“One Person, One Bucket,” Liahona, Feb. 2007, 46–47
One Person, One Bucket
On July 12, 2004, I awoke at about 5:20 a.m. and took my regular peek out the window. The guard at our compound gate was very much awake. A lady was shaking her fingers in his face, and another 25 women were standing against the fence, each carrying one or more empty buckets or basins. I quickly got dressed and went out.
The water had been shut off the day before in Tema—a city of 100,000—and for miles around. No one had had water for about 24 hours, and panic was beginning to brew. We hadn’t noticed the problem because the Ghana Missionary Training Center, where I was serving as MTC president, has a large storage tank, and we pumped from that storage whenever we needed water. Even though no fresh water was being added, we were living off our storage.
Also, for some reason, there was still some water in our meetinghouse’s outdoor tap (in the same guarded compound), and someone had alerted the masses that the Mormons had water. They were coming from all over with their pails to fetch it. The custodian had beaten me to the meetinghouse and was opposed to letting anyone in. He was sure it was only a matter of a very short time before we would also be without water.
I summoned the guard and the custodian. I asked the custodian what the Savior would do. I asked him to ponder the good or the bad will that our decision would generate. I told him that the water might very well run out in our tap, but it would be better if it ran out with a neighbor’s bucket catching the last drop. He agreed, and we opened the gate and tried to create order among the ever-increasing crowd of people who were running to get in. We begged them to limit their take to “one person, one bucket.” It was now about 6:15. The line was long and the water pressure low, but the tap kept producing.
We believed the water would stop. Nowhere else in town was anyone getting water. We had everyone join us in prayer and ask Heavenly Father to let this one tap continue producing water for these very thirsty people. The tap never stopped. And the people were so grateful.
Another wonderful thing happened during this crisis. We checked the MTC storage tank, and it was only half full. We didn’t want to advertise that we had this water because we thought we could save it for real emergencies if the crisis went on for days. But then a pickup truck with several large barrels in the back pulled into the compound. It was from the Tema General Hospital. They also had a large storage tank for emergencies, but it was already empty, and they had thirsty patients. So we let them back their truck up to the MTC tank and fill their barrels from our emergency supply. We told them to come back for more if needed. We would share until our cache was gone. They were grateful.
At about 3:00 p.m. that afternoon, the water in the city was restored, and those in line took their empty buckets and ran home. But the good feelings still linger.