Why We Volunteer: The People
Eric and Karen Reidenbach are members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS. Eric is a Clean Water U graduate in Water Project Management (101) and Health Education (102) and Karen is a Clean Water U graduate in Water Project Management (101). They currently serve as co-moderators for Living Waters for the World's El Salvador Network.
Q: How did you first get involved with Living Waters for the World (LWW)?
Eric: We got involved through a member of our church (Westminster Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, MS). He, Karen, and another church member went to Clean Water U (CWU) then spread the message of pure water to our congregation. I joined the water team and attended CWU after Karen and I traveled to El Salvador to visit a number of communities in 2016. Q: Why have you stayed involved?
Eric: For me it is the people, especially the children. It’s just that simple.
Karen: I agree, it’s the people. When we are in-country visiting with our partners, the work is incredibly fun and fulfilling. When we leave there are always tears. We leave a little bit of our hearts there; but those holes are filled with pieces of theirs.
Q: In what roles do you volunteer and why did you choose to take on these responsibilities?
Karen and I took on the role of co-moderators for the El Salvador Network. This has immersed us even more deeply into the mission. The former moderator had been in that role for about eight years and asked if we would consider ‘taking the reins’. Since both of us are retired, we felt like the timing was perfect. We have a great group of folks and churches in the U.S. part of the network as well as a great group of folks and churches in El Salvador.
Q: How has your involvement with LWW impacted your life?
Eric: It has greatly expanded my life. I am part of an ever-increasing family that has enriched my life in innumerable ways. It’s given me the chance to work with and know people like Denis Evangelista (pictured below), our in-country coordinator, educator, and technician. He has become like a brother to Karen and me. What a blessing he is to our network.
Karen: I wish Eric hadn’t answered these questions first (smiles). The LWW organization is filled with people who love the mission; from our counterparts here in the states, to the staff, and certainly our partners in El Salvador, our family has grown so much!
Q: What’s an experience or story from your time with LWW that stands out as one of the more meaningful?
Eric: There are so many, most of which involve interactions with children. I was extremely impressed with one of our water partners who grabbed the leadership role in her community. What followed was the development of a wonderful water team and the subsequent development of a pretty sophisticated electronic management system based on software programs. Incredible stuff that shows the degree to which the community has embraced the mission of pure water. They are exemplars of what we hope to accomplish in each community.
Karen: The kids! During ‘snack time’ at a school during our first trip I watched the kids twist and separate chocolate sandwich cookies and lick the filling off. They played hard, laughed loud, were so curious, loudly sang with us, lined up for treats, and loved the chicle we brought along. It struck me that God makes all children the same. Sure, we speak different languages, have different skin coloring, and live under different circumstances but we are all children of God. They deserve clean, pure water. And each one absolutely needs it in order to have a healthier life. And they give the most awesome hugs. The parents and others we work with are incredible.
Q: When you’re not volunteering for LWW, where are we likely to find you and what would we find you doing?
Eric: On the golf course trying desperately to shoot my weight.
Karen: Working in the yard, exercising, or volunteering for our local animal shelter that I’ve been a part of for more than 20 years.
Q: Anything else you want to share with us?
Eric: Denis is the lynchpin that keeps the train running on time. I’ve never met a more wonderful person in my life. I constantly marvel at what he does. His love for his country and his fellow citizens is exceptional.
Karen: I thank God for this ministry and for selecting us to be involved in His work.