Water for Los Cernas

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by Jim Coleman

Our team handed the water well over to the village of Los Cernas today. The people of this small village have been praying for a water well — a reliable source of clean water — for 11 years! We are so thankful that God chose us to be the answer to their prayers. We had a wonderful time of celebration as we dedicated the water well to God and presented it to the people of Los Cernas. We will never forget the prayers, testimonies, laughter, and fellowship we enjoyed at the dedication ceremony. Thank you for praying for our team and for following our adventure.


A Beautiful Rainbow

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by Jim Coleman

Today we put the well pipe in the ground and flushed water from the well. The sun hit the water spray and delivered a beautiful rainbow. A wonderful reminder of Gods promise.


Drilling Completed Today!

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by Jim Coleman

We drilled to a total depth of 215 feet today. We were able to get to 180 using air drilling and then we had to switch over to mud rotary for the final push. But we did complete drilling today!!  The men from Las Cernas have really helped out … and always with a smile.

The hygiene team taught about flys and the germs they carry. The illustration tool used with the kids is glitter. Once it is out of the bottle the glitter is everywhere — just like germs — until you wash your hands.

Thanks to all who are praying for us. It is very much  appreciated.


In Los Cernas

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by Jim Coleman

Our team traveled from Houston to El Salvador yesterday to drill our 14th water well in Central America in partnership with our friends at Living Water International.


Today we went to the village of Los Cernas. A gathering of community members and school children were awaiting our arrival. It was quite the welcome.

We visited some homes and the nearby school before we began drilling. By 5:30 PM we reached 90 feet. Drilling was bit challenging at first because the ground was very soft and loose and we were afraid  the hole would collapse around us. But God provided yet again and we had a very successful day.

Water for Los Amates

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Los Amates, El Salvador

An amazing week. There are no other words to describe the experience of drilling a water well for the people of Los Amates. The people who live in this cluster of homes along a short stretch of an unpaved road near the Pacific Ocean have longed for a clean water source for quite some time. I must confess that more than once this week it looked doubtful that the people of Los Amates would have their well anytime soon.

Team w Community
This has been the week of unexpected challenges and setbacks. Just about the time it looked like we were making progress something would happen to shut us down. We felt like the itsy bits spider in the popular kids song: “The itsy bits spider climbed up the water-spout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.” But, the song continues, “Out came the sun and dried up all the rain and the itsy bits spider climbed up the spout again.”

Girls at Well
This morning we completed the water well for the people of Los Amates. For the first time this week the sun was shining bright with hardly a cloud in the sky. When we bolted on the cover to the pump and started to work the handle, we could hear water gurgling up the pipe. Within a few seconds a gush of cool, clean water spilled onto the concrete pad to the delight of everyone present. That single moment made the long days and late nights of working in the rain and humidity worth it all.

Dedication Plaque
I’m very proud of our team for sticking it out and working such long hours to make the dream of a water well in Los Amates a reality. I like Newt Gingrich’s definition of perseverance: — “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” Our guys persevered. After working themselves to the point of exhaustion in the heat and humidity of the day, they continued working several more hours into the night without complaining.

Gustavo Dedication
All the while that our team was working, the community was watching. They noticed the joyful attitude of our team members and our determination to keep going. This morning when we dedicated the water well, Gustavo Frank spoke on behalf of our team and reminded the people that the well was a gift from God. Two of the community leaders told the people how happy they were that we had not given up when things had gotten tough. One older man said, “We don’t have any money to give you for sticking it out and giving us the gift of this water well. But I am asking God to bless you for what you have done to bless us.”

Geremias y Gerardo
I am grateful for our hard-working team. I am also grateful for Geremias (lead driller) and Gerardo (assistant driller), the Agua Viva staffers who guided our work this week. These guys are amazing. We were privileged to share a great adventure this week in serving the people of Los Amates. We will return home on Saturday to all of the conveniences we enjoy and take for granted, especially the access we have to a seemingly unlimited supply of water. May the sound and sight of the water in our homes prompt us to pray for those who are still longing and waiting for a cup of clean water.

Pastor Marcos

Still Smiling

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Los Amates, El Salvador

Determined is the word that best describes our drilling team. Like the waves of the nearby Pacific Ocean, we have had one challenge after another wash over us this week. We finally reached a depth of 240 feet last night on our third attempt at finding water for the people of the small caserÍo of Los Amates. Our team returned to our base camp tired and dirty last night but hopeful for what today would bring.

