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Living Water for La Bolsa

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by Rich Aram | Kingsland Team Member | La Bolsa, Nicaragua

Thank you for your prayers. I wrote this Thursday but couldn’t send it until Friday.

One of our team said at the end of the workday on Wednesday something like, “we’re basically done, there’s really nothing left that can go wrong, right?.”

Not so! Thursday morning, we were measuring the water level in the well with a simple plumb line, a weight at the end of a long string. And the whole thing got dropped down inside of the well. Some may call that a Satanic attack on God’s work and some may call it butter-fingers. I don’t know. But we built a simple tool to go fishing down the well, again, prayed, and this one worked the first time. God tells us to pray for each other, so we thank you for praying for this trip.

We had brought some items for our friends: Frisbees, soccer balls, toothbrushes , toothpaste, Spanish Bibles. I had little time to shop due to other travel, but had to go to two different bookstores last Friday afternoon to find suitable Spanish Bibles. Kim and Liseth walked around house to house today to offer Bibles to our friends. Some of the little kids were happy to help carry them. That meant a lot to me. I resisted getting aggravated last week trying to get my shopping done, but here I saw the cute little kids helping to share those around their village. Wow. I went with and Liseth who translated as we offered them.

We cleaned the well again with compressed air, blasting out remaining sand and dirty water, for a few hours. And we rigged up the PVC pipe that would carry the water up the casing to the pump, rigged up the pump, and … it worked! They don’t have a dramatic flow rate but they don’t need a dramatic flow rate. They need clean, safe water and they got clean safe water.

Something like 5000 children die each day around the world from diseases from contaminated drinking water. One less group of kids has that risk now.

And there was a party in the village! The people dressed up a bit. One of the men shot off two home-made skyrockets. We brought two piñatas for the kids and they had a third one. One of ours was built to look like a water well pump, with a goofy face on it. The kids loved the piñatas. One of the little girls danced to the background music and timed her swings with the music. I wonder if she will be a dancer or musician when she grows up. One of the boys took a mighty swing and lost the stick: it was almost as big as a baseball bat. Luckily he didn’t hit anyone. The kid that learned to juggle is even more amazing with a soccer ball. I wonder if he will play grow up to play on the national team, that is if he can get used to playing with shoes on.

They cooked us chicken soup. We saw the two chickens live, tied up in a basket, just yesterday.

Kim and Liseth taught them how to use the pump. One of the recommendations is to keep their livestock away (even build a fence), so they had made dog, cow and chicken faces on paper plates and had us act that out. Good old Leo acted out the pump, while another of the Living Water girls acted out how to pump and how not to pump. He held a water bottle in one hand and poured that into a bucket when she did it right. Everyone laughed but maybe they learned too.

We cleaned up the site, shared handshakes and hugs, and rode off into the sunset. Well, it was still early afternoon.

Thank you for your prayer support. You helped to make that happen.

We spent about an hour wandering around the Masaya market. I’m pretty sure that’s where nephew Nathan took Randy, Shari and me two years ago. We went to church with Jorge tonight. He warned us not to sit near the loudspeakers because the music tends to be a bit loud. Yes it was. And it was all in Spanish, oddly enough. Most of the tunes were familiar, but once they started singing in Spanish, it was hard for me to remember the English words. And there was Leo again, playing electric bass dressed up with a necktie. I remember him lying flat in the mud for most of Tuesday, up to his shoulder in drilling mud, to keep the suction line clear of rock cuttings. I am impressed with the people here.

The Living Water house or compound is surrounded by a high wall with barbed wire. A professional guard mans the gate 24 hours a day. When he opened it last night to let us in after church, he had a loaded double barrel shotgun in his hand just in case. So it’s still a tough world here too. I hoped to send some video but my email is behaving badly and the wireless here went out tonight. We had a lot of lightning and heavy rain and that probably did it.

We play tourist tomorrow morning and chose a zip line course on volcano Mumbacho. Shari, Randy and I did the same course with Nathan two years ago and it was great. I will hook up with Nathan and family Friday afternoon and spend the weekend with them.

