Category Archives: Photos

Two year tale of the well drilling project

For those wondering how the well drilling project is progressing and what the time table for it is, here's how it has gone until now and how we hope to see it go from here. This has been a very slow process, and I've definitely gotten impatient at points, but we're on the right track.

  • In 2007 and 2008, Global Frontier Missions raised the funds for buying a well drilling rig. While we were raising funds, the rig we were originally looking at almost doubled in price. So in 2008 Dave decided to build the rig himself and save us about $15,000 USD. He had to wait to start construction until finishing Mission Training School and spending a few months concentrating on language learning.
  • Late in 2008 and early in 2009 Dave bought most of the parts and materials for the well drilling rig and began construction on it.
  • After being at home for three months in the spring of 2009 for his daughter's wedding, Dave spent countless hours in the summer and fall building the well drilling rig. Throughout that process and in the time since we have had people visiting us wanting to know if we can drill them a well.
  • In December of 2009 Dave was able to fire up the rig for the first time and test it out. It worked well, but Dave realized we needed to order some more parts and make a few changes.
  • In January and February of this year, Dave made the necessary adjustments to the machine.
  • In February we started drilling our first well, this one at the GFM base. We used all our pipe going 43 meters deep, then decided we needed to go deeper. Dave also realized we needed to order a safety valve that would keep the drilling assistant (which has been me up to this point) from losing a finger. I thought that was a great idea.
  • The part got here in March, and we immediately found out we would need another part to make that one work properly.
  • The second part took a few more weeks to arrive, getting here in April.
  • In late April, we were able to start working on the base well again. The machine is now working very well, but we found out we needed a different type of bit to complete the job. (Anyone see why it's been hard for us not to get impatient during this process? The learning curve has been steep, but very valuable.)
  • Dave has to go to the U.S. for a couple of weeks right now, so he will bring down the new bit we need when he returns. We hope to finish the well at the base the last week of May. Then we hope to do a free well we owe someone and two wells that we get payed for during the month of June. It can take us a week or more to drill a well at this point, so if we're able to pull that off in June we'll feel really good about it.
  • My family and Dave and Rhonda plan to be in the United states for a lot of July and August. So when we get rolling again in late August into September, we hope to start drilling regularly and work on bringing one or two employees on board.

And now you know where we've been and where we're headed with well drilling!

What a well could mean to Josh

Monday I went to a village to investigate an area for a man I’ll call Josh who wants us to drill him a well. I enjoyed connecting with him. Josh is the kind of guy we want to help with our well project.

Josh has a wife and two young boys. When his youngest was a year old, he left them for several years to work in the United States. He returned with a bit of money in his pocket, but his family is still fairly strapped financially. He doesn’t want to go to the U.S. again and leave his family. If he can’t find a way to make a better living, though, he’s afraid he’ll have to go.

His village has a lot of underground water, but very little on the surface. A spring used to feed the water lines running to the houses in the village, but it is now virtually dry. During the six months of the year that it doesn’t rain, his family has to walk a kilometer away to bring water. While I was there, his aging father returned to the house with five gallons of water on his back, hung by a strap on his forehead.

Josh wants to help himself and his parents. He thinks if they could just have a good water source, he could work the fields and produce enough to support the family. Then he would not have to go to the United States again. I told him I thought this was a great idea. Imagine his boys spending the most formative years of their lives without a father and his wife struggling to make ends meet in difficult circumstances.

Josh and I had a nice talk on the ride back to our town. He thinks about ways to help people around here. He feels like people could better provide for themselves if they just had a little startup capital to get small businesses going. He had even thought about trying to earn enough money in the United States to give small, low-interest loans to people like himself for starting businesses.

The conversation stirred me, because we share the same burden. We are trying to establish the well drilling business to employ local men and raise startup funds for more businesses. I can definitely see us establishing a microloan bank at some point to help local entrepreneurs get up on their feet. I don’t want to keep seeing families destroyed and churches struggling because of men leaving for years at a time to work.

Will you pray about how God would use us in the transformation of these circumstances?

