BLT: Saving Kids Lives with Clean Water in Guatemala

BLT: Saving Kids Lives with Clean Water in Guatemala

– When my guest today enter a village, there’s
wonderful rejoicing. What do they do? Stay tuned and we’ll reveal how volunteers are
impacting whole villages, and keeping children from dying. Hello and welcome to this episode
of “Better Life Today.” I think you’re really gonna enjoy my special guests today. I have
with me here, Angie and Gary Bartholomew, and they’re involved in a wonderful ministry,
where you’re bringing water to people in need. But before we get started, could you share
a story with us about your experience with the ministry? – Let me tell you about the first well that
we drilled. We wanted to serve an orphanage and a school, about 700 people. We drilled
the well. The pumps were running in the river. We wanted to get them away from the river
water because it was causing serious problems. Did the plumbing in the well house, because
they are on grid power, it didn’t have to be a hand pump. We were short a couple fittings.
Well, it would take a few days to get those from Guatemala City, and, so we thought, “well,
we just put it on the list.” That afternoon, we went up to the shop, and were just sorting
out some old bins of fittings, and there, old fittings, we found this valve and the
union that we needed, and went down and put it in. That evening, our son, who was involved,
and his wife were at supper over at the orphanage, and they said, “The water’s off. “What would
it take to start that well?” Rod said, “It’s done, we just have to turn the breaker on.”
And another thing, the transformers blew up on the river wells. It seemed like it was
a sign from God. The river water quit. We had everything in place, turned the breaker
on, and they had water, that was safe. – And I would assume that these are pretty
specialized parts, that it’s not, you know, one size fits all, so it wasn’t just randomly,
“Oh, sure, we have lots of parts that are gonna “work for that.” – We knew it was a miracle to find those parts,
first of all. And then when the transformers quit down at the river pumps, wow, the lord
brought it together, flip the breaker, and they’ve been on that ever since. – And so this was kind of your introduction
to this ministry, this is one of your early experiences. – That was 15 years ago. – And you had mentioned, you had mentioned,
that the water, you were trying to get them away, from the surface water, why is that? – There’s no sanitation facilities to speak
of in the country, and so, all the surface water’s contaminated, whether it’s, rivers
or streams, or whatever, and, we see people drawing water out of ponds, and there is cattle
walking in the other side of the, the pond, drinking that same water. It’s, it means death,
is what it means. – Wow, I remember, I did a trip to India,
and I remember just that, we were having baptisms, in the river, and just upstream, there were
people washing their clothes, there were animals out in the water, and, you know, you’re kinda
nervous about even getting close to the water, but everybody, all the locals, were out playing
in the water, it’s like they don’t even think twice about the sanitary needs, or dangers. – You don’t dare drink it. – Roger that. So what, what drew you into
this ministry, what connected you to Water For Life? – Well, we had been doing some projects down
there in that country, and, at the orphanage and we found out, yeah, they’re like everyone
else. they were using surface water, and, worldwide, it’s a critical, it’s a critical
thing, there’s, millions, that die, and, there’s over a billion that don’t have access to safe
water. And so it’s a, it’s a thing, when you need, when you might have diarrhea, and you
need more water, you don’t dare give ’em water, because it will kill them for sure, and so,
the little tykes, the five-year-old, or less, they’re the ones most vulnerable, because,
they haven’t built up an immunity, and so, most of it is children, that are dying. – So it, it’s affecting not, I mean it’s,
I have three boys, and, and the picture, we take for granted, the safety of our water. – We do take it for granted, and, we don’t
realize it, 85% of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people because of, lack of
water, or water-born diseases. – So, why don’t we hear about this more? I
mean we hear about all the other things, I don’t often, – I don’t know, but there’s thousands that
die everyday, and, we wouldn’t put up with that, if an airplane crashed, and that many
people died, but, it’s something that we can help, and, so this is our part to help. – All right, well then tell me, who is Water
