Agua Viva arrived in Flores to find our water purification system fully operative and our new operating partners doing fantastic. This was especially satisfying to our team considering how this all came about.
You see, this was NOT the first home for this system. Not everything goes exactly according to plan.
In 2013, Agua Viva installed this Standard Board purification system in a community called Gompuene, Ecuador. The system served a small community of about 800 people where a landslide at wiped out their only source of water. However, about one week after the system was installed, there was a large up-rising of the surrounding communities. Why does Gompuene get a water purification system and we DON’T??? How can you take OUR water and sell it back to us??? Days later, the system was taken out and abandoned at the home of Maritza Yanez. This was a huge surprise to us! Especially after we had negotiated and signed a covenant with the communities and especially after having a huge party celebrating their brand new system. But, none the less, after threats and complaints, the system was removed. One might ask, “Why would God do this?”.
Then, the rest of the story began to unfold.
Agua Viva immediately started planning an emergency trip. A team of Agua Viva volunteers and Maritza Yanez, went to the communities and began a period of negotiations and water diplomacy. After a few weeks, it was decided. Agua Viva will be permitted to return and install the Gompuene System…. in Flores. There (in Flores) the water system will be installed in a school of 500 children in a centralized point serving 2,800 people in the middle of all of the communities… on neutral ground. Agua Viva returned six months later and installed the “orphaned system” in Flores, where it resides today.
Now the system is serving a much large community and in a “child centered” place providing much greater benefit. And, several of the surrounding communities have apologized and expressed their gratitude that Agua Viva would patiently “stay the course” for the benefit of the children, the communities, and all of the people of Chimborazo… the poorest state in Ecuador.
And, that is the whole story!
No matter how hard we try, we always need something we didn’t bring. The big surprise on this trip (so far) was Flores. Everything looked great, but when Dale and Jerry inspected the Ozonator, only two of the four bulbs were energized. “Wow, never seen two burned out Ozone Bulbs before!” After some expert troubleshooting we discovered that it wasn’t the bulbs at all but we had a defective ballast transformer. We have never carried spare ballasts before, and we certainly could not buy one of these in the high sierra of Ecuador. Well, just another lesson learned.
Then, at Jipongato, our Operator Moises, said when we arrived, “Did my friends bring us some water-based O-ring lubricant?” Oooops! We have never carried water-based lubricant jelly before. How does an indigenous mountain-man know what a “water based O-ring lubricant” is??? After a lengthy “Bull Pen” session, we came up with a plan. Oh, why didn’t we pack some “water based O-ring lubricant”?
At Promesa Divina, our operator Jonathon Guaman, asked, “Why is water backing up into my Ozonator?”. After a quick look, we noticed that this installation by Agua Viva pre-dated the addition of a manual shutoff valves in the Ozonator tubing which prevents this phenomenon.
Well, it is always something. When we return to the United States we will have some work to do to get all of these parts to our friends in Ecuador. There is no doubt Agua Viva is a work-in-progress. We are always humbled by this simple truth. In a third world country we must not strive for perfection.
However, great successes can be had outside of a perfect world. If you don’t believe it, just follow us around for a while.
On this trip to Ecuador we have assembled quite a team. Our teams of volunteers almost always consist of several divine appointments.
To begin, we have three volunteers from the United States. Nobody is paid… straight up volunteers. Many of us gave up vacation time… We all gave up family time.
But, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Our team also included Mario Mejia from Quetzaltengo, Guatemala. Mario is an excellent translator but he is much more than that. Mario knows our purification system inside and out. He also understands the rest of the program: Health and Hygiene Education, Covenants, Micro-Economy strategies, and (most importantly) water diplomacy. And, he speaks very fluent English and Spanish.
Our team also included two Quechue indigenous (and ingenious) young ladies Elena Fernandez and Melissa Guaman. These young ladies are fluent in Quechue and understand the “ways” of these isolated and forgotten peoples where Agua Viva focuses much our attention.
Campo Morillo also joined our team. Campo is a mathematics professor and researcher at a University in Puyo. He has travelled with us on many trips and knows how to keep us out of trouble. That is a tall order. He knows where to buy material and he knows the roads!
So altogether we had seven, but that is still only the beginning. What about our constituents back in the United States that make it all possible? What about the preachers, teachers, school principals, system operators, and others who have come before us, like Pastor Truesdale and Don Pablo Poz Pom? Yes, by no less than divine appointment, we have assembled quite a team!
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10, ESV.
Today we completed follow-up trips for all of our Agua Viva Water Sites in central Ecuador. Site after site, we heard and observed first-hand, the same thing from our friends, “The water system is working great. Thank you so much”. Without exception, all our sites were 100% operative, clean, and cranking out water.
Our proudest moment was when two our school projects, Pomachaca and Flores, both with about 500 students, exclaimed that absenteeism had dropped to a new amazing low level, beyond what either of the principals ever thought possible.
Every site asked us to come back more often; not for repairs, but to celebrate a life changing event: improved health, economic gain, new hope, and increased motivation.
That certainly makes it all worth it. It is a lot of work to make it happen on the United States side and it takes a lot of volunteers, but, the payback is enormous. God never said, “It will be easy or comfortable”.
Speaking for our entire team, we wish we could do more installations. We just aren’t doing enough to help our Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus.
Today, we had a spectacular day! Our team visited a remote village called Atahualpa, Guamote, Ecuador, where a rather large school is nestled in the mountains at 12,500 Feet Elevation.
The children welcomed us like royalty and are hearts were touched at how accepting they were of this team of complete strangers. It is amazing how happy there are, living with so few possessions.
After a few hours of negotiations, and trust building, the community leaders signed a covenant with Agua Viva and we promised to return to provide a complete water purification system. Our team is feeling very blessed today and we all took in the beauty of this place knowing that we had all somehow grown closer to God.
Our new friends were equally impressed that two of our team members were Quechue; this always opens a few doors.
Our last treat of the day, was a grand tour of their husbandry operation where they raise conejos (rabbits) and cuy (guinea pigs). This is big business for these people and quite the delicacy. I made the big mistake of asking, “Is it a boy or girl!!”.
About an hour drive North of a village called Puyo, Ecuador, and in the Amazon rain forest, there is the most surprising place; A university. This is a special university called Universidad Estatal Amazonica. There are 5,000 students. The tuition is “free”. The students are all Quechue indigenous people. These people are drinking water right out of the river and they have invited Agua Viva to install a new purification and ozonation system to serve the students at this campus.
The purpose of this university is to research and invent ways to use the natural resources of the Amazon rain forest and to learn new ways to preserve its splendor. Dr. Edison Samaniego, PhD., the Dean of the university wants Agua Viva to teach the Quechue students “how to install water purification systems” in other Quechue communities. Our team had a great discussion with the Dean. Dale Bain explained how our purification system worked and Elena Fernandez explained our health and hygiene program. They are VERY interested.
We all stared in amazement at the beauty of this place. Flowers everywhere… Birds… Fish…. Ants. It was incredible. Our new friends were very pleased that we had a full-blooded Quechue team member and they were ready to sign a covenant on-the-spot. Unfortunately, they must get in line. Other sites must be installed before we can organize another team to go to Ecuador. But, we plan to return to this place.. Ojala!