A Reminder from a Minor Inconvenience

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Amanda Leavitt

Last night, as one girl burst into youth group she blurted out: “The water in our town is contaminated! You can’t drink it!” We hit her with a barrage of questions that were all unsatisfactorily answered by her response: “Can’t drink it. It’s contaminated. My dad told me. That’s all I know.” Then my phone dinged announcing a text from a parent: “There is a boil water warning…” One question answered; to drink the water, we have to boil it. As we started eating our snacks my phone dinged again, this time announcing a voicemail from the water company and all our questions answered; too much rain caused all the water in the region to have “high turbidity.” (Don’t be embarrassed, the woman on the message had a hard time pronouncing it too.) “Turbidity” means the water tests at the plant were cloudy. So, we, the citizens of this region, must boil water to, in short, not get an amoeba. Currently, it is a 2-day boil water advisory.

So, last night, as a mom was dropping her kids off, I asked her to pick up some water bottles for us so we didn’t “die of thirst” at our two-hour youth group meeting after we ate ice cream Sundays and trivia prize candy. After youth group, I went home and boiled up some water from the tap, as I waited for it to boil, I munched on some very salty chips and sucked on ice cubes made from pre-amoeba-risk water, to wash down the salt. This morning I have a huge pot of safe drinking water on my stove top, and I’m currently sipping from a glass of clear amoeba free water on my coffee table. Boiling water is magical.

For some this boil water advisory is like, well, a couple of our local schools are closed because of it, that’s what it’s like. It freaks people out that our standard tap water might be briefly contaminated. I will admit, it IS pretty annoying, because you have to boil the water before you wash dishes too, and boil the water you brush your teeth with, and when you shower you feel like Jackie Chan as you ninja through washing your hair and face without getting water in your mouth. We are not accustomed to this level of cognition surrounding our water usage. On the other hand, let’s be real, this is amazing. It’s just 48 hours of hassle, maybe a little longer, since it is STILL raining here. It is also, like I said before, magical; all we have to do is boil the water, and we are good. AND last night all I had to do was say “Hey Mom, please bring me some water bottles…” and BOOM, water, in our hands, pre-packaged, amoeba-free goodness for all.

Now, here I am over here on the 30 Hour Famine Blog, talking about our ice cream, candy, tortilla chips, ice cubes, bottled water, the clean boiled water on my stove top in the other room, and our “dirty” water school cancelation days. I am actually having one of those “this is my charmed life” moments (no sarcasm here). This is a snapshot of the blessed simplicity in my life, and it is what I want to share today. This description is such a picture of the privilege in my life, in my students’ lives. And…describing this as inconvenience on this blog is almost laughable because of who and what the 30 Hour Famine experience is designed to open our students’ eyes and empathy and resources to, but it’s an important picture. If we have clean water, or in my case today, if we have water we can purify with a quick boil using easy access kitchen utilities, then we’ve got privilege, which can provide a platform to help someone in need. Alongside ministry moments like the 30 Hour Famine, learning to take these “charmed life” mental snap shots in the midst of inconvenience will help kids recognize their privileges and the platforms they have to help people. This practice of looking past our own inconveniences will empower our students to live lives of personal contentment and wild creative generosity in the name of Jesus.