Thursday, February 4, 2010

Firemen for a Moment.

It was near the end of the day at our 6th day of clinic, the line of patients that we couldn’t attend to had dissipated. We were almost all packed up and ready to start hauling our supplies up the muddy trail to the road where we could catch our transportation back to the hotel. It was just then that a frenzy of activity started taking place all around us. It was then that the screams of “FUEGO” started ringing in all of our ears. What were we to do?

Without hesitation, an uncoordinated effort of Extreme volunteers, both long and short term, began running to the scene. On the way out of the church, the drinking water buckets and the latrine buckets were grabbed and distributed to the hand full of us that were running toward the action. Over the sewage drainage that was canalled in the middle of the road between the shanty houses we scurried. Through the opening in the fence and up the hill we dashed all the while assessing our part for the job at hand. On our way up the hill we discovered the water hole. That was where we were to load our buckets for the fight.

The water hole was filled with rancid water, vegetable parts, dirty children’s under ware and a lot of other stuff that I could not identify. Needless to say, it was not potable water by any means. While one of our volunteers stayed at the water hole to refill buckets, the others of us carried the heavy buckets up the hill, then with as much energy as we could muster, threw the water as high up on the roof as was possible.

It was a simple house fire started by a lady cooking over an open flame. Her flame was too close to the thin dry wood. Up in flames it erupted. The thatched roof was an inferno that threatened the entire row of thirty or so houses if it was not stopped.

So out of nowhere, the “gringos” came with about 6 buckets, tripling the amount of buckets that were being used to extinguish the fire. We came not only with buckets, but with an enthusiasm and spirit of service like nobody had seen. We were going to get this fire out!

About 10 minutes into the activity, the fire had moved to the higher section of the roof. We could not reach this part by throwing our buckets from ground level. Our assault moved indoors so we could reach the higher parts. In the rafter stood a young man, who I believed lived there, throwing bucket after bucket onto the flaming ceiling. I was the last guy in the line before the water was thrown. The inside of the house was like a Nazarene youth event water fight. It was being

thrown in from every angle. It did not matter, the fire needed suppression and it needed it fast. While I involuntarily and accidentally became a target of these buckets of nasty water, I continued to supply the guy in the rafters with buckets. It was no more than just a few more minutes and the flames were washed away.

None of us signed up for this, but I will tell you that God has a plan for everything. Here we were just wrapping up a medical clinic where we had just treated almost 200 patients. It was no mistake that we were ready and willing to help with this fire with our buckets and able bodies. God got some glory out of this for sure! We put the fire out, nobody got hurt, only one house was damaged, and the neighbors will forever tell the story of the “gringos” that saved the entire neighborhood from burning up. God was with us that day!

No comments: