Posted by: calloftheandes | February 24, 2016

Journal Entry: Spring Water, Speeches and a New Water System

2-flying over the jungle
by Jody Arnold with Ralph Kurtenbach

In the remote Ecuadorian jungle community of Santa Rosa, Reach Beyond missionaries and summer interns visited several times during 2015 after the community received government approval to have a clean water system. Wim de Groen, director of water projects in Ecuador, and his team worked with the local people who showed great willingness to better their situation. Together they erected a water tower, dug trenches for pipe, fixed an old tank and helped install underground wiring for an anticipated solar panel. Besides working with the villagers, the expatriates also worshiped at church services in English, Spanish and Shuar. For some, opportunities arose for learning about the Shuar culture. Here is an account of one Reach Beyond missionary in Quito who recently visited the community for the dedication of the water project.

Some unpleasant itching from chigger bites reminded me of our visit to Ecuador’s Amazon region where we helped inaugurate a community water system.

Other than the itching, the visit was pleasant. My husband, Scott (an accountant), and I accepted an invitation from our mission’s community development staff in Shell to go to Santa Rosa on Friday, Jan. 29, for the dedication of the new system. Last September Scott had helped work on the water tower, so I was pretty interested in going.

Scott and Jody Arnold at Santa Rosa

Scott and Jody Arnold at Santa Rosa

Rather than making the entire journey on Friday, I opted for a $7 bus ride to Shell on Thursday afternoon, getting a good night’s sleep at the home of friends. At 1:30 a.m. Friday, Scott left Quito for Shell along with Dan Shedd (executive director of the Latin America Region).

Our trip from Shell to Santa Rosa started at 7:30 a.m. Friday and involved highway driving, then taking an unpaved, very rough road for another 1½ hours. Finally we arrived at Chapintza where the road ends.

From Chapintza we took a 10-minute flight in a Mission Aviation Fellowship airplane to San Carlos. After trekking on a jungle trail for 15 minutes to Santa Rosa, we were met by community residents who greeted us with sort of a reception line of 40 to 50 men and women.

Nursing a baby, one of the ladies shyly asked if I were Scott’s wife as he greeted many of the men whom he had helped in September. Later we took our places in a mostly open-air community building. Sitting on benches against the half-walls, we heard lots of speeches.

We watched a couple of guys do a Shuar greeting (or maybe dance) and saw some really cute kids perform a traditional dance with toddler siblings running out to join in and their moms running out to retrieve them. We were offered lots of chicha (typical drink made from manioc) and heard more speeches. The ice cream bars we had brought to share were distributed.18-lunch

A ribbon-cutting ceremony by the water tower followed outside. After a while the community served us some plantain and a big piece of roasted fish—catfish perhaps—on a banana leaf. After hanging around, we walked to where the people of Santa Rosa, together with Reach Beyond staff members, had constructed the spring water captation system.

I (and others) also climbed the water tower ladder. Ascending the first leaning ladder wasn’t too bad, but the second ladder was attached to the tower and went straight up. It was a bit scary—about 30 feet high. But it was fun to see the view from the top.

About mid-afternoon, after the dedication, we said goodbye to the villagers and took the bumpy ride back to Shell in reverse, except we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. The food was good, everyone was tired and it was a good time to celebrate.22-tower_tweaked

For me the most special aspects of the trip were seeing all the kids, realizing that the clean water could potentially improve their health, and seeing the pride that the community had in their new system. No longer do they need to drag filled water containers up a steep riverbank. I also enjoyed getting to see a bit of the Amazon jungle—both from the air and hiking through it—and seeing where Scott had helped with the project.

Along with the chigger bites, I was also very sore. I think that was from the wild rides on rough roads.santarosaresized


  1. […] want to start with our three strongest [jungle] communities (Iwia, Machient and Santa Rosa, all with good progress on Reach Beyond clean water projects) so that they’ll have the best […]

  2. […] The clean water system in Santa Rosa which Scott worked on last September was dedicated at the end of January.  We got to fly into the jungle and be part of the celebration.  My (Jody’s) journal about the trip was polished into a blog post by another missionary, and you can read it here. […]

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