Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water, and to experience “living water”—the gospel of Jesus Christ—which alone satisfies the deepest thirst.
Living Water International began in 1990 when a group of Houstonians traveled to Kenya and saw the desperate need for clean drinking water. Shortly thereafter, the newly formed 501(c)3 non-profit organization equipped and trained a team of Kenyan drillers and Kenyan operations began within a year. This year marks the 29th year of Living Water International. To date more than 20,000 water projects have been completed in over 17 countries. Their goal of being “the hands and feet of Jesus by serving the thirsty” has come to fruition and continues to reach communities throughout the world who are trapped in debilitating poverty because they constantly suffer from water-related diseases and parasites. The ability to prosper is also hampered by the long stretches of time involved in supplying water for the family. In many instances, this chore is accomplished by carrying water over long distances, a very time-consuming and arduous process.
Living Water International is a Christian organization which seeks to extend assistance to all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, gender, race, or ethnic background. The core values include honoring God, developing people both spiritually and physically, pursuing excellence, and being good stewards of the gifts God has given.
Living Water International works to provide cost-effective and sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions. To do that, they partner with local Living Water staff and collaborate with more than 30 other nonprofit organizations. While much progress has been made, the magnitude of the problem remains great, with 844 million people who still lack basic drinking water services.
The pattern for accomplishing the goal of providing clean water to communities continues to be modeled after their first project in Kenya. Hundreds of volunteers go on “Living Water Trips” each year, working with local communities under the leadership of nationals to implement these projects. As they state, “It’s hard to know which lives are changed more—those “serving” or those “being served.” The training programs in shallow well drilling, pump repair, and hygiene education have equipped thousands of volunteers and professionals in the basics of integrated water solutions since 2001.
Living Water International approaches each project with emphasis on these standards:
- Water Access
- Hygiene Promotion
- Church Mobilization and Gospel Proclamation
To be the “hands and feet of Jesus” with Living Water International can be the journey of a lifetime. Meet Kevin and Kellie Bone, former SHSU students now living in Spring, who traveled to Guatemala in August of 2016. Their story brings this ministry to life as seen through Kevin’s and then Kellie’s eyes:
Who or what inspired you to take this trip?
Kevin: We had good friends and Kellie’s sister who had been on one or more trips with Living Water International and were anxious to go again. I was hesitant, but Kellie really wanted to go. I finally realized that it was for a good cause, that it involved working outside (which I love), and would be an adventure, so we signed on.
What cost is involved in a Living Water Trip?
It cost each of us approximately $2,000, which covered our travel and other related expenditures. These funds could be provided through personal finances, fundraising donations, or a combination of both.
What were your first impressions upon arriving in Guatemala?
We flew into Guatemala City and then got into vehicles to make the trek to Antigua. Here we were, in a place we knew very little about and being driven by someone we didn’t know to an even lesser known destination! I was very relieved to see Living Water International stickers on the vehicles! We arrived at the Living Water International accommodations and were greeted by a very gracious hostess who spoke fluent English and who would look after our needs for the duration of our stay. Upon meeting her, my anxiety level dropped immediately. The house had separate living quarters for men and women, a kitchen, and a common room where we relaxed and played cards each evening.
Were you well-cared for during your week’s stay?
We were well taken care of during our stay. We were given a budget for snacks and were taken into town the next morning to purchase these items. Two ladies cooked our breakfast and dinner each day, and I even gained a little weight! The Guatemalan food was delicious!
What were your responsibilities each day?
The ladies went to the community school and taught Bible lessons, personal hygiene, and sanitation practices to the women and children gathered there each day. The men were involved in the actual drilling project. Our group of six men worked with the main driller and his assistant and were accompanied by other men from the community who helped dig pits into which the drilling debris flowed. During the drilling process, we hit rock about 20 feet deep, and from that point on it was tough going. After several days of drilling, replacing crumpled drill bits, and an interruption of lightning, thunder, and rain, we were able to drill down to between an 80 and 100-foot level to reach the second water table. This table produced a fresh clean water supply. The community’s water supply was previously drawn from the first water table which contained pesticides from the local sugar cane plantations, bacteria and other undesirable substances. We had hoped to drill deeper, but our trip was at an end. Therefore, we considered this as “mission accomplished!”
What memories do you cherish from this journey?
When we first arrived, the townspeople lined the streets to celebrate our coming; the children, dressed in school uniforms, sang for us; and we were treated to all sorts of delicious foods. News had gotten out about my August 4th birthday later in the week. To my surprise, the entire community gathered to celebrate the occasion with balloons, cakes, and a piñata. Kellie had shared that I was a Dallas Cowboys fan, so I was presented with a cake and a pinata, both resembling the Cowboy star emblem. On another occasion, the local scoutmaster, learning that I was an Eagle Scout, gave each of the men a scout shirt representing the local troop. He also presented me with a bolo. A young boy, age 12, got permission to talk with me about Scout activities in America. His eyes lit up when I spoke of camping. We learned that a camping event was coming up but, due to lack of finances, he would be unable to attend. Kellie and I took care of that fee for him. We treasure the fact that God allowed us to be a part of this special memory for that young boy.
Would you and Kellie consider making another “Living Water Trip?”
Absolutely! It was a great experience. We feel for these gracious people who have been dealt a bad hand. It was both a rewarding and a humbling experience. We are grateful to have had this opportunity and would encourage others to do the same.
Kellie now shares a few additional thoughts with us:
What were your responsibilities?
Kellie: as a part of the hygiene team, I helped prepare and teach lessons to the women and children of the community about proper hand washing, the spread of germs, and other common concepts. We also used stories from the Bible to teach lessons, such as Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, to incorporate the Word of God. When we were finished with our lessons, we would play games, do crafts, and other fun activities with the children. Even with the language barrier, we had so much fun with them.
What memories do you cherish from this experience?
The trip far exceeded my imagination and it truly impacted my life. I still think of those sweet kids when I’m washing my hands, and the silly songs we taught them about hand washing pop into my head often. Being a part of the hygiene team, we were able to experience a whole other aspect of the community than the men did. The children left the biggest impact on me. They were so full of love and hope, even though they lived in such poverty. The people of the community were incredibly generous and treated us like family. They gave us their best, when they had so little. Even though it was not always easy to communicate with them verbally, they showed us their love in so many ways during our time together.
For more information, please contact Living Water International at www.water.cc. And to help support the cause, consider donating toward or running in one of their 5K events on World Water Day, March 23rd. Check the website or google locations for area events. Also, consider taking a “Living Water Trip” to become part of the solution to bring “living water” to the lives of people around the world.