Thank you for your prayers.

God is good.
Rich

Mi Hermano Siempre

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by Jim Coleman | Team Leader | La Bolsa, Nicaragua

The final day is always the best, but always the hardest. We presented the well to the village of La Bolsa and we rejoiced. But we had to say goodbye to those we had come to know and love over the week. We presented the story of the woman at the well, prayed, and had the opportunity to say a few parting words to our new brothers and sisters. As I was leaving, one man told me “Mi hermano siempre” which means “my brother forever.” Another miracle unfolded before us this week.

Dedication
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Nicaragua 2013 Team

God Didn’t Send Us Here To Fail

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by Rich Aram | Kingsland Team Member | La Bolsa, Nicaragua

Today was supposed to be the easy day, the “mostly play with the village kids” day.

Frank had told us we would have to trip in and out of the hole with the full heavy drill pipe to flush out the water sand at the bottom. I think I told you Frank is a funny guy. He was just kidding. We ran in PVC pipe to the bottom, connected that to a large compressor, and blasted air down the bottom.  That blasted out water for most of the day. We needed to do that for an hour or so at the very bottom, pull up ten feet and go another hour or so, up another ten feet, then back down ten feet, and finish at the bottom. That should take most of the day but doesn’t require much work or mess.

Problem #1. We had some communication errors. One of our team members was told to open up the flow for the compressor but was not told how to do so. So they just flipped open the valve full. That blasted too much pressure, broke the PVC pipe down the well bore, and blew the cap off of the top (it was tied down securely with rope but it broke the rope). No one was hurt and there wasn’t really much danger of that. This was much lower pressure than oil and gas wells can have. But we had about 60 feet of PVC pipe inside of the well bore, about 40 feet down.

So we went fishing. We whittled a stick to a pointy end, jammed it in a PVC pipe and duct taped it well, and tried to stab that into the lost PVC pipe by screwing on additional 10 foot lengths.  Leo did most of the fishing.  He felt like he caught it a number of times, tried to pull it up, and lost it near the top. Many times. We decided unscrewing the 40 feet of PVC caused too much wiggling, so we tried leaving that on, but had to deal with 40 feet of PVC pipe flopping around. But we still kept losing it on the way up. So we tried fishing it, then pouring additional water down the hole to add some buoyancy. Almost but many failures. We finally figured we weren’t even stabbing it, we were actually hooking the top of the connection piece of our pipe with the bottom of a connection piece of the lost pipe, so we were catching it by a very narrow ledge, like holding on with our fingernails. But we got it, with a lot of tries and some prayer.

Problem #2: The air compressor stopped working. We needed to clean the hole, to pull out a lot of water that we introduced into the sand, so it would be clean. Otherwise we spend a lot more time lowering a bucket down to bail out a lot of water. But Frank and Leo are pretty smart and pretty handy, and they got it working. They found a belt that needed tightening

Problem #3: The clutch on their truck driving home while towing the drilling rig stopped working. Luckily it was close to home so the van that carried us could go back and tow them in.

So we did accomplish drilling the well successfully, but had lots of challenges and we thank you for praying for us.

And yes, we did have lots of time to play with the kids today. As Pastor Omar said, they can melt your heart. They continue to warm up to us today through throwing Frisbees, kicking soccer balls, blowing soap bubbles, and more.

I was throwing a Frisbee with one boy for a long time, another little boy handed us another Frisbee so we each tossed one at the same time. They occasionally collided in the middle. One of the young moms pulled him out (I don’t know if she was his mom) so she could play double-frisbee catch with me. She laughed a lot.

Nicaragua Kids Fun
By late morning, one of the boys got curious about the blast of water and air coming out our clean-out line, so he started playing in the water. The other boys instantly copied him, and then the girls did too.

The sand for the concrete pad was delivered by horse cart. The gravel for the concrete was delivered by oxen cart. I am teasing a friend at work who is a drilling engineer about the big differences in our operations.

