The LORD is watching over your journey. Judges 18:6
On this trip we will work with a Presbyterian Church called El Divino Redentor on the installation of the water purification system. We aim to train a team for maintenance and operation of the system/business. We also will equip a team to educate the community on clean water use, basic hygiene, along with sharing about Jesus Christ, our Living Water.
Sunday, May 15
This morning, after Jim, Gustavo and Buzz went to get the cars at the parking lot, Gustavo and Buzz "decided" to go around in circles for a few minutes because one of the ways to access our hotel in Merida was closed. They made it to the Hotel though and picked up Larry and Peggy and the rest of the luggage. By then Jim and pastor Manases had already left to pick up the third car at Hertz. Larry turned the GPS on and off they went to catch up with the other two cars... we arrived there in no time, but no sign of the other two cars. We all were like: "where are they?", but after a while we just said: "this is part of the excitement of the trip". After a 15 minute wait we spotted the two cars as they arrived saying they had stopped at the church and got a quick tour...
After checking in at the Ticul Plaza we headed to Chapab to meet our brothers and sisters there. We enjoyed Poc-Chuc (thin grilled pork Yucatan style) with tortillas and salsa, then headed back to the hotel for an energizing Siesta. Gustavo was asked to preach in their evening service, so his Siesta was shorter. We worshipped together, sang in both English and Spanish and closed up the evening with dinner. We came back to the hotel at almost 10 p.m. By now, almost everybody is snoring, I mean sleeping. ;-) TOP
Monday, May 16
We started off with a energy booster breakfast at the hotel. Some had Huevos Rancheros while others had fruit and granola; whatever the case, everybody kept on going like the energizer bunny through a hot productive day.
Jim, Buzz, Gustavo, Bob, and Jerry, in collaboration with Ivan, Humberto, Chucho, Ricardo and others focused on the Reverse Osmosis tanks. Gravel was set at the bottom and each blue tank and then filtering matter was carefully funneled in the tanks and carelessly showered over some of some of us. It was not an immersion experience but rather a sprinkling one. We simply laughed it off.
Larry had a laser focused dedication on the breaker panel. At the end of the day, the panel was nicely wired, and outlets were ready for the RO system, and water pumps. Bob, Chucho and Ricardo partnered with Larry and Jerry to ready up water pumps and some of the pipes glued together.
Shary, Kathy, Peggy and Monti had a great time teaching about how to handle water and how to break the germ cycle. Through crafts and songs they reminded people about the Holy Spirit’s presence in Jesus’ Baptism and ministry and in our lives as we also share both the material water and His Living Water.
We closed our day with “Escabeche de Pollo” fixed by Griselda, an elder, literally, of the church. Her hands are blessed with the art of creating great flavors. Dinner disappeared of our plates in no time and we all left with happy hearts. The saying in Spanish is that a full tummy makes the heart happy: “Barriga llena, corazón contento!”
I’ll sum up God’s direction today with another “got lost” story. Today’s turn to get lost was Gustavo’s and Peggy’s. Heading back to Ticul for lunch, Gustavo and Peggy stopped to offer help to a couple who were pushing a motorcycle (Larry moved to another car since he had a hardware store stop to make before lunch). After that, they made a wrong turn as they entered in Ticul and took a tour of an unknown area of town. Peggy lifted a prayer: “Lord Jesus, please guide us to the hotel”. Sure enough, after they asked a lady in a scooter for directions, she said: “follow me” and guess what she had in the back of her bike? Look at the attached file and say with us: "God thank you for your sense of humor and for answering our prayers!" TOP
Shari, Peggy and Kathy got an assortment of “Pan Dulce”, pastries to share at breakfast. We took off at 7ish and arrived at church at 7:30ish (we are operating in Latin time). We enjoyed breakfast with brothers and sisters of the congregation: yogurt, cereal, pan dulce, hot cocoa and fresh mango (yummy) propelled us into our day.
Katry, Shari, Peggy, Monti, Edgar, Sari, Iselda, and others that were trained yesterday, went to two elementary schools to teach about handling clean water. The teaching was done through experiments, visual aids and singing. Jack, Gustavo and Manases joined them as they arrived at the second school to cheer them up. The trained teachers did a wonderful job.
Lunch was again fixed by Griselda and other women from the congregation. Chicken Mole was what we needed to gain strength back. Some of us were feeling the weight of the heat and wished we had taken naps… we ended up bringing Peggy to the hotel at 3 or so. I believe she reflected how the team felt, but was the only one who needed a break the most. Jerry, Jim and Gustavo took advantage of that and visited three hardware stores fishing for more parts (last night they also got some): elbows, hose, pipes, valves, etc. By the time they returned, the rest of the team had wondered if they had to go to Cancun to get the supplies.
