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Wednesday, August 21, 2019


The Oasis of Hope Women’s Sewing Project Update


Their smiles say it all.  The joy of new-found hope and the love of Jesus in the faces of our most recent women’s sewing project graduates.

It seems like a small thing--learning to sew clothes, shoulder bags, small, stuffed animals, and more.  Bringing hope and the love of Jesus to women marginalized by widowhood, divorce, or abandonment are the products of small steps.  The first step is when a woman so painfully shy that she can only look at the ground arrives and tentatively knocks on the Oasis door.

Greeted by smiling faces and encouraging voices she soon feels the affection of women who just weeks or months before were in the very same place as she.  People listen to her heart and her story.  She shares her hurt and hopelessness and someone listens.  The soft touch of another who has shared similar pain assures her that she has found a place of hope.  The love of Jesus begins to bathe her in the light of expectation where the shadows of despair begin to fade.

Soon her smile and sparkle begin to show as helpful hands show her how to sew a straight line or to make a hem.  Hope takes root.  Fellowship, prayer, Scripture, and song fill the air and her heart as she begins to raise her eyes and take hold of hope that will last.

It is now her turn to open the door for a woman who can only look at the ground. 

Small steps.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Into Africa


I am sitting at a makeshift desk in 100-degree heat in a town whose name I could not pronounce a few years ago.  I have a tablet pc, a smartphone, and a power pack to keep them both charged. 



It is a scene that reminds me of one in a lot of films about Africa.  Usually such a scene occurs on a safari with someone in a pith helmet pecking away at an old Underwood.  In this case, I am sitting in an oasis, the Oasis of Hope in Lorem Ipsum. Instead of being surrounded by lions, and tigers, and hyenas, I am surrounded by babies and small children and their mothers.  A couple of men are finishing the new chicken coop.  It’s all so stereotypically African with a twist.  And it’s hot and getting hotter but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.



The chicken coop has been long in coming.  It was supposed to be full of hens laying eggs by Christmas.  It’s now almost Easter and the chickens may be here before May.  Their eggs will feed the mothers who come to the Oasis for baby formula because they cannot nurse or to family members when the mother or both parents are missing.  A malnourished woman can’t nurse properly.  The added nutrition from a few eggs per month can make the difference.  Leaves from the nutritious Moringa trees raised here add even more nutrients to mom’s diet.  Babies feed better, gain weight, and grow better, and may even make it past their fifth birthday.



I’m drinking a Coke, it’s warm.  So is everything else.  Besides money, food, health care and honest government, one thing in short supply here in Africa is shade.  The sun has moved to my workspace and I can feel the heat rising from the desk.  Soon my tablet with give me a red box warning that it is shutting down because it is too hot.  I need to find more shade.



Feeding wizened babies and their nearly as skinny mothers is good and it makes many good feelings.  So does distributing small bags of rice and beans or small plastic sacs of drinking water to the many in need.  Taking desperately ill babies and adults to local clinics, pediatric hospitals, or radiology specialists is also good for a serotonin uptake. Holding a cooing baby once the size of a rolled pair of socks is an even bigger rush.  But, as the song goes, it’s all just “dust in the wind.”



If sending well-fed babies to Hell was the best I could hope for, I’d go live someplace a good deal cooler and find something much more amusing to do.  But there is more I can hope for and do.



Unlike postmodern Europe and North America, Africa hasn’t tired of faith in God.  In fact, I have found much hunger for who God is.  Here where peoples’ continued existence can depend on the next rain, God has a more welcome and visible hand.  Here, most people are not “too smart” to still believe in the Eternal God of the universe.  Here is a growing population who know that they need Jesus and seek him with all of their hearts.  They know God is the one who brings the next rain. 



I’m getting older and already past retirement age.  Dragging around 25-kilo sacks of rice or beans, hauling 20-kilo containers of water, and experiencing sun so intense that you really can cook on a car hood is not the object of my life.  What gets me out of bed in the morning is the hope and experience of sharing, sometimes just a little of the love of Jesus Christ with someone who is living on the razor’s edge of existence and who is taking each day a foot, a morsel, or a minute at a time now and for the innumerable tomorrow’s to come.



The heat, dust, and mosquitos fade into non-existence on even the faintest hope that one day a simple seed that God has allowed me to plant will become that slightly familiar smiling face who greets me with an outstretched hand and a small sack of drinking water in the life to come.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

NOT A MIRAGE


The word “oasis” draws a picture of someone crawling over the scorched sand towards shade and cool water quivering in the distance.  That image is repeated daily at the Oasis of Hope mission.  Trees and vegetation planted during the rainy season have exploded, spreading a swath of green on the baked, ruddy soil of West Africa.