This photo isn’t great because I just snapped it for reference, but this is Josh’s parents’ house where we would drill the well.
Josh's House in the Village

Update on last weekend’s outreach trip

Thanks to those who prayed for the medical outreach last weekend in “Rivertown”, a village across the border in our neighboring state.  Here are some thoughts and quick hits from the trip:

  • Rhonda and Sarah joined (if I’m remembering correctly) three doctors, two dentists, and two other nurses giving consultation.  The group saw a combined 670 patients Saturday and Sunday.
  • The village, as promised, was part of a group of communities that is very isolated.  It only ended up being a 10-hour drive to get there (not the 14 we were expecting), but that for a village only 50 miles from our town as the crow flies.  (I love the things I can find out with Google Earth.)
  • People came from probably 10 surrounding villages.  Trucks brought many of them, while others walked several hours to come.  Sarah’s doctor had one lady who wanted medicine for her daughter who was sick and had a fever.  The lady then mentioned she had three more sick kids at home.  When the doctor asked why the lady didn’t bring her other kids, she responded that it was a three-hour walk from their village, the kids weren’t strong enough to walk, and she couldn’t carry them all that way.
  • The people of the area are noticeably poorer than those in our district (and the villages in our district aren’t exactly rolling in dough).  Many people don’t wear shoes, and some kids were running around naked or only halfway clothed.
  • The people are also much more monolingual than those in our area.  Kids about age 10 and up and men in their 20s-40s were generally the only good bets for speaking decent Spanish.  We had six Christians from another village in the same language group with us to translate.  Those translators were absolutely vital, as many times it was impossible to figure out what someone was trying to communicate without them.
  • On the way to Rivertown, we really enjoyed meeting a missionary couple in a market town two hours from where we live.  He’s Mexican, she’s American, and they’ve been working in their town for 10 years.  They’ve planted a church and have several neat outreaches going.
  • I loved working with the local drug rehab ministry that organized the outreach.  It was great getting to know them and their ministry better.  They really have their ducks in a row!  Learning more about their ministry (they’ve been very successful in this country in ways few others have been) gave us some good ideas we’re praying about for our work.
  • It’s possible the villages we were in are nearly devoid of gospel witness just because they’re so isolated.  All of us felt like they’re in great spiritual bondage, though.  Pray God opens and frees Rivertown and the villages surrounding it.
  • A real need exists for more and better audio resources in the languages of our region.  I’m amazed how much literature well-meaning Christians are handing out to illiterate people.  We’ve got to find a better way, realizing that our Western way of evangelizing others just doesn’t work in much of the world.  (One can raise the question of how well it works even in our own part of the world.)
  • Getting to know some of the Christian brothers and sisters of that area was a great blessing.  They’re a neat group, and they’ve had to endure some tough persecution.  We also had the privilege of meeting an American couple who have been doing Bible translation over there since 1983.  Their humility and genuine love for the people was evident, as has been the case with all the Bible translators I’ve met around here.  Pray Ephesians 1:17-19 over the local believers as well as the missionaries working with them.
  • I’m really glad we went on the trip, even though it hit at a busy time for us.  We learned a lot, saw a new area that’s very needy spiritually, shared the gospel, prayed, laid hands on the sick, and served.  I have an even greater burden for our area now that I’ve seen more of it firsthand.

Here are a few photos:

Rivertown, where we did the outreach

Rivertown
The second day they put me to work cutting hair. I gave 20 haircuts!

Chris cutting hair
Rhonda and Sarah give an IV to a man very sick with pneumonia

Rhonda and Sarah attending man
People pile in for a 1- or 2-hour ride back to their village

Villagers loading into truck
Me on the left with Dave, Rhonda, Sarah, and Nick

Our team

Saturday afternoon trip to the airstrip

Who can help me with information on inexpensive ways to generate electricity for a household?  If you know something about this or can point me to a good resource, please comment!  Read on to hear why…

In praying about next steps recently, I sensed God leading me to put more effort into connecting with people on the outskirts of our town who have ties to villages.  I felt I wasn’t supposed to take on any new projects (water filters, solar dehydrators, and the like) until I had better relationships with people in need and could more directly respond to needs they wanted met.

