaired a broken well this summer. Before we repaired the well at this hospital, doctors were using hand dug well water and treating it with bleach to use for surgery. The lab had to purchase bottled water. There was no clean water to offer the patients.
When I arrived in V-8, I could see that the situation was very bad. Hippolite’s wife was bent over in pain. I suspected appendicitis and knew we had to hurry.
At the hospital in Dano, we were met by one of our doctor friends, Dr. Sawadago. After assessing the symptoms, he diagnosed the woman with acute appendicitis and immediately began preparing for surgery. We all prayed together, asking God to bless the surgery and to save the life of Hippolite’s wife.
Dr. Sawadago told us afterward that another day without surgery and she would have certainly died—her appendix had ruptured and become gangrenous. The doctor was able to remove the entire appendix and save her life.
The amazing thing isn’t that this life-saving surgery cost only $140 (though that is pretty hard to believe). What is truly amazing is how God arranged all of this. Little did we realize that when we helped this hospital with their broken well this summer, God was developing the relationships we would need so many months later to help save Hippolite’s wife.