Mac Sterrett felt God's call to learn more about Living Waters for the World (LWW) early on, before the idea of Clean Water U (CWU) was born. Mac, a Virginia resident rooted in the Shenandoah Valley, has been a dedicated lead volunteer for LWW ever since. Here he shares with us why he has been so deeply involved and how Living Waters for the World has impacted his life.
Mac (left) with Dan Terpstra teaching 101 at Clean Water U in September 2016.
Q: How did you first get involved with Living Waters for the World?
I had been on week-long housebuilding mission trips to a community in Baja California, Mexico for four years when, in late 2003, a friend who was on that mission with me and happened to be an employee of our presbytery mentioned he had just been to a hunger conference and heard a gentleman (Wil Howie, LWW Founder) speak about a water mission project called Living Waters for the World. He thought it might be a great opportunity if we could have LWW do a water project in “our” community in Mexico, so he contacted Wil. Wil explained that LWW had ceased doing water projects but instead was going to begin training others how to do the work.
The very first session of Clean Water U was scheduled in five months: March 2004. Two other “mission” friends and I attended that very first session of CWU; I trained as a 101. My two fellow CWU graduates and I began partnering with other members of our presbytery doing our first water project in Mexico and then shifting our emphasis to Guatemala. In 2006, I was invited to join the faculty of CWU as a 101 Instructor. I took a break from instructing after two years but continued to lead teams during that time, and re-joined the faculty of CWU in 2014.
Mac preparing a WhirlPak sample.
Q: Why have you stayed involved?
From the very first day at CWU in 2004 I was overwhelmed, discouraged, and encouraged all at the same time: the worldwide drinking water crisis; the needless deaths of millions of children every year; the dedication and commitment of those involved with LWW. Midway through the session I knew I had to be part of the solution; I heard and felt God’s unmistakable call! It also was a natural extension of my career as a groundwater geologist as a way I could use some of my professional background and training to help those in need.
Children at this school no longer have to draw water from the well.
Q: How has your involvement with LWW impacted your life?
A single word: relationships! I have met the most dedicated, loving, caring, friendly, selfless, helpful people through my work with LWW! This includes the people on our water teams; the many, many friends I have made in-country, some of whom have visited me here in Virginia; CWU students in my classes; and the CWU faculty and LWW staff. I often refer to my LWW/CWU friends as my “other family” and the blessings I have received from knowing them are uncountable. I have never encountered a more dedicated group of people who love life and mankind, and want to give it all to God to help their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Q: What's an experience or story from your time with LWW that stands out as one of the most affecting?
I want to share two stories. Our driver in Guatemala has driven all of our teams the past nine years; he is a dear friend and has even visited us here in Virginia. Two years ago as we were driving to a project site he asked, “Who would I talk to about getting a water system for the village where I grew up?” I said, “Me!” And our very next water system installation, about eight months later, was in his hometown, a small village that had no safe water other than what was trucked in from a city about 25 miles away. To see the tears of joy as he praised God and thanked us is a scene I will never, ever forget. The system is flourishing.
The new water system provides safe water for our friend's home village.
I have been on several medical missions to a community in Haiti. On my first trip, when I walked in the front door of our guest house, I immediately spotted a water dispenser and bottle with a Living Waters for the World label. I got goose bumps and the hair on my arms stood straight up! I was suddenly hit with the realization that the work I have been involved with for so many years helps not only those local people in need of safe water, but those missionaries and humanitarians who travel to places to help their brothers and sisters in Christ. And I thought: “This is the Living Waters water cycle!”