On that premise, late this afternoon I headed out to a community about a half hour walk from our house, built on an old airstrip.  The community came to be about three years ago when a number of village families were invited to take small parcels of land and build houses on them.  They did so, constructing one-room houses out of wood and sheets of corrugated tin.  These humble dwellings line either side of what was once a working airstrip in our town, now a gravel runway with weeds poking through it.

The airstrip community enjoys a beautiful view

The airstrip community is an intriguing place, strategically.  Its families come from a number of indigenous villages and speak native dialects.  We (and many missionaries) have found displaced people in difficult circumstances to often be more open to the gospel.  The community is poor, meaning community development has an opportunity to make a more significant impact there than in other places.

I went out with no plan other than to try and connect with people.  I figured I’d let them know that God brought me to the region to come to know Jesus better alongside others and to spread the love of Jesus in any way I can.  Then I’d just see what happened.  Arriving at the airstrip, I saw a couple of guys loading wood into the back of a truck at one of the first houses, so I figured I’d see if I could lend them a hand.  As I got closer and called out a greeting, I recognized both of them as men I’d met last summer when GFM was doing some English classes up there.  (Carl and Lisa, students in the 2008-09 Mission Training School, were the first ones to begin building relationships in the airstrip community, which opened the door for our further involvement.)  The two men recognized me, as well.

We started talking, and in the first five minutes one of the guys asked if I know how to generate electricity for a home.  The families at the airstrip had been stealing electricity from some nearby lines, but they got cut off and fined and are now without electricity.  He explained several ideas he’d heard of involving windmills, solar panels, and car batteries.  I don’t know how to generate electricity for a home, but I told him I would look into it if they would help me make something once I found a design.  He readily agreed, saying to let him know what I found and then he would get people in the community together to chip in money for the project and help work on it.

After a half-hour conversation, he offered me a ride back to town.  I accepted, and on the way back we got into spiritual matters.  I mostly just asked questions and let him talk this time around.  He belongs to a sect based out of Guadalajara called Luz del Mundo.

So now I need some good ideas for inexpensive home power generation!  Does anyone know of anything?  We always say that our supporters back home are just as much a part of the team as we are, we’re just field staff, so here’s a bit of a unique way to participate in the work down here!  I’m looking forward to hearing from some of you.

P.S. I don’t have a photo of the airstrip community, but are there any GFMers reading this who have one they could pass along to me?  If so, I’ll add it to this post.  Update: Thanks to Nick and Sarah for providing the above photo.

Update 05 June ’09: Read about my following trip to the airstrip here.

Introducing the newest Leake

Our fourth daughter, Gloria Danielle Leake, was born at 8:45am on Sunday, February 1st. She weighed 7 pounds 15 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. It was a special birth for us, as I was able to deliver her at our home in Mexico (with the help of a couple of excellent nurses, one of whom is an experienced labor and delivery nurse).

Here are a few photos:

Gloria

Gloria with her adoring sisters

The entire Leake family

The proud grandparents (Erin’s parents)

My modeling career as a Mexican

When I was a little kid still living in Memphis, my dad worked in advertising. One time he used my sister Catherine and I as models for a photo he took for a Pepsi ad. The art guy then painted me as a Mexican in the ad. Considering I now live in Mexico, it’s sort of funny. This ran in the Memphis newspaper in the early ’80s:

Lauryn and Molly in the 20th of November parade

The 20th of November is the Day of the Revolution, a significant patriotic holiday here in Mexico. Lauryn and Molly’s classes at school each entered floats in the parade in our town. Below are a few photos:

Lauryn and Molly in their traditional Mexican costumes

Flag presentation ceremony at our central town square before the parade

Molly and her float

Lauryn and her float

A few other entries from the parade

At the fair with our neighbors

This week is our town’s huge annual celebration and fair, so yesterday evening we went to the fair with our new neighbors who live upstairs from us. It’s neat to see how our friendship with them is developing. We all had a good time, and finished the evening with a round of delicious intestine tacos.

(Really, the tacos were delicious!)