It has been 10 years since my first Water/Sanitation project abroad – 10 years!
The bible verse that I posed on my first blog in 2009 remains the same for me in 2019.
1 Peter 4:8-11
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
My service to others can be in a very technical manner, such as designing a water system or in a simple way, like digging a ditch alongside a community member. I’ve had really “cool” tasks, like living in a small mountain community in El Salvador and building a spring-catchment system or really gross, like working on septic (latrine) projects in Panama and getting lots of nasty stuff on my hands (and I am not talking about mud). In all things – cool or gross; complicated or simple, my prayer is that I do it in a way that glorifies God.
So, 10 years. Well, I don’t feel any older … 😉
10 years. 11 different countries, within 4 different continents. I have worked repeatedly in Haiti, El Salvador, Uganda, Guatemala and Panama so my actual projects abroad, in total, come in around 34 (ranging from 9 days to 3 months in various locations). The project count is a lot higher if I include the projects I manage remotely.
One of the sweetest parts of hitting the 10-year mark is that I got to be back in the community where it all began – San Antonio, Santa Rosa, Guatemala. I really love this community and the organization that I partner with, Operation Jabez.
For this trip, I did not return for a major construction project. I returned to check on the former projects and conduct Hygiene Education programs. I really loved being back in San Antonio – it has been three years since my last project (an expansion to the 2009 project). The community continues to grow and improve and it is so cool to see the progression. They attribute the growth to God, which is so beautiful!
Many organizations have come alongside of San Antonio to support them – Operation Jabez is there weekly to have children’s ministry, Power at Work has provided picnic tables to all of the homes (so the families can sit together to eat), local churches from Chiquimulilla and Guazacapán serve basic needs and churches from the US support larger programs (like purchasing the large water tank from the 2016 water expansion project). It is a team effort – including the families living in San Antonio – to improve their conditions.
My service to communities continues to be within water, sanitation and hygiene. On this recent trip, I found that most of the homes had water filters that were broken. The water filters that were given out required daily maintenance, but the community didn’t get follow-up training, so many had failed. A lot of the filters were considered broken by the homeowners when they only needed to be soaked and flushed. I asked everyone to bring their filters and we had a class on fixing and maintaining them. I was really grateful to the US group that gave out the filters, however it is common to find that without follow-up maintenance training, the filters become unusable. It was good timing that I was visiting homes and saw the filters so we could conduct the class. It was also timely that “filter repair and training” was a case study I did in a CAWST class I took this past December! I used all the training I received to pass along to the community!