Tag Archives: Drilling

The Final Days

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Saying Goodbye is always hard

I am sitting in the airport in Panama City, waiting to be called to board.

This last week and a half has been busy. Simon drilled another well and installed two hand pumps. I closed off a large sanitation project at Asilo (a home for the elderly/disabled on the main island).

I am excited to see my family and friends back in the States, but saying goodbye to my Panama-family and friends is still sad.

As usual (for me), I have a quick turn-around in the States. I arrive home this evening (Wednesday) and will be loading gear back in my dad’s car at 2am on Sunday morning. I am heading back to Haiti with the goat team.

I will be sure to update more on the project later this week, but for now – if anyone lives near me (Vineland), I am looking for twin sheets for the orphanages we partner with in Haiti.

Adios for now 🙂

 

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Simon working on a well in Shark Hole


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Simon with a family near their well in Isla Tigre


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Maria Isabelle is one of the residents of Asilo. Maria is an elderly schizophrenia patient. On this particular day, she was in a good mood and gave me some drawings. I really like when she is in a good mood, but I also don’t mind when she is in a bad mood either because my Spanish isn’t good enough to figure out what she is yelling at me about 😉  

 

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Tiger Island

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Securing the boat after we unloaded our equipment for Isla Tigre.

Simon and I went back to the island where he grew up and where most of his family still resides – Isla Tigre (Tiger Island). Unfortunately, there aren’t any tigers there (although there was a cute orange kitten that Simon joked about being a tiny tiger).

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Isla Tigre is marked with the red pin. I live around the spot where the “i” is in “Bastimento.” In Simon’s boat, it took us 1.5 hours to reach Isla Tigre.

Simon and I went to Isla Tigre with quite a few tasks on our list. One was to check on two wells that he had drilled a few months ago. We found that one well, with a very good source of water, wasn’t being used at all. The homes surrounding it did not like it. Simon had shared with me that these families all wanted him to pipe water to their houses, but he had hoped drilling them a well would change their minds (like Shark Hole!). The other well, however, was used often and the families that used it even put some wood around it to make a little platform. We were both encouraged by the second well since the three homes near it were using it and liked it! It is odd to me – all of these homes (6) served by the two wells are relatively close to each other and all are relatives of Simon. One cluster of homes doesn’t use their well and the other cluster of homes (not far away) uses their well. I would imagine that the families all hang out, maybe even talk or do laundry together and I wonder why one group doesn’t see the benefit that the other group has by using their well? Sometimes Simon just smiles and answers my questions with “loco, Cait. Ellos están locos” (Crazy, Cait. They are crazy).

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Installing a rain catchment tank.

Our next stop was at a church on a different side of the Island. This church received gutters when the Healing Fund team was here a few weeks ago and was waiting on a tank. We brought them a 200-gallon tank to serve water to the surrounding homes. After the install, Simon and I chatted with the pastor and checked the terrain for water. We are going to try to drill a well since there are a lot of homes in need of water in that part of the island. The pastor said he would be able to get volunteers together so we are going to reach out to him when we have time to make the trip back to Isla Tigre. I have an ongoing list of project communities and contact phone numbers so we can get volunteers together before we make the trips to the communities.

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Drilling at our third stop on Isla Tigre

Our final stop at Isla Tigre was near Simon’s mother’s house. A well that he drilled there last year was used very much by all of the homes and a line would form as people waited to get water. Simon wanted to drill another well nearby so the families wouldn’t have to wait as long to retrieve their water. Drilling in an area where people understand the benefits of having a well was so nice! We had three volunteers that worked really hard and even took initiative to clean the drill after we finished. We drilled down to 27′ with a 10′ column of water! The drilling went so well! I get so encouraged when we have volunteers and I feel like progress is being made with the acceptance of the wells.

All in all, our time on Isla Tigre was good. Two existing wells are being used frequently, we drilled another well that we know will be used frequently, installed a water tank and made tentative plans to drill another well. I know we still have the cluster of homes that doesn’t use their well, but we aren’t too discouraged. There is always a chance they will eventually start using it, but even if they don’t, at least other families nearby are accepting the water wells.

