This past week it was exciting to be part of the 1st International Networks Conference of Living Waters for the World (LWW). Fifty-five of us gathered at Guatemala’s Presbyterian Seminary around the theme of “confluencia.” There were representatives from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala and the USA. Each of these networks labors to provide sustainable purification systems that bring clean water in communities in need, while spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.
We began and ended each day with worship, led by one of the networks. There was simultaneous translation in English and Spanish to ensure full participation by everyone. Although I was glad to help with translation and driving, mostly I simply participated.
These are my conference highlights:
- Bacilia and I enjoyed hosting the LWW leadership team and IENPG pastors for supper at our home on Saturday night. While Bacilia and niece Jesy made chicken burritos and plantains, Matthew and Manny showed their soccer moves and Stefi put on a ballet performance. I acted as greeter and waiter. LWW is blessed with a talented and staff and dedicated volunteer leaders, and it was great to meet all of them.
- On Tuesday there was an in depth consideration of challenges and successes (see photo). Successes include more country networks and coordinators to help with the high demand for clean water, the growing number of U.S. partners (called “initiating partners”), and a closer relationship with PC(USA) World Mission.
- Challenges include things like difficulties in getting health licenses, more health and hygiene education for local partners (called “operating partners), a high number of inactive or “orphaned” systems, complaints about water taste, the desire for more community outreach and clearer covenants, and problems finding bottles and replacement filters.
- Wednesday featured visits to LWW water installation sites in the area. The site that most impressed me was a church in Retalhuleu called El Shaddai. The pastor, Fredy Monson (see photo with his wife Isa), took us on a tour of their operation, which produces 2,000 5-gallon bottles of pure water a month. Half are donated to schools, clinics, retirement and children’s homes, and jails. Their partner in the U.S. is the Fox Valley Presbyterian Church in Geneva, Illinois.
- A Thursday breakfast of LWW leaders with PC(USA) mission co-workers (like me). While eating pancakes and papaya we shared ideas about ways mission co-workers can contribute to the success of LWW, and how LWW can support and promote mission co-workers in our assignments.
- Also on Thursday was the official start of a 5-year covenant between LWW and the IENPG. Church officials were on hand for the signing (see photo), and to reach agreement about the hiring of a LWW coordinator in Guatemala who will work specifically with IENPG churches and institution. By the way, more purification systems have been installed in Guatemala—125—than in any other country.
- On the last day, each network gave a presentation of 5-year visions, goals and actions, concluding with a service of Holy Communion (see photo) and presenting of certificates.
During a worship led by the Cuban delegation, we shared in the following “Blessing of the Water:
We are in your presence, our God, Living Water. May this renewed water refresh us and transform us into a people who are responsible for your creation. May this renewed water gife us hope to make possible our dreams of justice, love and peace, to accompany and to serve our people and Your Church. Amen.
(A cup of pure water is handed to each of us and we are invited to drink from it)
Let’s drink a cup of this simple water. The atoms in water are five billion years. We are drinking the birth of the earth.
We drink a sip of water.
We sip this water and with it we are participating in the history of life. Its molecules were in the jungle, and its quantum particles have moved with the anemones of the sea. They lived in the wombs of our mothers, in the water of our baptism; now they are on the path of new transformation.
We drink the rest of the water.