The Water Truck

Early morning, barely light, a high, electronic, belly-dancer tune woke us. Audible first only to street dogs, then faintly for humans, it soon became distinct. Slowly it grew until the too-cheerful-for-morning ditty echoed up the streets that approached our central Asian hotel. When it dominated all other sound, I abandoned our warm bed to peer down from the third-floor balcony.

This truck backed down our crowded street two or three times every day to deliver water to the apartment building next door. Photo by Jim Manley.

I saw nothing. But the whiny song grew louder. And closer. Suddenly the tail end of a large tanker truck appeared at our corner. The driver never halted, but deftly backed around the restricted turn, then maneuvered through the twisted gambit of parked cars and motor scooters that lined our narrow street. He passed below me and stopped in front of the apartment building next door.

The mad melody stopped and left an enormous silence. The driver hopped down from the cab, went to the side of his vehicle and removed a long, green, flexible tube. He connected one end to a valve at the rear of his tank and the other end to a waiting receptacle near the apartment’s entrance. Then he returned to the tank and opened a valve. And waited.

Water! On the edge of a 10 million-person city, these residents depended upon a man to deliver their water. By truck.

Big truck? Tiny, crowded, crumbling streets? High need? Multiple deliveries every day? What could go wrong? I marveled at his ability, determination, and persistence. They needed him. Desperately. And for the five weeks we lived there, he never failed.

He was just like those MAF folks I know who sharpen their skill, work until the job’s done, and serve others day after day, month after month, year after year.

There are differences, of course. One rolls, the other flies. One plays a raucous tune, the other roars. And, while the truck delivers exhaustible, life-saving water, the MAF airplane delivers eternal, life-giving water. We need both.

Years ago I had the privilege of flying Shuar-language Bibles into this jungle village in Ecuador. Photo by Jim Manley.

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