Communicating with Water Partners
The last year has brought a more frequent flow of communication between some water partners, not just monthly reports via email but also messages sent back and forth via WhatsApp, Telegram, or social media apps to share news and check on one another. Some partners have been able to meet via video or phone conference or send short video messages back and forth to one another. More and more water teams are finding creative ways to do some development or sustainability visiting while several have even done virtual training with their partners.
Most of us though have experienced communication challenges with our partners at one time or another. An email address that was fine is now bouncing and the one cell phone number you have is no longer working. Whether it’s a hurricane, turnover, or the cost of data on a mobile phone, the barriers are real and can be beyond frustrating when you want to hear how your partners are doing and get an update on how the water service is going.
What to do? Start by letting your Network know. Chances are they will have an idea or some information that will help you reconnect. Begin by reaching out to your Network Moderator*—they can assist you in brainstorming better or new ways to reach your partner or they can put you in touch with in-country staff who might be able to assist you. One water team, for example, found that email and WhatsApp were no longer working to contact their partners. Network staff suggested they try Telegram, an app the team was unfamiliar with, to get in touch with their partners—that did the trick! They were able to reestablish connection and get updated contact information as well.
Whether communications with your partners is solid, spotty, or somewhere in between, it’s always a great time to work on being in touch. Reach out and let us know how we can help or share what’s worked for your team.
*If you’re not sure who to contact, email Jeff Wagner, Director of Operations, and he can assist you.
(translated from Agua de Vida, by Harry Castillo)
The palm in my field has a greener crest
And a crystal clear torrent flows
like the flight of the Cuban trogon
A spring of hope for all
That brings smiles and is present in the house
A blessing of God, Living Water
A treasure in the kitchen, a treasure to care for
Source and spring, refreshing and thirst quenching
Loving and Healing water for the family
Gives joys away, as an expression of unity
A blessing of God, Living Water
Drop by drop the stream is born
We must learn to live together
Water must not be the privilege of a few
For it must be for the Community
Pure water for Cubans all
Living Water to quench thirst
A treasure in the kitchen by the grace of God
Living Water to quench thirst
Mary wants if, Joseph too
Living Water to quench thirst
For all Cubans, it is so good
Water of life to quench thirst
The face of love and healing
An expression of unity
Refreshing Living Water
for my Cuba
Living Water to quench thirst
for my Cuba
World Water Day: March 22 and Every Day!
LWW water partners marked World Water Day (WWD) in so many ways and didn’t limit themselves to just one day on the calendar - the learning continues! Here are just a few highlighted items from WWD and some new resources for you:
We heard from many of our water partners what water means to them - here are two short videos they shared with us - they can be found here and here.
First Presbyterian Church of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, held a World Water Sunday on March 21st. The whole service, from the music to the message, was a blessing.
UN Water held their World Water Day 2021 Celebration with messages from world leaders and the presentation of the UN World Water Development report. You can watch the replay here and read about and access the report here.
LWW held a virtual Walk for Water Saturday, April 3. We gathered for a conversation about water followed by a virtual walk for water. You can watch a replay of the water conversation here.
Update on Wednesday Prayers of the Water Saints
Our Wednesday Prayers have continued for the past year. It is good for us to pray with and for each other. Going forward, we are making an adjustment to our prayer gatherings: On the first Wednesday of each month, we will have our usual prayer time led by a volunteer. You can submit prayers here. Then on the third Wednesday of each month, our prayers will come from one of our networks to share updates, praises, joys, and concerns. A prayer video will be posted at 10 a.m. central on Facebook, Instagram or Vimeo. If you are unable to join at that time, you can watch the recording any time after that.
World Water Day, March 22: Valuing Water
World Water Day (WWD) is a perfect day to get the word out about your water partnerships. Whether you mark the day on social media or have a water-focused message at your church or Rotary meeting on or around March 22, WWD is an opportunity to share stories about the difference water makes when it comes to transforming the health of a community. If you need posters for sharing electronically, graphics for social media posts, or some background info for preparing a message, the World Water Day website has some great information for you.
Several water partners and organizations are setting aside time to learn about water:
Redeemer Church in Decatur, Georgia is setting aside the Sunday School hour on March 21 to share about Living Waters for the World and talk about their church’s water mission.
