Friday, August 29, 2014

2014 KSTATE Kickoff

In preparation for tomorrow's opening game against Stephen F. Austin, I wanted to revisit Rockhouse Motion's 50,000 K-State Siblings video from 2012 and highlight Pan Jakes "Attack - K-State Football 2014" released today.  

Here's screen captures of the best images for your enjoyment. 

Love everything about these videos, especially the Rockhouse one, even if it is two years old. Completely captures the game day experience for me -- so turn both up and play it loud!

Go Cats!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nicaragua Mission

This is the story of my trip to Rivas, Nicaragua, to drill a well for a small community of approx. 100 Nicaraguans through the mission work of Living Water International.
If you've never heard of this incredible mission, or the work they are doing worldwide, there is a lot of information at their website regarding their vision and mission work all over the world. Their one goal: provide safe, clean, drinking water for as many people as possible.  Our story will be repeated over and over again across the world, each and every week, as short term mission trips just like ours launch each and every Sunday to remote locations with the hopes making an impact on a community, both physically ... and spiritually.

The message is a powerful one. There is no shortage of riveting stories, images, and testimonies of problems all over the world that stem from a lack of clean water.  I had been considering (and praying) for ways to get involved in a mission trip where God's timing and will would lead me to the right place and time and I was given an opportunity that was very difficult to pass up. 

I was invited by Brodie Bruener of Weathermatic and Nate Hines with Hines Irrigation to go on the trip in May. Weathermatic sponsored the trip for four (4) people, allowing myself, Brodie, and Jill Bersano and Amber Clark, both with Hydro Systems KDI to go, along with Annie Achim (social media director of Living Water based in Houston), and her friend from church, Alyssa Lynn. 

Weathermatic and Hines share corporate missions of saving water and Nate and his father Jim, have built an irrigation business philosophy of educating their clients on ways to save both water, and money, on each and every project they take on. Both have a heart for mission work and look for opportunities to reach out beyond the US for ways to make an impact regarding water use in other countries via education, infrastructure, or simply volunteering their time.

Weathermatic has created an initiative called Save Water, Give Life, that allows them to support LWI through water savings from their clients.  As those they partner with save gallons of water, they in turn donate those gallons and savings to LWI.  Last year alone they were able to sponsor 12 wells all over the world.  

Brodie's children attend Hart Elementary in Lucas, TX, and through the efforts of his children and the school, Weathermatic matched their funds and was able to sponsor the well we dug plus sponsor four of our trips to Rivas. 

We all left from Houston on Sunday, August 10th.  


We arrived in Managua and met the Living Water team of Frank, Leo, and Lisseth. All three serve as a LWI drilling + hygiene Team A that work together each and every week with the varying short term trip teams arriving from the states.  A well is attempted by each team every other week, allowing Team B to drill and work with STT teams on the off weeks.  

We drove about an hour to Granada where we were staying with Jorge and Karla, who served as our In-Field directors and hosts for the week.
The compound.  We stayed in the house on the right.
The cooks in the kitchen preparing dinner.
The meals were fantastic and we ate very well while we were there.

We were up at 600 each day to prepare for a time of prayer and devotion from 630 to 700 and breakfast from 700 to 730.  We would target leaving the compound at 800 am every morning after loading up supplies and any equipment that would need to be loaded and prepared.
Frank (head driller) and Leo (assistant driller)

The trip to the village in Rivas was about an hour from Ganada. This was a good chance for us to get to know our Living Water drilling team and we generally arrived around 900 each morning at the village. 

The school was home to about 30 children, ranging from pre-K up to 3rd grade.  They shared two rooms within the school each about 30x30 and the kids would bring their desks outside each day for hygiene class.  In many cases the women of the village would also attend.

The hygiene team (Brodie, Lisseth, and Alyssa) spent most of the day teaching the
village children about how to handle clean water, the spreading of germs, and proper
techniques for brushing their teeth, washing their hands, etc.
The school yard had already been prepped for drilling and the villagers had already cleared out trees and selected a spot for the well.  The first day was spent setting up the rig and we were able to drill down through the first water table at approx. 20'.  
This is a good example of the type of wells most of the villagers had at their homes.
The water was about 20' deep and was generally contaminated with fertilizers
 and runoff from the fields.  The water was murky and not drinkable.

The second day was spent drilling the full length of the well to the second water table at around 65'.  We made the decision to stop drilling as we were beginning to hit some rock and Frank was confident the water at this level would be acceptable.

We filled the now 65' hole with 8" pvc pipe that we lowered into the ground that will serve as the conduit for the well water pipe. The hole was filled with 10' of washed gravel, sand, and covered with concrete to form a cap between the two water tables.  The gravel, along with generous amounts of chlorox poured into the pipe, cleans the water. The rest of the day is spent developing the well by pumping water out through the gravel and flushing the well.

We had some time with the kids and got to know them a little better and hand out a few toys, including new soccer balls, bubbles, frisbees, and jump ropes.

By the time we did another several hours of flushing, the well as ready to be capped and the concrete foundation for the base of the pump poured by the men of the village. This serves as the point where the village takes ownership of the well and allows them to have buy-in to the process.  The men also moved a large concrete slab over the existing well and cistern/pump system that had never worked.
Our team with the children and the granite plaque that was placed in the concrete at the well.
Water taken from the now fully flushed and developed well that will be tested within a few days
to determine it's drinkability. 

This was the day we had a day of celebration with the village.  We had a dedication ceremony in the morning after we capped the well with a hand pump.  The community leader spoke for about 10 minutes thanking all of us for our hard work and that they had decided years ago that "getting clean water from the ground was impossible."  He said that many had prayed for clean water and it was only through God that they had water they could now drink.  We handed out Bibles to all of the adults and had a great time watching the children pump the now clean water from the pump.

Some of the women from the village fixed us a traditional soup poured over rice made with chicken, squash, roots, and corn.  It was a great ending to a fantastic week and this was the last few moments we had with the villagers before our time with them was complete. 

Installing the hand pump.
Dedication ceremony.

Jorge and I on the last day at the village.
\The last day in Nicaragua was a day to relax and see some of the sights Granada and the surrounding countryside had to offer.  We went on a zip line tour through the rain forest and spent some time in Managua shopping.
All of us on our last day at the Living Water compound.
From left to right: Lisseth, Amber, Alyssa, Annie, Jorge, Karla, Jill, Paul (me), Brodie, Frank, and Leo.

An active volcano on the way to the zip line course through the forest.

This trip had a special moments throughout and one of the big takeaways was simply the time away from the States, from work, from deadlines, and from my own comfort zone to experience a culture and a people while hopefully leaving their lives a little better than how we found them. 

It's my hope God can use this story to inspire others who might be thinking about taking a trip or who have always wanted to go on a mission trip like this. 

The impact that Living Water International is having in strategic locations all over the world is almost hard to comprehend considering that the team we were stationed with alone does 40 wells a year. 

There are dedicated individuals from all walks of life involved in the ministry and I cannot thank them enough for the few days I had to experience what they are doing each and every day. Their passion for their craft, their dedication to their faith, and their committment to their cause were incredibly inspiring and I am thankful for the opportunity to rekindle my own faith and grow in my walk with Christ.

In the end, this is why they do what they do, and why I'll continue to support such a worthy cause. Please feel free to email me at if you'd like to hear more or if you have any questions about this incredible journey!