The 106-Year Wait

Leave a comment

Ecolástico Arrevalo Enriquez is the oldest living member of the remote mountain village of Caserio El Salitre, El Salvador. Although he was born in the months preceding the start of the first World War, Don (a title of respect) Ecolástico has seen very few advancements in the place he has called home for the past 106 years.

The twenty-one families that make up the village of El Salitre live pretty much off the grid. A few homes have electricity but everyone depends on the rivers and a couple of muddy shallow wells for water. In regard to electricity, don’t let that fool you. One family showed me their current electric bill. It came in at a whopping $1.02 for the month. For many families that subsist on only a few dollars a month, even a dollar for electricity takes a bite out of monthly earnings.

Life in El Salitre is hard. Every home in the village is constructed of either adobe or scraps of tin, complete with dirt floors. You can’t escape the dirt or the mud that comes with seasonal rains. Living with dirt and mud is simply one of the harsh realities of everyday life.

Perhaps the hardest thing about it all is that when the rivers dry up in the summer, the people have no water for bathing. Several parents told me that the only option for bathing is a river located several kilometers away — hardly worth the walk to get clean.

Water for daily use, though a kilometer or two away, still robs families of lots of time. Every day, women and children must walk to one of the shallow wells for water and to the river to do laundry. Hauling a few gallons at a time takes lots of time and even more effort. We hardly ever give any consideration to the weight of a gallon of water. Not so for the people of El Salitre who must carry several pounds of water every day in order to cook and hydrate — it’s just a way of life.

This week all of that changed for Don Ecolástico and the people of his village. Our Kingsland team arrived in El Salvador last Sunday morning to drill a water well at El Salitre in partnership with our friends at Living Water International. We have now surpassed underwriting and drilling twenty wells in the country of El Salvador alone. Knowing what these water wells mean to folks in remote villages, we were eager to start.

After meeting the villagers on Monday, we wasted no time in firing up the drill rig only to hit a lot of rock. Slow going on day one, to say the least. And then an unexpected setback on Monday afternoon — rain and more rain. More than twenty-four hours of non-stop rain caused severe flooding and mud slides in the area. The government declared an emergency and closed the schools. Because of swollen rivers, we could not get to El Salitre the following day. So, we waited for the rains to stop and for the waters to recede.

Finally on Wednesday morning, we were able to make the hour-long drive and cross the three rivers between us and the village. Although the drill site was a muddy mess, we were able to drill past the underlying rock and, over the next couple of days, to find water at a depth of 223-feet — all to the cheers of the folks.

One man could not contain his gratitude. “Every bucket of water we fill,” he said, “will remind us of the goodness of God and His kindness in sending you here.” Some of the children made it a point to tell us that they looked forward to bathing (let that thought sink in for a minute). And because the well is centrally located, every family will benefit from time saved by not having to walk so far to fetch water.

We ended the week with a beautiful celebration in which we dedicated and presented the well to the village. A local pastor shared a great message about Jesus, the living water. Perhaps the best thing of all is that every member of the village stood in a long line to hug and personally express their gratitude to our team. We left with hearts filled with joy for the opportunity to be the answer to years of prayers for a source of clean water — and in the case of Don Ecolástico, well — his tears and his smile said it all.

The Weight of Water

Leave a comment

Among the things that are not on our list of things to worry about is the weight of water. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have never given a single or even a second thought to how much water actually weighs. And in case you are wondering, a gallon of water weighs approximately 8.35 pounds.

Eight-plus pounds is no big deal for those of us who never have to lift much more than a glass or perhaps a bottle of water that weighs in at a few mere manageable ounces. Because water flows into our homes in copious amounts, the weight of water is of no consequence. So, we use pounds and pounds of water every day to hydrate, bathe, wash our clothes, and water our lawns.

Not so for many in our world who concern themselves daily with both the potability and portability of the water they use. Those who live without the luxury of of indoor plumbing must consider the quality of the water they consume and then how to transport it from the source to their homes. They often lose on both counts — poor water quality plus the burden of transporting sketchy water for daily use.

Our team is in El Salvador this week where we are drilling yet one more water well in cooperation with our friends at Living Water International. The sight of children and women spending hours a day fetching water for daily use still bothers me. Transporting water twenty to forty pounds at a time — sometimes several times a day — is beyond burdensome.