Women bearing bundled babies arrive as yellow beams pierce the dust of the morning air.  They each gladly give their charges into the hands of people who weigh, measure, and assess their child’s health and nutrition.  Babies once on the brink are brought back by good food and caring hands at the “Oasis.”

Women marginalized by culture or circumstance learn to make soap to sell or practice sewing straight seams to avoid a life of begging, or worse.  They drink cool water in shaded breezes as they chat and laugh as is central to the African culture.  They rest in the sound of a bubbling fountain at the Oasis.

We thank God for gracing us with Becky Schroeder from St. Louis who with a heart as big as the sunrise lives to rescue and embrace frail children in need of advanced care.  We celebrate the welcome arrival of Jacqueline van Ingen from Holland who is returning to her roots as a previous “missionary kid” to translate, partner with local churches, plan devotionals, and to simply share the love of Jesus.

The “Oasis” is not a mirage. It is the cool, living water of Jesus.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Mission 2.0

After more than seven months for three surgeries in the US to repair my back, we’re packing up to return to a much changed country on an equally changing mission.  At this moment, we are feeding more babies and orphans than we had planned (25) and spending more money on formula than we had budgeted.  When you’re the last resort and maybe the only safety net, turning any severely malnourished baby away when there is no other hope is not an option.


Blandine and sewing

Blandine, our single, windowed mom who loves teaching other women   to sew and to make soap is sharing her heart for Jesus with a growing circle of widows and other marginalized women. These women are learning to support themselves and their families.  Our nutritious Moringa trees once barely up to my knees are now higher than any of the buildings in the Oasis and seem to pierce the sky.  The office, classrooms, and formula storage shed are waiting to be painted and for furniture and shelving.  Soon after we arrive the sign reading, “L’Oasis d’Espoir” (The Oasis of Hope) will go up and the doors will open.



Soap
Soon there will be hens cackling and laying in our poultry pen and soap and sewn items will be for sale in our on-site boutique. Women arriving to pick up their twice monthly supply of baby formula will attend various training classes in infant feeding and care, maternal nutrition, sanitation and other subjects all wrapped in the Gospel.

Moringa trees at 2 months.
The biggest change will be our efforts to raise up and nurture the Burkina staff who will replace Janet and me and make the “Oasis” a local and sustainable operation.  It will be a larger application of the “if you give a man a fish” principle.  Soon, our mission must become a Burkinabe effort where the local people will learn skills to make it their center and make it even more of what they need it to be.  Even after we turn over the keys, we will continue to mentor and encourage the staff as they teach others the skills they themselves have learned.

Moringa trees at 7 months.
As much as Janet and enjoy holding and looking into the smiling eyes of hungrily feeding babies who once were close to breathing their last, there is more joy to be found in teaching the people among and with whom we work to “fish for themselves.”  Introducing someone to a new tool or skill is as rewarding as and even more lasting than playing with an infant once on the edge of starvation.
One of our sets of twins.
We have looked past the smile and into the heart of a kitchen cook who once could not even turn a computer on and now watch him compose and print menus, sign-up sheets for daily meals, and design announcements for special functions.  He uses emails to communicate with guests and plan budgets.  He is Janet’s and my Facebook friend and even “Tweets.”  Helping Bukinabé to do what they had once only dreamed and to do things that help their community and nation to grow is helping even more people to fish.

The triplets.
Our mission and ministries will grow as God wills and they must become local efforts.  Just as a seeding must grow into a tree, and a toddler grow tall and strong, our mission and our ministries must also develop roots with a solid grip on the earth to grow into a sustainable effort of Burkinabé workers and American encouragers.  
We hope to be around long enough to see some of our first babies, boys and girls graduate from high school and even university as their compatriots steer L’Oasis to whatever it becomes as Mission 3.0.  We hope that you will walk along with us on this new adventure to share the love of Jesus with those who need and Him so very much.
Don and Janet Guizzetti
"You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
 
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:24-26 English Standard Version



To make a tax-deductible donation to partner with us on our mission, click HERE



Or you can make checks payable to Sheltering Wings
with a note "For the Guizzetti's."  
and mail to:
Sheltering Wings, 5104 Old 66, Leasburg, MO  65535. 

(314) 635-6316.