Today’s health lesson was on dental health, so they taught them how to brush teeth properly and to avoid some food and drinks that are bad for teeth. Then the Living Water team celebrated finishing the well by drinking Pepsi and eating a Snickers bar. Silly Americans.

Driving home, we passed someone riding a horse and playing with their cell phone. We wondered if it is illegal in Nicaragua to text while riding a horse.

Jorge and family took us out for dinner at a nice Nicaraguan restaurant tonight. It was even safe to eat the salad.

Thank you for your prayers!
Rich

Their Very Own Water Park For A Day

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by Jim Coleman | Team Leader | La Bolsa, Nicaragua

Today is always the second-most anticipated day on a trip. It is the day when the well is in the ground and water is blown up out of the well using a huge air compressor. It really is an event. Everyone — the kids, the adults, the mission team members and the LWI staff — all have enormous smiles as the water well literally begins to come to life. Everyone is always so excited. The kids had their very own water park for a day.

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Getting to that point today was not without its trials. We lost a section of PVC pipe down the well and had to “fish” it out. With the prayers of everyone and the expert talents of the LWI staff, we were overcomers. God answered our prayers and was once again faithful.

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The LWI staff has enabled the team from KBC to come serve the village of La Bolsa, Nicaragua. They are the servants allowing us to Go Beyond.

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Living Water Nicaragua Staff | Frank, Leo, Chico, and Lisseth

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

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by Rich Aram | Kingsland Team Member | La Bolsa, Nicaragua | 20 August 2013

God is good.

We saw more of our villager friends today, and their faces seemed to show some growing hope that this may actually be real.

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We had another long day of hard work but made excellent progress. We finished drilling at 106 feet, cleaned out the hole, ran PVC pipe for casing, and started the gravel pack to stabilize the hole. We saw living water flow to the surface up the casing. Our villager friends’ faces changed to relief and joy. We will see more of that tomorrow when we do more to clean out the hole; I will explain that later.

Living water in Biblical terms or 3rd world country terms means moving water, fresh water, spring water, artesian water. Moving water implies a large amount that is replenished and clean, compared to stagnant water that doesn’t move and may run out. Jesus used the term in John 4 with the Samaritan woman.

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We started the day by mixing 7 more barrels of drilling mud. Much of what we mixed yesterday was still in the bore hole where it belonged to stabilize the hole. The villagers had scooped out what was left in our two mud pits and cleaned up the pit walls. Then we ran back in the hole with a new bit, which means reconnecting drill pipe every five feet. The drilling assistant has to dab pipe dope, a heavy grease, on the drill pipe at every connection, then break (unscrew) the existing connection, hoist the heavy pipe into place, and then prepare for the next piece of pipe. We drilled fast all the way down because we already drilled it yesterday, although the new bit was a little larger. The hard stuff that gave us problems last night was still difficult. It was my turn as driller then, and the bit kept getting stuck. Frank took over and got us through, but the drilling continued very slowly. The drill pipe would jump up and down an inch or more, sometimes he was pushing down hard enough that the drill rig started to lift off of the ground. But we got it done.

The well flowed some fresh water up to the surface. The water zone is not artesian, meaning it does not have enough pressure to flow all the way up to the surface on its own. The water zone in this area is always that way, so we will install a hand pump. Frank says the way the rock is behaving here and elsewhere nearby means it’s not a great aquifer; it does not have excellent porosity and permeability so it won’t flow at high rates. But since all the wells here are completed with a hand pump with a limited flow rate anyway, the reservoir is plenty good enough.

I find it all slightly unsatisfying in a geologic sense. No well logs, no sample log, no drilling rate break, no names for the layers. The water-bearing layer is probably a volcanic sandstone. The hard rock is probably a lava flow. The cuttings are mostly black, fairly rounded, not like the white and clean sandstones that I usually see in the oil patch or in local rivers and beaches. But there is little or no source for quartz sand around here. I couldn’t tell that we were in a layer that carried water but Frank knew from other wells they have drilled nearby. I asked if they ever drill deeper (thinking like an explorationist) to find a better sand, but there is no reason for them to do that. There is no reason for them to science these projects like I am accustomed to. They got what they needed and that is wonderful!