Agua Viva Guys
We returned to Los Amates early this morning, anxious to get started. Our first order of business was to run pipe down the hole to make sure that everything was still in good order. It was, so we pulled all 240 feet of drill pipe out and stacked it neatly next to the drill rig. The next step was to begin installation of the casing, the larger pipe that goes into the hole first. We made it as far as 30 feet before we encountered yet another brick wall. Apparently a large rock had collapsed into the hole. Yikes!

Pupusa Cooks
Lunch was a welcome break. After dealing with rain and mud and the unexpected rock in the hole we were ready for a delicious meal. Jennifer and Lorena, our hygiene team gals, joined local cook Yamileth to prepare pupusas, an El Salvadoran treat. In case you’re wondering, a pupusa is something like a round, flat tamale and totally delicious. We have all become pupusa addicts.

Guys at Work in ES 2014
After lunch, we returned to the drill site to pull out the casing and reinstall the drill pipe in an effort to break the rock in the hole. Success. But, we had to drill down all 240 feet again to make sure that there were no other obstructions — time consuming to say the least. But, no problem. Quitting is not an option for our team. We are here to do what it takes to provide clean water for the people of Los Amates.

Raising Pipe
Facing challenges is certainly made easier when you are surrounded by good and cheerful people. As tough as this week and this day has been, everybody is still smiling. The only thing louder than the drill rig is the sound of our laughter. We are having a really good time serving together. And the good folks of Los Amates continue to take great care of us, providing coffee and snacks and even a helping hand.

Smiling Face
Even though we are behind schedule because of the setbacks we have had to deal with this week, it looks like the people of Los Amates will have their water well after all. Tomorrow morning we hope to finish the final steps to bring water to the surface. We are praying that all will go smoothly since it is our last day here. In spite of all that has happened with drilling our thirteenth water well in Central America (fourteenth if you count the water well we sponsored in Nicaragua in August), we are all still smiling and looking forward to dedicating the well tomorrow.

Brick Wall Days

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Los Amates, El Salvador

The late Randy Pausch, author of “The Last Lecture,” said something about brick walls that I have never forgotten. “The brick walls are not there to keep us out,” Pausch explained. “The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

KBC Men El Salvador 2014
The past two days in El Salvador have been brick wall days for our team of drillers. We have faced one challenge after another. Yesterday morning we encountered problems with our first drill site and had to move the entire rig to a new location. Within a few hours we encountered the same problems at the second site and then discovered a broken component on the rig. After repairing the rig we moved it yet again to a third location.

Night Drilling
The only way to make up the time we had lost was to drill into the night. Everyone was filthy and sopping wet but determined nevertheless to press on. One of the families in the community provided coffee and the local pastor showered us with encouragement. The folks in the caserÍo of Los Amates need this water well. They have been praying and hoping and waiting for a source of clean water for a long time. We don’t want to disappoint them.

Three Amigos
Knowing we have lots of work to do to complete this water well, we got an early start this morning. Our goal for today was to drill to a depth of 200 feet. We were making great progress until we hit another brick wall — another broken part. This meant shutting everything down until we could get the part fixed. The delay also meant another night of drilling until we hit our required depth. No problem. Every person on the team is determined to get the job done.

Jim Hughes
I am very proud of our team. Every one of the guys is a hard worker and takes initiative. No whining or complaining from these guys. I have watched them work to the point of exhaustion and then give a little more. Jennifer Frank, Gustavo’s wife, is the only woman on our team. She has been working with Agua Viva staffer Lorena Perez to teach hygiene lessons to moms and kids. These gals have also worked long hours each day without complaint. Sharing this adventure with this team is an enjoyable experience.

Gustavo and Jennifer
Having led several teams to drill water wells in partnership with our friends at Living Water International, I can honestly say that this team has hit more brick walls than usual. In addition to starting over three times, dealing with broken parts, and moving lots of equipment more than once, this team has had to do most of this in the rain. We have worked long hours soaked to the bone. But again, no problem. This team wants to bless the people of Los Amates with clean water and is not about to let any brick wall stop them.

Time Poverty

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Los Amates, El Salvador

The caserÍo of Los Amates was a muddy mess today. The main road through this jumble of ramshackle houses is not paved. Recent rains have turned the road into a muddy slip and slide. And to make matters worse today, it rained again. The people who live here, however, have learned to live with inconveniences like mud and heat and inescapable humidity and muddy shoes and feet. Inconvenience is a way of life here.

