Jonahs by Jet

Answers to Prayer

Everyone saw it at once! For a moment no one spoke. The new water tank that had been filling all day had crashed in a crumpled heap on the ground. The support bars looked like twisted spaghetti. “Wow!” David spoke with awe, “I hate to think of what shape we’d be in if we were swinging under that tower!” All the kids shook their heads and walked soberly home.

That night at worship, David’s Dad read the story of Uzzah’s disobedience. As he closed the book, he looked up thoughtfully. “Can you think of any stories of your own that teach you about obeying?”

Keri put her lips together and wrinkled her forehead in thought. “Oh!” Her eyes lit up and then got serious again. “I know one—too well!” She grinned sheepishly. “Today, I picked up one of those poisonous caterpillars after Mom had warned me not to. I got a really itchy, burning rash.”

David was still thinking. “I can’t think of a story about me, but Andrew sure learned about obeying today. He forgot about not jumping off the tower, and he got a nail through his foot!”

“Ooh!” Dad shook his head sympathetically. “That sounds like a painful reminder!”

“I can think of one more water tower lesson.” Mom added. “I’m really thankful that all of you obeyed about not climbing on our new tower. That could have been a real disaster!”

“I guess the rules are to help us,” Keri thought out loud. “But sometimes it seems like parents just don’t want us to have fun!”

“It’s that we think you’re kind of special and we want to keep you around for awhile,” Mom teased gently.

Keri and David just smiled.

In Ile-Ife there are only two seasons—the hot-dry one and the hot-wet one! The hot-dry season around Christmas time is called Harmattan.

Keri chuckled at a funny thought. “Do you remember that silly song to the tune of Jingle Bells?” She began to sing with gusto:

“Harmattan, Harmattan—my lips are cracked and dry.

Harmattan, Harmattan—no rain clouds in the sky.

Harmattan, Harmattan—there’s static in my hair.

Harmattan, Harmattan—the dust is everywhere.

Harmattan, Harmattan—Kleenex is a must.

Harmattan, Harmattan—everywhere is dust!

Harmattan, Harmattan—I wish that it would rain

But when it rains, that will bring the mosquitoes back again!”

David laughed at his sister, who had a silly song for every occasion!

David could hardly wait until the rainy season came again. It rained almost every afternoon during the wet months, May to October.

But May was months away. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky today! There had been no rain for so long that the lawn around the hospital turned into brittle straw and the dirt road cracked into little canyons. The flowers that had been so beautiful during the rainy season were all shriveled. No water ran from the faucets or filled the toilets.

Keri took baths by pouring a pitcher of water over her. At bath time, Keri told Mom wistfully, “I sure miss soaking in full tubs of bubbles!”

Mom re-cycled the laundry water to mop the floors, flush the toilets, or give the wilted garden a skimpy “drink.” Sometimes, Keri felt sorry for Mom dragging so many heavy buckets around.

The Ile-Ife Seventh-day Adventist Hospital used to receive water from the city into a tall storage tank. But no water had come there for weeks. So the hospital had been pumping water from its own “borehole” (deep skinny well) into the tanks beside each house.

But now, even the borehole was nearly dry. Each day, there was just enough water to fill a few buckets for each family on the hospital compound. Now Keri watched Mom dip from the last bucket of water in their house to boil water for the morning cereal.

“Breakfast is ready!” Mom called.

Keri and David gladly slid into their chairs. The meal of toast, bananas, and creamy oatmeal looked yummy. Dad was on a trip, so Mom led out in morning worship. “I think we need to have a special prayer.” Mom sighed. “We are on our last bucket of water, and I know the borehole has been going dry each day. Let’s ask God to send rain!”

David prayed, “Dear God, You know there isn’t any water in our faucets or on our mission compound. Please, God, if it is your will, send us rain. And thank you for this good breakfast. Amen.”

David crunched into a bite of toast while Keri sliced a ripe banana onto her cereal. Suddenly, a powerful wind whipped the screen door. A flash of lightning blazed through the living room window. Thunder crashed with a mighty boom! Rain began to pound the tin roof, and flood into a waterfall by the front porch!

“David, quick—grab the silver bucket from the bathroom! Keri, bring the brown plastic pail from the laundry room!” Mom shouted instructions over the roar of the rain.

They all dashed out the front door carrying empty buckets. Mom set the buckets under the corners of the roof, where the rain poured off in gushes. As soon as one bucket filled, Mom would replace it with an empty one. The full buckets were heavy, but Mom and David struggled to carry them to the bathroom where they dumped them into the bathtub. As soon as the bathtub was full, the rain stopped just as suddenly as it had begun!

“Wow!” David and Mom panted from their furious, fast work. They all sat down to breakfast again. “I think we better say a Thank-You prayer!”

David grinned.

“Thank You, God!” Keri prayed. “You always take care of us, don’t You? We love You. Amen.”

That evening, when Dad came home, David and Keri each wanted to be the first to tell him about the prayer for rain. Dad smiled at their story.

Then Dad had an idea. “For worship tonight, let’s share stories of the times when God protected us or answered our prayer. Keri, you can go first!”

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