For Life? – We’re all unpaid volunteers, and, well drillers,
and pump technicians, and, we have a desire in our hearts to go help people, and, we’ve
been sending well drills down there, the old cable tool type, bang, bang, bang, turn drills,
and, so, that’s what Water For Life is, and, it’s a, it’s a platform to share the gospel. – And so is that your primary mission? To,
is it the sharing of the gospel, is it, what exactly, how would you, how do you put your
primary mission? – The two together, because, once we drill
a well in a village, we have a really good relationship with that village, and that’s
the perfect time to give out Spanish Bibles, to those that can read, or to follow up with
a VBS, or, you know, evangelistic work, in that village, those people are destitute,
and they’re happy to know, there’s a better place coming. – And so you’re, you’re meeting in need, an
extreme need, a physical need, and then you’re combining that with spiritual, – That’s right. – Assistance as well. – That’s right. – So, why Guatemala? – Oh, Angie can answer that. – Well, you know, the lord leads in very interesting
ways, in our lives, in 1985, we adopted a little girl, from Guatemala. I went down and
got that little girl, and then, in 1997, my uncle, who was working for International Children’s
Care, that’s where we drilled one of the first orphanages. He invited us to go down, and,
I was not able to go and see where she had come from, and this was the orphanage she
had come from. – Okay. – So, I went down with them, to, just see
the orphanage, and see where she had come from, and we just started doing, small things
for the orphanage, and for the school, and then we realized, that these two places were
still drinking out of their river, and, drinking contaminated water, which of course, brought
a lot of sickness, to the school, and to the orphanage. So our son and his wife, they raised
money, to drill a well within the country, with a local driller, and he told us we had
lots and lots of water, we went down, and we, Gary, and Rod, tested the well, and it
was contaminated water. And we had to decommission that well. – And this was the new well that you had just
drilled. – The new well we had just drilled, and, Gary
said, “I grew up a well driller, “I think, if I can get a well drill down here, “I could
get clean water.” so we went home, and they put a small ad in the drilling journal, and
one night, on Friday night at 10 o’clock, I’m not awake at Friday night, at 10 o’clock,
our phone rang, and the man, from Oregon here, asked if he could donate a cable tool well
drill to our project. And of, that began, what Water For Life is today, you know, the
largest provided for us to be able to send that drill, to Guatemala, and, that was the
very beginning. – And what does that look like, I mean it
sounds easy, “We know, we found a drill, and we sent it to Guatemala,” what does that look
like? – Well, it’s a, it takes several months, and
I knew it was bigger than I was, so I asked my brother to be involved, and a couple other
people to be involved, and help out, and, and yes, we found an agent, that would, ship
it for us, from Houston, because we had a friend that said, “Hey, I’ll truck it to Houston,”
so that was a huge gift right there! And then we got it into Guatemala, and, that rig is
still working, that’s from Stadeli’s here, in Silverton Oregon. And that, that rig is
still down there, drilling, and, thanks to Stadeli’s for being a, the starters. – Right, and so, now I’m picturing the well
drillers, I see they’re, you know, it’s a mobile drilling platform, it’s a truck with
equipment on the back, this is not like that though. – Well it’s similar to that, this was an old
1954 military truck, you know, and, and it’s old technology. And it just pounds its way
down, you know, like a chisel, and you add water, so it, chisels the rock, or whatever’s
there, and makes it mud, and then you bale the mud out. So it’s very slow. – So this isn’t like, I, we had to put a well,
in, at our first property. And they were done in a day. This is not like that. – No, this takes a week or two. But it gives
us a good relationship with the villagers. – So the villagers help out in the process. – Oh, they’re always there watching. And we
involve them however we can, to clear the area, to bring water for drilling. All different
things, we involve them as much as we can. – Are there any other stories, I love stories,
you know, we all like to hear how God is moving in our lives, and in other people’s lives,
what’s another story you’d like to share about your experiences? We, just this last winter,
it’s been a winter drilling season for us, January, February, March, and a little bit
