The Water Well
"People in Somotillo, Nicaragua, don't have the two basic needs we take for granted: pure water and personal hygiene," said Jeff Wilson, a minister at Henderson Hills Baptist Church. "Everyone needs clean water."
In April 2007, Wilson traveled with ten people from Edmond to Somotillo, Nicaragua on a water well trip, a new type of mission trip for Henderson Hills. Their goals were to improve the water supply, make the water more sanitary and teach personal hygiene. Planning for the project started over a year ago with a team of eight men and three women.
"All Water Supply Team members are gifted and have different skill sets," said Wilson. The members come from a variety of backgrounds such as farming, home building, and financial advisers. The men worked on fabrication, electrical, plumbing and chlorination while the women taught hygiene and evangelism.
"Two things can improve their lives: pure water and basic hygiene," said Max Holloway, a team member who works as an engineer with Dominion Exploration and Production. "We want to help meet their physical needs. Our objective in Somatillo is to provide safe water while ministering the Gospel of Jesus."
"In the long term we want to supply water at every church site that Pastor Diomedes has started. Adequacy of water is essential. Right now theirs is not adequate nor safe."
In 1998, when Hurricane Mitch heavily damaged the water system in the area, Mike Wall, Henderson Hills mission director, went to Nicaragua to investigate. The project has progressed in four stages. First: evangelistic, second: medical and dental services, third: church building and now the fourth: improving the water supply.
Since their work in Nicaragua began, thirty-three churches have been established in the surrounding area and hundreds of people have become Christians.
"Most of the medical problems we've encountered over the past years continue to come back, primarily due to lack of good hygiene and unsanitary water," said Wilson. Somotillo, close to Honduras, has about 250,000 people. "One out of five children die before the age of five, basically due to dehydration."
The twenty-acre complex where the team worked includes a children's school for 450 students. The water wells on the complex produced two gallons of water per minute with peak rate limitations. On this trip, the team rebuilt and covered three wells to protect them against pollution and got a fourth new well up and running. They calculated that after their trip, they were able to increase the water supply by seven times.
"In the dry season, the complex can sustain only a few livestock and poultry and grow very little fruits and vegetables. We hope to eventually teach vocational-technical and agriculture skills, but we needed a water supply first. It's a building process," said Holloway.
"We tried to establish a more productive water infrastructure. We also did some evaluation of other needs and scouted for future projects. We were all stretched but persevered while growing through the challenges. I'm glad to be a part of it. We've met so many new people and become more aware of their needs that we can help with."
"When we go down to a struggling area of the world, we are honored to be included. We're working with local servants who always smile despite their circumstances. They are so grateful and gracious," said Wilson.
One hundred ladies from twenty local churches around Somotillo were trained to teach personal health and hygiene. "We don't go in and tell people what to do, we work with them. We pull in their people so they can sustain the project after we leave. They are unbelievable hosts," said Wilson.
"One lady asked me what I wanted to drink. I said a diet coke. I found out later she walked over a mile to get me a diet coke. They are willing to serve and have a great sense of responsibility. They bring more to the table than we do in proportion to what they have."
Wilson and Holloway both agree that the people who make up the teams ministering in Nicaragua are also exceptional. They are open to the Lord's leading and give of themselves to help struggling people.
"Our motive to quietly help people is simple," said Holloway. "There are no hidden agendas to advance. That's appealing. We've gotten to help others without the fanfare. We are sharing our story so that it might encourage others to volunteer in the mission field."
The purpose statement of HHBC-"To help people improve their relationship with God and with each other,"-is a consistent message with the Water Supply Team Project.
"We need prayer and to be sensitive to what God wants," said Wilson. "Also, any one can lay PVC pipe or dig a ditch. This type of mission is for those people who can't commit to a routine time frame. It works well. We focus on ministering for one short period of time."
If you are interested in helping or obtaining more information, contact Mike Wall at HHBC at 405-715-4891or see www.hendersonhills.com.