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BE Parishioner
Vol. 1, Issue 3
Waters of Love ~ A trip to Ghana, Africa
It’s a Thursday night and I’m about to meet with St. Benedict/St.
Elizabeth parishioner Kenny Wood. I really  don’t know what to
expect when I walk up to his door. He has a beverage in one hand
and
he’s holding the door open with the other, stretching his leg out
to keep his Jack Russell back so I can enter his house. If you don’t
know  him  well  you  should  take  the  time  to  meet  him.  What  a
fascinating yet humble man. He’s a Caroline County native and a
“cradle Catholic” with a strong desire to serve others.
He grew up on
a  farm  off  of  Rt.  404  and  is  a  lifetime  member  of  this  parish.  
Immediately after high school he jumped into well drilling for a
company in 1963. In 1968 he started Lifetime Well Drilling and he’s
done well drilling ever since. Chances are he drilled your well.
     Upon entering the Wood’s home their hospitality was immediately evident as I was given a
tray of cupcakes and offered something to drink. I did what any curious person would do in the
house of a well driller…I asked for a glass of water!
     The first thing Kenny mentions is the unfailing support of his wife. While Betsy completely
supports Kenny in his endeavor to Ghana, he knows that she is sacrificing also by not having him
home. Betsy Wood should be recognized as a model spouse.
     As Kenny tells me about his trip to Ghana and all the hours he worked drilling the wells he
never complains. Just a year earlier he was “hugging a pillow”. Kenny has had two heart attacks
and, after his most recent one, he had four-way bypass surgery.  Now, a year later, he is in Africa
drilling wells and working harder than men half his age.
While in Africa, the hours were grueling
with very little time for leisure
- generally 12 to 14 hours a day were spent drilling wells.
Kenny feels his faith has had a significant impact on this trip. He says he is not a missionary,
he is just a helper – one of Gods helpers. This has been his calling and of it he says, “It’s a
privilege,  not  a  burden”.  He  said  he  feels  God  is  talking  to  him.
Kenny  said  the  most
disappointing part of the trip was not having enough time to do more. “When you see their
problems you just want to do more.”  He also added: “I would cry going to bed at night or just
driving down a road.  I don’t know why.  I consider myself a pretty tough guy, but I couldn’t
believe what I was seeing
– the way these people had to live.  I would just start crying”.
Kenny
plans to return to Ghana on January 20th.  This time, he will be taking his son Ben Wood with
him.
     While in Ghana 25 wells were drilled. That’s impressive; but, what I found more impressive
was the number of people those 25 wells will help. I’ll tell you shortly, but first let me tell you
about what the people of Ghana go through on a daily basis to get water. The impact of what
Kenny is doing is tremendous. The people of Ghana in the area where Kenny is drilling the wells
have a hard life. Most of their water comes from a 3 to 5 mile trek to the nearest river. Some of
the communities have a hand dug well approximately 60 feet deep. They use buckets tied to rope
to retrieve the water up from the well. If you are a lucky native you have a piece of tin that, when
properly placed, can capture rainfall. Theirs is a very primitive lifestyle. In spite of all that Kenny
says they are a very happy people
– Christian people, many Catholic. I’m certain it is their faith
that gets them through such a way of life.
     I asked Kenny if he brought any souvenirs back from his trip expecting him to bring out a
chess set carved in wood or marble or maybe even a hand woven shirt or quilt of some sort. At
least a t-shirt saying, “I survived 3 weeks in the sweltering heat of Ghana”!
But instead, going
back to his humbleness, Kenny pulled out a small piece of cardboard that he threw away while at
one of the villages. A few kids in that village retrieved the piece of cardboard out of the trash and
wrote their names on it and gave it back to him. When the kids gave it to him he said it broke his
heart. That piece of cardboard with their names written on it is worth more to him than you and I
will ever know. One other memorable mention is a picture that was taken of Jim Stark who
traveled to Ghana with Kenny to assist with the well-drilling project. Jim is fellow parishioner
Jeanne Wallace’s uncle.  He documented their trip by taking over 2500 pictures while in Ghana
with Kenny. One day, Jim was in a village school and wanted a picture of himself with the
teacher at the school. Since Jeanne is a teacher he thought it appropriate to take a picture back to
her. Well, in one of the pictures taken he is just posing, randomly pointing at a board with words
on it.  At the time, he didn’t realize what the words read. They read,
“I know I have a diamond hidden within me. This is the talent God gave me. I’ll search for it and
use it to help others”. Kenny, as he shares this story with me, is just overwhelmed by that saying.
These are the types of souvenirs that are worth bringing back.
In some of the back woods villages
voodoo was practiced by a witch doctor. One of the
villages had a lady that had to be shackled during the night. She had a mental problem. Kenny
met this lady and has pictures of her with her chains.
The numerous photos taken in the different
villages are fascinating and really show the extreme lifestyle of the people. If you are wondering
if Kenny got sick during the course of the trip the answer is yes. He said he a good, tasty meal;
however, later that evening he got profusely sick. Global travel is always
an adventure!
      The average depth of the wells Kenny is drilling in Ghana is 150 feet. The people of Ghana,
I’m sure, have changed Kenny’s Lifetime Well Drilling name to Lifeline Well Drilling! Because
that is essentially what these wells become… a lifeline!
So how many peoples' lives will be impacted by the 25 wells?  24,884 people.  I’m going to
say that again… 24,884 people. Once again, 24,884 people! Does that bring a tear to your eye? It
does to mine. I guess if you’re a well driller you can appreciate the intense effort of drilling 25
wells that are 150 ft deep. But if you truly care for God’s people
whether American, European
or African
– you can truly appreciate the intense effort of helping one person
let alone 24,884
people. God bless you, Kenny Wood!
     I’m not going to tell you how much money Kenny  has spent on this endeavor and will
continue to spend; but, I will tell you that he his parting with a few of his financially material
successes to sponsor his “calling”. As I said, he is a very humble man.  
     By the way, that glass of water I asked for when I entered the Wood’s house…
it was very
refreshing, might I even say, great water!