At The Top of Their List

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My friends Geremias and Antonio serve on the staff of Agua Viva El Salvador. These guys along with the rest of the staff there host teams that come to drill water wells in impoverished communities. Geremias and Antonio were assigned to lead our Kingsland team in drilling a water well last week for the people of Los Robles, a small village nestled in the hills not far from the Pacific Ocean.

Geremias 2
A few days ago, Geremias emailed me a few photos that he took during our time in Los Robles. I was especially moved by the photos of the children. In one photo, a young boy named Julio is holding a New Testament given to him by Marina, a hygiene specialist with Agua Viva. You can see the intensity in Julio’s face as he prays to invite Jesus to live in his heart. He was one of sixteen people who professed faith in Christ that week.

Geremias 4
In another of my favorite photos, a group of children are assembled around their new water-well. Again, you can see the intensity as these children placed their hands on the pump and expressed their gratitude to God for their new water-well. They know what this clean source of water will mean to their families and how much time it will save them. Because I grew up with an abundant supply of running water in my home, I never once prayed at the faucet or stopped to give thanks for water. I just took it for granted.

Geremias 1
In another photo that Geremias sent me, a little boy is bending over and drinking the fresh, cool water that our team provided. He was sincerely grateful and drank with enthusiasm. I can’t remember the last time I was actually excited about drinking water. In fact, I don’t drink enough water — and the thought of drinking more water than I do sends me reaching for a Diet Coke instead. But for those who have limited access to water, there is nothing better or more refreshing than two cupped hands filled with clean water.

I’m glad that Geremias sent me the photos of the kids. They remind me of how blessed I am to live in a place where water is at the very bottom of my list of concerns. These photos also remind me that what is at the bottom of my list is at the top of the list for 844 million people on the planet who lack access to clean and safe water. I’m glad that we will return to Central America three more times in the coming year to provide the poor with water and the Word.

A Place In Our Hearts

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Along the Pan American Highway in El Salvador

The Pan American Highway is the world’s longest road, stretching from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska all the way to Tierra del Fuego in South America. La Panamericana, as it is known in El Salvador, winds its way through 23 countries and boasts some of the most beautiful vistas on the planet. This morning, our water-well drilling team decided to travel down the portion of La Panamericana between Playa Salinitas in the district of Sonsonate to Cuscatlán International Airport located just south of San Salvador.

Pan Am 1
I have traveled this route once before and fell in love with the drive. The views of the Pacific Ocean along the way are nothing short of magnificent. On many stretches along the way, the road is completely shaded by trees forming an arbor tunnel. And, the road also passes through five tunnels blasted through solid rock. Add to all of this sights of fishermen mending their nets, colorful boats, fruit vendors on the side of the road, and you have all the makings of an enjoyable drive.

Pan Am 2
When we arrived in San Salvador, we stopped by a scenic overlook to take in a panoramic view of the capital city. From our vantage point we could see thousands of homes and could easily identify bigger structures like beautiful cathedrals with their heavenward-reaching spires. The evidence that El Salvador is proud of its Christian heritage is seen everywhere. From public busses adorned with colorful messages like “Jesus es Señor” to street vendors with names like “Tortilleria Bendiciones de Dios.”

Team in San Salvador
We head back to the States early in the morning, grateful to God for a great week among the people of Los Robles, a village we had never heard about until a week ago. Long ago the people of Los Robles began praying for a water-well and this week that prayer was answered. And now, the people of Los Robles will forever have a place in our hearts. Their village is now a part of the geography of our lives. Although names may fade over time, our experience of working shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Los Robles will remain with us for a lifetime.

An Amazing Lady

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Los Robles, El Salvador

People who do not have access to a reliable source of clean water often suffer from water-related diseases. According to Living Water International, “water-related diseases cause 2.2 million deaths a year; every day, diarrhea takes the lives of 2,000 children in Africa—more than any other single cause of death. Safe water, a toilet, and clean hands could prevent 90% of these deaths.” That’s why hygiene training is an important part of every water-well drilling initiative.