This week our team successfully drilled another water well for the 15 families that call Wisnay (pronounced W-is-nigh), a remote village in El Salvador, their home. Of the nineteen water wells we have drilled to date, this was by far the easiest. We drilled in the perfect spot and managed to avoid those layers of volcanic rock that have so often slowed us down in the past. We hit beautiful water at a depth of 106-feet.

So, what will this mean for the people here who understand all too well the weight of water?

First, having a source of water that is centrally located should buy back time for moms and kids. By not having to walk as far to get water, these saved hours can be reinvested in the home. Although families will still have to make several trips a day, they will not have to travel as far. The villagers will also have the option of later adding a pump and tubing to actually pump water to their homes.

Second, for the first time ever these families now have a source of water that is safe to drink. Because the well we drilled is several times deeper than hand-dug wells or streams that are polluted by agricultural chemical run-off, the families of Wisnay should enjoy better health. Bad water accounts for lots of sickness around the world and claims the lives of too many children every single minute of the day.

There is no better reward after a week of drilling than the smiles on the faces of the children and families whose prayers for clean water have been answered. To present others a cup of water in Jesus’ name is one of the best and most fulfilling experiences in the world for a Christ-follower. We are grateful to have had this opportunity to lighten the load for the beautiful people of Wisnay.

El Palmarcito Rejoices

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


We Dream of Water

Leave a comment

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.

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.

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.


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.

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!

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.


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.

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.


The Well is Presented 

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.

Finished, With Lots of Smiles

Leave a comment

by Don Davis

Work began this morning with the pump assembly and was finished relatively quickly. Several pumps from the hand lever and clear water started flowing. The well was complete!

A few of the villagers built a fence around the water well to protect it from livestock. They all took turns at the pump with big smiles on their faces. We again had lunch in the village — this time enjoying delicious homemade chicken soup.

The dedication service for the well began after lunch with many of the villagers attending. Luvi and Danilo started by addressing the audience and had everyone laughing in short order. Then came a puppet show featuring the story of Jonah and the whale. This was followed by a Good Samaritan skit performed by our team. Danilo then presented the gospel message and finished with an invitation and prayer.

Everyone walked up the road to see the well. There was some more pumping and placing of hands under the flowing water. A few pictures were taken and this concluded a fantastic week of working with the wonderful staff of Living Water and the extremely friendly and hard working people of Porrillo Village.

Everyone was excited to see clean water flow from the well.

Everyone was excited to see clean water flow from the well.


Everyone was smiling.

Everyone was smiling.


Another delicious meal prepared by the village ladies. Chicken soup.

Another delicious meal prepared by the village ladies. Chicken soup.


Our team acted out the story of the Good Samaritan. Mike Kelley being mugged by Danillo as they play the victim and the robber in the Good Samaritan skit.

Our team acted out the story of the Good Samaritan. Mike Kelley being mugged by Danilo as they play the victim and the robber in the Good Samaritan skit.


Danilo preaching the gospel.

Danilo preaching the gospel.


The villagers rejoiced at the dedication of the water well.

The villagers rejoiced at the dedication of the water well.

Almost Finished

Leave a comment

by Dennis Shumard

This morning we continued to purge the well. The water is clean and welcome. I have been blessed by the number of men that have been joining us in labor every day. While we don’t share a common language we are still able to work side by side and laugh with each other as Mike Kelly and Don Davis both fell in the water pit and I fell in the mud.

A number of men from the area have been spending the night on site to protect the equipment. They have been doing this since Friday. The entire area is very anxious to have clean water. Yesterday  when we started sending water into the air it was almost a carnival atmosphere.

After cleaning up around the well, the form for the concrete was set and work began mixing concrete. With the last of the concrete in place Stanley set the Living Water/Kingsland BC dedication plaque in place.

It has been a true joy meeting the staff of Living Water and the people benefiting from the well. It is also wonderful spending time with brothers in Christ as we labor to further His Kingdom.

Purging the water well.

Purging the water well.


Setting the form around the well.

Setting the form around the well.


Pouring concrete into the form.

Pouring concrete into the form.


Waiting for the concrete to harden.

Waiting for the concrete to harden.


Mike Kelly being Mike Kelly -- loving on people and sharing God's love.

Mike Kelly being Mike Kelly — loving on people and sharing God’s love.

Another Excellent Day

Leave a comment

by Todd Watne

Another excellent day filled with warm smiles and hard work. Began the day with coffee and the ocean mist while engaging in some great conversations. The waves are thundering in the morning. I shared a brief devotional from Isaiah 46:9-10 and to paraphrase it: God is God and he governs the beginning and the end. He will accomplish his purpose on earth while graciously letting us play a part.

