October 19 dawned clear and bright and cool. The temperature is was really warm for this time of year in Spokane. This was the day Water for Life loaded the container for shipment to Guatemala. There had been a slight mix-up as to the date, but we had our volunteers ready on the Friday morning. The truck driver had been instructed to go to Lincoln Blvd in the valley, but he got in contact with us and we corrected the instructions to come to Lincoln road. He arrived about 10:15 am.
Without any delay, the workers began loading the pallets of materials for shipment. Over the years, we have gotten better about having things packed in pallets and staged for the loading, and all went smoothly. There were no glitches or problems. Rod Bartholomew operated the forklift and several men inside the container with a pallet jack made fairly quick work of the first part of the loading.
Our driver this year, Terry Ottman of Moses Lake Washington, was interested in what we are doing and I talked to him awhile about our project and gave him some details and insight into the varied mix of material being placed in the container. He was happy to be helping to do something for folks who do not have access to clean water. Being able to converse with the driver is a treat for us. Often the drivers are from other countries and speak very little, if any English. Also, we have had concerns about the driver’s ability to drive as we have watched them try repeatedly to position the truck at the loading dock or the gate to the shop. Not this year. Terry was obviously very skilled with the truck and had no issue following our directions and placing the trailer precisely where we needed it to be.
The loading took about 3 hours. The shipping company allows two hours, but three hours is about the usual time it takes. Handling the casing pipe and the thousands of feet of galvanized and plastic pipe takes a little while because each pipe must be handled by hand and placed securely in the container.
Finally, all was completed and the doors closed and the seal attached. Terry was confident he could make it to the dock in Seattle by Saturday and we would not miss the in-gate deadline for making the ship. The ship, MSC ANZU, was at that moment, heading for Oakland harbor for loading containers bound for Seattle. There was plenty of time, but there was also time for things to go wrong. Ships get delayed. Trucks can be delayed. Things happen. Once the cargo is out of our hands, issues can occur which can throw our plans completely askew.
We trust the Good Lord as our shipping agent and we all bowed our heads and sent up a prayer for safety for Terry and for our precious cargo, bound for the highland jungle of Guatemala. Thank you to all our donors and friends.