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.