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Bringing pure water and the living water to Nicaragua

Student Rachel Morris reflects on her summer 2012 trip to Nicaragua with Messiah’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research

Anticipation rose as we turned off the bumpy dirt highway into off-road country surrounded by roaming farm animals, tiny huts and clotheslines. A swarm of kids chased after the big yellow bus that carried our diverse team of Messiah College students, Living Water educators and newly trained village leaders, welcoming us to the community. After spending time in Puerto Cabezas preparing, we finally arrived with the mission of bringing pure water and The Living Water to the small community of Awas Tigni, Nicaragua. The next two days spent in the beautiful land of Awas flew by like a blur. Community members were eager to learn all we had to share. Classrooms were filled, and people completed a variety of activities and lessons on everything from hand-washing, to making a tippy tap to using one of our filters!

Outside other members of our team taught the children about clean water. In the scorching sun, kids participated in activities ranging from exploring biology through microscopes and lenses to differentiating good and bad hygiene through pictures, reading and using a coloring book created by Messiah students. It was awesome to see firsthand how our hard work with the Collaboratory impacted and improved people’s lives, families and community.

Our stay ended with graduation day. What a sense of accomplishment for community members who completed several sessions about hygiene, bacteria and water purification teaching!  Graduates were given a well-deserved certificate and a bucket filter of their own so clean water would be readily available to them.

During our adventure, Collaboratory members also squeezed in some basic water tests to check out the healthiness of local water sources. As expected, the tests were positive for bacteria, confirming that the community was in great need of pure water. It was humbling to think how much we take clean water for granted in the United States.

As the sun set, we presented a puppet show based on Snow White’s story, but instead of a dreadful poisonous apple, poor Snow White (Princess Parrot in our version) had no clean water! The delightful dwarfs, in our case, Pumas, went on a quest to find a bucket filter to save their dear Princess’ life! This short tale creatively portrayed the importance of filtration for clean drinking water and was the opening act for the night’s true excitement: The Jesus Film.

Imagine if the first movie you ever saw was a two-hour, full length feature about Jesus’ life! We were privileged to share The Jesus Film with the community in their native language, Miskito. What an incredible experience to listen to the Gospel in another language and watch families excitedly come sit on hard wooden benches to learn about Jesus! These nights concluded with prayer and an opportunity to accept Christ.

It’s crazy how one goes on a ‘mission’ to make a difference and in the process your own heart is transformed. Reflecting back on our journey to Nicaragua, I saw the profound impact of fresh filtered water on communities, seeds being planted for the furtherance of the Kingdom of The Living Water, and I waspersonally stretched outside of my comfort zone to deepen and strengthen my faith; that’s a successful trip!

Reflection by Rachel Morris `15, an environmental/mechanical engineering student and member of the Collaboratory’s Water Group, specifically the Filtration Purification Alternatives Project.

You can read more about this project in a July 10 “Forward Edge” story.

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