Marina Dental Lesson
This week, while our team of guys worked hard to drill a water-well for the people of Los Robles, our friend Marina Medrano focused on teaching women and children important lessons on basic hygiene. She is an amazing lady — a gifted teacher and story-teller and very knowledgeable about all things hygiene. We take for granted that everyone in this day and age knows how germs are spread.  Marina knows otherwise.

Marina and Puppet
All week, Marina has been surrounded by women and children. She has taught about everything from how germs are transmitted to how to properly brush one’s teeth. And she has done it all in very creative ways. Beyond teaching basic hygiene, Marina has taught the folks of Los Robles about Jesus and why He came. This week fourteen teenagers and two adults placed their faith in Christ for salvation as a result.

Marina and Kids
After we dedicated and presented the water-well this afternoon to the people of Los Robles, there was a buzz of activity around the well. Everyone was grateful for the new well in their village, and everyone was grateful for Marina’s good work. Mom’s and kids thanked her for the important lessons she had taught them and vowed to practice better hygiene. And Pastor Marcos will follow-up on the people who made spiritual decisions this week.

Pastor Marcos Dedication
As always, it was hard saying goodbye to the people we have come to know and love this week. Los Robles is a tight-knit community of people doing their very best to survive from day-to-day. Like parents anywhere, the moms and dads here want for their kids to have opportunities for a better and healthier future. We are thankful to have played a small role in strengthening their community and being the answer to their prayers for clean water.

Oct 2013 Team

We Must Trust God

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Los Robles, El Salvador

Marcos is a man of faith and one of the hardest working guys I have ever met. He is pastor of Iglesia Principe De Paz in the village of Los Robles. And he cares deeply about the people of his village. They are the sheep of his pasture and he takes seriously his responsibility to tend to his small flock. Within a short time it became apparent to me that the people of Los Robles hold Pastor Marcos in high regard.

Pastor Marcos
The people of Los Robles have wanted a water-well for quite some time. The shallow hand-dug wells in the village produce dirty water and the closest river is named Río Sucio, translated Dirty River. The problem is that they have not had the money, even collectively, to hire someone to drill a well for them. Pastor Marcos told me that he has repeatedly reassured the people, “Debemos confiar en Dios” — “We must trust God.”

Pasror Marcos Concrete
More than once Pastor Marcos and the people of the village have told us that we are the answer to their prayers. It’s been humbling to hear those words from so many different people. The gratitude in Los Robles is palpable. And Pastor Marcos has led the way with his words and with his work. Every day he calls each of our team members by name, tells us how happy he is to see us, and then rolls up his sleeves to join in the work.

Pastor Marcos Digging
Pastor Marcos is one of the hardest working pastors I have ever met on any of my travels (and I have been on a lot of travels). No task is too small for him and he does everything with a smile. And because he leads by example, his people follow him without hesitation. The men and women of Los Robles have not only worked hard, they have extended every kindness to us in order to make our time among them enjoyable.

Jim Dedication Plaque
This afternoon we put the finishing touches on the long-anticipated water-well for Los Robles. We all rejoiced when cool, clean water from deep beneath the village flowed to the surface. As we pumped water to the surface I looked over at Pastor Marcos. He was smiling. And so was every person there. This, I thought to myself, is what answered prayer looks like — the result of trusting God.

Team on Day 3
I always look forward to the people I will meet as I lead teams to serve in so many places around the world. I am especially glad to have met Pastor Marcos. I can’t help but believe that men like Marcos will be far ahead of me in the reward line in heaven. He serves joyfully in a tough place and is a faithful shepherd to his small flock. Los Robles is not as dark as it might otherwise be because of Pastor Marcos. He is leading the way in teaching his people what it means to trust God.

Lending A Hand

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Los Robles, El Salvador

To say that the people of Los Robles are excited about getting a water well would be an understatement. For the past couple of days we have had more than an audience, we have had an army of volunteers eager to lend a hand. The folks here have been waiting a long time to get a reliable water well in their village and they are not content to sit idly while it happens. They want to get their hands dirty.