Today’s health lesson was on germs and how to deal with diarrhea without medicine, make a solution of clear liquids, salt and sugar. It’s like Gatorade without the artificial flavors. Their health lesson included a craft again, where they all made little paper kites on short strings. Those were immensely popular, the kids were running and running circles and just crazy for them.

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I brought a different kind of Frisbee today, the kind that is a soft plastic hoop instead of a solid disc. I had this delusion that they kids would like the variety from yesterday’s Frisbee, but in reality, the hoop was far easier for them to catch. They pretty quickly started hot-dogging by catching it by putting their arm through it, their head, their feet. I hot-dogged by bouncing it off the ground.

Jim brought tennis balls and showed them how to juggle. One boy stuck with it and improved a lot.

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Our village friends have worked very hard to help us with our joint project. They have hauled water up their 60 foot well in five gallon buckets to fill 55 gallon barrels many times, and haul those 100 feet or so to us by horse cart, sometimes propelled by one of them instead. They dug a long ditch (8 inches wide, 4 inches deep) to carry off the drilling mud and tomorrow’s water. As soon as the mud started to flow down it, they moved their chairs right along it or stood close to watch it. The kids dipped their toes in the drilling mud.

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I should clarify about our drilling mud. Water. Clay, mostly the mineral bentonite or montmorrilanite.  Devitritied volcanic ash. Those of us who have driven through much of the western US are acquainted with it, especially when the dirt roads are wet. Slick and sticky both. It swells when wet so messes with basements and foundations. Much of Wyoming and other flat parts of western States are mostly covered with Cretaceous shales that are loaded with bentonite. So our drilling mud has common natural materials.  It turns darker from passing through dark-colored sediment layers, but again, that is all natural. The kids like playing in it, but since their houses have dirt floors, it’s not such a big problem as it would be in our homes.

Tomorrow we trip back into the hole, connecting up five foot lengths of drill pipe all the way to the bottom again to continue to clean out the hole, and will try to get more gravel packed in the hole around the PVC casing. We want to seal off the clean water layer from shallower contaminated layers. We did some gravel work today: they mixed clean sacked gravel with water and bleach to make sure the gravel was clean.

The village will build the concrete slab and we will install the pump and dedicate it, I think Thursday.

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I shot a photo of the license plate on the rig, “Yo Jesus”.  Yo in Spanish means “I”, the license plate has a heart between Yo and Jesus, so means I love Jesus in Spanish, but I like the English version too.

Jorge took us into town for ice cream tonight and to talk more. We think very highly of Jorge and everyone here.

Please continue to pray for success with the well and that we can help the people to better understand God’s love.

Rich

Not Just An Idea Anymore

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by Jim Coleman | Team Leader | La Bolsa, Nicaragua

Today we completed drilling at a total depth of 106 feet. We also set the PVC pipe in the bore hole and added the gravel pack around the pipe. The hygiene team taught the women and children how to deal with diarrhea without the use of medicine. You utilize a self-prepared liquid known as Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) — basically a mixture of water, salt, and sugar (essentially Gatorade without the flavor).

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The “crowd” from the village was noticeably larger today and the people were much more interactive. The children were not as shy and they played easily with kites, Frisbees, and other toys. After we set the PVC pipe in the hole you could begin to read the faces and the community knew that this well was really going to happen. It wasn’t just an idea anymore. Laughter and smiles were in abundance today. What a humbling experience to bring such a blessing.

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And the well did happen today. It flowed living water to the surface. The residents in the village saw it and they had new relief and joy on their faces.

We have plenty more work to do tomorrow. God is good.

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Thank you Rich Aram, for this video.

The Drilling Begins

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by Rich Aram | Kingsland Team Member | 19 August 2013

Greetings.

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.

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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.
Rich

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