Tag Archives: remote

A key, An open door, An invitation

My absolute favorite photo from Panama. This is Elia, watching her son pump water from their new well in Valle Escondido. Photo Credit: Raul 

Last week was a wee bit different – in a good way!

My Hydromissions teammate, Raul, arrived in Panama on Sunday. Raul became an Associate for Hydromissions in 2013 and since then we have worked together in Haiti (2013), El Salvador (2014, 2015) and Panama (2015).

Raul, on his way to Isla Tigre with Simon.

I made arrangements for Simon and Raul to visit every village that Simon and I have worked with over these past 11-weeks.

At this point, the different Ngobe families have seen me and Simon on multiple occasions. They know we are working to help, not hurt (use) them. We are far from being completely trusted, but I would say that we are more welcome now that each of these communities have seen our work. We have multiple rainwater catchment and/or borehole wells in each of the communities, with plans to continue working throughout the year. Small steps towards trust and acceptance for Simon in villages that are not his own.

Simon, bailing dirty water out of a newly drilled well in Shark Hole.

Raul’s first language is Spanish and although Spanish is the second language for the Ngobe, most can speak it in addition to their native tongue, Ngäbere. Simon’s first language is Ngäbere so he can translate between Spanish and Ngäbere when needed.

Raul came to spend a week meeting with the families, sharing about God and listening to their stories. The Ngobe share in the form of stories (similar to the parables in the Bible). Raul and Simon went out every day and did a little work (small repairs, pump installs, etc) in each of our project villages and, afterwards, spent hours visiting with families. Raul’s gift and passion is evangelism (as is Simons). Both men are gentle and kind in their conversations, yet passionate and driven to see peoples lives change. Simon uses analogies to share in ways that the Ngobe would understand. I love to hear Simon share stories, although my language and cultural comprehension makes it hard for me to understand them.

The work that I am gifted and passionate about – drilling wells, designing pumps, building latrines, hygiene education – is the key we use to open doors to villages that we couldn’t just walk into and [effectively] share about Christs’ love. The Ngobe people (and most other people) don’t want to just hear you speak, they want to see action behind it. At Hydromissions, we want to be an organization that provides “Water for the thirsty in Jesus’ name” because we recognize that we need to care for physical needs and ultimately that opens doors to care for spiritual needs.

Simon and I have worked really hard to provide for the physical needs of the families in these 7 villages. Providing the water has opened some doors into villages that Simon had never been to before, but now he is known in them.

I didn’t go with Simon and Raul to visit the homes. I felt like my presence would be more distracting than helpful. Raul is a foreigner, however he is a native Spanish speaking foreigner (and being a male helps too). I am just a foreigner that tries to say things like “dólar” (dollar), but ends up saying “dolor” (pain) so my sentence of “If I had more pains, we could do more work” just doesn’t cut it 😉 I was able to catch up on computer work, inventory and a project I have going on in Bocas while the guys were in the villages.

This particular post is about a family on Isla Tigre. Raul and Simon went to Isla Tigre to install pumps in two wells that Simon and I had drilled previously.

New well and pump on Isla Tigre.

After they finished, they were chatting with different families using the well. One woman, Maritza, was sharing about how neither she nor her children could read or write. Her husband had died in March in a bus accident. This accident killed 18 men from the province of Bocas Del Toro (where we work). The men were being transported to a farm to harvest watermelon. Simon and Raul were trying to figure out how to help with Maritza’s request so they went to her house to continue getting to know her and her eldest son, Benedicto. When Raul asked if they knew who God was, they responded, “no.” This is actually unusual. Even Simon was surprised since everyone (up until Maritza) has known about God in these villages. Whether they care or not, most people have heard about God.

That evening, we were discussing Maritza after dinner and made plans for Simon and Raul to return to visit her and her children. We wanted to give the family school supplies (books, paper, pencils, etc) to help with their request to learn to read and write. We also wanted to have a bible lesson at her house. Raul and Simon had an open door, an invitation to return.

Simon sharing stories to the family outside of Maritza’s house.

Simon and Raul returned on Friday to give a bible lesson. They taught about creation, sin, redemption – going from the old testament to the new testament. People came to see what was going on, some stayed, some left, some slept, but some really listened. Maritza and her son were two that were really paying attention.

Simon sharing about God.

At the end of the lesson, Raul offered an even better invitation than one for a visit to a home. An invitation to start to really know God – to be part of the family of Christ. An invitation to salvation.  Maritza and Benedicto accepted.

