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.”