Yesterday it rained. It really rained… like hard. For about two hours. Holy cow! The kids sure had fun playing in the rain. I guess, I used to be a kid, too.
But, today is Thursday. A very big day and the weather is beautiful.
Our Water Install Team produced our first five bottles of pure clean ozonated water. The new water supply is much nicer coming directly from the well. Our team is very confident that our new friends will be able to produce water for a long time coming from this source. All of our new operators are fully trained and Daryl Taylor (lead installer) says they are very happy and motivated.
Our Education Team completed our last day at the school nearby. The principal of the school invited us to return and said they were very happy to have our Agua Viva Educators participate in their classroom educating the young children about health and hygiene.
The Dental Team completed the children yesterday and, so, invited local adults to the clinic. Many adults came were very pleased to receive a checkup. Many procedures were performed… extractions, fillings, cleaning, fluoridations, and more.
Nancy Allen, Les Briner, Jim Allen, Victor Galo, and Pastor Jamilette drove to El Obraje, Honduras, to do a site investigation. This site does NOT have a water purification system. They have 270 members in their local church and over 500 children in the local school. Our team met with Pastor Alejandro for about an hour and then climbed about three kilometers up the mountain to the water source for the community. There in the “rain forest”, Agua Viva was able to prepare a water sample to be tested in the United States. If the water sample proves favorable, Agua Viva hopes to return to this beautiful country to provide yet another purification system.
Tomorrow is the celebration. Pastor Jamilette purchased 15 chickens, 20 pounds of carrots, 100 packages of Roman Noodles, 5 pounds of onions, and six bottles of ketchup. They are making “Chop Suey” for the celebration. What is the ketchup for????? Kelly Briner, Andrea Sester, and Ana Sanders will be assisting the chefs. With a little luck, our team will be climbing a local mountain tomorrow.
Writing this post it is hard not to get emotional! God has done so much through this organization, touched so many lives, decreased disease and malnutrition risks for so many children as well as brought us into new uncharted territories! We could never have dreamed 6 years ago that installing one little water purification system at an orphanage in Guatemala would have birthed such an impact just 6 years later. Agua Viva is reaching more and more poor communities and our capability is expanding rapidly. Our volunteers just got back from Ecuador on September 23 and are now packing for our next trip to Honduras on October 22nd. It is amazing that our Volunteers are able to serve so many people in so many different countries. “Clean drinking water” truly is a universal necessity! Below is a quick recap of all we have accomplished in 2016.
This year, 10 Agua Viva Volunteers provided our first full installation in an orphanage in Huehuetenago, Guatemala. One hundred orphans are now drinking purified water, literally, for the first time in their lives. It was an amazing trip. Agua Viva provided health, hygiene, and dental care training to a full house of new teachers. Our friends were surprised to see that we came equipped with two “full blown” dentists with a full complement of equipment, materials, and supplies. They are already selling water! It is a real joy to see these concrete results so quickly!
In Ecuador, Curt Mader is leading our next volunteer group to a large school in Pomachaca, Ecuador. The school is beautiful and it is hard to believe that these 500 children have never been taught the importance of clean drinking water; nor have they had the opportunity to drink it. Agua Viva has been so blessed in Ecuador. We have our largest of group of in-country volunteers there and we have very strong group of leaders there are committed to serving the poor.
To top it off, we have a large volunteer group headed to Quisgualagua, Honduras, on October 22, 2016. Again, we are providing water purification systems, education, and dental services. And, yes, we are taking precautions against the Zika virus! This is undoubtedly one of the poorest areas we have served. In cooperation with the Methodist Church, Agua Viva will be providing our very first installation in Honduras, just 10 miles from Nicaragua.
In April of this year, Agua Viva sent a small team to Zinga, Tanzania. In a brand new children’s hospital, Agua Viva signed a covenant and agreed to provide a water purification system there in 2017. This will expand Agua Viva to three continents! That is a big step. There are lots of new challenges there but one thing is NOT different; their need for pure clean ozonated water. Can you imagine a “hospital” with no clean water? Well, we are going to fix that!
The same team visited two orphanages in Kenya. We have great opportunity there and we hope to return… soon… We are building relationships there and we have 1,000 orphans waiting for Agua Viva to grow enough to respond to the needs. One thousand people died in this area in January of this year from Cholera… a water borne disease.
Please, please, please… if you have not already purchased tickets to our Annual Agua Viva Celebration please do so now by clicking on this link: www.aguavivainternational.org. 100% of the proceeds will go directly toward bringing clean water to those in need!
The Water Team
Thanks to Dale, Harold, Nick and Elena, the Agua Viva system is installed and operational. The well water at Fundación Salvación is now being filtered and disinfected with ozone. The kids at the orphanage now drink water that is clean, safe and healthy.
