Volunteer Spotlight: John Fleming
Q: How did you first get involved with LWW?
A: When Vivian and I were living in Dothan, AL, we would come up to Ole Miss for the football games. Vivian had two children in school there, and we wanted to see them. We would tailgate with some friends from First Presbyterian Church of Tupelo, MS, and one of them was a member of the water mission team. He would tell me of the trips they had made and what a difference the clean water made in the lives of the people there. So, when I retired in 2011 and we moved back to Tupelo, I wanted to be a part of this mission. My first mission trip was in 2012 and I have been involved ever since.
Q: Why have you stayed involved?
A: Not only do we have a water team, we also have a medical team. I had my choice of being with the installation team or medical team, and I chose the installation portion to work with. Our teams go to Guatemala for one week out of the year and make an installation and give medical attention to the people of Guatemala. We help install the system in schools and churches throughout Guatemala. Also, we train the people to operate the system and use the clean water. After the installation and training is completed, we have a “Celebration and Blessing of the System.” At the end of the celebration, we have a toast and all drink the clean water. I look around at all of the happy faces and see how happy the people are at having clean water to drink and how appreciative they are. But when you see all of the small children laughing and talking and playing, coming up to you and thanking you with their small hugs, you can’t put words to what you feel. Knowing that you are helping to give the children health and with that – life, it makes your eyes water. What else is there?
Q: In what roles do you volunteer and why did you choose to take on these responsibilities?
A: I have taken the 101 and 103 classes at Clean Water U (CWU) and have really enjoyed these classes. From these classes I have learned the real importance of these missions. I have helped on work weekends at the water buildings, as an interim 103 instructor, and, lately, working with the administration at CWU, but the most important job is just plain gofer. Why did I take on the responsibilities? After my first mission trip, I saw the need for clean water for the people in other
countries. You look at how large this old world is, and how many people are out there, and then you look and see how many people out there are making these mission trips to other countries, and how many students are being trained at CWU each year. The ratio is not good, so you can’t quit. I can’t go on every mission trip every week, so if there is anything I can do to put more “Water Saints” on the road to help in this fight for clean water - I will.
Q: How has your involvement with LWW impacted your life?
A: My involvement with LWW has shown me what we take for granted every day. We have a roof over our head, food to eat, water to drink, clean clothes, I could go on and on. I know everyone has seen on TV the living conditions of other people in different parts of the world, and these pictures are true. This makes me thank God every day for what we have and most of all, what we don’t have. We don’t have the problems some of the people in other parts of the world have.
Q: What's an experience or story from your time with LWW that stands out as one of the most affecting?
A: I have two stories to tell, first from our medical mission. On one mission trip we had an Ophthalmologist go with us and give glasses to the people. One young lady, around 14 years old, came in to see the doctor. The doctor said her eyesight was so bad that she could be considered legally blind. The young lady could not see her hand 2 inches from her face. The doctor examined this young lady and it just so happened he had a pair of glasses to fit her prescription. He placed these glasses on her face and took her outside to see the world. There was a carnival in the main plaza across the street from the church they were working in. The look on this young lady’s face and the sounds she made would melt your heart.
My second story happened last year in 2017. Not only does our mission have medical and water, we have people out looking for new sites to install a water system on the next mission trip. This team had visited several sites last February and found only one site to install for our next mission. We had talked to a lot of other churches and schools, and no one seemed interested. The next September, Robin Faucette and I made another trip to Guatemala to find another site for the system. We checked in on the sites we visited the past February and not one site was interested; in fact, the site we had secured backed out. We had a site assessment from a church in Mazatenango, and we went to see them. They were excited, jumping with joy that we came by to see them and wanted to put a system there. We talked with the people at the church for a long time, and we were convinced that this would be a great place for a system. We helped them fill out some of the paperwork and answered their questions as best as we could. We left all of the forms with the church and said we would be back to pick these forms up in a couple of days. We left to go to another city to check on other projects. On the way back to Antigua, we called the pastor of the church in Mazatenango and wanted to pick up the forms. The pastor told us he did not have the forms ready and would have them in a few days. He was told that we were leaving in two days to come back home and we would contact him and let him know how to get us the paperwork back in the USA. We were flying out early on Tuesday morning to come home. On Monday night around 10:30 a knock came on our hotel room door. I asked the night clerk what was going on and was told someone wanted to see us. To our surprise, it was the pastor from the church in Mazatenango with all of the forms completed and signed. Also early in the evening, one of the schools we visited early brought us their paperwork also completed and signed. That just shows that these communities really wanted the systems. These two systems were installed this February 2018.
Q: When you're not volunteering for LWW, where are we likely to find you and what would we find you doing?
A: Most likely you will find me on our patio watching the birds on our feeders or working in our flower gardens. It is now time to really appreciate what God has given to us.