into April, because, our volunteers are busy in their own business. And they can’t go,
other times a year. That’s changing, by the way, but, this last winter, we drilled a well,
and, the engine quit on the well drill, the driller wanted to bale it some more, and clean
up the water, so it wasn’t quite clean. So we thought “Well we’ll pump it.” and we pumped
it for two hours, at 23 gallons a minute. That’s a lot of water. That’s a lot of water. – That seems like an awful lot of water. – He said, that water never hit the ground,
the villagers were there, with their buckets and any containers they had, to catch that
precious water, and take it to their little shacks. – Now they had water before, why, why was
this so impactful? – They had surface water. – Okay, so it was the cleanliness as well? – Yes, and where, and where we drill, mortality
drops. And they know that. Because we’ve been there several years now. – So the word, word is out, so, okay. – It’s, they want us to come, and, so, it
just impressed me that the, that water never hit the ground! They were there filling one
bucket after another, taking it back to their shack. – So is there a waiting list, how do you,
how do you fit– decide, what village to visit next? – Yeah, we, we never quite catch up with all
those that would like a well, and we work closely with the government health ministry,
because they know the most critical areas, too, that, that, really need a well, soon. – So the government’s involved as well, they’re,
they’re seeing the value in what you’re doing in their communities. – It’s a health ministry, that covers all
that northern area of Guatemala, and that’s where we work, at remote villages. – Very good. Well we need to take a short
break, I hope you stay with us, because we have a lot more to share with you. Thank you. Better Life Broadcasting is a viewer supported
Christian media ministry that offers streaming programing via apps on various devices. Please
visit to support Better Life or to get more information. And don’t forget to
like and subscribe. – Welcome back to “Better Life Today”. We’ve
been visiting with Gary and Angie Bartholomew about the wonderful ministry you’re involved
in, Water for Life. You were just telling me, during the break, about how this all started.
You had gone to an orphanage. You saw a need for some water there, the well had failed,
is that correct? So you made arrangements for this new drilling platform to come down
there and that turned in to a ministry because you had the equipment. – We have this well drill, and we’re through
now, with the project, the orphanage and school, and maybe we oughta help out in the villages. – To me that is exactly how God works. I look
back at my life and how, “Oh, I’m just gonna do this. “I’m asked to serve here and then
I’ll be done. “I’ll sit back in my pew and I’ll enjoy hearing “stories about how other
people “are doing something for Jesus”. But it plants a seed when we say yes, doesn’t
it? So when you’re on these trips down to Guatemala, what do you do, Angie? – Well we have four apartments down there
for our volunteers. We have a shop and they come and go, two weeks, three weeks. And so
I kinda end up being the hotel maid . I take care of the apartments and then on campus,
we’re on a secondary campus, and there’s students that I’m able to interact with and help. Keeps
me busy, it’s never dull. I tell our volunteers you need to be real flexible. – Sure, sure, so you’re basically the hospitality
coordinator. – I guess that sounds nicer. – So you get to engage with the locals there.
Are you involved, are there Bible studies going on? What are the other things you’re
involved in while you’re there at the campus? – There are students that, they’re called
industrial students and they work for their education. They spend two years working and
then they can go to school full time and they don’t have a lot of necessities that they
need and so I, and several other ladies, buy them their toiletries and things that they
might need. That’s a fun part of what I do. – So even beyond providing the water, you’re
providing and supporting other needs as well. – We do planning for evangelism or a branch
Sabbath School, or Vacation Bible School, that type of thing. But we aren’t versed enough
in Spanish, just basic stuff, and so we have people that come down from the States to do
that, or we hire Bible workers there in the country to do that, to share the gospel. Those
people are just hungry to know about God’s grace. – So this is an opportunity for volunteers,
not just the well drillers who are coming down to help you drill within the communities.