By 6:30 Buzz led a group of “dissidents” eager to go to the hotel and take a long shower back to Ticul. They were joined shortly after by the rest of the team, but not before they tested the main line water going into the raw water tank and fixed an unglued segment. It was a long day to say the least. We closed our day, encouraged by Pastor Jack, sharing how each one of us has been blessed while being here. That spiritual encouragement and mutual nurturing was followed by three pizzas, beverages and of course ice cream cones. Thank you God for your faithfulness and strength and thank you for your prayer support. . TOP
Wednesday, May 18
We started with breakfast at the hotel and headed to Chapab at 8:30. By the way, Chapab is called Chapab de Las Flores, (Chapab of the Flowers). Monti got up earlier today, went to the market and got azucenas (local flowers) for the ladies of the church in Chapab. Flores para las Flores de Chapab, Flowers for the Flowers of Chapab.
We were a little behind in the installation, but the team made great progress. More pipes were in place, the UV lamp was installed, the clean water tanks set in place and plumbing for the washing, sterilizing, cleaning and filling stations was cut and glued.
We finished with dinner at church. Great tostadas topped with yummy stuff and optional homemade habanero sauce... some of us discovered new paths of sensitivity in our tongue, lips, throat and faces. After dinner, a closing prayer was offered to our Father in heaven as we were thankful for today's accomplishments, interceded for those who need healed tummies and prayed for Monti, who is heading back home tomorrow. He flies out of Merida back to Yakima at 7am.
During a birds eye RO System tour that was offered to the women who were trained, some of us teared up after listening to their words of thanksgiving to God and to the team: "We pray to God giving thanks to Him and for you, who have shown us love to share with our community here in Chapab".
The fact is that because families use up to a third of their income to buy clean water, many families in this community will be blessed with more affordable water. But not only that, children and elderly people will be healthier. Moreover, many will witness how the Living Water flows not under but through bridges of love that will connect them with God's church... You, Yakima Church, have made this possible by supporting your Living Waters Team. Praise God! TOP
Humberto and his family took Monti at 4 am and saw him take off at 7.10 am. He should be home by now after a short night of sleep in a hammock.
This morning some of us focused on fixing a leak in the main raw water tank and on a new valve for it. Others kept working on finishing up cutting and gluing pipes for the clean water tanks. Tests were made, leaks discovered and fixed, extra needed parts purchased.
Jim trained the operators explaining the ins and outs of the system to Iselda, Griselda, William and Ricardo. Gustavo put into practice his Rosetta Stone skills to make Jim’s teaching hit home. Pastor Manases, the Presbytery LWW Coordinator also complemented the teaching with insights and stories about other installations in the region.
At mid morning we enjoyed a great snack (which actually became lunch, since we didn’t take a lunch break). Shari, Kathy and Peggy learned how to make tortillas by hand and how to make empanadas. They teamed up with Griselda, Iselda and other women to make us a yummy snack. …We are already talking about having a gathering back home to test their learning abilities.
At 1:30 Buzz, Jack Larry, Peggy, Bob, Shari and Gustavo headed back to the hotel and then to Yotholin where we installed the Water Filtration System last year. By the way, since they Bible encourages us to confess our sins, some of us actually took a 20 minute power nap ;-). Jim and Jerry stayed behind trying to solve some hiccups in the system.
Where were we? Yes, Yotholin, that’s right. It was such a joy to see our brothers and sisters there and hear the report about how they are being a blessing to their community. They bottled 81 5 gallon jugs today, similar numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday and 110 on Monday. Their hours of operation are 8 to 4. They continue to sell the water at half or less of the commercial price, while also providing it for free for a few low income families in the community and for a town table that feeds elderly people daily. So all together about a 5% of their production is given away at no cost. Larry and Bob fixed a problem they had been experiencing with their RO pump while others helped brainstorm a solution to a mystery UV lamp malfunction… Thank God it all worked before we left.
We returned to Ticul to news about some electrical problems related to the wiring that comes from the outside source and into the breakers box. It still needs to be solved. We hoped to be done by this afternoon and have a toast of clean water after a closing service and ceremony.
Our plan is to go there tomorrow at 8:30 and head back to Merida in the afternoon.
Pastor Manases encouraged us tonight in his message to treasure and share the Living water the same way we treasure and care regular water. Without it we die, we need it daily and it is our responsibility to share it with others as well. TOP
Breakfast was at 7:30, Hotel check an hour later, lunch was at 3 pm and the team finally arrived in Merida at 7:30 pm.
Between breakfast and lunch more leaks were fixed, operators were trained and pure water was produced. Dino also painted a sign for the building. We asked them if they were happy and their answer was that they were happy and sad. We joked about them being happy we were leaving and sad we were here so long ;-). Our brothers and sisters in Chapab stressed they were both happy and sad (and so were we), because they rejoiced in a brand new water system but they also were sad for our departure, We ended our time with praises to the Lord (Lord I Lift Your Name on High) in English and Spanish and a beautiful prayer by brother Edgar.
There is much to write but perhaps it would be better for you to interact with us after we get back home and listen to stories about sunbathing iguanas, a tarantula crawling as we zoomed over it, a car that didn't want to start and an arrival in Merida to the sound of fireworks that surprised us and all the birds in the main plaza in front of our hotel.
This is not a final report, the next report may involve you, listening to our shared experiences and committing yourself to bless and be blessed. Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water." John 4:10 NLV
Peace to you,