Grace First Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, California will hold their annual Walk for Water event on the Saturday of Holy Week (you don’t have to hold an event on the actual WWD). They will learn about water issues communities face, solutions LWW partners are working on together, and then they will hold a virtual walk in solidarity with water partners and those who are waiting for clean water.
The North Texas Pioneers Rotary Club will focus on water and hear about LWW’s model at their March 17 meeting.
Living Waters for the World has Clean Water Sunday resources for churches to download and use at any time of the year that suits their calendar. Many churches are holding their Clean Water Sunday on March 21 this year. Let us know if you are looking for a virtual speaker and we will do our best to connect you.
At LWW, every day is World Water Day. We will be marking the day this year via messages and videos on social media - stay tuned for a special announcement about a matching gift opportunity!
Virtual Clean Water U
Since the way is not clear for us to gather in person for training, we are bringing Clean Water U (CWU) training to you and your team! There are lots of reasons to attend virtual CWU, especially now during this time when we can’t travel. As Omar Marroquin, our Guatemala Network In-Country Director, shared on a recent LWW podcast, this past year has not been a time for us to pause - there is plenty to be done as water partners even during this time of non-travel.
Perhaps your team needs additional leaders - now is a good time to work on your team’s bench depth. Or maybe one of your team leaders would like a refresher course or to be cross-trained in another workshop (remember CWU returning students can attend training at a discounted price).
Virtual training might also work for team members who have family or work circumstances that make traveling for training a challenge. We are grateful for the technology that makes it possible for our students and instructors to come together safely and learn best practices for being the water partners God is calling us to be.
If you have questions about what the virtual training is like, reach out to Kendall Cox, Director of Education. For more information or to register, visit https://www.livingwatersfortheworld.org/clean-water-u. We have a few slots left in each of our workshops for April so we encourage you to register sooner rather than later.
What Makes a Great Water Partnership?
Perhaps the best water partnerships share this in common with the
best marriages: Both partners feel they are the one getting the better
end of the deal. El Triunfo in Honduras and Deep Waters (Washington)
became water partners in 2012. Here is what they had to say about
Kasey Potzler, Deep Waters Water Team:
El Triunfo is an amazing story. Our team was installing with another partner.
Degny Lazo (one of the leaders at El Triunfo) rode his bike to where we
were (about 40 miles one way on a terribly rough road) to say, “Please
don’t forget my village. We need a water purification system too.” It needed to be a Reverse Osmosis system and Deep Waters had to push pretty hard at the time with LWW to get that in Honduras, but it happened, and look at them now!
This is what we hope for all of our villages, that the water project can become a source of pure water for everyone in the village, and a means of supporting the village in their needs and endeavors. EL Triunfo has supported the people of their village with the proceeds from the water plant in this critical time of COVID-19, and the two hurricanes in the first two weeks of November 2020 that decimated their crops. Meanwhile they have continued to provide pure water for their families, and for the shelters in Chamelecón and La Lima, neighborhoods of San Pedro Sula. They have so wisely used the gift they were given!
Degny Lazo, El Triunfo:
We don't ever get tired of giving thanks to God for placing you in our lives. May God bless you always.
Did they have an idea back in 2012 where they would be nine years later, expanding service, helping so many people in the surrounding areas by getting them clean water? God knew and God provided the vision and passion to meet the need.
Here is a recent video of El Triunfo serving their community. How about you and your water partners (present as well as future)? What hopes and dreams do you have together and for each other? Share them with us - and with them!
Guatemala Mission Partnership Holds Virtual Fundraiser
On Saturday, Nov. 7, the Guatemala Mission Partnership (GMP) held its first ever virtual fundraiser by creating a fundraising video that premiered on YouTube.
The fundraising team did a lot of advanced planning to make this happen: researching best practices, recording and editing the video, and updating their website and Facebook page. They spread the word several ways: an online event and email marketing campaign through their website, their new YouTube Channel, and their Facebook page.
This being their first time to raise funds in this way, they weren’t quite sure what to expect. What surprised them? The number of viewers and donations! What did they learn? Plenty. And they are happy to share what worked and what they’d do differently next time:
They kept their video short (27.5 minutes) with messages from several team members, partners, and a member of the Network staff. Next time, they’ll make an even shorter video and use a professional videographer.