There are also people coming down to provide evangelism. – We do dental work and medical work in the
villages. This is with a temporary dental chair. We have all that equipment down there
and so if someone wants to pull a lot of teeth, that’s a perfect place to go. They’ve got
teeth that are hurting them and they need to come out and they’re grateful for that. – Very good, it’s amazing how God takes, again,
that seed and just sprouts it in ways we’ve never ever would have expected. So are there
any other recent developments you’d like to share about your ministry? – Oh boy there’s some neat things happening.
The Lord is growing this and there’s just no question about it. We’ve kinda had a dream,
years ahead, that maybe someday we would get a small rotary well drill down there because
they’re faster. – And so how does a rotary driller compare
with the cable drillers? – Instead of just pound, pound, pound, it’s
rotary, just like your cordless drill or you’re electric drill and you’re just drilling in
the ground and it’s very rapid. So we have last winter we got a refurbished small rotary
well drill down there. Instead of taking a week or two to drill a well, in the first
eight days of running that rig we drilled six wells. – [Charlie] Six wells? – [Gary] Six wells. – And how long would it have take you to drill
those six wells with the other equipment? – Eight or 10 weeks with one cable tool. Now,
we have three cable tool rigs down there. – [Charlie] So they’re still working? – They’re still working and there’s a place
for those but the people that run those are getting as old as I am and so we gotta think
of something else and this simple rotary well drill is easily maintained, like the cable
tool rigs. We cover a lot of ground and then we come back and we set the hand pump in the
village, or the solar pump, whatever’s appropriate, or the submersible electric pump, whatever’s
appropriate, and so we’re still in contact a lot with those villagers. – Now I know when we had to put a well in,
we had to test it every year and make sure it wasn’t contaminated, is that a process
that you guys follow as well? – We haven’t been doing it every year, but
we do have it tested at a lab. We drink it, oh boy. – [Charlie] And you’re here. – Yes, I’m here today. Sometimes, it’s interesting,
sometimes you drill a well, you finish, and the hand pump starts pumping out this water
and the people in the village kinda look around, “Well what do we do now?” When we take that
water and drink it, they just can’t stop. They dive right in and pretty soon they’re
throwing water at each other and having water fights and it’s a happy day. – I just picture, you know. I’ve had water
that’s not the best. I know our well, we had to treat it because it had iron, it had manganese
in it. It didn’t smell all that great so we filtered it. These people that you’re serving,
the river water probably isn’t, they can tell the difference, right? – Oh my, yeah, for sure. – Just what an experience that would be as
they take that first taste of crystal clear water that maybe they’ve never had before. – That’s right and mortality drops where we
work. I just can’t emphasize that enough. – What a blessing. Now you had also mentioned
Bible workers. I understand that there’s some training going on as well for the Bible workers. – Oh the neat thing is, now with the rotary
especially, we’re drilling more and more wells, and we aren’t keeping up with sharing the
Good News of the gospel. There’s a Bible training school going in just three hours from us,
a little less than three hours, and they’re gonna train Bible workers and they need a
place for their students to do a practicum. We’ve got the perfect place because we’re
drilling wells where the villagers know who we are and we’ll introduce them. They’re our
friends, they’ve been on our Water for Life board, and they will have people. They’re
even building us a satellite shop in that area because they said one of the rigs we
wanna have right here and start really working around this area, so that’s exciting to us.