We were (still are!) beyond thrilled with the news of Maritza and Benedicto!

“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents [that is, changes his inner self—his old way of thinking, regrets past sins, lives his life in a way that proves repentance; and seeks God’s purpose for his life].” Luke 15:10

Simon and Raul found a lady on Isla Tigre who has agreed to help Maritza’s family learn to read and write. They have supplies that we bought for them in Bocas to get started. We are really hoping the things being put in place now (the tutor, for example) stick. I am glad that Simon will be able to stop by from time to time to make sure Maritza is doing OK. We are also working out a way to get a solar audio bible over to the family soon so they can continue to learn about God.

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Better grades for goats

I got home early yesterday morning from a short (productive) project in Haiti!

This was Phase 2 of the Gift a Goat program started last year by me and my sister, Helene.

We had Dana and John return with us for their second time in Marbial and Chelsey joined us for her first time volunteering abroad. Our team worked together well and we were able to split up to work on different aspects of the project.  Dana and Helene focused on training the new students who will be recipients of the Phase 2 goats (35 goats) while also checking on the Phase 1 goats.  Chelsey, John and I worked on the Phase 2 goats by checking, tagging and deworming them.

We were all so excited to see the students from our December trip bringing us their goats to check and showing off some babies that were born while we were gone.  The students took really good care of their goats and they were very healthy. We did lose one goat out of the 32 given to students, but we expected that might happen. There was an illness killing goats all over the mountain. Ours survived while most others did not. The loss of goats from larger herds increased the price we paid for our Phase 2 goats at the market. We were only able to purchase 30 goats with the money that should have bought us 37 goats. “Supply and demand” even in the most remote places. The good news is that another organization donated 7 goats so our number of goats for students stayed the same!

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4 pounds of Trail Mix

Ah yes, I also have other important supplies (clothes, tech gear, first aid, etc) for my two-month long project in El Salvador, but the trail mix is, by far, my favorite item.

Trader Joe's for the trail mix win!

Trader Joe’s for the trail mix win!

I am leaving [really] early Monday morning for San Salvador with teammate, Jess. We will meet another teammate, Raul, at the airport in San Salvador and will stay overnight a couple hours away in Santa Ana. We will drive another couple hours to Tacuba in the morning, order supplies at the small materials shop and then get in a truck “taxi” for the steep climb to La Cumbre. La Cumbre will be my home until March 18th –no electricity, no running water, cold and windy at night, yet I am super excited to be there! I am both nervous and excited for the construction challenge of capturing and protecting the spring water source in the mountains and then storing the water in a tank we will build.

I will have teammates come and go during the first month while I am there, but will be mostly alone for the last month. I intend to walk down to Tacuba (about 2.5 hour walk, one-way) once a week or once every other week (depending on when I need extra supplies). When I am in “town”, there is electricity and a shop where I can get online. I will try to update you all on the progress of the project during those trips to Tacuba.

This trip will be most challenging with regard to construction, but also challenging with language. My Spanish is still very poor and no one in the community speaks English. Part of me is happy for this as it will really force me to get used to using the new language, but part of me is really nervous about how this will impact the work and my relationships with the community. I want Christ to always be glorified in what I do and I rely a lot on my actions speaking louder then words but I still need words sometimes 😉 I just want to make sure the community thanks God at the end of the day for the water.

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. -Colossians 3:12-16

Here is a video of my newest little friends and, most likely, my Spanish teachers for the next two months 🙂

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THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

I just want to thank you all who helped make the first phase of “Gift a Goat” so successful! We currently have 35 female goats in the community being cared for by the students themselves with 32 more goats funded (but not yet purchased). In addition, 10 female goats and 1 male goat (billy goat) were purchased by the school to help set a good example to the students (and the billy goat will be available to the students when it is time for breeding). I would love it if you could take 3 minutes and 43 seconds to watch this video I put together to show Marbial (the remote community), the students, the goat committee, trainers and the goats themselves.  It is the best way I can take you into the community that you supported.

Lastly (yet most important), thank you all for keeping Helene in your prayers. She had amebiasis. She was treated with strong antibiotics and was better by Christmas Eve. The bugs inside caused a lot of pain for the past 3 weeks, but she is not deterred from returning to Haiti in March for Phase 2 of the goat project. Helene (and teammates) will be returning to offer more training to the community and bring more supplies to maintain the health of the goats.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

❤ Caitlin

 

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