To make donating easy, they had a QR code in their video - this made it simple for people to get to their donation page. Donors could contribute amounts toward system parts, education materials, or trip expenses.
They used email to let people know about their fundraiser. Next time, they plan to update and increase the contact list for this component of their campaign.
They shared regularly on social media in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the premiere. Next time, they plan to develop even more social media posts across several platforms and encourage supporters to share their posts.
This being a pilot, they aimed to not make it overly complicated with too many moving parts. Now that they have this first virtual fundraiser under their belts, next time they plan to have an online auction and use a separate software platform dedicated for fundraising.
Great job, GMP! Water teams, be sure to check out their website, YouTube video, and Facebook page for ideas you might incorporate into your virtual fundraiser. How are your fundraising plans coming together for 2021? Share your ideas with us!
Health Education Manual and Children's Sermons
Here is a sweet example of how the health education curriculum can be used right in our own backyard. You can watch the whole service or fast forward to 5:32 in the video to see Susie’s children’s sermon on the creation story. (Note: right before the children’s time, Jack Stoughton leads the call to confession starting at 3:30 in the video.) Thank you, Susie! Health Education trainers, how have you used the lessons from the manual with children (young and old) at your church? Let us know!
New Health Education Video
Our Network Staff are hard at work during this time, reaching out to Operating Partners with the information they need to continue delivering safe drinking water and health education - this is one example of many health education videos that are in the works from our Guatemala staff. You can also check out their YouTube channel to see the latest videos coming from the Guatemala Network.
Share this with your team and Spanish-speaking partners (we will have a video from Haiti soon!)
Sharing Your Story
Whether we are just getting started on our water journey or we’re further down the road, we are all looking for inspiration when it comes to sharing stories about our water partnerships. Here are three very different examples of water teams sharing stories with their congregation and beyond:
Even though his church was not physically gathering in their building last month, Tom Ritter, a long-time member of the Starkville, Mississippi water team, recorded an LWW-focused “moment for mission” message that became part of his church’s online service. You can find the recording here (we suggest you check out the pastor’s message about being a traveler or a tourist - Tom’s message begins at 28:11: click here
Here’s a beautiful piece Sue Stoughton of the Suffolk, Virginia team wrote for her church newsletter - using words and photos from partners helps keep her congregation up to date and focused on mission during this time when we aren’t traveling to visit with partners.
This is a creative idea from a group that is just beginning to build interest in becoming a
water church: Trinity Presbyterian in Fairhope, Alabama is inviting members of their Presbytery
(made up of churches in Southern Alabama) to journey with them on a virtual mission trip to
Guatemala! They will spend five nights traveling (via zoom) to learn more about sisters and
brothers in Guatemala, visiting with Mission Co-Workers there, learning about Mission in the
New Testament from Columbia Theological Seminary, and hearing from Pablo Pérez, our LWW
Guatemala Network In-Country Coordinator, and Kendall Cox, our Director of
Education, about partnering on water in Guatemala.
Which of these ideas for sharing your story have/will you put into action?
Staying Connected with Water Team
Gathering with your water team on a regular basis keeps everyone plugged in and up to date. It’s just as important to continue meeting right now, even though we aren’t able to travel. It just looks different these days.
Some teams are meeting via conference call to keep everyone connected and current. Others are holding water team meetings via video conference. Seeing everyone’s face (even via video) is good for community building (and morale!). Many video conferencing platforms have free accounts available (with certain limitations) or perhaps your church has an account you can use.
In addition to your usual agenda items, here are some things you might consider to make your video meetings engaging and informative:
Consider adding an icebreaker of some sort. Ask everyone to share a favorite photo and take a minute to tell the story behind it. Or go around the “table” and have everyone share a joy or concern from the past month. Ask everyone to share a favorite memory from their last partner visit or something they learned that they want to remember. You don’t have to call it an icebreaker - you can call it a time to share. When you take a little bit of time to share, it’s a way to build trust which helps the discussion go deeper and wider. A wise person once said, “With people, fast is slow and slow is fast.”
When you give reports from partners, share your screen and show photos or videos your partners have sent. Read snippets of communications from your partners, highlight prayer concerns they have, and share those with your church family.
