Years before the words “Living Waters for the World” (LWW) became familiar to our congregation, they were familiar to many other churches and congregations across the United States and around the world. By March of 2017, LWW had already installed water purification systems in over 800 communities throughout 25 countries. In Cuba alone at that time, there were already 44 systems installed and operating.
Thanks to multiple visits to Cuba, multiple conversations about water in Cuba, visits to several LWW installations, emails, conference calls and a timely partnership opportunity, the possibility of installing a LWW water purification system in the Nueva Paz church became a reality in April, 2018. Mindy McMahon and Kathy Wennerstrum were able to work alongside both our US and Cuban partners during the installation of the system and specifically helped during the training of and presentation to the Nueva Paz congregation and their community.
The generosity of our congregation, through financial gifts large and small, through mindful aluminum collecting and recycling, Giving Tuesday donations, the Alternative Giving Fair, our children’s youth offering, online giving and individual gifts to the LWW fund is what ultimately made this project possible. As a congregation, we were able to contribute to the funding of the system and were able to partner with a trained installation team, coordinated by the LWW Cuba network.
So now . . . where do we begin to tell the story of the installation?
Do we start with the incredible amount of work our brothers and sisters in Nueva Paz did in preparation for the installation of the Living Waters system? Or do we talk about hauling city water in by the truckload to fill the new underground cistern because the city pump was not operating?
Or do we talk about the expert Living Waters-trained team from Mississippi who taught us daily about building bridges through faith, mutual problem-solving, creative education and a sense of humor?
There are so many stories to share about this particular trip to Cuba, but the most important to us is to communicate the gratitude our friends in Nueva Paz expressed for the generosity and good wishes from all of you, for Jane Boxell, for our partner friends from Mississippi and most clearly, to God, for the gift of purified water that they will now share with their entire community.
Supported by the kindnesses of several locals like their welder, who worked into the night to make additional improvements to the system and bottling area, and despite issues with the city water supply, the installation went smoothly. A regular crew of teachers participated in 3 days of training in preparation for teaching their congregation and then their community about the importance of and essential uses for purified water. And their 4 trained operators have already begun a regular schedule of educating their community and dispensing purified water to anyone with a clean bottle who understands how and when to use the water.
Water System in Operation
You can see and hear the Nueva Paz system operating in the video on the left.
We were moved in many ways by our friends in the Nueva Paz congregation, by others in their community, by our partners from Mississippi and by the reality that something we take for granted here can be unavailable yet so very important to other children of God not so far away. And we were also moved by the generosity and prayers of our own congregation as partners in this opportunity for ministry with our Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Nueva Paz.