Photo: Peggy Howell (left) and Janet James (right) at Clean Water U
Under ordinary circumstances, Janet James would have let the loss of dear friend Peggy Howell bring an end to their long-planned dream of joining a Living Waters for the World water team, but God had a bigger plan. Janet is a faithful Christian from a small town in southern Mississippi. “If I looked for reasons not to continue what God had started in my heart many years ago, I could have just given up on the mission trip,” she said.
Instead, Janet found sadness turn to joy as she met and came to love the people at Pinos Nuevos de Norte church in the city of Sancti Spiritus (which in English means Holy Spirit), in central Cuba. Janet served as lead teacher of the 102 health education training with much help from fellow team members Verniece Goode and Rosemary Leach as well as Saray, their very supportive translator.
“During the installation week I struggled with nervousness and sadness, yet in it all I experienced the joy of the Lord. Being in a place and time when His will was so obvious and knowing that He allowed me to be a small part of it was truly the joy I felt."
- Janet James
Janet and friend Peggy, both retired science teachers with a love for teaching, had planned to team-teach the 102 training. “Peggy so wanted to be a part of this trip that she was with our team in many ways through good memories and memorial gifts in her honor.”
Left to right: Verniece Goode, Zusila, Maday (Pastor Hector and Elia's daughter who is seminary and leads youth programs and plays keyboard at her church), Elia (Maday's mother), Janet James (tallest), Miriam, Rosemary Leach, Johanna, and Saray (translator). Team educators were Verniece, Rosemary, and Janet.
Janet said the 102 education classes were a blessing for everyone involved. “We had nine trainees in the morning classes who taught 14 – 18 adults plus three children in the afternoon. Ten health care professionals, including a nurse and a pediatrician, participated and were very excited that the training stressed hand washing techniques and hygiene that can be used in homes, churches and schools in Cuba.
A Sunday school teacher and her young student at Pinos Nuevos de Norte church in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. The young man proudly wears part of the Pharaoh costume that the LWW team took to Cuba to illustrate the Bible story for 102 training. The teacher plans
to use the costumes for Sunday School classes as well.
The pediatrician told Janet, “You have no idea how much the clean water is helping my people.”
Four system operators were trained by team leader Jerry Goode. Janet’s pastor, Philip Williams of Vernal Presbyterian Church, and Myra Cook assisted with all the training while also serving as photographers.
Janet said that going to Cuba is like going to any other country where the education system is universal and generally quite good. The health and hygiene training was well received because the participants understood the concepts. “They made my job easier,” she said.
Because clean water is not readily available throughout the country, some of the people suffer from health issues such as kidney stones and diabetes, possibly linked to not drinking enough water. Infants and children are prone to gastrointestinal upsets. Bottled water is expensive to purchase in a country where the average income in so low that a week’s supply of bottled water could take as much as ten percent of a family’s monthly income, Janet said. Jerry and Verniece Goode, of First Trinity Presbyterian Church in Laurel, Mississippi, have participated in installing nine LWW systems in Cuba since 2009. First Trinity has supported the installation of six systems including the most recent at Pinos Nuevos de Norte.
The water celebration on March 30, 2017, at Pinos Nuevos de Norte church in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. More than 150 people packed the decorated church to celebrate
clean, clear water.
The water celebration on March 30, 2017, was held in a packed church with more than 150 happy people holding cups of clear, clean water. Janet reflected, “During the installation week I struggled with nervousness and sadness, yet in it all I experienced the joy of the Lord. Being in a place and time when His will was so obvious and knowing that He allowed me to be a small part of it was truly the joy I felt."
The Pinos Nuevos de Norte water system was dedicated in Peggy's memory with a plaque conveying, "Peggy, our sister in Christ, trained, planned and prayed for this installation. On behalf of her family and friends, God bless the people of Pinos Nuevos and this clean water. God bless the people of Cuba!"