Recent Posts from the Mumena Team

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: Well Checking

One of the hardest situations our volunteers face as they come over to help for a couple of weeks is the inundation with requests for “something”.  Understanding the Hunter / Gatherer ethic of “well checking” really helps in this regard as Christ-like ethics are emerging within the community.  However, Americans have to unplug their cultural revulsion to “double dipping” in order to manage it.  “Well checking” goes something like this:

Upon waking-up each day and intending to provide for my family by hunting and gathering, I will give each of my children a bucket and tell them to go check the wells for water.  If a well is found to have water, then the child will fill every bucket available even though the family may only need one or two buckets for their daily needs.  After all, one never knows when the well will run dry.  If every child finds water in every well checked, then the family might find themselves with many buckets of water for which they will be very happy.  This is responsible and ethically right “double dipping”.

As missionary families living in a village setting, we often have people hunting and gathering the same commodity at each or our doors.  If the commodity is found at the first door, the search will go on at the other missionary doors, naturally.  If I find 3 or 4 of what I am looking for, won’t I be a happy person!  Our volunteers (and often we as missionaries) are appalled at this.  But the key to managing these feelings (without losing one’s own ethical composure) is to understand the Kaonde relationship with a water well.  When a Kaonde person finds a dry water well, no personal offense is taken when the well refuses to give water!  When I say “no” to a request (nicely… for there are no rude wells in Zambia), no offense is taken.

“A hungry man might steal to fill his stomach. If he is caught, he must pay seven times more than he stole. It might cost him everything he owns, but other people understand. They don't lose all their respect for him.”

Proverbs 6:30-31  (Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version, Revised Edition, copyright © 1987, 1999, 2005 World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.)

So how do I ascertain true needs?  Ah yes, that’s another journey…
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson


Pictured:  our colleague, Douglas Siampongo, checking wells for water.  Though some have been dry, he has never been offended by one yet.

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