Send out a link to an article or a video and ask team members to read/view it before your meeting. Lead a short discussion about their take-aways. It could be an article on the country where you partner and how the virus is impacting the area or on how to be better mission partners.*
Hold a virtual book (or video or podcast) club that meets to discuss resources related to water mission.*
How is your team meeting now? Share your ideas so we can include them in future Water Drops.
*We can point you toward some resources for this. Check the LWW bibliography for suggestions.
Water and COVID-19 - Meditation and Prayer
We have a prayer, a meditation, and a song to share with you all. Please share your prayers with us as well.
First, a prayer from the Reverend Todd Jenkins, one of our Clean Water U volunteer instructors:
H2O and COVID-19
Here we are, O God,
hung out to dry —
hung out to drip —
somewhere in the abyss
between operating partners
and initiating partners,
somehow in the gap
for face-to-face visits,
and mandatory shut-downs
and travel restrictions.
Strengthen, we pray,
the ties that bind:
for safe water,
lungs breathing fresh hope
of our continued relationships,
toward a divine design
for all God’s children.
So let it be breathed
so let it be lived.
© 2020 Todd Jenkins
Here is a meditation from Kathy Bricel, a member of the Yakima water team: Word of the Day: Shelter
And a song from a group of singers in Nashville.
Health Education: Hand Washing Technique
Research shows that most of us don't wash our hands long enough (six seconds as opposed to the 20 second minimum recommendation.) We also don’t typically use enough friction to get at the places on our hands where germs like to hide. Now is the perfect time for all of us to brush up on our hand washing skills.
We love these hand washing resources. Check them all out then think about ways you can share them in your circles, whether that’s at church, with your water partners, with your neighbors (especially parents with school-aged kids at home now), with teachers, and with family.
Though we aren’t gathering physically right now, we can stay connected and share important information on hand washing via email or e-newsletter, text, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, or social media (Facebook posts, messenger, Instagram, etc.)
Our health education curriculum has lots of lessons that talk about germs and hand washing. You are welcome to share those as well. Here are links to the 2020 English 102 manual. The hand washing and glitter lessons will be updated by next week but we wanted to go ahead and share the links to lessons related to hand washing:
We are collecting hand washing resources here in this folder.
As we come across more resources, we’ll add them to the folder. You will find things here you can use here at home as well as with your water partners. Let us know what resources you’ve come across that you’ve found helpful and we’ll add them to the folder.
Many churches are meeting online now. Consider reaching out to your pastor and suggest a virtual minute for mission that focuses on showing proper hand washing and when to wash hands as a way of loving our neighbors. Or do a children’s sermon in which you teach the kids how to effectively wash their hands while they sing, “Jesus Loves Me.” If your Youth group, Bible study group, or Sunday School classes are meeting virtually or have an electronic way of communicating via an app, Facebook group, or email, share some of these links that way.
Reach out and let us know your plans for teaching proper hand washing. It’s a perfect time to learn from one another.
Health Education: Spanish Coloring Books
The coloring book came about from a need to engage young kids about washing hands and drinking pure water. Karen and Eric Reidenbach, El Salvador Network co-moderators, along with Denis Evangelista, El Salvador In-Country Coordinator, came up with the idea of a book targeted to kids. The main characters are based on actual kids they met during an installation. They used material from the 102 materials and incorporated it within a narrative about health. The book contains activities that kids can have fun with while learning about hand washing and drinking pure water. It was also designed so that school teachers could use the book to engage the kids in pedagogic activities during school hours.
On the cover is a place where the children can put their names and actually own their book. There are now two books that they use, the second is a sequel where the two main characters introduce the concepts of clean hands and clean water to a new kid who has moved to their community. The feedback regarding the books has been great, especially from the education committees and school teachers who use it regularly. The Reidenbachs and Denis will probably follow up with a third book.
Blessed Be the Ties that Bind: Partner Communication
From Facebook Messenger to WhatsApp to regular old email, we have more options for keeping in touch with our partners than we did even a few years ago. Here are a few suggestions we've heard from water teams:
Questions to ask:
Ask your partners what is available for them. Do they use Facebook regularly? Do they have access to WhatsApp and do they use it regularly in their area? Do they have an email address they check regularly? What about usage costs for them? Keep in mind that having several ways to connect with partners is preferable in case one option becomes unavailable.