Sunday, January 15, 2017

Open Thou My Lips…





We hope that the Christmas and New Year holiday season was a joyful blessing to you and your family and that the coming year brings the blessings of the nearness of God and the bounty of His providence to you all.

 

Janet and I were given an amazing gift from God, an answer to much prayer and planning.  The swiftness with which we were blessed reveals that God knew what we wanted (and needed) even before we brought our prayers before him.

 

Four days before the New Year we were visited by a friend whom we had not seen since we returned in October and who had not been to our home for more than two years.  As we sat on our front porch talking over glasses of Coke, Blondine noticed the sewing machine I have been repairing sitting on our porch.  Janet explained to her that we hoped to use the sewing machine as the seed to a program to teach widows and other marginalized women to sew and that we planned to do this in a community center in a location we have not yet discovered.  Her face lit up as she shared that she knew of available land in our very neighborhood. 

 

The next day the three of us drove to the land that was actually within walking distance.  We drove down an uncharacteristically flat dirt road to a typical weathered cement block wall with a couple of rusty gates and a matching passage door.  Blondine opened the gates and we all stepped in.  The land was overgrown with waist-high weeds and brambles.  Windblown litter fluttered among the weeds and the occasional lizard scrambled across the block wall.  Janet and I paused in dropped-jaw silence for a few moments as we took in the view.  As we walked among the weeds avoiding tripping on tangled vines and large stones we began remarking aloud, “Look! A mango tree! And there is a papaya tree!  Then we saw what we had hoped to be able to plant ourselves—a small cluster of Moringa trees!

 

The land includes a typical Burkinabé concrete block house with two bedrooms, a living area, and a future bathroom.  The home was filled with assorted lumber, furniture, construction materials, and the obligatory abundance of swirling red dust.  It was small, but very well suited for use as a meeting room with two offices or an office and a dedicated-use room such as for training.  Across the way from the house was a single room “magasin” suitable for much storage such as baby formula, rice and beans, sewing machines, and more.  There was also a small outbuilding with a “squatty potty, a small shower stall, and a room for a lavabo or hand washing sink.  The land has a water tap and hose bib (with running water) and electrical service.

 

We were not there long before we again saw the hand of God.  The property was ideal for all that we had in mind to do as we had shared with the Sheltering Wings board, albeit smaller than our too-big eyes had imagined.  The property was all that we had hoped for, and more.  It is situated across the road from a large school, a short distance from a large evangelical Baptist church and a few houses up the street from a mosque making it an area especially well-suited to sharing the love of Christ, disseminating the Good News, and developing synergies and working with and supporting a local church and a nearby school.

 

We contacted a good friend, a former coworker from the SIL translation center where we had served until last October.  Adama is a true Christian brother who has copious experience working with government agencies, NGOs, and hapless foreigners feeling their way through an unfamiliar social structure and a convoluted and often tortuous legal system to make the initial contact with the “proprietaire”—the landlord.

 

We had a visit from Adama yesterday evening after his meeting with the landlord.  Adama sat in the sofa across from us, his usual poker face belied a nascent grin—he had good news.  The landlord was not just amenable, but wholly supportive of having a social service entity occupy the property.  Not only did the landlord reduce the rent by one third, but rebuffed an offer from a small group of men who arrived as he was bidding “adieu” to Adama and who offered to rent the property at the full asking rate.

 

Janet and I have prayed much before and since finding this property.  There is no doubt in our minds that a God who knew what we wanted (and needed) even before we asked has tipped His hand.  We began the process of planning improvements to present to the landlord.

 

…And My Mouth Shall Show Fourth Thy Praise

 

God again has made His hand visible in ways that make us fall silent and watch Him work.

 

We met with the landlord and Adama, our friend with SIL.  The landlord is a Christian brother who appears to have a grand heart for Jesus and a deep love for improving the lives of the Burkinabé people.  He is very supportive of the work to which God has put our hands.  He is amenable to a long-term (five years or more) relationship as we work to raise up Burkinabé colleagues to whom we can entrust the project.  We shared the rendering of how we would like to develop the land.  He was pleased and encouraging.

