The well that supplied water for the house was a shallow hand dug well no more than 15 feet deep. The land that surrounded our church was considerably higher on two sides. All the run-off from melting snow or rain eventually made its way to our property.
If you ever drove through Aroostook County your eyes would take in endless fields separated by thin strips of wooded areas. There are no "big woods." Nearly all the land -- thousands of acres -- is planted in rolling potato and broccolli fields. All those vegetables required tons and tons of fertilizer. Fertilizer is not meant to eat or drink.
I talked to Byron and Ted about my concern that our water was bad; it always left an after-taste. We decided have it tested.
Byron gave me the name of Dan. Dan was retired and knew a lot about the water systems in the area. He was also an alcoholic who had not taken a drink in 12 years. I called Dan and asked him to come look at our well and give me some advice about how to fix it if there was a problem.
Dan showed up one afternoon. I immediately liked him. He was jovial, personable, and helpful. He also wanted to provide his service at no charge; he believed that would be pleasing to God. I took him to the well pipe. The pipe stuck up out of the middle of the driveway; it had been bumped several times by automobiles. The opening of the pipe was covered with a sheet of copper that had been formed around over the opening. Even before I got the top off it, Dan pointed out how the earth around the pipe was bowl shaped and the pipe leaned slightly.
"You've got a problem. Water is collecting around that pipe and seeping into your well. I am going to take a sample, but I can tell you right now, you've got a problem!" He said.
I thanked him for his advice and free service and then tentatively asked, "Would you tell me what we need to do. Can it be fixed?"
"%&*# yes!" he said. "This happens all the time. I've fixed a hundred of these!" He explained how we would fix the problem and took a water sample. Before Dan left I invited him to attend church. I told him our folks would like to meet him; they would be very grateful for his advice and generosity.
He responded, "I'll come to your meeting, if you will come to one of mine. Would you come to my AA meeting and meet some of my friends. My friends need a guy like you."
I agreed to go. I had never been to an AA meeting before.
I went to the meeting and sat down with Dan; there were about twelve of us. The meeting started like this . . . "My name is Dan. I am an alcoholic. My name is Bob. I am an alcoholic. My name is Susan. I am an alcoholic. . .
When it came time to introduce myself, I said, "My name is Bill. I am a pastor." The reaction was really funny. Some realized that I was a guest, but not an alcoholic. Others congratulated me for being brave enough to admit my problem!
By the way, in case you are wondering -- I am not an alcoholic.