I’m writing this to all of you - more love letter than blog post. You are such an important part of our Living Waters for the World (LWW) family. This is life-changing work for so many. For all who are reading this, whether you are:
a water partner providing sustainable purified water and health education to your community
part of a water team that partners in Cuba or another place in the world
a member of LWW's in-country staff who facilitates water partnerships from (even before) day 1
one of our unbelievable volunteers who helps make little and big things happen
a generous donor
one of our camp training partners
a prayer partner
someone exploring a tug on your heart to get involved
I say thank you. Thank you for saying yes again and again. We can’t do this without each other.
Thanks be to God for making us partners! Our Cuban siblings taught us the perfect word for water partners: hermanamientos. (Kendall Cox is second row, second from the left)
In this love letter, I want to share with you a story from our Cuba Network which celebrated its 11th birthday this month. LWW has 62 water partnerships in Cuba -- and that’s just so far! Communities are served purified water by partners that include churches, seminaries, a school for children with special needs, and (as of December) a pediatric hospital. And, because our God is a God of “just in time,” the Cuba Network received a large shipment of water system equipment and spare parts just three months before the virus showed up and shut down all travel. Amen and amen.
I am recalling my church’s visit with our Cuba partners in early February. Miraculously, we got to see all seven of our partners, from Havana to Camajuani, Sancti Spiritus, Placetas, and Cabaiguan. With all that has happened since then, those visits are even sweeter now as I reflect on them.
Members of the "Clean Hands Brigade" for Placetas, Cuba teach community members about the importance of proper hand-washing for staying healthy.
One powerful moment was when we were with our newest partners, the Adventist Church in Placetas. It was late in the evening of day two when we happened to hear, quite by accident, that the electricity in the neighborhood was going to be cut off the next morning so that some general repair work could be done. Extra early on the morning of day three, our system operators, along with the network staff and our team members, were working hard to try to get the system finished before the electricity got cut off. They wanted to be sure that the operation and maintenance training could be completed and clean water could be flowing before the Saturday Sabbath worship and dedication.
I was reminded of a saying that the Guatemala LWW network staff taught me a few years ago that I love (the lessons from our Network staff never stop!) - "Poner toda la carne a la parilla" - to put all the meat on the grill. This is what I saw in this moment: People putting all the meat on the grill, not holding anything back, coming together to make it happen.
I was upstairs training with the health educators when José Andrés, 13 years old at the time and one of the water system operators, ran up the stairs and hollered, “The water is flowing! Come see!" We all ran down the stairs to see for ourselves.
José Andrés (left) worked with Cuba's in-country coordinator Yosmel Fernández during the installation of the water purification system at Placetas.
Sure enough, the water was flowing. The operators and educators went into celebration mode, dancing and singing. I picked up Anna Sachely, an almost-three-year-old who had been with us in the health educator training all week, and danced and sang with her. From that day forward, she was going to have purified water to drink.
What a blessing, to rejoice with partners.
In this photo Anna Sechely (foreground) is with Elizabet (background), one of our health educators. Elizabet is in her final year of high school. She took some days off school to be with us for the health education training. She is part of the "Clean Hands Brigade" that teaches others in her community about how and when to wash hands and use the purified water. Elizabet is also José Andrés's older sister. Her dad is a water system operator and her mom is a health educator - a whole family who puts all the meat on the grill!
Elizabet and José Andrés with their parents, Yipssy and Javier, along with Adelberto, another system operator and member of the water committee.
There is so much uncertainty right now in the world. Much has changed. Travel to visit partners is on hold and we don’t yet know when we’ll be able to gather again for training. Just when I begin to feel discouraged, I pause and am reminded that together, with God’s help, we’ve got this: Partners are continuing to find ways to keep themselves safe and serve their community. Our in-country staff and our Clean Water U instructors are creating video training resources and using technology to check in with and assist partners. Donors are continuing to give. Partners are praying for one another and supporting one another. And God continues to call new people to the ministry.
Bless you all for also putting all the meat on the grill. As I have found encouragement in these reminders, my prayer is that this love letter will in some way encourage you on your journey.
Wishing peace and good health for all y’all,
The best “good news cup” (one of the activities in our Health Education training) I’ve ever received - a gift signed by all of our health educators at the Placetas Adventist Church.
This love letter is especially dedicated to Farfán, In-Country Technician for our Cuba Network. May his memory be for a blessing for all who love him.
Para leer esta historia en español, haga clic aquí.