 

Now the work begins.  For the next few months we will be rehabbing the home to serve as an office, classroom, and a meeting room; installing water and electrical service; installing an exterior kitchen for demonstrating how to prepare food with Moringa leaves and to feed pregnant and nursing mothers; installing a covered, outside work area for teaching mothers how to safely prepare infant formula, to sew by hand and with a sewing machine, to make soap, and peanut butter; plant a Moringa grove; plant an organic demonstration garden irrigated with grey water; build a chicken coop and fenced enclosure to teach chicken raising and to reward women with laying chickens and the opportunity to have more food and to raise their own chickens;  to teach women basic literacy and numeracy; and to do as we are led to share the love of Jesus Christ with His children and His creation.  As always we pray that God’s providence will supply the resources needed to do the work to which He has put our hands.

 

We will be using some of our personal support funds to get the project started and we have set up a Sheltering Wings Community Center project account which can be found on our Sheltering Wings website page.  We will share a more complete plan and budget as soon as it is finished.

 

While in Africa, we have learned to wait upon God, to listen for His voice, and to trust in His will.  We are blessed beyond belief to watch Him work as we do what little we can.  We are blessed to have mission partners like you who lift us up before the Father in prayer and share of His bounty to follow His leading.

 

May you all be blessed at least as much as you have and continue to bless us.

 

Que les bénédictions de Dieu tomber sur vous comme la pluie, (May God’s blessings fall on you (plural) like rain.)

In His hands

Don and Janet

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Poverty


Janet and I have learned or relearned some particularly important things living in Burkina Faso.  Most of the people here are what we in the USA would consider to be poor—very poor.  On the surface that is very true.  While people who work for the government, nongovernment organizations, or who work in various professions are economically better off, the average Burkinabé may earn less than three dollars a day.  However, we have also learned that there are very different types of poverty.

 

As we walk or drive around the country we always see young dust-covered children without shoes who may be wearing tattered shorts and perhaps a tee shirt that is one or two washings away from dissolving into a handful of fibers.  Some of those children could be struggling to push fifty-five gallon drums of water on small handcarts over heavily-rutted dirt roads in clouds of dust raised by passing cars and motorbikes.  We know from experience that most of the children and their families even in our “quartier” (neighborhood) eat one meager meal a day. 

 

Children whose families can afford the equivalent of $20 or $30 dollars a year to send one of their children to school for a year may only be able to do so until the child is old enough to work as an adult in caring for the farm crops.  The family struggles to raise crops in a land where it does not rain during the nine or ten-month dry season.  When more serious drought conditions strike, some families resort to eating their seed stores and have nothing to plant when the short rainy season begins.  Then they must search for food such as roots, seeds, or small animals to eat in the dry brush of the countryside.

 

Parents work long hours often starting before the blood-red sun rises and working until many hours after the dust-obscured sun has set.  People here are very industrious and entrepreneurial.  A father may labor all day under the scorching sun digging ditches in the city, making cement blocks by hand, making deliveries with a donkey cart and then work as a night guard for a private home.  Many work two or more jobs. Mothers often work at raising their children which may number five, six, seven, or more.  Often the mother will leave the oldest child or children in charge of the other children as she works as a cook or housekeeper for another family or she may sell hand-made items or simple foods along the roads. 

 

Everyone, even children as young as four years old may have a job to do.  It is not unusual to see a six or seven-year-old girl with a small infant strapped to her back running across a busy street choked with huge tractor trailer trucks and hundreds of motor bikes.  In the countryside boys as young as eight or nine may be responsible for herding cattle as large as small cars.  Children grow up very quickly here in Africa.

 

Yet, there are very different types of poverty.  Children freely smile, especially at white strangers who are called “Nasara.”  Children play with whatever “toys” they can find or make.  An old bicycle tire or a football (soccer ball) made from rolled-up plastic bags can entertain a small group of children for hours.  Children almost never play alone—they usually have a least one friend to play with.  Laughter and squeals of joy are recurrent, especially with others.

 

Adults are very social creatures as well.  They almost always try to work in groups.  There is always much talking and almost as often there is laughter.  Smiles authenticate the love for friendship and comradery among the Bukinabé. The Burkinabé love friendship and company. It took me a while to become accustomed to holding hands with another man while walking along the road.

 

There are also many churches in this largely Muslim country.  Churches are as small as a home or as large as the National Cathedral in the capital of Ouagadougou.  The churches we have attended in Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Cameroon, and Ethiopia are usually filled to capacity with row upon row of worshippers standing for hours in the rear of the church.  It is not unusual to have five or six pastors preaching and as many choirs leading the congregation in joyful worship.  Prayers of pastors and individuals in the congregation fill the service with adoration, thanksgiving, and praise. 

