Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless HIS HOLY NAME.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Running Water, Bucket Baths, and Kettles

When we moved to San Antonio, we lived in a small room in the clinic which had served as an examining room (where Andrew had lived since he had begun working there). The room was only big enough for a twin bed and a small table.

Andrew's office

Our room

Before we got married, Andrew had told the villagers, “Now I can live anywhere, but after we get married, I will have to move to Chilón where we can rent a house.” (Chilón is a small town about 15 miles from San Antonio.) But the villagers wanted us to live in their village, so they all donated money to buy building material and began building our house. It took longer than we had anticipated to get the house built and ready, so we lived in that small room inside the clinic for about one year.
Pancake breakfast...made on our bed!!!

The room we lived in had no bathroom and no running water. Andrew had bought a little electric burner where I was able to cook our food; and we had to walk to the school (about 160 yards from our room…I counted once!) to shower and use the bathroom. I cannot complain; I look back on that first year of married life with very sweet and happy, happy memories!

We had a 5-gallon Igloo jug where we stored our water. I purified it with drops of Clorox (I had seen my mother do that all my life, until we were able to buy purified water in San Cristóbal). Those 5 gallons of water were used for washing hands, brushing teeth, and washing dishes. I’d fill a kettle of water and take our dishes outside and wash our dishes with the kettle. How did I do it? I just did! I had my little system, and it worked!

Don Manuel and Doña Anita were a couple who became very dear to us during the time we lived in San Antonio. Doña Anita was Andrew’s official helper (called his “Auxiliar” among the villagers). When Andrew was gone, she was in charge of giving out medications to the sick and she even learned to give shots. But she and Don Manuel were a very giving couple. Before we got married, Andrew took his meals at Doña Anita’s house; after we got married, she told me, “Anytime you need tortillas, come to my house and I will give them to you.” She made hand-made tortillas on a fire…yum, yum, delicious! We always had fresh, hot, hand-made tortillas to go with our meals. They were so good to us during the time we lived there.
She told us, “Any time you want to take your showers at my house, you are welcome to.” And occasionally, we did. Sometimes when the school teachers weren’t there, they locked the school up and we were not able to get into the school bathroom; or sometimes there was no running water at the school, and we’d shower at Doña Anita’s house. Their shower room was separate from the bathroom, and had no door…only a shower curtain. So Andrew would stand guard outside the shower while I showered.

Now, when I talk about showers, I mean there was no hot water! We’d shower with cold water! We’d just grit our teeth and shower as quickly as possible! On really cold days, we had an electric wire that we’d stick into a bucket of water and heat our water that way.

One night, we showered at Doña Anita’s house. Someone was talking to Andrew, so he wasn’t really watching the curtain! Suddenly, he said, “Watch it for the little lady,” (in English). I said, “What?!” He repeated, “Watch it for the little lady!” I looked and saw two little sandaled feet standing at the curtain; and when I looked up, I saw Doña Anita’s little 4-year-old niece, Deisy, peeking in at me!!! I shooed her away!
From that time on, Andrew more carefully guarded the curtain!!!

Doña Anita is the lady on the far left. Deisy is the little girl on the left. I climbed these steps that go to the roof to hang out our clothes.

I also washed our clothes, by hand, at Doña Anita’s. She had a big tank and a wash area and she graciously allowed me to wash our clothes there. I’d hang them up on a clothes line strung on top of her roof. There were times a sudden rain storm would come and I’d run over to Doña Anita’s, quickly climb on top of her roof and bring my clothes in!

After Little Andrew was born, we’d always take our showers at Doña Anita’s. That way, I could heat Little Andrew’s water on her stove.
The house the villagers built for us

It was July, 2003, when we finally moved into the house that the villagers had built for us. It was a rectangle building, made of boards, with a division in the middle. The right area was our livingroom-kitchen area; and the left area was our bedroom. They didn’t add a bathroom on until right before Deborah was born, in 2005; so for another 2 years, we lived in that house, but still had no running water. But I was so happy to have a larger living area, and thankful to actually be able to have a real stove and even have enough space for a refrigerator! We really enjoyed our home!

My kitchen area. Modern for the villagers. The Indian women were always so curious, and loved to stand at my window (behind me in the picture) and watch me cook.