Perhaps the greatest inconvenience at Los Amates is the lack of access to reliable sources of water. This morning we walked down to Rio Sonsonate, the river that separates the houses of Los Amates from the cane fields. The river is indeed polluted. Local leaders told us about the health problems and skin rashes that the people constantly battle because of the filthy water. The shallow hand-dug wells are no better than the river.


We met a fourteen year-old girl named Alma at the river. She was one of several young girls doing laundry there. Alma and the other girls in the area spend several hours a day on water related tasks. They have to walk long distances from their homes to the river to fetch water for daily needs, sometimes several times a day. Like other women around the globe who devote untold hours a day doing the same, Alma and her friends suffer from time poverty.

Drilling a water well for the people of Los Amates will do more than provide clean water for the families in the area. The community water well will give all of the families a reliable source of clean water that is closer to them than the river. That means that young girls like Alma will not have to walk as far to fetch water for their families. This will free up time for young girls to go to school and for mothers to spend with their children. And, the clean water should alleviate a number of health issues.

The rain today did not slow down our team. We are determined to provide the gift of clean water for the people of Los Amates. And, the local pastor who prayed for our team this morning is doing a great job of telling the people about Jesus, the Living Water. This week, we are working together to improve the lives of the people who live here. After our team returns home, the pastor will continue his work of telling people how their deepest thirst can only be quenched by the Living Water.

Working Guys
Please pray for Alma and other young ladies like her. Pray that the water we provide will help her out from under the debt of time that is impoverishing her life and keeping her from reaching her highest potential. Today was a hard day of drilling, literally hard as we hammer our way down through lots of rock. But we will work as hard and long as we have to this week to answer the prayers of Alma and others in Los Amates to give them the gift of clean water and to give them back their time.

He Rules the Waves


Playa Salinitas, El Salvador | 12 October 2014

I have returned to El Salvador — to a familiar place along its magnificent Pacific coast that I have come to love. The two-plus hour drive here from San Salvador winds its way through beautiful vistas. The ragged cones of sleeping volcanoes tower above blankets of green vegetation that cover everything in sight. This tiny country is blessed with more than its share of natural beauty.

I am here once again with friends from Kingsland to drill our thirteenth water well in Central America in partnership with our friends at Living Water International. This week we are the answer to the prayers of the people of Los Amates, a tiny place named after one of the largest trees that grows in El Salvador’s volcanic enriched soil. Not big enough to be designated a village, Los Amates is instead a caserÍo — a jumble of homes.

Los Amates is home to 109 families and their 90 children who subsist as sugar cane growers. Their only source of water is a polluted river that runs nearby and carries waste and garbage toward the Pacific. All of the shallow wells in the area are also tainted with impurities. But, when these are your only sources of water, you learn to adapt — and you learn to pray for something better.

Hard Hats
Eleven months ago the prayers that ascended from Los Amates reached the ears of our friends at Agua Viva El Salvador. And now, we are here under the leadership of a sovereign God to be His hands and feet to help the people of Los Amates. We have a big week ahead of us as we will endeavor to drill a deep well that will reach the purer waters that lie beneath the filth, waters that hold the promise of making life better for the people we will meet this week.

After we arrived, I ventured over to the shoreline to gaze out at the vast Pacific Ocean. I stood there for a while, looking at the waves, feeling their pulse. The waves at high tide are magnificent as they chaotically swirl and rise and then fall with an ominous thud against the shore before reluctantly retreating back to the ocean. Waves are the heartbeat of the restless sea.

Waves are often used in Scripture as a metaphor for trouble in our lives. The people of Los Amates know all about waves. They understand what it means to have the relentless breakers of trouble repeatedly wash over them as they struggle from day to day, a struggle made harder because they do not have access to clean water. But, there is hope. “You rule the raging of the sea,” the psalmist wrote, “when its waves rise, you still them” (Ps. 89:9). And indeed He does.

Our prayer this week is that God, who rules the waves, will still the waves that have troubled the people of Los Amates by providing for them life’s most basic necessity — access to a reliable source of clean water. Please keep our team in your prayers as we begin the drilling process tomorrow. And please remember to pray for the people of Los Amates, the beneficiaries of the kindness of those who have given financially to make this well possible.

El Salvador Reflections

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Our team is safely back in the States after a full and challenging week of work in El Salvador. We worked until the last possible moment to complete the water well for the people of Valle Nuevo, but we completed the task. Once again, we had a great team of Kingsland volunteers who served well and made the week enjoyable. Here are their reflections on our week in El Salvador.