 

Whether Christian, Muslim, or Animist, the concept of atheism is largely incomprehensible.  To not believe in something, either Jehovah God, Allah, or spirits is like not believing in the ground upon which one walks or not believing in the air that one breathes.  I was once asked, “How is it even possible to believe in absolutely nothing?”

 

As we celebrate Christmas, the day a loving God became man to call us to a renewed relationship with Him and offer everyone the choice to spend eternity in His presence if one just believes and trusts in Christ as the one who can erase all of our sins, turn our thoughts to those things that are truly important.  God is not the most important thing, He is the only important thing in all of reality.  Without Him nothing would exist.  There would be no purpose to anything.  In Him we have our being.

 

When we have the blessed opportunity to look into the eyes of a child who once sat on death’s door step because of malnutrition, but now coos and smiles, when a withered, emaciated woman receives a couple of bags of rice and beans and turns to another woman as in need as she and shares half of what she has just received, when a church celebrates opening a case of Bibles in long prayers and song, we celebrate God become man whatever the date.  There is a material poverty that robs billions of people of food, clothing, shelter, and a full life.  But even in this poverty they can and most often do find faith, love of family and friends, and loving obedience to the will of God. In these ways even the poorest are actually very rich.

 

Then we begin to discover our own dire poverty amidst our abundant material riches.  We have more food than we need, we each have closets filled with clothes enough for a family, we live in a house big enough to hold the population of a small village, and we rent space for possessions that will not fit into our homes.  We become painfully ashamed when we think of trash cans that hold what would be feasts for those who eat one meal a day…or less.

 

We are often so caught up in the busyness of each day that we fail to pray.  We fail to thank God for his protection of our family during the night,  we fail to thank Him for each new day filled with promise, liberty, and a degree of luxury that leaves at least a third of the world in stunned disbelief.  We often fail to see rain as a blessing rather than a bother of damp clothes or muddy shoes.  We fail to thank God for another day for each child spared any of the myriad diseases that are deadly in the developing world but have been eradicated in much of the rest of the world.  Many of us have complained of having to work in jobs that would cause most of our African neighbors and billions like them to fall to their knees in thankful prayers to God.  We possess so much that we may often suffer from a poverty of spirit.

 

I am mortified when I sit at the laptop on which I write this message and realize that it represents years of some people’s incomes.  I am more than embarrassed when I realize that my small collection of hand  tools is beyond the dreams of my neighbor or that when I fill our old and rumbling (by American standards) pickup truck with diesel fuel that I just spent someone’s monthly rent, food allotment, water cost, and spare change for medicine. I think back six decades and cringe when I think that the cost of batteries for my few Christmas toys could have fed some families in the world for an entire week.

 

It will soon be Christmas again.  Gifts will be shared, packages opened, an abundance of food will be consumed, holiday celebrations will be viewed on television, families will gather to celebrate and to make new memories, and warm glows will radiate from countless homes filled with holiday cheer.  Not too far from the celebrations and merriment someone will be sitting alone, perhaps in the cold and dark of an empty home, in an institution, or under a bridge.  Close to home there will be someone dreaming of the next day’s meal in a nearby dumpster or trash can.  Not too far away there may be a homeless person bundled against the biting cold counting on a cheap bottle of some beverage to dull the chill and dreaming of some past pleasant Christmas only to not wake up Christmas morning.

 

We talk about the spirit of Christmas.  We recall that it was the Magi who gave gifts to the baby Jesus as angels announced to shepherds that God has become man.  Christmas night the cries of millions of hungry babies will waft around the world and may cry that night for the last time.  Christ told the rich young man to sell all he had and give it to the poor.  The rich young man walked away sad because he had many possessions. 

 

May we who are indeed very rich ourselves not fail to comprehend that the joy of the season is not in what we receive, but in what we give and to whom we give it and from whom we receive so much.  We should celebrate the day and give thanks to God who blessed us with abundant riches.  We rightly gather to share the abundance of a loving God.  We remember that God became man that He could reconcile us with a just and merciful God. 