WhatsApp: To use this mode of communication, IP and OP team members will need to have the app and connect with each other. WhatsApp is used in more and more countries, making it a great way to connect. Doug Depies, a quadrant In-Country Coordinator for LWW's Yucatan Network, helps Initiating Partners and Operating Partners form a WhatsApp group for each partnership to help them stay in touch. The app is free but your partners may incur costs to connect.
Facebook Messenger: If you and your partners use Facebook, you could connect with them via messenger. Again, the app is free but connection costs may be involved. Phone calls, messaging, and even video calls using Facebook Messenger might be an option for you.
Skype: Another free app that allows you to connect is Skype. While not as widely used perhaps as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, we've heard from many teams you use Skype for texting, calls, and video calls.
Email: Having several email addresses for different members of your OP team can prove quite useful to receive monthly system and health education reports and to touch base on a regular basis.
Having more than one way to connect allows for continuity of communication. What if you somehow completely lose touch with your OP? Reach out to your Network if possible for assistance to see if they can call or contact your IP for you.
Sending regular communications builds rapport - our partners know what we are working on and we know what they are focusing on as well. We can share challenges, solutions, encouragement, and goals with each other. Knowing that we are praying for each other and making plans for visits - these are the ties that bind us to one another!
Health Education Outreach Calendar
The goal of continuing to teach everyone in the community the importance of hand washing and how to use the pure water can seem daunting. Where to begin? The key is to break it down into doable steps. A calendar for health education outreach can be a handy tool. We created the calendar below with a free online template (we designed it so that we could print 26 weeks on each side and that way we had all of 2020 on one sheet - you can design yours to suit your needs: http://www.pdfcalendar.com/12-weeks/). You can print it on colored card stock and include this with your health education mini-manuals or give it to your health educators when you are making a sustainability visit. They can use this to plan their outreach activities for the year.
What’s realistic? They don’t have to do an activity every single day or week - maybe starting out doing one outreach activity a month is doable. Ask them to think about their favorite activity from their manual. Who would be a good first audience for that lesson? They can pick a day - any day in January - and simply write the activity and the audience. For example, they might write in the Jan. 6 box, “Operators: A34,” meaning that on Jan. 6, they plan to do activity 34 (Germ Invasion) with the system operators. On Feb. 2, they might write, “Sunday School: S2,” meaning they plan to do the creation story with their Sunday School class. On March 2, they might plan to do agar plates with the nurses at the local clinic as a way to introduce them to the curriculum, and on April 5, they might do the priority ladder with the mothers in the church.
They can do a single activity or a whole health module with several activities grouped together, according to what their time block allows.
They can fill the calendar out for the whole year or just plan one quarter at a time. They may want to use a pencil in case they need to adjust the plan.
Ask your partner Health Educators to reach out to you each month (via email, WhatsApp, or Facebook messenger) and let you know how the activity went.
By the end of 2020, they'll have accomplished quite a bit of health education! Month by month, bit by bit, our partner health educators can begin working toward the goal of teaching the community how to use the pure water and remind everyone why and how to properly wash their hands.
LWW Team Covenants
We all have heard about and handled IP-OP covenants, but what about Team Covenants? We asked Joanie Lukins, Transylvania Presbytery water team member and CWU 102 instructor, to share her team covenant and why they use them.
“We read this together at our first gathering, and again as we prepare to leave. It sets expectations - people tend to rise to our expectation of them, and the covenant states those clearly. It is really helpful, as it brings to the surface some of the things that can happen BEFORE they happen, so that IF they happen, we can all refer to our covenant, saying things like, "remember, we're not all morning people ..." or "our covenant said we should slow down when we're tired ..." The covenant becomes our behavioral guidance, reducing the burden on the team leader(s) to be the heavy. We read the items one at a time, taking turns reading. The last item "We will have fun!" also lightens us up, and gives us permission to really enjoy the experience and one another.”
Several water teams have created a team covenant as a way to get on the same page - an agreement that clearly states how they will act and how they will treat each other and their partners. Take a look at these two team covenant examples, discuss them with your water team, and use them as a starting point to create your own. One team leader shared, "We are and always should be learning how to be better partners. Team covenants are a part of that."
Click here to view the team covenants.