ImageJim Coleman | As we worked each day among the people of the mountain village of Valle Nuevo, I saw real peace and joy on the faces of the children at the local school. Their smiles and laughter were abundant despite the primitive living conditions including lack of water and medical treatment. These kids certainly do not have any of the modern conveniences to which we have become accustomed. I was constantly reminded that what we have is not who we are …. and joy in life is not delivered by things we strive to accumulate.

ImageJason Hall | This was yet another impactful trip to El Salvador. One thing that really stood out to me this time was the dedication of the Living Water International staff that serve here. They work very long hours to ensure the success of these short-term mission trips, routinely waking up before us to prepare the equipment for the day, and often working well into the night after we have already returned from the job site. The other thing that stood out was the love, happiness, contentment, and generous hospitality shown by the people of rural El Salvador. I am blessed beyond measure every time I travel here. Thanks, Omar, for showing us how to Go Beyond. I encourage everyone to try it!

ImageCarter Moore | What an amazing trip. I was totally humbled by the generosity and hard work of so many of the men and women of Valle Nuevo. Without their help this well would not have been completed. God blessed us in so many tangible ways. The work was hard but there were no injuries. There were many problems but by God’s provision they we’re all overcome. As we said our goodbyes to the people of Valle Nuevo on Friday night, by the light of flashing cameras, I thought about what a joy it had been to once again be part of a Kingsland team Going Beyond to share the love of Christ.

ImageGeorge Phile | For those of you who have not participated in a short-term mission trip, you do not know what you are missing.I have seen our team working side-by-side with the villagers of Valle Nuevo to drill a water well so the people can have clean water. At the same time we were sharing the word of Jesus. Our team showed lots of the Lord’s patience when things didn’t go quite as planned. This really was a team effort of North American and El Salvadorans working together for the spiritual well-being of the villagers. We were blessed by the friendly help from all the villagers and the Living Water staff.

ImageLacey Stewart | One of the things that stood out to me was going into every classroom and talking with every student. We would ask them if they had ever gotten really bad stomach viruses from drinking their water. Every single time the entire classroom would very forcibly yell, “Si!” You know that their water is dirty, that’s why you came to drill a well, but to know that every single child had gotten really sick from drinking that water helped me appreciate what we were doing, even through many long, hard days.

ImageDoug Valot | The thing I will remember most about this week are the smiles. The smiles of the beautiful children during the school day. The smiles of the ladies of the village who served us lunch each day. The smiles of the people in the community as they worked together in some trying circumstances in completing the well. And the smiles of our El Salvador Living Water hosts whose love for Christ is infectious. Smiles of joy, peace and contentment, the kind that material possessions cannot buy. They taught me a lot this week. The week ended perfectly with the community coming  up to us and hugging us and thanking us for being there. It was a great way for us to share our love and thanks in return.

ImageDavid Yates | This was not my first mission trip. I have made several and to different parts of the world — Europe, Asia, and Africa. The difference between this trip and the prior trips, I realized, was that those trips involved more teaching, direct ministry, even preaching, whereas this trip was totally about service. Service as in physical labor. I am thankful that the Lord gave me the opportunity to serve in this manner. Personal impressions this week include the joy of the El Salvadoran people. Their kindness and laughter — oh, do they laugh. Also, I am not surprised by God’s faithfulness and provision, but always amazed when He provides for the need that is so badly needed. God is good. I pray that I served Him well in El Salvador.

And a special thanks to the Agua Viva El Salvador staff with whom we worked this week. Amazing folks!


I Have No Words

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Valle Nuevo, El Salvador

Another very long day in El Salvador!

We expected that today would be a short day. Our schedule called for completing the well and presenting it to the people of Valle Nuevo sometime around noon. However, things did not go according to schedule. Although we completed the well, we could not get any water to the surface no matter how much we pumped. We worked past the lunch hour trying to solve the problem but still no water. Something was clearly wrong.

Our first plan of action called for checking the pump. That meant pulling out the 200-feet of steel rods connected to the pump. Pump looked fine. The next step was to pull out the 200-feet of pipe housing the pump stuff. Hard work. But, that’s when we found the problem. One of the sections of pipe about 150-feet below the surface had broken. Once we replaced that piece and reinstalled everything, we were finally able to pump water to the surface to the cheers of the villagers.


We finally dedicated and presented the water well to the people of Valle Nuevo at around 6:30 PM. What a sweet time. The school children presented us with gifts they had made in class and the village leaders thanked us. One old man approached the microphone and asked to speak. “I have no words,” he said, “to thank our friends who have traveled so far to give us this special gift.” Afterward he made it a point to hug each of us as we stood around the water well one last time.

