The Living Waters for the World (LWW) water team from Westminster Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tenn., was a hopeful and excited group as we headed to the airport to fly to Peru in March. Our destination was in the high jungle area of north central Peru, a beautiful but poor area known for its orchids, waterfalls, coffee, chocolate, and rice.
The planning for this project had begun nearly five years earlier. We knew our partners in the small town of Yantaló, Perú really wanted and needed clean water. This visit was the one during which we would finally help them install a Living Waters for the World water purification system at a school with 650 students. Our group from Westminster included Donovan Drake, Suzanne Allen, Terry Allen, Bob Sewell, Harriet Sewell, Beth Felch, Jim Felch, Corinne Sterling, and formerly from Westminster Carson Salyer.
Front row (left to right): Gabi Luna, Eliderio Angulo, a member of the Moyobamba Presbyterian Church, Beth Felch, Jim Felch, Edgar Chavez, Lenin Celiz, Corinne Sterling, Suzanne Allen, and Terry Allen
Back row (left to right): Donovan Drake, Carson Salyer, Harriett Sewell, and Bob Sewell
The school’s water source was untreated water piped from a nearby mountain and stored in tanks on the roof. Tests had shown it to be contaminated with a variety of organisms deleterious to health. Children often missed school because of diarrhea and other water-related illnesses, and their parents’ association had begun to purchase bottled water (as they were able) so that the children could drink better water at school.
After six days of working together, the school had a water purification system, enabling them to provide clean drinking water for all the students and staff and hopefully for many in the community. There was a joyous celebration and we drank the pure water together, thanking God for each other and for the gift of clean water.
These wonderful people taught us powerful lessons about living every day with joy and hope and love, no matter what challenges we face.
“When a water system installation is complete and the water has tested pure, there is usually a simple celebration to bless and share the clean water. This time the student administration and town surprised us with a full blown Event! The students filed in holding posters about clean water; the mayor, the principal, and others gave speeches and offered prayers; older students recited original poems and acted out skits about water; the student body president spoke passionately about the importance of the gift of pure water. The event went on and on and the excitement was palpable. What a gift to bring home in our hearts and minds!”
- Harriet Sewell
Experiencing the smiles and hugs and seeing the joy in their eyes communicated so much, even when spoken language was difficult.”
- Beth Felch
“One of the great joys from my perspective was seeing the three men chosen to install the system work so diligently, improvising at every turn. I also was extremely impressed with the “water room” they had prepared. I can’t imagine a more beautiful facility in that setting.”
- Bob Sewell