Monthly Archives: February 2011

Water, Water Everywhere…

Last time I came and started the house, we had good spring water 24/7. That was the wet season. Although the creek behind the house still flows steadily, the community water system is taxed beyond capacity, and during this month, we´ve had running water at the house for a grand total of about two hours. We´re the farthest up the river, but based on the system design, we´re the last to get water. The system is sized such that metering water is not economical and thus encouraging the conservation of water is difficult.

The hole has a 5 gallon capacity and takes several hours to fill. It serves a few families for drinking water only.

So our drinking water has been coming from a hole in the rock about 75 yards upriver. It would seem to be a setback, but this also means that our first major water project will be close to home. We’ve already visited new spring sources that are very close to the upper reaches of the community, which includes 14 homes with 5 or so occupants each. We have a green light from the land owner of the spring sources. The idea is to create a small feeder system and storage tank to serve the existing distribution system of these 14 homes. The tank will include an overflow into the principal line of the existing system which services the much larger community. In the coming weeks, we will revisit the springs, take flow measurements, map the proposed system, make a materials list and budget, take a community census, and hold a community meeting to verify that each household supports the project. We’ll help raise the funds and direct the system construction; the community will provide the labor. The system will cost a few thousand dollars. BarnabasX has agreed to partner with us to raise funds for this system. If you’d like to partner financially on this project, go to BarnabasX and make a tax deductible donation earmarked: Faith and Fruit- Catrigandi water project. If you’d like to come down and lend a hand, contact us. We hope to raise the funds asap and do the installation by May. Dios les bendiga.

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La Familia!

Colleen and Kalea arrived last night, and it´s so wonderful to be back together again. Kalea has a little more hair (and maybe I have a little less) and Colleen looks younger (what does that say about being away from me?) Our little neighbor, Luris, 4, can finally stop asking when Kalea will arrive, and we´ll do our best to settle in while I finish construction of the house. Thanks for all the words of encouragement during this challenging transition. And thank you Mom for not kidnapping your grandchild. We Love You and miss you already!

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Check out these snazzy steps that he built out of rocks from our river… can you see the embedded jawbone?

Our time hosting Nick of BarnabasX has come to a close. It was a huge blessing to share time with Nick and enjoy his humor, insight, music, experience, and good ole hard work. Nick taught me a thing or two about tongue and groove flooring and treated me to a flood of nostalgia courtesy of his chasm of musical knowledge that includes all the hymns we grew up with. All the locals were so thrilled to hear a fiddle for the first time, we were invited to play at a small gathering of neighbors. We´re looking forward to future work with BarnabasX and have begun to cooperate to build a potable water system in Catrigandi. More on that soon! Paz y Amor.

Nick and I with the Gaitan family, our neighbors

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Vive El Feo, “Long Live the Ugly One”

I don’t advocate name calling, but our latest acquisition was begging for it. We decided that a car would help the efficiency of our work and be something of a safety net in an unwelcome emergency. Colleen’s criteria was air conditioning (very necessary in the city unless you want black diesel dust boogers) and my criteria was four-wheel drive (otherwise we still couldn’t get anywhere close to our house.) El Feo is an ´86 Mitsubishi Montero whose owner, an old Ecuadorian man, vowed sincerely that he couldn’t bear to get rid of the car, but his grown children were mistreating it and his leaky roof needed replacement. After several redundant office visits and 1 full day of bureaucratic nonsense, Nick and I were cruising out to the countryside, title in hand and the shrunken head still hanging in the rear window (really). El Feo has custom wiring. For instance, the bright/dim switch is of the old foot-operated style, yet is located about 12 inches under and left of the steering wheel next to 2 custom switches for the headlights and instrument panel lights. This means two things. 1) If the road is bumpy (most are) and your seatbelt locks, you cannot reach it. 2) If you miss the switch ever so slightly, you disable all the cars lights at full speed and terrify the family you’re hauling back from nighttime church service. Also, the electric locks function… at will… so the spare keys have come in handy. El Feo has very special fuel injectors such that any application of the throttle beyond the most gentle will shroud would-be pursuers in an impenetrable screen of black smoke (hoping to fix that soon). We’ve got 850 miles together under our belt and continue to burn more diesel than oil. I don’t like red cars, but this one is growing on me.

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Para adelante

We’re moving forward on all fronts… even more than we’d planned. The house is coming along nicely with the help of friends and neighbors. I’m not sure that the concept of finishing on time applies in this country, but as long as things keep moving in a positive direction we’ll call it success.  

Justo and I at the springbox intake for the Catrigandi water system

One surprise has been the lack of running water at home. The neighbors warned me that the water could be intermittent during the dry season. Actually, we have not had water in the tap since arrival. Scarcity is an issue, but politics is playing a heavy hand as well. Not to worry, that means that one of our first projects will be close to home. We’ve already scouted out a new source, and I’ll take flow measurements in the dryest season before designing the small system (about 14 houses) and beginning to seek funding.

Nick and Pablo harvesting rice by hand on the Ortega farm in Piriati Embera

Obviously, we’re anxious to get the house done, but after attending Sunday service in Piriati we received an invitation to help the Ortega family harvest rice. Debating what we should do, Nick pulled out our “quote of the day,” provided in advance by his friend, Laura. The quote, Proverbs 24:27  “Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” It was a scorching day in the rice field and a great experience.


           I must confess a lack of faith with regard to our baggage situation as Nick’s carry-on surpassed the stated limits by about a foot, but Nick assured me that Jesus loves fiddlin’ and would make him invisible, and now I’m a believer. The fiddle has been a huge hit, this being the first time that any of these folks has ever seen one. Nick even got invited to play at a huge vigil of 2000 indigenous people out in Sambu, Darien. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make that gig, but we continue to enjoy it closer to home.

I don’t have pictures, but Iwanted to share that the introduction of the antique corn sheller was an enormous hit; it probably belongs in the rural Panamanian history books. It was comical to say the least. I’ll share more on that when corn season rolls around.

Hasta pronto,

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