That rotary rig that will attract a lot more drillers because a lot of drillers don’t know
how to drill with the old cable tool, and the Bible School, which will share the Good
News of the gospel right behind us. – So in the past you’ve kinda worked together
through the process. You’d go to a new community and you’d have your Bible workers there, but
now if I’m hearing you right, now you’re drilling so quickly, you’re moving on more quickly. – [Gary] We don’t have enough Bible workers. – And so you don’t have enough Bible workers. – We can’t keep up. – Well, God has a plan. – He does. – Absolutely. – He does. Like I said before, when we drill
a well, we have a close relationship. We’re so spoiled in this country. We flush our toilets
with drinking water. And we take for granted that nice, pure water. That’s a blessing. – It really is a blessing and unless you’re
familiar with the needs of the rest of the world, again, we take it for granted. I was
watching your video earlier on your website and afterward I went and I took a drink of
water and it was a different experience for me than it was previously because you’re mindful
of that blessing that you have. So you’re very dependent on your volunteers. It sounds
like part of what you’re moving toward is being able to train people locally to do a
lot of the drilling. – That’s another very important thing. We’ve
just trained Edgar. Edgar has been our mechanic. We wanna keep one person doing our mechanical
work because then he gets acquainted with the different rigs. And he’s a trained mechanic,
he’s a very good welder, he’s very quick to learn, and he’s been with us on these drills
and showed an interest. We sent him to Nicaragua. There’s a training school there and they said,
“Boy we’ve trained a lot of people, “but Edgar is right at the top”. Edgar’s about ready
to start drilling on his own and so pretty soon we’ll be drilling around the calendar,
not just– – Because what you were saying was that you
have this three months or so when the volunteers come down. – Yes, yeah, we hit it hard then. Now we will
be able to train Edgar further and help him through the tough spots and things like that
and it’s gonna be another blessing because we will be training people in the country.
That’s the good way to go and that will ensure Water for Life keeps working because we’ll
keep training younger people and this will continue growing. – But there still will be a need for volunteers
to be coming down. – [Gary] Oh definitely. – You’re very reliant. So what keeps a volunteer
coming back? – What keeps a volunteer coming back is this.
When a mother comes and says, “Thank you “for the well last year. “This is the first year
we’ve lost none of our babies”. That’s what keeps volunteers coming back. – You know, when I met you the first time
it was back in Kentucky at ASI and I mentioned that we had a neighbor when we were living
in Graham, Washington, that was a well driller. ‘Cause it planted a seed, maybe my friend
might be somebody who could help out. And I mentioned the name, it was John Hansen and
you were already familiar with John. – John is engaged 100% in Water for Life.
They supervise the project when Angie and I come home. We take it the first couple of
months each winter and then they take it the last couple months each winter. And they’ve
given their hearts, wonderful people, wonderful people. Another thing, when the water starts
pumping in a village, if you’re a volunteer down there and you see the excitement and
you see the scurry, you’ll come back again because you know how valuable it is to those
villagers and they just, volunteers can’t turn it down again. They just keep going back,
they like that. – Well and I just love projects like yours
that engage people here locally and awakens something in us when we’re able to give. – It’s good for us. – If there’s anybody interested in joining
your project what kind of qualifications do they need? – Like Angie said earlier, they need to be
flexible. They may say, “Oh I’m gonna go down and I’m gonna drill”. Well, maybe we’ve already
got all the drillers we need. Maybe we need to pour a sidewalk, or maybe we need to paint
or something. Be flexible and they’ll still get to get out on the well drills. You know
I had dentist contact me awhile back and he says, “I’m a dentist and I’d like “to go help
in Guatemala”. I said, “Good, we do dental work in the villages”. He says, “I don’t wanna
do dental work. “I wanna shovel mud”. I says, “Come along” . We’ve got room for people that
wanna help in all kinds of ways, whether it’s translating Spanish English, whether it’s
painting, whether it’s going out and driving one of the trucks to help the driller or help
the pump technician. There’s lots of things to do. – Well thank you so much for coming in and
visiting with us. I am so encouraged that we have folks that are looking for ways to
engage with God’s people. Folks, if you’d like to contact our friends, please contact
Gary and Angie Bartholomew, Post Office Box 2330, Deer Park, Washington, 99006. Their
phone number is 208-907-0010. Thank you for watching this episode of “Better Life Today”.
We’ll see you next time.

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