Guatemala Reflections: My Life in Monjas (part 4)

Author: David Watts, Agua Viva Volunteer and Benefactor

Thursday: After a few more wrinkles and surprises the installation team completed their work, trained the system operators (two of the three are women who cook for the orphans).  Thursday evening our work was done and the first six bottles of water were sealed and we had a celebration with the kids and staff to dedicate the system.AVI15SOHWO-074
The impact of clean water will be felt immediately as the Shadow project has missionary teams that stay on site as we did. Eighteen weeks a year they have missionaries there. Following Agua Viva was a Medical team.  Clean bottled water will be available to the visiting teams (we supplied them with 100 five gallon bottles).   They will save on the expense and time of having to buy water from a vendor and trucking it in.   Next they will begin to provide the children, kitchen, staff, nursery and health clinic with clean drinking water.  Until now the children had been using stagnate clay filters that produced water we could not drink.
The next thing that will happen is that the widows in the nearby town of Monjas will get clean water. A priority of Agua Viva is to help widows and orphans so that they have access.  The water will provide employment for some of those girls and provide a revenue source for the orphanage so they can sustain the operation.  The town folks will be able to buy it easier. Clean water is a luxury and the companies that sell it truck it in from distances.  If you are struggling to feed your family you would like to have clean water, but food will win the budget every time.  Water will now be more readily available. There will still be a cost to cover bottling and distribution but it will allow the poor to have access.  Deposits for the bottles are needed so they don’t deplete their supply and can buy more.
The impact of our work and the investment of donors should pay dividends for years to come.

Remember Most? I will remember many things about the orphanage, but I will never forget bringing groceries to four families in town.  The man with one hand and no shoes who stood tending the cook fire in the dark with his wife and two small kids inside their 10 x 10 lean-to structure.  They explained that they were there legally because the owner let them stay to keep the property from being vandalized.  I wish I had given him my shoes and that I had a 5 gallon bottle of water to leave for them (the system was not complete at the time), however we were able to leave them a bounty of food just has we did for three families earlier that evening.
This is the sixth installation in Guatemala by Agua Viva International, an organization that is run totally by volunteers.  It was a good use of my vacation and God blessed our work.
All the Best,
David Watts

All Systems Are A Go!

Today marked the day that we started producing pure water at Eglesia Eben Ezer. After a few leak fixes, the system was turned on and run through its paces for initial cleaning, purging, and official production! We had an impromptu celebration to taste the ozone-laden purity.

The teaching teams also had a banner day as the newly trained adult leaders conducted classes themselves under the supervision of the water team teachers. They ran through several day care classes in both the morning and afternoon sessions. We also have the privilege of having Raquel Paz Pom and her friend Wendy who conducted dental classes on tooth brushing and gave fluoride treatments to about 60 children. Raquel will also be traveling with the team to Ecuador and she has been such a blessing to the effort here.

We’re looking forward to a day of producing bottled water tomorrow and conducting a site visit to a future potential installation. The team finally got together this morning for a group photo, so we’ll leave you with that for today.

Worship Times Two

With each additional installation, we not only gain more brothers in Christ, but the complexity of managing all the responsibilities of follow-up and new site visits increases. Trying to manage a total of five location visits this trip presented a new challenge. So,  Sunday brought about a change in plans. Since the progress on the system installation was ahead of schedule, we were able to schedule an official visit to last year’s site– Huerto de Getsemani.This meant that we would attend worship service at our current site– Eglesia Eben Ezer– and then in the afternoon we would worship again with our brothers at Huerto!

So the day began with the bone jarring ride to Eben Ezer where we were treated as guests of honor. Jim said a few words before the Pastor’s sermon and then Raquel Paz Pom (Jacinto’s daughter from Colegio Mark– a dental student), Suzie Williams, and Mike Springer gave testimonies about their involvement with Agua Viva.

We had a little time to do some preparatory work for the water education effort starting tomorrow and the rest of the group got involved with fellowship with the local community. Then we jumped on the bus and headed to Worship II at Huerto. Think about the prospect of your church (Colonial in our case) announcing in the Sunday morning service that they were having a special service that afternoon for guests from out of town. What do you expect the attendance would be? Well, we worshiped this afternoon, the entire water team gave testimonies, and then we were greeted by a reception line that would rival the largest wedding that you’ve ever attended!

Our friends at Huerto had a coffee reception for us after the service and the “elders” from both parties met for some official business while the rest of the team again enjoyed relationship building with the community!

You would think that this would have amounted to a pretty laid-back day, but if you judge it based on the universal fatigue that permeated the team at dinner tonight, you would think we were digging trenches all day. It was without a doubt emotional fatigue from the sheer amount of hearts that were poured out and shared through the day’s activities.

We’ve certainly laid our footprints in Guatemala and been blessed by the opportunity to be God’s hands and feet, but as we shared with our Guatemalan brothers and sisters today; even though they’ve received the benefits of our work, we’ve truly been the ones who have received the most from the relationship.