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El Palmarcito Rejoices

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Other than finding water, the best part of a water well drilling trip is the day we dedicate the well to God and present it to the people of the community. It’s hard to put into words what this all means to people who live in areas where fetching water from unreliable sources has been all they have known. Finally having access to clean water really is a game, or rather a life-changer.

In every village where we have drilled water wells over the past several years, folks face the same challenges. Lack of access to good water has a way of adding layers of complexity to life. Fetching water robs women of time and fetching bad water results in all sorts of health problems for families.

Consider the daily task of having to fetch water, rain or shine and regardless of whether you feel like it or not. In many cases, women (and sometimes children) walk considerable distances to fetch water and spend hours each day doing so. Because they can only fetch a few gallons at a time, this water is generally used for cooking and hydration but not for bathing.

This afternoon we had the wonderful privilege of giving the gift of clean water to the people of El Palmarcito, a small village in the hills of El Salvador. We drilled to a depth of 75 meters and found an abundant supply of clear, cool, and clean water.

After developing, or cleaning, the well, the men of the village poured a concrete apron around the pump and set the dedication plaque. This particular well was underwritten by the Christian Fellowship Community Group at Kingsland in honor of Marshall and Helen Bates 75th weddings anniversary. Loved sharing their story with the villagers.

At two in the afternoon, everyone in the village gathered around the well. Two of the men in the village spoke on behalf of the people and expressed their deep gratitude for the water well. We prayed together. The villagers sang us a song of thanksgiving. And then every person in the village personally hugged and thanked us. Lots of tears this afternoon.

The best part of it all was the recognition on the part of the people that this water well was an answer to their prayers. They have been waiting a long time but wasted no time in publicly thanking God for the answer to their prayers. What a sweet time we had together.

As for the people of El Palmarcito, they are determined to start saving for an electric pump that will enable them to pump water directly from the well to their homes in the surrounding hills. Installing an electric pump will help make life easier for them and further improve the quality of their lives.

But today, there was much rejoicing in the tiny village of El Palmarcito — and much gratitude to God. We parted with tears in our eyes and with deep gratitude for the time we spent working shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart to bring the gift of water to a place that matters and to people who are highly valued by God.

75 Meters Down

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I love the anticipation that comes with drilling a water well, the expectation of finding cool, clean water. Every time we add a section of pipe and drill deeper, I wonder if that will be the pipe that strikes water. There is nothing better on a drilling project than that initial moment when we finally find water. There are a whole lot of things that happen after that but they all hinge on that one thing — finding water.

I am happy to report that after drilling to a depth of 75 meters, we found an abundant supply of refreshing water. And what a great moment that was for our team. We all thought it was cool that we found water at 75 meters since we are drilling this well in honor of Marshall and Helen Bates, Kingsland members who recently celebrated 75 years of marriage.

Drilling for water, however, is not the only thing we have been doing for the past three days. A key part of drilling water wells in partnership with Living Water International is offering several days of hygiene training. Our hygiene team focuses on the women and children in the village where we are drilling for water.

Hygiene training is important to the health and well–being of a community. Our hygiene team covers topics ranging from how germs are spread to how to rehydrate a child after a severe bout of diarrhea to the basics of brushing your teeth. These are simple and common sense things that can make a huge difference in the lives of people who live in places with limited to no access to good health care and information.

Our hygiene team did an amazing job of teaching the women and children of the village of El Palmarcito. The only thing better than finding water was seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of the children. The water well that we will present to the village this week will make life so much better for these kids. They will live better and healthier lives because they will finally have a reliable source of good water.

We will dedicate and present the water well to the community on Thursday afternoon. This is always a special occasion on drilling trips. Early this morning we drove past two villages where we have previously drilled water wells and both wells were in use. Loved seeing folks still using these wells. It will be no different in El Palmarcito. With precious few sources of clean water, the people of the area will benefit for years from the water well we will dedicate and present to them tomorrow. Looking forward to a great day.

Rio Peligroso

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The small village of El Palmarcito is hidden deep in the folds of El Salvador’s hills — a tiny speck located along the way to nowhere in particular. Unless you have a reason to go there, you will never see it. There are no places of interest, no restaurants, nothing to beckon you there.

Twenty–seven families, however, call El Palmarcito home. And, in the words of young Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, “there is no place like home.” Dorothy was right. There is no place like home, even if home is a place that lacks access to clean water.

It’s hard to imagine that in all of its history, there is not a day that El Palmarcito has had access to clean at–the–source potable water. Like all of the villages tucked here and there under the canopy of these lush hills, villagers have depended on streams, rivers, and occasional hand–dug wells for their water.

But, these water sources are neither reliable nor free of the contaminants that cause diarrhea and other water–related illnesses. Ironically, there is a warning sign at a water–crossing at the river that flows lazily beside El Palmarcito. It reads simply: Rio Peligroso, which translated means Dangerous River.

One local explained to me that this little river can be easily transformed by flash floods that send angry waves of water down paths of least resistance. Years ago almost thirty soccer players were killed as their vehicle was overturned by flash floods that came barreling down this river. So, the warning sign is absolutely legit.

But, it is legit for other reasons as well. This is indeed a dangerous river because it carries all sorts of contaminants from a garbage disposal site farther up-stream. So, even when the waters are calm they are dangerous.

We have come to change all that by giving the folks here what we take for granted in our own homes — a reliable source of clean water. As you can imagine, this is a big deal here and cause for celebration. Everybody has put on their best smiles for the occasion.

