Jean Magee is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Tupelo, MS. She has been serving on her church's water team since 2006. She talks with us below about why she chose Living Waters for the World and why she continues to serve in a variety of ways.
Q: How did you first get involved with Living Waters for the World?
A: Serving as a missionary was one of my youthful dreams. After practicing law for 20 years, I still yearned to fulfill that inner nudge. I asked my minister about mission opportunities for lay people in the Presbyterian Church, and he told me about Living Waters for the World (LWW), started by Wil Howie in our own presbytery, St. Andrew. In 2006, four of us from First Presbyterian Church in Tupelo, MS attended Clean Water U (CWU), along with Guff Abbott, one of my favorite law school professors from First Presbyterian Church in Oxford, MS. His church needed another volunteer, so I joined them on my first water mission to the Yucatan. Later that year I traveled to Guatemala with my own church.
Q: Why have you stayed involved?
A: I am very passionate about LWW’s goal of providing clean water for all of God’s children. Now that I have seen with my own eyes the beneficial impact these systems are having on the health and lives of the people in the communities, I want to make a difference and intend to keep volunteering as long as I am able. It is inspirational how my church has embraced this mission. The water installations were expanded to Cuba five years ago, and a medical mission was added in Guatemala. It is remarkable that more than 50 people from our 275 active members have gone on a water or medical mission since 2006. Of course there are many others that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make this mission a success. Working together on these missions provides a bonding experience for team members, enabling them to develop lasting friendships with fellow church members. I stay involved because over the years I have made many close friends in both Guatemala and Cuba and look forward to going back to see them year after year.
Q: In what roles do you volunteer and why did you choose to take on these responsibilities?
A: I love teaching the education classes, surveying potential sites, and working with education team members in our church who haven’t gone to CWU. I have been fortunate to go on four trips to the Yucatan, 14 to Guatemala and five to Cuba. Being in Tupelo, only an hour away from Oxford, I have also had the opportunity to help at CWU for the past seven years. It is fun getting to know other LWW volunteers who give so much, and “water saints” from all across the country.
Q: How has your involvement with LWW impacted your life?
A: Working with LWW has certainly taken me outside my comfort zone. I was nervous and unsure on my first few installations, not having a background in education, not being able to speak Spanish and having had only four days of training at CWU. Over the years I have grown comfortable in my role.
Working with LWW has also inspired me to learn Spanish, and I struggle two hours each week taking classes from a retired teacher from Mexico.
An additional benefit of my involvement is helping develop a heart for missions in my grandchildren. They look at my photos, listen to my stories, and help me pack the supplies. Over the years we have “adopted” several families in Guatemala and Cuba, and they love picking out clothes and toys for their new “cousins”. It would be wonderful if 20 years from now I get to see one of them go on a LWW trip.
Q: What is an experience or story from your time with LWW that stands out as one of the most impactful?
A: On a recent trip to Cuba, a minister told us, “We have been praying for a water system and God sent you”. The realization that God used a few volunteers from Tupelo, MS to answer the prayers of a church in Cuba is amazing. Knowing God is working through you is life changing.
Q: When you're not volunteering for LWW, where are we likely to find you and what would we find you doing?
A: You could probably find me on the road traveling with friends or family, at the ball field watching my grandchildren play travel ball, at the Orpheum attending a play, or at Ole Miss catching a ballgame.