When God's Ways are Not Our Ways

Photo courtesy of Phil Hamer.

This post was written on December 12. As you read you will see why I saved it for today.

Today is the day I was going to write about the fresh, clean water pouring forth from the new well Russ, Rusty, and the Until Then team dug in Kenya.  Today I was going to tell you that, since I didn’t want to announce to the world that my husband was out-of-town (in fact, off-this-continent), he has been to Kenya and back.

I was going to share with you how God was glorified through the way this team served the people in the Dago region, about how they worked long, long hours to share the love of Jesus through the gift of water.  It was going to be a glorious post.


That is not what I am writing to share today.  Rather, I want to tell you about how God’s ways are not our ways.

During the nearly two week trip, the team faced:

  • Typhoid Fever
  • Malaria
  • Chicken Pox
  • Long days of drilling using a unique low-technology method our friend dubbed “The Flintstone Method”
  • Hitting rock and pressing on
  • Breaking through rock only to hit more rock and damaging the drill bit
  • Deciding to hire a man with a truck-mounted drill to get through the rock
  • Finding that the compressor for his drill was broken
  • Spending a day repairing the rig
  • Drilling all day through 35 feet of solid rock
  • Beginning the next day full of hope, with one aquifer said to be at 45 ft. and another at 100 ft.
  • Drilling all day, with no sign of water
  • Drilling into the night
  • Drilling again all day – the last full day in Kenya
  • Still no water after 135 ft. of solid rock (160 ft. total)

The team met with a hydro-geologist at the site this morning who told them it was possible that even with two more days of drilling, they would not hit water.

Photos courtesy of Phil Hamer.

They were scheduled to leave for Nairobi at noon to catch their flights home.  Russ and I talked about whether or not he should stay, but ultimately we decided he needed to come home.

While he was gone, I prayed my heart out each day, slept with my phone in my hand, and prayed through the nights.  Initially I was completely optimistic, then worried, and finally devastated.

Saturday morning when I heard the news that there was still no water,  I was crushed.  I wept.  When Russ called, I could hardly speak due to the lump in my throat.  As the morning wore on, I questioned God.  Then I grew angry.  WHY?  WHY would He send my husband to Kenya full of hope and talent.  WHY would He send a team of gifted people whose hearts were to bring water to the poor, only to have them stricken with illness?  WHY was there no water in this well?

We hoped for WATER , clean rushing water bringing life and health to people, feeding them by irrigating their gardens, freeing their children to go to school rather than haul water.  I wanted my husband to come home with joy on his face and a deep sense of satisfaction.

But God is sovereign and although the team is on their way home, let me share some of the hopeful news and evidence of God’s hand in everything.

  • The team connected with three Kenyan men who had a ministry drilling wells, but were unable to continue when their rig was reclaimed by financial backers.
  • Russ trained the men in the low-tech method of well drilling and gave them all of the equipment needed
  • The men are confident it will work in Kitale, another area in need of water (they know the soil there) and will begin digging at a hospital today
  • One of the three men has a son who was injured and has been paralyzed from the waist down for at least two months.  He needs surgery, but our new  friend cannot afford it.  The needed funds are being raised through Until Then and we are so thankful to be part of this boy’s healing.
  • Partnerships have been formed.  Friendships have been made.
  • Much has been learned.
  • A hydro-geologist has been hired to assess the property where the first well was drilled in the hope that Until Then can still put a well on that property.  The people are in desperate need of clean drinking water.

As I write, Russ and Rusty have made it safely to Amsterdam and will arrive home this afternoon.  Each time I talk to them I feel more encouraged about the wonderful things God did during these two weeks.  It was not wasted time, energy, or resources.

God has a purpose and His ways are higher than ours and His thought are wiser than ours.  We put all our trust in Him.

Postscript: We have beautiful news — we hit water for Christmas!

Thanks be to God, tearful, relief-filled thanks.

I wrote the original post two weeks ago, but couldn’t bring myself to post it until I could share good news with you.  I am so happy to be able to do that today.

We invite you to join us in providing water to the poor of Kenya. You prayers are precious to us.  If you are looking for opportunities to make a tax deductible donation before 2010 comes to a close, I can promise you that your money will be used to directly provide water through Until Then. If you have questions, please email me at lisa@onethankfulmom.com.

Most of all, thank you for sharing our lives, our struggles, and our joy.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Kayla
    December 30, 2010

    Every trip I've ever been on that involved international travel has reminded me of that lesson, in so many ways. I don't know why but it seems like my visits to Romania, Peru, and Haiti have always reminded me of how little I really control and how much I like to exert control.

    1. One Thankful Mom
      December 30, 2010

      Kayla, it was an unbelievably hard lesson for me — Russ handled it much better than I did! Thanks for the comment.

  2. Marissa
    December 30, 2010

    So glad to read this. In the end it was about more than just a well. Amazing.

  3. Renae
    December 30, 2010

    Praise Jesus! This excites me sooooo much!:) Yipeeeeeee JESUS!:)

  4. learningpatience
    December 30, 2010

    Thought it is always hard to live them, I love to hear how God uses things we wouldn't expect to do things we wouldn't have otherwise thought to do. Thanks for the update on the team.

  5. Jodie Howerton
    December 30, 2010

    Great post. Great perspective. I must confess that I sometimes hate that God's ways are not our ways. It can be so darn frustrating! I'm so proud of the work they all did in Kenya – and of you for holding down the fort while Russ was gone. 🙂

  6. underneaththestretchmarks
    December 31, 2010

    wow. what a tough trip. so glad they hit water. thank you for sharing!

  7. Emily
    December 31, 2010

    Reminds me of my favorite teeshirt….which is actually from a movie set. It says "does it have to be an old mill?" It always reminds me of our plans and Gods plans or our ideas and hearing someone else's ideas.

    1. One Thankful Mom
      December 31, 2010

      Em, I love this! I guess it doesn't always have to be an "old mill" does it?

  8. Tonggu Momma
    December 31, 2010

    This was about more than just a well. Thank you.

    1. One Thankful Mom
      December 31, 2010

      Yes, indeed.

  9. Laurel
    December 31, 2010

    When God's Ways are not Our Ways … Oh how this title hit me today.

    18 months ago, our family stepped out in faith … my husband quite a secure job in order to minister full-time on an island. We were so excited. We had so many hopes and dreams for our time there.

    18 months later … it was not to be. The Lord closed every door that we thought would open to move our family to the island.

    18 months later … we have lost everything, except our faith and our family. Our hopes and dreams crushed. Our savings acct. gone … our income gone …

    Right now, we do not understand what the Lord might possibly have for our family. We can barely put one foot in front of the other.

    However … your story gives me hope. Even after we have "gone home" … after looking like the past 18 months were a complete "failure" … I will hold onto the hope that we will "hit water" … we will see the good at the end of all of the hard work …

    So glad that you were able to write a new ending to this story. Please be in prayer for our family, as we seek God's new ending for our story.


    1. One Thankful Mom
      December 31, 2010

      Laurel, I am so sorry to hear this. I do know without a doubt that God is faithful and His ways are so much higher than ours. I pray that you will have signs of hope very soon.

  10. jennifer
    January 1, 2011

    all this time reading your blog and I had heard about Until Then and just visited the the website and saw that i know pretty much the whole team from Saddleback Church about 10 years ago! How did you get connected with all of them?


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