Reprinted from “The Bridge” Dec., 2018

“A Mission Born through Prayer: Clean Water for the World Vision Camp at El Tule”

Yendy Tajeda, director of the World Vision training camp at El Tule in northeastern Guatemala,was beaming last month as she watched her guests sipping the crystal clear water from the camp’snew water purification system.The celebration was the culmination of a year of praying.

A year ago, she had asked God to let the visitors from Suffolk Presbyterian Church partner withthe camp to install a Living Waters for the World water system.
The SPC team had gone to bed discouraged after a fruitless three day search elsewhere for a suitable place where they could help provide clean water. They had been enthusiastic about considering the camp, where World Vision works with surrounding communities to improve nutrition. That sounded like a perfect fit.
Then they tested the water: its high mineral content would require a reverse osmosis and softening system, and they were not trained in that technology. Also, the church didn’t have enough funds for an ROS system, about 2 1/2 times as expensive as the standard system they had installed three times before.

Then during the night, God spoke to one of the team members, saying, “You can do this.” By morning, the team agreed to step out in faith. In the spring, Rob Saunders and Jack Stoughton returned to Clean Water U for ROS training, and the fund-raising intensified. And for 12 months, Yendy prayed for patience.
But on November 8, 2018, as she and SPC team member Skip Irby, unveiled the dedication pl aque for Living Waters for the World’s first ROS system in Guatemala, there were only prayers of thanksgiving.  “We are filled with joy to be here today,” said Skip, a retired Baptist pastor. “We are more than project partners, more than teammates. We became brothers and sisters in Christ, sensing God’s constant
presence along this journey that began one year ago!

”Rob and Jack presented Yendy with a wooden cross that had been made by the late Sid Thomas, who had made crosses for everyone in the SPC family. “Now that we have been here, we feel like we are part of your family,” Rob said. “And we feel like you and everyone at El Tule are part of our church family.” An orchestra of musicians from Guatemala and Honduras played “The Pink Panther” theme as the staff
passed out cups of the purified water to the audience that included Pablo Perez, our LWW in-country coordinator, and Jhonny Matias, the in-country technician.
The El Tule staff had brought residents of a nearby hamlet to the camp by bus for training the day before and for the ceremony, providing them meals both days.
World Vision will focus first on the 60 residents from about 15 families that make up that community by providing them safe drinking water and water-related health and spiritual lessons. That will complement efforts to improve health through better nutrition. El Tule will save money since they will no longer buy bottled water from a commercial vendor. The water system is expected to provide immediate health benefits and cost savings for families as well. El Tule plans to sell water from the system at an affordable price and provide some free where
the need is great.

The SPC team is enthusiastic about partnering with World Vision, which shares Living Waters for the World’s values and goals to improve lives through education, health and empowerment, said Mary Ann Saunders. World Vision’s record-keeping will help document the benefits of using purified water. She and Skip provided administrative oversight for the trip.  Earlier in the week, Nancy Cisco and Susie Stoughton – with the help of a translator – had trained four volunteers in health and spiritual lessons. They taught them to use purified water for everything that goes into their mouths, how to keep the water pure and the need for proper hand washing.
And they taught them to conserve the precious commodity. The volunteers, who are all involved in El Tule training efforts, immediately grasped the curriculum
of art, drama, games and music and adapted it to the needs of their students – mothers with nursing babies and toddlers in tow, young girls and a father. The newly minted teachers made learning fun….and life-changing.

Team members went home with parting gifts of Guatemalan coffee and mugs from Yendy and a plaque of appreciation for the congregation from Aura Palma, World Vision nutritionist Members of the congregation, friends, families, other churches and community members had contributed money and materials for the project. Shortly before the trip, the team received notice of a grant from the World Day of Prayer. A New York woman staying at the same hotel as the team on
the way home gave money for the mission after hearing about their work. Donations to help defray the costs continue to come.

The team will make two more trips to the camp in subsequent years to check on the progress of the system. “We will continue to remember and pray for you,” Skip said. “And we ask that you continue to pray for us. May God bless you. And we will be back.”