The best part of the day for me was working shoulder-to-shoulder with the men of the village. They were as concerned as we were that we solve the mystery of why we could not pump water to the surface. We worked together all through the afternoon heat until the problem was solved. This water well means so much to these folks that no one even gave a thought of taking a break. I have no words to describe the intensity of the fellowship we shared as we worked toward a common goal.

I am happy that we completed our task and successfully drilled our eleventh water well in Central America with our partners at Living Water International. We have two more teams scheduled to drill water wells later this year. I can hardly wait to meet the people we will serve and bless with the gift of water and the Word.

Another Step Closer

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Valle Nuevo, El Salvador

Today we are another step closer to the completion of the water well for the people of the little mountain village of Valle Nuevo. After drilling to a depth of almost 200-feet, we hit an abundant source of clean water. We spent most of the morning developing the well — pumping air into the hole to blow out the dirt and mud. The shower of water into the air created quite a buzz and lots of questions. Everyone was interested in knowing if the water is good and if it will last. These are important questions to people who have been waiting in expectation for a reliable source of water.


As soon as we moved the drill rig, the men of the village sprang into action. Their responsibility was to pour the concrete pad around the well housing. They wasted no time in nailing the forms and preparing the pad with big rocks that act as filler and rebar. They mixed cement on the ground and ladled it by the shovel-full into the forms until the pad was complete. These men worked non-stop until the task was done. This water well is an answer to their prayers and they all wanted to play a part in completing the task.




Jim Coleman set the dedication plaque into the pad. Our missions ministry funds the wells that we drill in Central America. However, this particular well was funded by the students at Faith West Academy where so many Kingsland kids attend school. The dedication plaque will serve as a reminder that students from Faith West gave this special gift to the children and families who call Valle Nuevo home.


We will complete the well in the morning and then dedicate and present it to the people of Valle Nuevo. There is lots of excitement in the air as people anticipate the completion of the well. This water well will indeed be a huge blessing to this village. Our team is humbled by the thought that God allowed us to be the answer to the prayers of these wonderful people. We trust that this generation and the next will benefit from and enjoy the water that flows from this water well.

Breakdowns and Repairs

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Valle Nuevo, El Salvador

Sooner or later anything mechanical will break down. We drilled through so much rock on our second day of drilling that we literally rattled some parts of the drill rig into disrepair. Fortunately, some of the guys in the village had exactly what we needed to fabricate and replace broken components. And, after a two-hour delay, we were up and running again.


Stopping to make repairs put us behind schedule so we have had to work into the evening the past couple of days. Once again, the people of the village were there to rig up lights so that we could see, provided coffee and snacks, and stayed with us until we called it a night. Last night we ended the night with a prayer circle, thanking God for the progress we have made. Every man prayed simultaneously. It was a wonderful way to end the day.


Today was another long but fruitful day. After hours of drilling, we finally hit water at a depth of 200-feet. The excitement in the air was palpable. People of every age watched the developments with great anticipation. When the first bursts of water shot into the air, there were lots of joyful shouts — or perhaps shouts of relief that the village will finally have a reliable source of water. It was a beautiful thing.


Tomorrow we will finish developing the well, set the pad and pump equipment, and get everything ready for dedication on Friday morning. The breakdowns and repairs slowed us down but did not shut us down. The people of Valle Nuevo will have the water well they have been longing and praying for. Every family will have finally access to a reliable source of good and clean water.


I am grateful for every member of our team. They are working hard and making meaningful connections with the folks in this mountain village. Today, Jim and Jason taught a math lesson to some students between their drilling responsibilities. And Lacey, the only girl on our team, has had her hands full teaching hygiene lessons with our partners here to more than a hundred local kids. It’s really cool to see each member of the team do their part and maintain a great attitude in spite of unexpected breakdowns in equipment. We look forward to finishing the task and dedicating the well on Friday morning.


The Context of Thirst

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Valle Nuevo, El Salvador

Before beginning the work of drilling a water well at Valle Nuevo, our team visited some of the homes in the area. We did so to better understand the context of thirst in this village located in a rugged mountainous area near the Guatemalan border. Because water is so scarce in this region, the people must engage in water-collecting and rationing tasks every day.


