LLULLUCHA, Peru – Every December, members of South Main Baptist Church in Houston travel to a Peruvian village to participate in Buckner International’s Christmas in Peru event where gifts, shoes and resources are given to a community. This past year, the village of Llullucha also received a water reservoir system, providing 60 homes with pure, drinkable running water.
South Main Baptist raised the funds for the reservoir in honor of longtime member and frequent Buckner mission trip participant Dean Edwards.
Edwards loved to help people, said Henry Hill, Edwards’ friend and fellow member of South Main Baptist. He went on many mission trips and was generous with his time and resources. Edwards built laundromats for a living and often asked to see the laundry rooms of the orphanages the mission team would visit. It was common for him to provide equipment and resources to improve the orphanage’s laundry systems.
“I remember one trip in Russia, we needed to do some repair work, and he was insistent that we look for those parts,” Hill said. “When others stayed in the orphanage, we went in a bus going to what I describe as the laundry graveyard to find the part, and sure enough, we found it.”
But in Peru, Edwards discovered that building laundromats wouldn’t help the small community the mission team was serving. Without electricity and running water, laundromats were unnecessary.
“He knew that what he did in his career and what he had helped with in the past did not fit the needs here,” Hill said. “The fact that they didn’t have running water, it really bothered him, and he often talked about how to help them with their water needs.”
Edwards began talking to his family and men’s Bible class about ways to meet the water needs for a Peruvian village.
Unfortunately, Edwards died before the project could take off. In lieu of flowers, Edwards’ family asked for donations to help fund the water project he so desperately wanted to do. His Bible class and members of South Main Baptist did exactly that.
They partnered with Buckner Peru, local community leaders and engineers to determine the location for the reservoir, and the project began. Three months later, the reservoir was complete.
“It takes a very special people to turn a grieving time like they were going through into a gift of love, life and hope,” said Claudia Leon, director of Buckner Peru. “The reservoir meant a lot for the families of Llullucha. Before we installed it, they had to go to the river to bring water for everything, including cooking and cleaning. You can imagine how hard this can be for a family with an average of five members each. Having the water reservoir installed and a faucet in each house was a marvelous gift for them, giving them immediate access to water, something most of us take for granted.”
The community held a dedication ceremony for the reservoir during the 2014 Christmas in Peru trip. Edwards’ wife, Hiro, daughter Denise and son Michael made the trip as well. They celebrated with music, dancing, refreshments of bread and hot chocolate and gave out Christmas sacks to nearly 300 children. Two plaques were installed on the reservoir, one in English and one in Spanish, dedicating the reservoir in Edwards’ memory.
Also in attendance was Vice President of Peru Marisol Espinoza.
“It was a special day,” Hill said regarding the dedication. “I can tell you, I truly believe it was a day the families in Llullucha will never forget, not only because of the reservoir, but also to have a dignitary fly all the way from Lima was such an honor.”
The dedication was also sentimental for Edwards’ family.
“As we left Llullucha, Hiro looked at me and said, ‘You know, Dean would have liked this.’ I’ve known Dean for a long time, and I know he would have too,” Hill said.
Story by Aimee Freston