Sky over Klagetoh

One of the first things that I learned coming to Klagetoh was how incredibly easy these people are to fall in love with. Klagetoh is a small village with a population estimated at 1500 people (yep fellow Bereans, the same size as our campus) and one (JUST one) gas station. Other than a few churches, the “housing”, and some sheep “ranches” that’s all there is to Klagetoh… On the surface. But dig a little deeper and you find a precious treasure: LOVE.

Maddie and I are staying at St. Anne’s Catholic Mission, just inside the Klagetoh limits. St Anne’s is SUCH a part of the community and the community is a part of the Mission. In fact, all of the interviews that we have done so far have had some connection with the Mission. Because of this we have been directly involved with the Klagetoh community since day one. We are constantly having cookouts with community members, playing with the local kids who show up on the playground every evening, or having coffee with the parishioners every Sunday after church.Those first few days it was so hard to get a read on these people, to learn what they were really trying to say, to earn their trust. But after a few days you just fall for these people. The biggest experience that I have had with this has been in joining their prayers for rain.

Sidewalk after a Shower

Sidewalk after a Shower

The very first Mass that we attended here the parishioners asked G-d to send them some rain then afterward, while the congregation was having coffee in the Hogan, several people that we talked to mentioned desperately needing rain. They were concerned because all the water pumps have gone dry early this year. Now, I have lived in  Appalachia for most of my life and before that I lived in Florida. I have been near water my whole life. In fact, the house that my family currently lives in has a pond in the backyard, a creek on the side, and a lake about a mile and a half away. The county I live in in Ohio has at least 6 lakes that I can think of, and I know that there are more. Berea, Kentucky, where I currently attend college, is jokingly (and half-seriously) referred to by the student body as “Kentucky’s rainiest city”. It rains at least once a week there and generally more often than that. I’m also the daughter of a farming family meaning that I was brought up with a fear of not just too little rain, but too much rain as well. But living in the shadows of the mountains that are home to “North America’s rain forest”, I never thought I would be praying for rain. Sure, on hot days when the humidity was weighing down on me like guilt on the soul, I have wished that the rain would just break, but I have never before taken the time to take such a request to the Lord. And yet, here I am.

When we arrived in Klagetoh one source informed us that Klagetoh hadn’t received rain during the growing season for five years… FIVE YEARS… Most of my fellow SPA interns have spent their lives in the Eastern part of this colorful country. In that cooler and greener region a drought is a month or so without rain. Here the drought had gone on and on, with the occasional clouds or a wet winter to moisten the earth enough to tease the villagers. Shortly after we arrived here, about a week to be more precise, the drought finally broke, just a sprinkle, but it was SOMETHING. It was nothing short of a miracle to see the relief on these people’s faces. But I must say that I am still not fond of driving through a hail storm on a desert highway that I don’t know stuck behind a semi-truck. Yeah, not much fun.

Rain Gutter

Since then we have had the occasional cloud cover and heavy winds that carry the scent of rain to our longing noses, but the promise is never fulfilled. We were, in fact, asked to not go running earlier this week because there had been lightening flashes in the sky and lightening strikes are very common among runners in the Southwest. But the rain never came. Rain, and storm fronts, bring a coolness to the land that is not generally there. The wind whips and pulls at you with angry fingers, but delivers nothing. The animals are becoming as desperate as the people. From the free-range horses and sheep, to the birds that are suddenly finding shelter in the sheep corrals, we are all just waiting… Waiting and praying. Praying for rain.

Epilogue:

So, just an hour after I had written this post and saved it to the drafts to be revised later I was in the Hogan making dinner when I look outside and miracle of miracles Heaven’s lifewater was falling down. It only lasted about twenty minutes and the ground was practically dry within fifteen minutes, but it was RAIN. The clouds are still hovering over us, making their presence perfectly clear and implanting a sense of clausterphobia in the mind by hiding the wide open blue sky we have become so accustomed too. Let’s hope they will drop their burden upon us and refill the water wells…

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