Developing the Well
Yesterday we drilled to a depth of 100-feet and found a great source of water. We were fortunate that we had smooth drilling. No rocks to punch through as on previous drilling trips. We also set the casing in the well before the end of the day, putting us ahead of schedule. This morning we developed or cleaned the well, a process of blowing air into the well for several hours until the water runs clear.

Making the Form
In preparation for pouring the pad and setting the pump housing, we had to get a couple of truck loads of sand. The men and boys in the village jumped into action. They not only fetched the sand and mixed the cement, they cut rough-hewn lumber and made the form for the pad on which the pump will be placed. Others gathered rocks to place in the form to serve as filler. There was a beehive of activity as the men worked, many of them in bare feet, to complete today’s tasks.

Filling the Form
The best part of today’s experience was working alongside people whose hearts are filled with gratitude for the gift of this water well. I enjoyed the activity, the laughter, and the progress that we made because everybody was willing to lend a hand. The people of Los Robles have taken ownership of this initiative to provide clean water to their village. Their willingness to get their hands dirty made today’s tasks easier and a lot more fun. We are all looking forward to seeing each other again tomorrow as we work together to finish the task.

Concrete in Form

A Lifetime of Waiting

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Los Robles, El Salvador

There are some things, like living a lifetime without running water, that we will never fully grasp. No poverty simulation exercise or even experiencing the temporary inconveniences of traveling to places with limited access to water can help us understand the challenges faced by people like Angel and his wife Marta.

Angel and Wife
Angel is 94 years-old and his wife Marta is 82. We met them this morning in the small village of Los Robles. They live in a simple thatched-walled house and lean on each other when they walk. They raised six children and have 30 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. And they have lived a lifetime without running water.

When they heard that we had arrived to drill a water-well close to their home, they sent and asked that we stop by for a visit. When we arrived at their humble little home they embraced us and thanked us. “You are an answer to our prayers,” Angel whispered softly. They understand what a water-well will mean to the village they have called home for a lifetime.

I cannot begin to imagine how difficult life has been for this sweet little couple. As I looked at Marta, I could not help but wonder how many hours she had spent in her 82 years walking to fetch water for her family’s daily needs. Many women and young girls who live in places like Los Robles spend as many as six hours a day fetching water. That adds up to a lot of hours for someone like Marta.

Pastor Marcos at Church
After our visit with Angel and Marta, a man named Marcos, the local pastor, took us to visit other families in the village. Every family welcomed us with open arms and thanked us for coming to their village to drill a water-well. I especially enjoyed meeting the children. The water well that we drill will certainly make life better for them. Looking into their faces I prayed that they will not have to live a lifetime without access to clean water.

Pastor Marcos Daughter
After meeting the local families, we started the work of drilling. By the end of the day we had drilled to a depth of 100-feet and found an abundant source of water. Over the next couple of days we will develop the well, set the pump, and teach the people how to maintain their well. We will officially dedicate the well on Thursday and present it to the village as a gift from the people of Kingsland and Living Water.

We are thankful to be here and especially happy to be regarded as an answer to the prayers of people like Angel and Marta. Although they have lived a lifetime without running water, they are glad that things will be different for their grandkids and great-grandkids. The best part of this day was getting to meet this sweet couple and the people of Los Robles.

The Raging of the Sea

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Playa Salinitas, El Salvador

The small nation of El Salvador is a treasure. Tightly wedged against the Pacific by neighboring Guatemala and Honduras, the country is home to more than twenty-five volcanoes, lush rain forests, and breathtaking coasts. Pedro de Alvarado brought this region under the Spanish flag in 1525 and named it El Salvador or “The Savior.” I personally love the name of this country.

This morning a team of Kingsland men and I boarded a flight from Houston to San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador. We are here to work with our friends at Agua Viva El Salvador to drill our ninth water well in this country, our tenth in Central America. There are hundreds of villages scattered throughout the country that still lack access to a reliable source of clean water. Our work here this week will make a difference.