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On our way home, I thought about how awesome this work is – how cool it is that I can be part of projects in remote communities where we are providing water and sharing the love of Jesus. Sure, there are frustrating times, lonely times and even times when I am sick, but overall, I can’t imagine myself doing any other task. I am grateful to have “commutes” like this photo where the sea is calm and the sun is shining as the boat brings us home. 

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In Rain or Shine 

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Everyone looks so happy because this boat ride was only 45 minutes long 😉

It has been nearly two and a half weeks since I arrived in Panama and I haven’t written! I tried. I started writing an update on Monday, but I couldn’t get photos to load and just shut off my computer and got distracted with other tasks. Distracted until today (Thursday) when my lovely “Public Relations” boss (Melissa) sent me a message that said “This is a reminder that I love you and you need to write a blog post.” I read that with the emphasis on Blog Post 😉

So much has happened in the short time that I have been here that I should have written two blog posts, but here we go…oh, p.s. If there are any typos, I am blaming the ants walking on my keyboard. They are small, annoying, they bite and they like to mess up my spelbing 😉

Four days after I arrived (and got projects set up), Jessica, Kat, Pat & Zack joined me in Panama. What a hard working team! They never complained even when I knew the conditions were difficult. 

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This 2.5 hours boat ride was rough. The sun cooked us on the first day and on the day we returned, it rained. The rain and wind combo made the trip very cold (which isn’t something that I usually have a problem with in Panama!)

We traveled 2.5 hours by boat to get to Playa Hermosa (called “Beautiful Beach”…although there wasn’t actually a beach where we worked). Simon, the Ngobe man that I drill with and have trained over the years, had identified this community and made the arrangements for us to help provide water to the school kids. We drilled, with Simon and village volunteers, in a few different locations before we found a suitable source of water to serve the small school. The borehole well was rather shallow, but the recharge was sufficient for the kids to use for drinking water.

We couldn’t take any photos of the community (quite a few of the Ngobe communities I have worked with are not fond of photos. Any photos of locals that you see on my posts are taken with permission). I did take photos on the second morning of the team because we were drilling on our own for awhile until volunteers joined us.

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Pat and Kat drilling the second well

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Pat and Zack cleaning out the drill bit 

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Zack and Jess drilling the second well

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Kat cleaning out the first well (water is bailed out of the borehole until all of the dirt from the installation is removed)

On our second day in Playa Hermosa, we drilled another well. This one was deeper with better recharge and would serve more of the homes, while the first well was just for the school kids. We actually drilled most of that well in the rain which was refreshing since none of us had showered since leaving our home base on Isla Bastimentos.        

On our way home from Playa Hermosa, we checked wells on Isla Tigre that Simon had drilled over the past couple of months. The rest of the week was spent on smaller projects like a day trip to check wells in Shark Hole, small repairs on tanks in De Jada and Buen Esperanza, checking wells and testing water on Isla Bastimentos. We repaired holes in the water pipeline in the mangroves and a hand-pump for the home of Nelson (drilled in 2016). All-in-all, the team stuck it out in rain, shine, mud and mangroves. They were dirty more then they were clean and never once complained (even when we had to deal with maggots!). I was really sad when they left, but really grateful that they were able to help me out.

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Taking water samples on Isla Bastimentos 

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Trying to keep from falling in the mangroves 

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It is actually a really slow process of stepping from root to stump to avoid sinking in the mangroves

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Nelson (grey) and Simon (red) have no problems with photos! This is a well that serves Nelson’s family 

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Zack is heating up a machete (to cut a hole in a water tank) with the kids from Buen Esperanza 

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Pat, Kat, Zack and Jess 

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“I don’t think we should be eating dinner with a spider on the table” is not a typical comment at my house in NJ.