So I continued to carry our clothes and eventually our dirty dishes over to Doña Anita’s to wash them. A few months later, the village men put a faucet right behind our house, so I was able to carry a little bench out back and wash my dishes out there. Little by little, our home became more comfortable for us.

Our livingroom area. Through the door was our bedroom

(See part of the hammock? That was Little Andrew's bed!)

In September, 2004, my dad said, “Anna, I want to buy you a washing machine.” I said, “Dad that is really sweet and generous of you, but I don’t have a place to put it!” He said, “Some day you will. And when you do, I want you to have one.” So he bought me a very nice washing machine, which we kept in San Cristóbal, and I used when we’d come on the weekends. A few months later, the village men said, “Dr. Andrew, I think we should add a bathroom on to your house.” They did, and my life was revolutionized. We could now use the bathroom there, I could bathe my babies without having to go to someone else’s house; and there was even enough space for my washing machine inside that bathroom; so I could now even wash our clothes AND our dishes in that bathroom! I felt like I was on top of the world!!!

The west side of our house where I hung our clothes out to dry. The little room off the back is the bathroom.

Now, under normal circumstances, one wouldn’t think I had “come up in this world.” To be put into that house from the beginning would have seemed like less than comfortable. But because of the circumstances in which we had lived before, we were so, so grateful and happy to be able to live in that house! And we DID live comfortably in that house until my husband was moved.

I remember one day, I was making our bed in our first little love nest, and I thought, “How nice it would be to have a bigger place to live!” Immediately, it was as if the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Don’t become discontent. I am preparing you for your next step in life.” Looking back, I realized the Lord was teaching me a very valuable lesson. Be content with SUCH THINGS as ye have; if not, you won’t be content with the next thing that God will give you. Had I not been content in that small room where we started, I would not have been content in the board house the villagers sacrificed to provide for us. You’d think we had moved into a mansion when we were able to move into the house with a rough concrete floor, made of boards that had spaces between them (and where mice, snakes, and other animals were able to come in and make themselves at home!). And that’s another thing…Andrew became quite the expert mice killer! Beware, mice! What fun we had hunting and killing mice (well, I’d watch the hilarious spectacle from on top of the table, usually!!!) That’s a totally different good story for a different time… On three different occasions we found snakes in our house. One morning, I was brushing my hair at our dresser mirror, and I looked down and saw that a snake had shed its skin onto the leg of my dresser table!! (Oh, Yeah!) Before I’d lay Deborah in her baby bed, I had to take out each blanket and shake it, and then I’d take out the bottom to check for snakes. One morning I was reading my Bible at our dining table, and a baby opossum came running through our house…through one side, and quickly out the other! I don’t know who was more surprised and scared: me or the baby opossum!

But do you get what I’m saying? What is God preparing you for next? Don’t complain! Don’t become bitter at your circumstances. Because if you’re not happy now, you surely won’t be happy at the next place God takes you!

Lovely home in San Antonio

“…and be content with such things as ye have…”
Hebrews 13:5


~Ruth said...

So true, Anna. You have always had the sweetest spirit, no matter what you are going through. That contentment is a breath of fresh air to all who are around you! I have always wanted to be like you when I grow up :) Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you in this way! I love you, dear sister!

López Family said...

Thank you, Ruthie! You don't know how MUCH I miss our home in San Antonio! I get all emotional when I think about it. But I KNOW and have confidence that God has something better for the near future!

Love you!

The Woodford's said...

Dear Anna,
I don't know you, but came across your blog through your mom's blog. I have greatly appreciated reading of your experiences, and the joyful way that you love and serve the Lord, your husband, and your family. Thank you for the reminder today of being content. You are a blessing to me!
Love and prayers from Hermosillo,

Jolene said...

Oh, Anna, you are such a sweetie! Your Momma always talked about the way you lived and how you took it all in stride. I definitely know what you went through... we too lived 6 weeks without an indoor or outdoor toilet and had to shower at other people's homes. I still have concrete walls, but we remind ourselves how much better the house is now, so we don't even notice! And, guess what I watched run around and play on my floors this morning? Yep, a mouse! I'll tell you what... we sure can't complain that life is not adventurous! :)

Thank you for this post and the reminder to be content. You are such a blessing to me!