Song of Grace and Hope
Donna Bowling, June 15, 2017
We finally met Yovette, the remarkable young woman from Pearl Lagoon who acted as our guide and translator for our recent trip to Nicaragua, when we arrived at the airport in Managua at dinnertime on Wednesday, June 7th. La Jefa, our mission team leader, and I had corresponded with Yovette for weeks as she made arrangements for our scouting trip to look for a site for our third Living Waters for the World (LWW) water purification system on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, a place neither La Jefa nor I had ever been. Mission teams from our church have been going to Nicaragua for several years now, but we have worked in the Matagalpa region. Now we were looking for a site in a new region as well as checking on the two systems we helped install on previous trips.
Just getting to the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua is an adventure. We flew on a small prop plane from Managua to Bluefields, and then took a taxi to the dock, where our private panga boat to Pearl Lagoon waited. Pangas are water taxis that hold 20 people plus baggage. They have a roof, but are otherwise open to the weather, which we learned could change quickly. From Bluefields, we took an hour-long boat ride across Pearl Lagoon to the town of Pearl Lagoon, where we spent three nights in a small, family owned bed and breakfast and ate breakfast at the kitchen table. After breakfast our first morning in Pearl Lagoon, we took another hour-long boat ride across the Lagoon and up the Wawasang River to the village of Pueblo Nuevo, which Yovette had suggested as a possible water installation site. The trip up the river reminded me of scenes from the Humphrey Bogart movie, “The African Queen.” La Jefa joked she was not sure what purpose the life vest served. If we ended up in the water and managed to survive the swim to shore, nothing but rainforest awaited us.
When we arrived at Pueblo Nuevo, representatives of the water committee waited for us at the dock. After a thirty-minute hike uphill through the village, they showed us a well on the church grounds before we gathered inside the tiny church with its wood plank walls and benches. The committee members explained they wanted to use the church’s well as the water source for the LWW system. They told us the closest place they could buy clean water was El Rama, a town many kilometers away. These are poor people, who work hard long hours everyday just to feed and clothe their families. They desperately wanted clean water for their community, especially for their children. They understand the health benefits of the clean water we too often take for granted.
After talking at length with them about what they would need to do to prepare for an installation, including building a structure to house the water system and recruiting operators for the system as well as educators to teach adults and children about the importance of clean water and how to use it effectively, we explained that our church would work for many months to prepare to return to help them install the system. At the end of that discussion, La Jefa and I looked at each other and then agreed to work with them. We signed a covenant with the water committee of Pueblo Nuevo documenting our mutual promises.
We all sat momentarily silent as we savored this new relationship and contemplated the hard work ahead for all of us before we celebrated with group photos and prayers. The smiles on the faces of these normally stoic people, who live amid challenges we cannot comprehend, were more than ample repayment for our long journey. As we hiked back to the boat for the long, wet, bumpy ride back to Pearl Lagoon, Yovette told us the people of Pearl Lagoon were humble people. Indeed they are, but I was humbled by their grit and determination and deep faith and look forward to getting to know them better.
Grace and Peace,