 

Read the complete article here  –Bridge Article by Susie

SPC’s Living Water for the World Mission Team of Chris Irby, Skip Irby, Rob Saunders and Jack Stoughton, returned home on Nov. 19 after completing a 8 day covenant development trip to Guatemala. The purpose of the trip was to develop a new partnership for its fourth water purification system. The team and the LWW in-country coordinator, Pablo Perez, spent 5 days at Centro de Educacion Popular El Tule, a camp-like facility near Chiquimula about 4 hours east of Guatemala City. Several potential installation sites were visited nearby but ultimately, the team selected to partner with the EL Tule camp. In spite of the camp’s abundant water supply, water quality issues necessitate the addition of a Reverse Osmosis Softner (ROS) component to the system. Not only will this be the first ROS installation by the team but will be the first LWW ROS system in Guatemala. Rob Saunders and Jack Stoughton will attend LWW’s Clean Water University near Oxford, MS in April to receive training in the ROS technology. The LWW team will return in November, 2018 for the installation at El Tule.
The team also visited its previous installation sites in El Paso de los Jalapas and in Estancia de la Virgen. All the sites are operational and are being well maintained

Enjoy the show! 

Celebration – Guatemala Style

 By Susie Stoughton

      The joyful celebration of the newest Living Waters for the World system in Guatemala went smoothly, though a day earlier than we had expected. The system at El Paso de los Jalapas pumped out the first bottle of clean water 10 minutes before the start of the festivities on Feb. 18.

Middle school students had draped brightly colored daisy chains over the pipes and filters that will provide clean water for their classrooms. A banner with red, yellow and blue handprints of members of partner churches in Virginia and Texas flapped in the breezes.

The celebration marked SPC’s third water project in Guatemala, the first in El Paso de los Jalapas and our first with partners from Lake Highlands Presbyterian Church in Dallas. The village is about 20 minutes from Estancia de la Virgen, where SPC has installed systems in a church and an elementary school.

 

Ninth graders sang “Use This Water” in the English they had learned earlier that afternoon. Seventh and eighth graders enacted the parting of the Red Sea. A marimba band played as LWW team members and teachers danced.

Then everyone – students, teachers, parents and Gringos – drank the fresh, pure water.

“Gracias,” said the students, thirsty for clean water and eager to make friends with the Gringos. “Thank you,” some said, practicing their newly learned English.

Hundreds of times, “thank-you” was accompanied by a hug – Guatemalan style.

“Gracias,” said the smiling students as they slipped on friendship bracelets made by their “amigos” in North America.

“Gracias a Dios” (“thanks be to God”), repeated the teachers and the principal, Manuel de Jesús Hernández Pereira, grateful for the blessing of clean water.

For three days, Rob Saunders and Jack Stoughton had shown the local operators how to build, operate and maintain the system. The school staff plans to distribute water to other schools as well.

     Miriam Mazariegos, our LWW coordinator in Guatemala, and Bob Thornton from Dallas, supervised the project, while Rachel Glass of Dallas shot pictures for a documentary of the trip and helped train the operators.

Each morning, Fran Alwood, Nancy Cisco, Mary Ann Saunders, Lizzie Mazariegos (Miriam’s daughter) and I trained the teachers to use the health, hygiene and spiritual lessons to educate the community about the need for clean drinking water and proper hygiene. Each afternoon, the teachers repeated those lessons for 116 students and about 40 parents. They will continue training on a regular basis.

Operators of three other area systems, who have formed a network to support one another, helped show the teachers how to assemble the pipes and filters.

The owner of a local seafood restaurant expressed his gratitude for our helping his community by twice treating us to lunch, the main meal of the day.

Developing long-term relationships is the key to sustainability, according to the LWW mantra. Sergio Ramirez and his family, our friends since 2008 when we installed a system in the church in Estancia de la Virgen, housed and fed us. Teachers at the school where we installed a system in 2010 treated us to dinner one night. And the wife of the school’s operator made us a decadent chocolate dessert – Guatemalan mole – to enjoy on our last evening before we had to say “adios” to our special friends.

On Nov 22, the SPC Living Waters for the World Mission Team returned from Guatemala after a successful  mission trip. The trip’s primary purpose was to establish a covenant  to install a clean water system in a middle school in El Paso de los Jalapas.  That village is near Estancia de la Virgen where SPC already has  sponsored two LWW clean water systems. One, in the elementary school, provides clean drinking water for hundreds of students and staff.  The other, in SPC’s sister-church, Nueva Jerusalem, produces clean water that is sold at a low price to the community, with a portion given away to the needy.

In 2012,  the team  met with Professor Manuel de Jesús Hernandez Pereira, the El Paso principal, and inspected the school where he would like a system. Since then, he has started site preparations, hoping to bring the project to completion with help from U.S. partners.

For this project, SPC is partnering with a team from Lake Highlands Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas. They have agreed to split the costs of the project and provide some much-needed LWW-trained manpower and expertise.  Bob Thornton from LHPC joined us on this the trip and will be a great asset as we combine “forces” to  return to Guatemala in mid February 2015 for the installation.