Blakes Testimony

This was written in the early days.  When Agua Viva Serves was just an unproven idea in the back of our mind.  Its amazing the things we got away with back then. -Blake

The first well we ever drilled, clogged with clay.  A learning experience that I will never forget.

The man fed the long hose into the ground like an unruly anaconda except red in color. Slipping, sliding, and slithering from side to side, it continued into the ground seemingly unending. He waited confidently but cautiously for what was to happen next. The jefe stood silently next to the engineer watching him perform his magic. Suddenly the engineer opened the immense pressure valve and cranked the large diesel engine. The cylinders sputtered and then slowly caught one by one as the engine’s noisy drone broke the night’s silence. The driveshaft turned the pump, forcing pressurized air through the hose and down into the hole.

Slowly at first but like a building crescendo the hole began to bubble. Then, as if God himself had commanded it, the hose burst free with fervor and grace, arcing into the air. In that same moment, clean water showered down – it was a celebration of a job well done. As the clear fluid rained down on them, the jefe held out his cup to catch some of the hard-won spoils of his labor. For over two weeks they had worked trudging and grinding the hole deeper and deeper. The project had been plagued with mechanical difficulties but he and his crew continued. They babied the old drill, coaxing and pushing it beyond its limitations, demanding everything that it had. Their reward was some of the sweetest and purest water they would ever drink. This well would be their legacy, done in the name of God, to spread the word of God to the people. I was one of these men.

The circumstances of my involvement in this project could be considered a coincidence or fate or, as in my own mind, divine intervention. In my mind it was whatever higher power showing me the way back home, and me kicking and screaming. You see, service is kind of a family business for me.

Showing of the fish I caught as a child off the back of our dock.

As a child I listened as my parents told stories of their time in the Peace Corps. As they had a family and life grew complicated, their service trips became shorter and more compact. Then, as I grew older, my sisters and I began to work with them on Saturdays helping with whatever project our local church had on the docket, whether it was building a house or clearing a shut-in’s yard. My mother started a tradition of bringing socks to the homeless on Christmas Eve. It became Christmas tradition to gather our friends and stuff the socks with crackers and mints for the men and women – the ones who were sometimes forgotten on the holidays. These acts were always done selflessly, no thanks required. These simple works of service and kindness had a profound impact on me and shaped who I am today. As I grew older, I began my own tradition of spending one week every summer in service to some other part of the  country or world.

Years down the road, after I finished school, I became too busy to embark on my traditional trips, and instead began to focus on my career and life. I got married and moved up within my company. Like most young men running full speed toward their perceived success, I sometimes let the fundamentals of life go unconsidered. It was only after the traumatic end of my marriage and fizzle of the airline industry that I began to look within myself and decide what was missing. When I returned to Florida and my home it was with a heavy heart, feeling like a failure in all that was important to me. While this was a hard period for me, I began to see it as a new opportunity to rebuild my life with the wisdom of before.

Leading my first team in Costa Rica.  

Soon after arriving home I was offered a spot on a small mission team heading to the northern part of Costa Rica. The mission involved work on a water project started years before and continued by only the most dedicated of volunteers. At the time I viewed this trip as a distraction, a good one at that, and never imagined that it would end up changing my life. The trip quickly reopened my eyes to what I should be doing with my life. It brought service, be it at home or abroad, to the forefront of my priorities. Later that year I led a mission down to the same area of Costa Rica. It was a scene on that very trip that the introductory anecdote describes. Only after a year wrought with both traumatic and eye-opening experiences was I able to clearly understand my own goals and write this with honesty. Now I know that service is as much a part of me as my arm, foot, leg, or heart. Now I can say, even to myself, that service is, like it once was and always should have been, a vital part of my life. It is part of me and what makes me who I am. Much like water for the people who have none, it is what drives me to do what I do – to be the best man I can, and to remain devoted to my beliefs as a Christian. My life experiences, especially through service, are some of the most defining of my life and will continue to be in the future.

This has been a long hard road with many twists and turns and a path of complete transition for me as a person. Through these experiences I have decided to take the next step in my faith and my walk and give all I have to Agua Viva. Some of you may know me from before, some of you may be new friends and others may have no idea who I am. I write this as a testimony to who I am as a person, to hopefully in some small way show you that I go into this with pure intentions and the true calling of God. Through my experience on these trips you cannot help but see the hand of God at work bringing people together. It truly is spreading the gospel by being the gospel and lives up to its name, the living water. Please partner with us, be a part of this experience and its great potential for doing God’s work and truly making a day to day impact for those in need.