This is a difficult time, no doubt about it. We keep each other going by remembering that God is here for us through the good times, and especially the bad. Sometimes we think a situation is horrible only to find out there are more unpleasant surprises in store. This is a story of love, faith, relationships, and generosity for Living Waters for the World's (LWW) Yucatan network during the unforgettable spring of 2020.
Last March, while the United States closed and isolated at home as the pandemic roared into our country, our LWW partners and most of the citizens of the Yucatan Peninsula were doing the same thing. Although COVID-19 had not yet affected the area with the force experienced in Northeast USA, schools in the states of Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo were shut down, many businesses closed, and people lost their jobs.
Nancy Russell and I, co-moderators of the LWW Yucatan Network Coordinating Team (NCT), regularly correspond with the Agua Viva de la Peninsula (AVP), the civil association with whom we partner to serve the 60+ plants in the Yucatan. During late March and early April, it became clear that the children and adults who counted on inexpensive bottles of safe water could no longer pay even the 10 pesos (50 cents USD) charged for a five-gallon bottle. Isaias Cahuich Coyoc, one of the pastors on the AVP, suggested that an extra 30 bottles and supplies of caps and labels per plant would help our partners provide safe water at no cost to all those in need during the pandemic.
Joaquin Codova Leyua, lead operator for the C-34 plant, stands with new supplies for
their wide-reaching ministry of safe water.
We then sent out a special appeal to the Yucatan Initiating Partners (IPs) and other LWW supporters to help our partners respond to the pandemic by donating any amount toward the purchase of these basic supplies. The response was overwhelming and we exceeded the goal we set! Each day we received new photos of supplies being delivered to partners so they can continue to serve their communities. In one picture, plant operators and church leaders are bowed in thanks to God for this ministry.
The Opichen, Yucatan system served as a distribution point for seven plants in the general area. In this picture, representatives from each plant stop to thank God for the bottles and other supplies that help them provide safe water to their communities during the pandemic and aftermath of Cristobal.
COVID-19 was not the only horror in store for the Yucatan, however. At the beginning of June, Tropical Storm Cristobal battered the Peninsula with continued heavy rain for five days straight which resulted in flooding that destroyed crops and damaged homes and streets, and threatened health and the ability of our LWW water plants to operate. The coordinators shared photos of water up to people’s necks, ruined thoroughfares, and houses standing in the middle of giant lakes that had been much-needed fields only a few days earlier. Again, we wrote back and forth with the AVP about the needs for bottles and more at this doubly difficult time. We are all grateful that the contributions of our IPs and other LWW supporters helped with both crises.
Our coordinators and partners tell us that in some ways, life is becoming more normal. The flooding has subsided, and several towns have managed to keep COVID-19 away from their doors. The plants continue to face – and meet - significant challenges. In Tikinmul, where the congregation of Principe de Paz Church completed the rehab of an old system with partners from First Presbyterian Church of Maysville, KY last November, flood waters damaged their new pump. Plants continue to increase their distribution of water without cost. Partners in Tahdziu report that they gave away free water every Saturday, despite dealing with a hole in their raw water tank caused by Cristobal. The Chankom plant is expanding their distribution area. Our partners have told us that the water produced by the plants is essential in maintaining health during the pandemic.
Residents of Opichen receive tickets that are redeemed when they need a bottle
of water at no charge.
I find comfort in the way God leads our shared ministry of safe water and God’s love around the world and in the Yucatan Peninsula.