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Lizzy likes to sleep with her paw on a human’s paw

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Ethan likes catching “Leaf-eaters” even when then mistake his finger for a leaf

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The plane that took my little team away 😦

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Home for the Holidays 

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go home!

I’m home from Haiti. 

In short, the borehole well is still a work-in-progress. We partnered with an organization, Water4Haiti, that has an LS200 rotary drill, however the drill needed a part repaired Stateside. One of our teammates, Edward, took the part for repair in Texas (his home State) while the rest of us also returned to our homes. Once the part is repaired and shipped back to Haiti, Water4Haiti will finish the well in La Croix. 

I’m really happy to be home for Christmas! I have a lot of friends out in the field who won’t be with family over the holidays which makes me all the more grateful to be home. 

These past few months of projects have been challenging on many levels. Technical challenges are often not the most difficult. Sure, manual drilling is tough, but it is tougher to face the emotional challenges of working in impoverished communities. I want the message of Christ’s love to be apparent in my communication with the community leaders, volunteers and everyone else I interact with daily. 

My verses for this latest run of projects (4 countries over 10 weeks) have been Isaiah 40:29 & 31

29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
 they will run and not grow weary,
 they will walk and not be faint.

My prayer for this upcoming year is for wisdom in how I can serve these communities in the best way possible and the strength to be able to do it 🙂 

I am happy to be home. I am happy to be with my family. I am happy to be serving a God that loves the people in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Haiti (and everywhere else) far better then I ever could. 

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Graduation Day!

Today was my last day at Strive Physical Therapy. 11 weeks flew by so quickly! The staff is awesome and I am going to miss seeing them every week. I am excited to get back out in the field, but I wish I could take these new friends with me. I know I couldn’t have made it this far after surgery without (L-R) Katie, Meghan Storey, Laura, Chris, Phillip & Meghan T.

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Strive Team

Upcoming for Hydromissions – Jennifer, Don & Will are leaving for Tanzania at the end of this week. Please remember to pray for them as they have a couple long days of travel before they even reach the communities. The team will be attempting to drill some pretty deep boreholes – planning to get close to our equipment maximum of 100′ for the wells. Anything after 50′ becomes extremely difficult and time consuming with our manual drilling.  When you can, please pray for this team’s outreach, their safety, their overall health, the opportunities to build friendships in the local community, the soil conditions and the existing water table (let’s hope it’s closer then we anticipated). Their trip is the last one I am overseeing before heading into the field myself.

I am preparing for a month in Panama starting on Sept 15th. Most of the time will be spent conducting hygiene training and building a latrine, but I’m hoping to have time to go to a community with a windmill pump system to check it out. This is probably the only time “nerd” comes out of me, but I love to see what other organizations are doing in the scope of sustainable technologies.

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My tongue is too big for my mouth

That’s how I feel when I am speaking in front of more than four people.

Here is a video file of me sharing at last week’s Missions night at church.

I only had a couple days notice so I was extra nervous (although I’ve never actually given a speech when I wasn’t nervous even when given more time to prepare). Don’t mind the quivering voice and although you can’t hear the congregation, they did laugh when I hoped they would 🙂

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T-Minus 30 Hours

We are home from Panama!
20140323-220611.jpgPictured above are Eric, Pat, Me, Brittany & Jessica after we landed in Newark (Jimmie & Don landed in different airports)

The project was challenging, but we learned a lot and I really enjoyed working with the students. I plan to share more photos soon, but I am leaving for Haiti in 30-hours.

Yes, I know it is crazy to have projects back-to-back like this, but I need to get into Marbial (Haiti) before the rainy season. We drive up a river bed and then hike into Marbial so lots of rain would make it to difficult to get in and out of the small mountain community. I am going to work on Latrines and help the guys we trained last year to locate more areas for future drilling projects. I am also really excited to bring a new person to help me with community development – my sister! Helene is going to join me and we are going to scout village gardens and livestock. I want Helene to help with animal husbandry training programs in some of the villages I work in so Marbial will be a good start for her to evaluate and develop programs. We are going to spend a week together in Haiti.

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