The most reliable source of water for the people of Valle Nuevo comes from a mountain pool located at a higher elevation about five-kilometers from the village. The water from this pool is directed to the village through a two-inch pipe. Every three days the water that flows through this pipe is made available to a different sector of the village so that the precious resource is distributed equitably.


All of the folks that we visited with told us that, at best, they get a trickle of water through the pipe. So, they collect as much water as they can when it’s their turn to have access. They store what they collect in plastic bottles, clay pots, or whatever else they have available. This water is used primarily for drinking, cooking, and washing clothes. They do not have the luxury of having enough water for regular bathing.


One family we met had collected a couple hundred gallons of water that they stored in a concrete cistern. It has taken them several weeks to collect that much water. And although this sounds like a lot of water, it is far less than the average family in our suburban community uses in a single day of bathing, cooking, flushing toilets, watering lawns, washing cars, and other water-related tasks. For this family, these extra gallons are their reserve in case anything compromises the already unreliable flow of water from the mountain pool.


Understanding the context of thirst is important to our team. Meeting the people who have learned to survive by cleverly managing their limited stores of water helps us to better understand the importance of our task this week. The water well that we will provide will be a game-changer for the people of Valle Nuevo. This well will provide them with a more reliable and cleaner source of water for years, perhaps generations to come.


Our presence here has also motivated the villagers. They are helping in any way that they can — providing lunch, helping with miscellaneous tasks, digging pits in the hard-packed ground for our mud-drilling operation, and more. The success of this drilling operation is a top priority for all of us. As the principal of the local school announced to her students, we are the answer to their prayers for a reliable source of water.


We are off to a good start. We drilled to a depth of fifty-feet through the parched and concrete-hard ground on our first day. We must go much deeper still. No problem. We are prepared to go as deep as necessary in order to find water. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Valle Nuevo keeps us aware of the context of thirst and keeps us working hard in the heat. The people here deserve access to a reliable source of clean water. Our hope is that this week their prayers will finally be answered.

Beyond the Familiar

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Playa Salinitas, El Salvador

I am back in El Salvador with another great team of volunteers from Kingsland. The short three-hour flight from Houston to San Salvador hardly seems like much of a journey to me because I am so accustomed to those long 15-hour trans-Atlantic flights. But, I am not complaining. A short flight in the same time zone without the prospect of jet lag is very nice indeed.

Little Tomasa de Jesus

The three hours in the air passed even more quickly because I sat next to Nate, a young missions pastor from a church in Ohio. We talked shop most of the flight. The rest of the time we both enjoyed chatting in Spanish with a sweet 88 year-old woman seated next to us. She was concerned about not being able to carry her heavy bags. I told her that we would be like sons to her and carry her bags. I also filled out her customs form since she did not read or write. God placed us exactly where He needed us in order to help this intrepid little traveler who prayed fervently before we landed.

Team on Arrival

Once we walked out of the air-conditioned terminal, El Salvador greeted us with its usual hot and humid embrace. It only took minutes for each of us to break into a sweat as we tossed our gear onto the top of the van. After a quick lunch at Pollo Campero we headed out of town on the Ruta de las Flores or Route of Flowers, a 22-mile scenic highway through the heart of El Salvador’s coffee country.

El Faro del Pacifico

One of the familiar sights along this beautiful route is the famous Volcan de Izalco, one of El Salvador’s most visually dramatic and youngest volcanoes. Izalco formed in 1770 and erupted almost continually until 1966. The eruptions were so violent that they could be seen by sailors at sea, hence earning the volcano the nickname “El Faro del Pacifico” or “The Lighthouse of the Pacific.”
Bike Machete

Because I have traveled to El Salvador so many times before, it’s easy to allow the familiarity of sights like El Faro del Pacifico to lull me into a state of been there, done that, seen that. The challenge for me is to look beyond the familiar to notice things I have not previously seen — sort of like seeing a movie for the second or third time and hearing or noticing things I had previously missed. For example, when we stopped for fuel today, I noticed a machete wedged into the frame of a bike that had seen better days. Everyone in these parts carries a machete — the multi-tool of rural folk. Little things like this are a clue to what life is like here, clues that are easy to miss or dismiss.

So, this week I want to intentionally look beyond the familiar to see El Salvador again for the first time. We are all anxious to begin our work at Valle Nuevo, a village located more than a hour’s drive away near the Guatemalan border. We will drill a water well at the local school there where the kids of farmers and laborers attend. Our prayer is that the gift of clean water will improve the lives of the people and that sharing the Living Water will quench an even deeper thirst. We can’t wait to get started.

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