As soon as we arrived we learned that no water lines were connected from the well to the water room. Harold, Nick and Elena started on the real work of constructing the water system, while Dale consulted with staff at Fundacion Salvacion. Nick and Elena worked to lay (actually hang from the roof) pipe from the only water source on property to the water room, as Dale and Harold consulted with Rodrigo, one of the men on staff at the orphanage assigned to become one of the system operators to learn how the water is sourced. The first thing Rodrigo explained that they have a dual system, and they also soon learned that it is under capacity, in disrepair, leaking and often overwhelmed. It is also contributing to the underground water table that the orphanage’s well draws from. So while learning where our drain water was going we also learned where their well water was coming from.
For several years, Fundacion Salvacion has been operating with the same well and pump, and water had been flowing poorly as of late. The leaders thought that the drought was the source of the lack of water. And there is a drought when it should be rainy season, but that was only part of the issue. It turns out that the well pump was so clogged with mud and sediment that it only operated intermittently. They thought it was on a timer. But in reality, they just needed a new pump and a deeper well! They would not have known the source of the problem had we not been there. And they could not have gotten it fixed as quickly and affordably if we weren’t there with extra hands and equipment. Our mission was initially to install a water purification system…but we ended up doing that as well as building connecting pipe from the well, helping with the well repair, securing the water tanks to avoid theft, and more.
It’s amazing how the timing lined up perfectly, and our team did such a good job working late hours to make a lasting impact on this site. Now they not only have clean water for their kids, but they can use the water system as a form of income for the foundation. How awesome is that!?
The Education Team:
Jared, Deanna, and Nancy along with interpreters Anna and Stephanie, trained a group of four adult Guatemalan teachers to share the principles of hygiene to the rest of the community, using the curriculum that AVI compiled. These teachers were so great. They took the material and really made it their own. As the adult educators presented information they learned to students, both students and educators were very engaged and responsive. Everyone especially enjoyed acting out the Bible story, “Crossing the Red Sea!” We are confident they’re going to do a great job and help change the attitude of the community with regard to the need to use of purified water for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking and childcare.
The Evangelism Team:
On the evangelism side of things, Nick and I (Jared Orr) had the chance to pray with several different individuals in the marketplace and at a local college. The reactions varied. A couple of the ladies in the marketplace started crying because they were having trouble making ends meet. But no matter who we were praying with, we made sure that they knew that a relationship with Jesus was what they needed most. I look forward to doing even more evangelism on the next trip. I think this trip was a “priming of the pump” for Agua Viva evangelism. God was clearly moving in the interactions that we had.
The Dental Team
Lea and Jim (team members) and Raquel and Wendy (Locals from Guatemala) comprised the very dynamic and hard working dental team. Jim was the set up man, while Lea assisted Raquel and Wendy, the dentists who serve with AVI, but live in Guatemala. Their friend and fellow dental student, Neddy, also joined the team for two days. In just three and a half days the team completed 243 fillings, and 176 extractions. The operation of the dental clinic was seamless. Even the younger children who were frightened to come, were calmed by Wendy and Raquel’s sweet, reassuring nature. We are so blessed to be able to provide this very needed service to children and adults who otherwise do no have access.
Lea Watson’s Testimony:
I had no idea what to expect when signing up for this mission trip. I was looking for a mission experience to go on with my daughter who is a civil engineer student. I wanted to volunteer for a medical/child base mission and my daughter wanted to volunteer with environment issues. Agua Viva was the perfect match for us. My daughter worked on the instillation of a water system and I was assisting 2 fabulous Guatemalan dentist. My background is in the medical field and so cleaning, disinfecting, and setting up sterile fields was not foreign to me, but learning and helping with dental work was awesome.
We saw about 90 children and staff from the orphanage and put in long hours. Knowing that we help these people who otherwise would not have this care is enlightening. The staff at the orphanage and my mission team actually showed my what working for the Lord means. I LOVED my experience, I love the children and staff at the orphanage, I love my mission team, and I am thankful that God gave me the opportunity to serve and learn. It is amazing to me that when you go to help others in need that you yourself are the one who come back with more than you give.
The Orphanage- June 12th, 2016
On Sunday morning we loaded all 16 bags as well as carry-ons onto the bus for the relatively quick jaunt to Huehuetenango, usually about 1-2 hours. Due to washed out roads, stops by the vegetable insect police, (seriously!) and rain, the drive ended up taking much longer and we finally arrived early afternoon.