El Salvador Coastline
As our plane made its final approach, I could see the Pacific coastline outlined by foamy white waves breaking against the shore. El Salvador is the only country in Central America with no Atlantic Coast. My good friend Carlos Molina, the country director for Living Water International, met us at the airport and drove us to Playa Salinitas. I always enjoy returning to Playa Salinitas and the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

We will begin our work tomorrow at a village called Los Robles or “The Oaks.” Until then, we enjoyed an afternoon of relaxation to the soothing sound of the waves breaking against the shore. As I sat and watched the waves coming in, I reviewed several passages of Scripture that talk about God’s power over the waves.

Waves are often used as a metaphor for trouble in our lives. “You rule the raging of the sea,” the psalmist wrote, “when its waves rise, you still them” (Ps. 89:9). And indeed He does. When waves of trouble crash over us and threaten to beat us against the rocks, we can always call on Him who rules the seas. He can calm the waves and He can calm our hearts.

Hard Hats

This week, we are here in answer to the prayers of the people of Los Robles, prayers for access to a reliable and clean source of water. The people of this village know all about the troubles and problems caused by filthy water. Our hope is that by the end of this week God will indeed calm the hearts of the people of Los Robles and cause them to rejoice because the ruler of the raging seas has heard their cries.

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.

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.


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!

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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).

Nicaragua 1
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.

Nicaragua 2
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.

Nicaragua 3
Thank you Rich Aram, for this video.

The Drilling Begins

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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.

Ready to Serve

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by Rich Aram | Kingsland Team Member | 18 August 2013


We are here, settled in, and ready to serve starting tomorrow. Thank you for your prayer so far.  Here are some updates:

We will help a village called La Bolsa, population about 70. Is it worth us traveling all the way from the US to help 70 people? You bet. They sure think so. Living Waters can drill about one well a week, so about 50 per year. They average seven new requests per week. Wow.

At one of the International Children’s Educators Conferences I attended, one of the speakers was the president of World Vision. He said his wife was trying to understand what it was like to have to spend time every day walking and carrying water. So she refused to use any of the usual water in her house, and walked 1-2 miles today carrying a bucket  to and from a nearby lake to use for water. Anyone want to try that?

This village has been waiting over a year for this opportunity. They have been praying for us to come. Think about that, we are the answer to their prayer. I find that really humbling.

But the wells don’t always work out. We may not find water, the drilling or casing may fail. So please pray for that.

And pray for our testimony through our actions, since we can’t speak Spanish and nearly no one in the village speaks English.

I understand that actions speak louder than words, but what about the words? How do they get the message of God’s grace through Jesus? I asked that. Most of them have read the gospel or heard the gospel, but maybe they haven’t seen the gospel lived out in someone’s actions. Many of them may be skeptical; they may be waiting to hear what we want them to do for us for pay. We will be closely watched. So please pray that we live and act how God wants us. We want to be a blessing to these people, physically and spiritually.

God did not send us here to fail. We need His help and we are on His business. I like that.

Jorge, our local leader, also challenged use about how this can affect us. He thinks we fail if we each leave here unchanged. This should be a remarkable growth experience for each of us. I like that, too.

He also said it’s hard to build relationships with this work in 3-4 days, then have to say good-bye and leave them. But he said we will see many of them in heaven, where we will ALL speak Spanish. Ha!

A few related logistical stories. The village kids will see us drinking our clean water while we work and will ask for a drink. If we give one a drink, then it will be two then 70. So we must say no. That can be hard.

One well-meaning volunteer once gave her Living Waters wristband to a little boy she liked when they left their village. The staff later learned that the boy got beat up over it and another kid stole it. That second kid got beat up and the wrist band got stolen from him.

Rainy season, so we were told to bring rain gear. Jorge says we will probably get way too hot so it’s best to just let the rain fall on us. Fine with me.

We were also told that toilet paper cannot be flushed down the toilets in Nicaragua. I doubled checked on that and he said it’s not a problem here. Good.

Malaria is not a big risk, but mosquitoes also carry dengue fever which is also called broken bones disease. It causes all of your bones to ache for about a week. Jorge has had it several times and said it feels like he fell out of an airplane and hit the ground. So yes, we will be generous with the insect repellent.

Our team is smaller than usual so that will mean more work for each of us.

We welcome your prayers!

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