They’re coming! They’re coming!" shouted Vyn. "I hear the big boat."
Four excited children raced to the dock to greet the student missionaries who were coming to teach them fun new things.
Smiling and waving to the children, six tired missionaries piled onto the dock, lugging backpacks and duffel bags.
I was one of them. My name is Christy, and I had come with my friends Reed, Brian, Gilbert, Melissa, and Erin to Kimbia in Guyana, South America. We were going to teach the village children God's Word and elementary school subjects.
"Come on," said a petite girl with big brown eyes. "We'll show you where to put your stuff."
As I trudged along following the children, I have to admit that I had a few butterflies thumping around in my stomach. Among other things, I wondered where we would get water to drink. The water from the river wasn't safe for drinking.
Still more questions came when I spotted a yucky, furry tarantula crawling along on a wooden bench in our kitchen.
I backed away from the creepy thing.
"He won't hurt you," said one of the boys as he swooped the tarantula up and out the door.
"What's your name?" I asked the boy.
"Rasheed," he said with a grin.
"Well, Rasheed," I said, "where do we get water to drink here?"
Rasheed ran his fingers through his dark curly hair. "Sometimes the big boat brings water. But I think the boat doesn't come for a while yet."
"Could we get rainwater to drink?" I asked.
"Could if it rained," said Rasheed. "But it's not going to rain for a long time, 'cause it's not the rainy time in Kimbia."
Luckily we had enough water in our school and in our living quarters to last for a few days. But the supply would soon run out.
Anxiously we waited for the big boat to come to Kimbia with supplies. Three days later it came chugging up the Berbice River. We got food supplies, but the boat brought enough water to last for only four days.
One morning as we finished our Bible stories, Rakel came up to my desk.
"Miss Christy," she said, "I know where we can get some water to drink."
"Where is that?" I asked.
"We can row up the river for about three miles, and there is a little creek with really good, cold water."
"That's great, Rakel," I said, "but how can we bring enough water back?"
Rakel pondered the question. Finally she said, "We can take along some pots and fill them."
"That will help some," I said. "We'll go early tomorrow morning."
At dawn the next morning three canoes, each carrying one child and one missionary, began the three-mile trek to find the little stream with pure water. We took as many containers as we could carry. Rowing for three miles was not an easy job, especially with the scorching tropical sun beating down on us.
Standing up in the canoe, Rakel spotted a small dock at a bend in the river.
"Row over to the shore here. I think this is where the stream is."
We tethered the canoes and followed Rakel down a little path and into some tall, shady trees. We missionaries trudged along behind the children, thankful for relief from the sun.
"Here it is!" shouted Raynaurd. "Over here."
We heard the gurgling of the water as it trickled over the rocks in the stream. Cupping the cool water in our hands, we drank thirstily. When all of our jars and bottles were filled, we loaded them into the canoes and rowed back to Kimbia.
EARLY THE NEXT MORNING
I heard a strange rumbling sound outside my window (which wasn't a window at all–just a square opening in the wall).
I tumbled out of bed and peered out. Four of my boy students were rolling a 50-gallon drum along the bumpy dirt road. Before I could call out to them to ask what they were doing, four more boys came around the building rolling another big drum.
I was baffled. Hurriedly pulling on my clothes and a T-shirt, I ran outside.
"What on earth are you boys doing?" I asked.
"Well, Miss Christy," said Raynaurd, "we're putting these drums under the roof of the school to catch the rain."
"Catch the rain?" I said. "What rain?"
"Well," Vyn explained, "in the Bible stories you read to us, God does lots of miracles." Vyn leaned against the drum to rest. "So we thought that God might do a miracle for us and make it rain."
A lump welled up in my throat. These village children were showing their faith in action. I hugged each of them with tears in my eyes.
Mr. Gavin, a kind, helpful man and a member of the church in Kimbia, walked by and saw the drums.
"Well, Miss Christy," he said, smiling a bit, "it almost never rains during the dry season, but I guess it can't hurt to hope."
"I know it's not supposed to rain," I said, "but if it does, we're ready." Mr. Gavin shuffled on down the road toward his home, muttering about the heat.
A loud pounding on my door awakened me about midnight. I called out, "Who's there?"
"It's Vyn, Miss Christy. It's raining!"
Then I heard it. A gentle patter of rain on the roof.
"Wake up!" I yelled to my friends. "It's raining!"
Five sleepy-eyed friends rolled out of bed. We ran outside and turned our faces up to catch the cool, refreshing rain on our tongues. Then we crawled back into bed to catch a few more winks before we had to begin our day.
It rained hard all the next day. Our drums had quite a lot of water in them by sundown the next evening. The children were excited that God had sent rain to us.
When the drums were nearly empty and there was not a cloud in the blue sky, another hard rain came. The children were convinced beyond a doubt that miracles were occurring. The parents and we teachers were a bit skeptical.
One day after school Rakel came into my room, where I was preparing the Bible lesson for the next morning. "Miss Christy," she said, "the drums are nearly empty again. Do you think God will send some more rain?"
"God works in strange ways," I said. "Let's just trust that we will get more rain."
Days went by. The children searched the sky for signs of rain, but there were no clouds to be seen. The supply boat was not due for another week.
Mr. Gavin came to the school to repair a door.
"Well, Miss Christy," he said, "looks like those rains just happened when they weren't supposed to." He wiped the perspiration from his forehead with his shirt sleeve. "Sure did surprise everybody, raining in the dry season."
"Right," I said, "but who knows? It just might rain again."
"Maybe," Mr. Gavin said, "but I don't think so."
Rasheed was my informer. He was in charge of checking the drums to see how much water was left.
"Miss Christy," he called into the classroom early one morning, "there's hardly any water left in the drums."
"Thank you, Rasheed," I said. "Maybe the supply boat will come today or tomorrow with at least a little water."
"Yes, ma'am," said Rasheed, "but lots of times the boat doesn't have any water."
"We'll just have to wait and see," I said.
I went back to grading papers. Rasheed was still standing by my desk.
I looked into his luminous brown eyes. "What is it, Rasheed?" I asked.
"Well, ma'am, maybe we could all pray that God will make it rain again."
"Of course," I said. "We'll pray before we start school this morning."
"Yes," said Rasheed, all smiles, as he bounded out of the room to play before class began.
That morning we held hands and prayed that God would send rain.
Two days went by without a cloud in the sky. Still no rain. But very early on the third morning we awakened to the sound of rain pattering on our roof. God had answered our prayers again!
Cool rainwater was plopping into the drums as an amazed Mr. Gavin walked by under an umbrella.
"A miracle," he mumbled. "Must be a miracle."
We all agreed. And the miracles continued. Every time our drums were low on water, it rained. It got so that we could predict the weather by peering into the drums.
We left Kimbia in 2002 to return to our families and our school. It was hard to leave the children and their parents who had become our friends, but we will always remember and cherish our time in South America. Especially we will remember God's miracle of the rain.
Jane Porter Meier