Alycia Harrah, the director of Fundacion Salvacion Children’s Home greeted the weary travelers and gave us a tour of the grounds, showing us where our teams would work. She calls it a Children’s home rather than an orphanage because the caregivers become parents for the children, so in essence they are no longer orphans, but a part of the family at Fundacion Salvacion. FS is home to 85 children ages 4 months to 18 years of age. Each “family” is made up of parents and 10- 15 is the biggest family with 17. Alycia is only 23 years old herself, and has been running the home for 4 years. As she says, the leaders are all young and inexperienced, so all the good that happens here is straight from the LORD. And he gets all the credit! Amen!
Alisha had been praying for creative opportunities for the orphanage to become more self-sustaining…to make their own revenue so that they wouldn’t be dependent on donations alone. As an answer to prayer, the Lord had put it on the heart of a New York businessman to purchase them a coffee roasting machine for them to roast and sell their own coffee. The group from New Year also gifted FS with a completely furnished coffee house, very much like a Starbucks. This small business not only gives FS some additional income, but gives the older children jobs as baristas and cooks. It has become a very popular venue for Huehuetenango natives as well as mission teams. On Sunday, our team had the pleasure of spending some time at “El Fuego” enjoying a long lunch and coffee specials. One of the girls who cooks is also enrolled in a chef’s program and she created the menu.
The orphanage itself consists of about two blocks of land. Basketball courts, a playground, and a garden are surrounded by dorm rooms and offices. It is completely gated with razor wire on all sides. Believe it or not, several children in the city have been kidnapped on their way home from school in recent years, so they didn’t want to take any chances in that sort of environment.
The ages of the children ranged from infant to 18 years old. At the very beginning, we were warned that some of the kids have major attachment issues. In o
ther words, they will cling to anyone who gives them attention…so we had to be conscious to avoid being overly affectionate, especially with hugs, picking them up, etc. That was hard for me! But I think we struck a good balance.
The following are stories gathered from members of Agua Viva’s recent trip to Huehuetanango, Guatemala. Stay tuned over the course of the next 5 weeks for the series of reflections.
Getting There: June 11th, 2016
On June 11, ten well-equipped Americans arrived at KCI at 4:00am to fly to Guatemala City via Houston. By well equipped, I mean we were loaded with 16 checked bags with water purification equipment, educational supplies, peanut butter and jelly just in case, dental equipment, including lydacaine, syringes, and other questionable items. Extra bags (we had 6) now cost a shocking $84 each. We are looking for ways to transport less equipment and store more things in country to lower these costs, but you can’t always find K-Y Jelly (for the o-rings in the system!) in country as we learned. Ideas are welcome!
We hustled through our connecting flight in the Houston airport lugging the dental unit which Jared protected with his life as a carry-on, to make our quick connection to Guatemala City.
Upon entering the security checkpoint in Guatemala, a camo-dressed guard approached the group.We were nervous for a second until we noticed that he was wearing a big smile. He introduced himself… he said that he knew we were Christians, because he could sense the Holy Spirit as soon as we stepped in the room. He told us more about himself and complimented us on being willing to take the good news of Jesus to his country. That was our first ten minutes in Guatemala.
We collected our bags and were delighted to see Mario’s face peering through the crowd to receive us and guide us to the bus. Settling in for the usual 30 minute drive though the city, we spent three hours trying to get OUT of Guatemala City traffic.
We learned that Saturaday afternoon traffic is horrendous turning our four hour itenerary into about 7 hours. We finally arrived in Quetzaltenango, our first overnight stop. Hotel Anna in Xela (Quetzaltenango) was quiet, very comforable, and we all slept soundly.
Water is Life!
At the Ahero Orphanage, Curt Mader and I (Jim Allen) were eager to test the water from their bore hole. But, guess what? The children were eager to test it, too. This was the biggest audience we had ever had. “Wide-eyed” and full of expectation, about 30 orphans watched as we carefully analyzed their water. We cannot explain to them that their water is dangerous to drink. It is the only water they have. Hopefully, some day soon, Agua Viva will be able to return to provide pure clean ozonated water to these wonderful children.
These Children are Smart!
Today, we visited yet another orphanage in Wachara, Kenya. A wonderful retired teacher from Blue Valley Schools, Mrs. Susan Gammper, helped Agua Viva pick out some appropriate books for these children, and Mrs. Nancy Allen, was able to order them and get them to Kansas City in time for our trip. The response was unbelievable. These new books may have been the best gifts these children have ever received. Much to our surprise the children immediately picked up the books and started reading them out loud “in English”. We were startled they could read and talk so plainly. I do not believe we could have given them anything in the whole wide world that they could have been happier with. Some kids got a jump rope. Some children got a soccer ball. But, the books… the NEW books, were just so special to them. These children have been taught that Education is King, and they believe it.