We finished drilling today at a depth of 120 feet (39 meters). We’ll continue with our work as the locals from the village grow eager with excitement. Their faces and their hearts are warm with hospitality. The team is benefiting from their assistance too.

Laundry line at local home.

Laundry line at local home.


Broken chain on drill rig.

Broken chain on drill rig.


Don Davis and Mike Aronson repairing broken chain on drill rig.

Don Davis and Mike Aronson repairing broken chain on the drill rig.


This is Reese and he's full of life and energy. Loves playing frisbee with us and his friends.

This is Reese and he’s full of life and energy. Loves playing frisbee with us and also with his friends.


In addition to the broken chain, the starter had to replaced. The LWI staff managed to locate what was very likely the one and only starter in the country for our rig. It set us back a couple of hours but we prevailed in the end.

In addition to the broken chain, the starter had to replaced. The LWI staff managed to locate what was very likely the one and only starter in the country for our rig. It set us back a couple of hours but we prevailed in the end.


Getting very close to the desired depth!

Getting very close to the desired depth!


On the way to the work site, we were shown this dumping ground just off the highway. It consists primarily of dead horses and parts and some cattle. The locals often switch horse meat for cattle.

On the way to the work site, we were shown this dumping ground just off the highway. It consists primarily of dead horses and parts and some cattle. The locals often swap horse meat for cattle.

We are grateful and eager to serve the community and one another. These Kingsland men are so solid.

A common means for water storage in remote El Salvador are cisterns that collect rain water. Here is an example.

A common means for water storage in remote El Salvador are cisterns that collect rain water. Here is an example.


Unloading gravel to pack in around the casing of the well.

Unloading gravel to pack in around the casing of the well.

The Work Begins

Leave a comment

by James Meredith

Our Team had a great trip to El Salvador. The local people we have met are very friendly and have made us feel at home.

Team at Beach Table
We arrived on Sunday evening and settled in to our hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean. On Sunday evening, we sat on the porch, looked out over the Pacific Ocean, and discussed our task that lay ahead.

Sunset at Beach
Then the Lord blessed us with an awesome sunset.

Preparing to Drill
We were up early Monday morning for coffee, a devotional and breakfast, and then off to work. We arrived at the job site where several of the local folks were waiting for us. We had an hour or so before things were to start so several of us played frisbee with a couple of the local boys. What fun we had. Those boys had big grins on their faces. Then it was time to work. We made a plan and got down to business.

Lunch at Drill site
We dug a couple of pits for later use, leveled and prepared the rig. We ate lunch down the street at a local residence. The lady there made us a fabulous meal. After lunch we returned to the drill site and got back to work.

We drilled for 2 hours and found a little water before our drilling rig broke down. Stanley, our driller, says we don’t have much further to go tomorrow after we repair the drill rig. We returned to our hotel late and worn out.

The Lord indeed blessed us with a great day.

Lunch at Our Drilling Site

Leave a comment

by Mike Kelley

One of the best things about drilling a water well in a rural village is eating lunch prepared by the people we are serving. When it came time for lunch, Luvi, a member of the Agua Viva El Salvador Staff, set up a hand-washing station for our team. This foot-operated contraption was brilliant.

Luvi washing hands
Mrs. Santos, a lady who lives in the village where we are drilling, hosted our team for lunch. She lives in a mud brick house and cooks over a raised hearth. She was kind enough to show me how to make tortillas.

Making Tortillas
Mrs. Santos’ tortillas were absolutely delicious. I could not help but compliment her and brag on her tortillas.

Mike and Tortillas
As for lunch — well, all I can say it that it was worth waiting for. Absolutely delicious. Our team could not have been happier. We enjoyed our meal at Mrs. Santos’ home.

Lunch Table

The Men of City Gates to El Salvador

Leave a comment

by Mike Kelley

CityGates Leave KBC
Six men of the City Gates men’s group left Kingsland this morning at 6:00 AM bound for La Paz, El Salvador to help bring fresh and clean water and Living Water to a small village of thirsty citizens. During our day of travel we talked about how God might use us in unique ways this week. We prayed we would have eyes and ears to respond to God’s leading. Upon arrival we were greeted by the in-country staff that will be our host for the week. The rest of today was spent sharing with each other as we soaked in the gracious and friendly Central American cultur.

CityGates Arrival in ES

Older Entries