Last week, my goal was to spend some time listening to someone talk about their day. While I didn’t succeed everyday (and I won’t go into the details as to why since that’s not important today), there is one moment I would like to share with you guys.
Saturday evening, while eating with some visitors at my church’s picnic, I listened to Otis and Charlene, two downtown Flint residents, tell me about themselves. They talked about how their granddaughter ran in the kids’ race at the Crim events that morning. They talked about how much they’ve been blessed by God over the years. They also talked about how the Flint Water Crisis affected them – or, I should say, is affecting them.
As a member of a community outside the city, I try my best to stay informed about how the Water Crisis is affecting my neighbors.
As a member of a community outside the city and whose water was not ever switched from the Detroit line, I know I will never fully understand what my neighbors have gone and are going through.
I listened in horror as Otis shared that, while they do still have free access to the water bottles they need on a daily basis, their drinking and bathing by 16 ounce bottles isn’t the thing that’s the hardest.
Otis explained that because of corrosion from the lead and other junk in the water, their hot water heater broke. They’re ready for a new one.
But they can’t get one.
He told me the hot water heater can’t be replaced until their pipes in the whole house are replaced first. So I asked the obvious question: is that soon?
The only information Otis and Charlene could give me was the message they received months ago: TBD.
Not only do they have to use water bottles to have a glass of water and bathe, and live, but now, they don’t even have access in their homes to a hot water heater.
It’s not their fault.
And they can’t do anything about it.
Otis and Charlene have to wait, just like every other resident in the city of Flint whose home was hit, and they don’t even know for how long.
While I know there are people and organizations working hard to help those affected by the Flint Water Crisis, it’s things like Otis and Charlene’s story that the media doesn’t cover.
People forget that it’s more than just water bottles. Homes that held families for generations are literally toxic to them. Places that are supposed to keep you safe and warm can’t do that anymore because of a decision made by those who would never be affected by it (until their trials in court).
I wanted to share Otis and Charlene’s story for more than to prove that I completed my goal last week.
My neighbors are hurt. They can’t do much to change what happened. In most cases, they can’t afford to leave their homes and jobs, so they stay. And, if they’re anything like Otis and Charlene, they rely on God.
I have never met a couple so at peace with the crap they’re going through. They love their home, they love their neighbors, and they love God.
And that is what is getting them through the Water Crisis.
Now, I know a lot of my readers (aka friends) aren’t religious, but if you are, would you please pray for Otis, Charlene, and the residents of the city of Flint who are waiting to be helped? And also pray that we can rely on God as much as Otis and Charlene, even if our right to clean water to drink is stripped away.
I hope every one of you has a nice week, and keep my neighbors in your thoughts and prayers.
If you’d like to see the complete list of 52 things I’m accomplishing this year, click here to check out my first blog! For now, here’s what I’ve done and what’s to come in the next few weeks:
Last week: Ask someone about their day each day and really listen. Maybe tell them you not responding verbally while they talk is part of an exercise you’re trying… Otherwise they might get uncomfortable.
This week: No watching tv or movies. At all. I’m serious. Just sit there and eat your soup, Gwen.
Next week: Recite affirmations to yourself whenever you’re alone in the car. Yes, you’ll feel really stupid, but maybe you’ll start to feel better by the end of the week.