by Rich Aram | Kingsland Team Member | 19 August 2013


Today we got to start. We had a good day but we are all tired puppies. The physical work is hard and the heat and humidity add to that challenge. But we have prayer support and God listens.

The village is about 40 minutes away from the Living Water compound, some of that was good highway and some was bumpity-bump-bump gravel and dirt. There are not 70 people there, maybe 40-50. I didn’t know what to expect climbing out of the van for the first time and the locals probably had less of an idea what to expect. I shook hands with two ladies who would serve as our tour guides, but there was also a bunch of little kids staring so I shook all of their hands and tried to say hello. We started by walking around the village to meet everyone who was available.

Existing Well
The houses are made of large cinder blocks or scrap lumber, corrugated metal roofs, largely open. It seemed some doorways didn’t have doors, some windows did not have a window, just the opening. They mostly cooked outside with an open fire. Several of the ladies were busy washing clothes, using basically an outdoor sink and a bar of soap. We saw their existing well: it’s quite deep, we guessed 60 feet. Can you imagine how long it takes to lower a 5 gallon bucket 60 feet and then pull it up again? The water in this well is unclean and unsafe. Apparently they have some mode of electricity because we could see TV sets that were on.

I don’t think any of them own a car or truck. There is bus service to Granada: the bus honks its horn as it approaches in case someone wants a ride.

Some critters wandering around, skinny dogs, chickens and roosters, a pig, several cows.

As we met people, we would take turns inviting them to Kim’s meeting in the afternoon, through a translator of course. She and Liseth explained Living Water, talked about germs and the need to wash hands. The attendees seemed open and seemed to understand. They also played games and did a craft with them. Kim taught the little kids how to throw Frisbees and blew soap bubbles. They loved it. Kids are kids.

So what did we do to start drilling a water well?

Mixing Drilling Mud
The village had filled ten 55-gallon drums with water for our drilling mud. They had to fill a few more while we drilled so they loaded a barrel onto a wooden cart and pulled it by hand to their well and back. We mixed Halliburton bentonite to make a light drilling mud. We use similar stuff and a lot more when drilling oil wells because we have to deal with high pressures. Liseth helped with that, scooping in small buckets of the powder one at a time. They had a smaller diesel pump that we used to mix it, sucking it in and back out with a two-inch line. I held that for a while and I wondered how far it would blast if I didn’t hold it in the drum. In the oil patch, we hire mud engineers who carefully design and mix the mud:  Liseth just poured on through her fingers until it looked right. And that is good enough for this work.

Mud Pit
The village had dug two square holes about 10 feet apart, each about 3x3x5 feet deep, with a trench from the drill-hole to one and another connecting them. The cuttings or ground up rock mostly settles in the first pit, but they had two wire screens across the second trench. Those frequently got clogged so we had to pull them out and bang them against a nearly barrel to shake out the bigger pieces of rock. So that whole area was a muddy mess, sticky drilling mud (water plus bentonite clay) several inches deep. The second pit had a hose that returned the clean mud back to the drill pipe. We drilled through some loose pumice and pumice floats, so all of those little pieces kept clogging the screens and the return line. One of the Nicaraguan helpers had to spend most of the day lying face down in the mud with his arm in the drill pit to keep pulling cuttings off a screen for the return line. Worse job of the day!

Our drilling started slowly; the mud pump wouldn’t start, so they pulled harder on the starter cord and it broke. So they had to take that pump apart to put in a new rope. Then it worked fine. These things happen.

Drilling Begins
Frank, a member of the local Living Water staff, is a very patient teacher; we each got to work the different jobs. I got to be driller for a while, for two connections of 5 foot drill pipe. We have two levers, one turns the drill-pipe and the other raises and lowers the drill-pipe. Sounds very simple but it actually wasn’t. And if we mess up, we lose the hole or ruin the drill rig.

The assistant drillers job was second worst, because he had to use the big wrenches to break the connection or unscrew the drill pipe every five feet to screw on another piece. The pipe is probably 3 inches in diameter, but a five foot length is plenty heavy.

The other positions kept the mud circulation system going, hoe-ing cuttings out of the trenches and cleaning the screens.

We hit something hard at about 75 feet and it kept stopping the drill bit from turning. Frank says we hit a rock; maybe it’s an isolated rock or maybe the top of the sand is cemented. So we had to trip out or pull out all of the drill pipe, breaking connections every five feet. Now I know why our drill crew hate to trip in or out; it is a lot of work. That was a good place to finish for the day and we will use a different bit tomorrow.

Jim and Barry are surprised; they have never got to 75 feet the first day, and in fact, the wells they drilled elsewhere didn’t even need to go that deep. We will probably need to go another 25 feet or so, but it may drill slower.

We were all very muddy, especially our boots which we cannot wear in the nice van.

We cooled off in the pool, ate supper and talked with Jorge for quite a while. I suspect my roomies are asleep already so I should quit too.

Praises: We are getting to know the villagers, we made good progress drilling, we finished in a sand which is what they need for water, no injuries or major problems. We are all plenty tired and probably still dehydrated.

Thank you for your prayers.