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Water Boys
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By Dick Duerksen

 
© 2008 Dick Duerksen, Storyteller Maranatha Volunteers International

I wanted to be Jesus at the well—listening, healing, and filling containers with the Water of Life.

It was late afternoon and we were beside a small village well in the bush of Africa, waiting for the women to come and fill their large plastic buckets, balance them on their heads and walk home elegantly for our video cameras. It would make great TV. The light was right, the setting was picturesque, and the women were coming.

But the kids arrived first.

About a dozen girls and boys, a Mickey Mouse Club of kids, each matched with a too-large container ready for water.

They laughed at our attempts at speaking Shangana. They laughed at our clothes and cameras. They laughed at each other. They laughed just like they laugh every evening at the well, boisterously pushing each other to the side so they can show how the well REALLY ought to be pumped. Each enjoying this as the best time of their day.

Then the smallest boys arrived, two little fellows whose Hobbit-size containers seemed large in their hands. One had a slack eye and a watermelon belly , the other walked on legs the size of kindling.

They listened silently to the happy laughter, eyes sad and wistful, like outcast hyenas at a waterhole for giraffes.

They waited long, until finally one of the older children filled their containers for them.

There was an almost inaudible “Kani Mambo” and then the boys trudged back along the bush trail.

I wanted to cary the water for them, to sprint to their hut with a backpack filled with medicines and foods rich in protein. I wanted to see them through a good school, to assure a future filled with hope. I wanted to be Jesus — at the well — listening, healing, and filling containers with the Water of Life.

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