We drilled to a depth of 120–feet on our first day and the signs are hopeful. Our prayer is that, by the end of this week, the people of this village will have a clean source of water for the first time in their history. Good things happen when Christ–followers move in the direction of people in need.

A Dream Come True

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El Maderal, El Salvador

When we arrived in the tiny village of El Maderal on Monday, the people told us that they dream about water — clean water. The older folks remember when the streams that run near the village were more than a source of water, but a source of food as well.

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All of that changed fourteen years ago when the district started dumping garbage just up the road from the village. It was not long before the fish disappeared, an indication that the water was contaminated. The people not only lost their source of water. They lost a valuable food source as well.

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And so the people complained to local and regional authorities. But nobody took action on behalf of the poor people of El Maderal. The problems continued and worsened. And so the people began to dream about water. And they began to pray. Daily. Hard. In earnest.

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Some, by their own confession, had little faith that their prayers would be answered, that the dream would come true. But others held on to their faith. And this week, the hopes and prayers of the people of El Maderal were finally answered. Their dream for clean water came true.

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This was not the easiest week in terms of drilling. We spent an entire afternoon and evening trying to break through a layer of rock. We measured progress by the inch. Painfully slow. But we thought of the people of El Maderal. And we thought of God’s faithfulness. We persevered. And we broke through and continued drilling to one-hundred feet.

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As we developed the well, abundant and clear water gushed up from the depths to the cheers of the people. The kids, and even a few adults, seized the opportunity to run and play under the spray. Laughing. Jumping up and down. Soaking themselves in the showers of blessings — a dream come true.

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On our final afternoon we gathered around the well with the people of El Maderal. We enjoyed skits, a puppet show, a gospel presentation, lots of words of thanks from the folks here, and a special unexpected presentation. The people not only thanked us, they made paper crowns and presented them to us as they sang the words to “Thank you for giving to the Lord.” This was one of the best moments of any trip I have led — absolutely heartwarming.

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I remain deeply grateful for Living Water International for making dreams come true for people all over the world longing for a source of clean water. And I am grateful for the people of Kingsland for loving the nations and investing so much so that we can share and show the love of Jesus in places like El Maderal. That is indeed a dream come true.

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We Dream of Water

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El Maderal, El Salvador

El Maderal is a tiny village that you are not likely to find on Google maps or any other maps for that matter. Tucked away in the hills of El Salvador not far from the Pacific Ocean, El Maderal is home to twenty-one families. Their humble little homes flank a short stretch of road that leads to the regional garbage dump.

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Dozens of times a day, big trucks overflowing with garbage rumble their way to the dump past the people of El Maderal. They have grown accustomed to the traffic in their remote little slice of El Salvadoran geography. What they are not happy about is how the garage dump has impacted their lives.

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Located at a slightly higher elevation than the village, all of the stuff that ends up in the dump has contaminated every steam that runs down and through the village. The water is unfit for drinking and even bad for doing the laundry. Although they have complained to anyone in authority who cares to listen, the problem remains unresolved.

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When we arrived in El Maderal on Monday morning, we were warmly greeted by kids and adults holding handmade Welcome posters and colorful bouquets of balloons. A woman spoke for the village and told us that we were an answer to their prayers. “We dream of water,” she said, “clean water.” They saw our team as the answer to their prayers and the fulfillment of their dream.

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We came to El Salvador to drill one more water well in cooperation with our friends at Living Water International. And, we had the good fortune to be the team to drill the water well that the people of El Maderal have been dreaming of. A blessing for us — and an unimaginably huge blessing for the people of El Maderal!

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Today we completed our second day of drilling. It was a tough day. We drilled through rock all day and made progress only to eighty feet. We need to reach one-hundred feet to ensure that the people here will have a clean and reliable source of water. This matters to every person in this village. And it matters to us.

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Because this is so important, we don’t mind getting covered in mud and doing whatever it takes to make sure that when we leave the people here have a water well. So, a part of our team is drilling, another group is teaching hygiene lessons, and another group is repairing wells in the area.

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We know that without clean water kids will continue to get sick, women will continue to spend a large part of their day fetching water from unsanitary sources, and life in general will continue to be tough. We want to change that for the people of El Maderal. We want to turn what has become a nightmare into a beautiful dream fulfilled.

james

The Well is Presented 

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by Mike Kelley

By the love of God expressed through Kingsland Baptist Church, Living Water International, and the men of City Gates we give to the community of Santa Cruz Porrillo this fresh water pumping station.

The Well is Completed

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by Mike Aronson

The well is completed, dedicated to the community and the Lord.

Today was a day to recuperate before the journey home. Breakfast at 8:00 but for many this didn’t change the wake up time. Ham & cheese omelet, refried beans, fried plantains. This was followed up by our daily singing and devotions, James 2:14.

Now that this trip is over what will we do next. Will we continue to show our faith through works to others or sit on the sidelines and be a spectator? For us the answer was obvious.

For our day we went into San Salvador for lunch at Pollo Compero, getting us ready to go back to gringo food. After lunch a quick trip to Starbucks, it was here we said good bye to Danilo. Hopefully. We will meet up with him on another drilling trip.

On to the “Market” to look for trinkets to bring home. After an hour of “man” shopping Stanley (our host and drilling expert) took us to a vista point overlooking the city.

We are now back at the hotel waiting for dinner and a few more stories and off to pack and get some rest. Up at 4:00 am to begin the journey home. What an exciting week this has been.

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