 

But also remember those who live on the margin’s and knife’s edge.  It was after all the poor about whom Christ spoke the most. Let us not allow the abundance of our riches make us the most pitiable of the truly poor this Christmas season.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Being a Utility



Sitting in our house I can hear nothing but the roar of our diesel-powered, three-phase, 10-kilowat generator.  Although it produces more than enough electrical current to run the entire house, we try to conserve what begins as expensive diesel fuel, especially for a missionary couple dependent on God’s grace and faithful supporters.  We maintain a stock of about 75-liters of diesel to guard against occasional fuel shortages due to strikes, theft, or political circumstances.
Later today I will take a shower that is supplied by a 1000-litre black polyethylene tank sitting atop a substantial steel tower at the corner of our home.  The tank can keep us supplied for up to two weeks if we are very conservative. With the low water pressure from our tank we can manage a shower with less than four-liters of water, six or eight if I splurge.
After Janet and I purchased the tank and the landlord provided the tower, I offered to connect the tank to the water system.  The landlord was dubious of my ability and instead furnished his very qualified plumber.  It took only a short time for us to realize that 1000-liters of water was not lasting nearly as long as it should.  Often, our tank would empty in less than a day.  After breaking out some concrete I discovered that the very capable plumber had made at least three times as many connections between pipes as necessary.  Consequently, the tank would quickly empty at the beginning of a water cut in attempts to keep our neighborhood supplied with water.  On the other hand, when there was an adequate supply of water to our house the water would flow backwards and overfill our tank.  A couple of day’s work and no less than three check valves and our system now works just as the landlord intended for his plumber to make happen.
When the daily water cut lasts longer than the usual 12-hours or so, our water supply may serve more than our household as children knock on our gate and ask for a drink.  In anticipation of long water cuts we normally stock around 250 small plastic sacks of drinking water, 50 or so of which we keep in our smaller freezer as a special treat for the children during the hot season when the temperature hovers around three-digits.
Today we have no sacks to offer.  We had recently traveled to a village more than seven hours away to celebrate the translation of the New Testament into the Kaansa language, the 24-year labor of faithfulness and love by Stuart and Cathie Showalter who have lived and raised their three children in the distant village.  We have not yet found time to replenish our stock of sacks since we returned.  We will then share the 90 to 100-degree water from our tank with the children.  In this tropical climate we find even warm water refreshing to drink.
As a small “utility” we are also responsible for waste water treatment.  We rely on a “fosse septique” and a “puit perdu”, a septic pit and a lost well--an African version of a septic tank and leach field.  To extend the life between visits from the “camion a vindager” the truck that pumps out the septic system. We, like our neighbors, throw out our “grey water” either where it can irrigate our shade trees or help to keep the dirt street from ejecting too much dust in the air as motos drive by or a gust blows down the street. We dispose of left over bleach-based dish rinsing water down nearby area drains to discourage malaria-bearing mosquitos.
We also manage our personal gas supply by hauling empty butane (not propane as in the US) bottles to the service station.  We keep a bottle in reserve should the lines become insufferably long when the huge gas delivery trucks get held up along the road or are stopped by a strike. 
We finally gave up on dealing with the local Internet service provider because they a) could not locate our home, b) forgot to send a technician out to test our line, or c) mistakenly connected the service we requested at our place of business which caused the resident IT person no shortage of confusion.  In light of the frequency of Internet cuts caused by treasure hunters who steal and resell the copper or fiber optic cables and by the grace of a couple of dear friends who gave s their “old” smart phones we were able to bypass the local ISP and use the smart phones as local hotspots (THANK YOU Matt and Tari!!)
Our next foray into being a local utility will be when we reward local children for disposing of trash into a poubelle (waste can) we will chain to the front of our home.  This will be a challenge since the ground is considered to be the customary depository for waste.  Each day neighborhood women (usually) sweep up the refuse and burn it in the street.  The preponderance of the waste material consists of various plastics.  The smoke and soot can at times becomes unbearable.  The residue includes dioxins that can poison the air and ground water.  Maybe collecting and centrally disposing of neighborhood trash will improve the environment and quality of life in our area.  Maybe it will simply provide neighborhood children with employment and rewards of peanuts or cookies.
Being a personal utility has both its advantages and disadvantages.  I may be required to spend half a day changing oil and filters and doing other preventive maintenance on our diesel generator for every 200-hours of run time (about a month), but we have a huge honker of a diesel generator that much like Tim Allen on “Home Improvement” I can show off to other tool guys while making animal grunting noises.  I may be required to do chemical tests on our water tank and add chlorine to keep it from turning into a Petrie dish, but I get to take the credit if I overdose the tank and the house winds up smelling like a municipal swimming pool.
The real upside is when we get to invite 60 or 70 neighborhood children into our courtyard in groups of five and we hand each a sack of frozen water or a squirt from a hose on a day hot enough to give one a second-degree burn just touching a piece of metal that has been sitting in the sun.