The Blessing of the Hospital Boat 'J.J. Mesquita'

You may ask why this report is so titled.  As you read this report and the circumstances that led to the successful installation of the new water purification system on the J.J. Mesquita, you to will understand more of God's blessings and miracles.

The hospital boat J.J. Mesquita, originally associated with World Vision, is owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church of Manaus, Brazil.  It is one of three such boats that serve the villages located along the Rio Negro and Solimões rivers.  These boats are staffed with medical volunteers from various countries, not just the United States.  The crew of the J.J. Mesquita consists of the captain, 2 sailors, 1-2 doctors, 1 dentist, 3 nurses and a cook.  The rest of the mission team is made up from volunteers from various Christian denominations located mainly in the U.S. 

Reverend Djard Moraes is the Mission Director for the Hospital Boat Mission.

The purpose of this trip was to install a small Reverse Osmosis water purification system on the boat to help alleviated the high cost of purchasing purified water commercially. From the original trip report in 2004, it was estimated that the cost for purchased bottled (5 gallon carboys) water was $210US per week.  This dollar figure has increased more than 50% since that estimate was made, bring the cost per week to approximately $300US.

The original installation trip with Tom Carroll and Remi Van Compernolle was scheduled for the fall of 2004. Due to scheduling conflicts, a severe draught in the Amazon region and personal illnesses, John Grambling and I made the trip to Manaus on September 30th. The U.S. preparation phase included purchasing parts for installing the steel framed RO system and pre-filters to a wood structure and connecting the plumbing to 1" PVC. The electrical part was 'just a shot in the dark' as to what materials to take and how much wire we would need.  Our first concern was keeping the weight of the system under 100 pounds and checking our equipment through to Manaus, then clearing Brazilian Customs with everything intact.  We were warned that the import tax would be extremely high.

Though 'the adversary' worked diligently to delay or impede this installation, God provided the necessary solutions.  Below is a partial list of the obstacles and solutions:

1.   A box constructed of 3/16" plywood to withstand the airport handlers and light enough get under the weight limit imposed by the airline.
2.   All boxes checked through to Manaus and all boxes arriving undamaged.
3.   A compassionate customs clerk who refused to let us be charged an import tax on material to be used by the Church.
4.   The wood structure anticipated for installation turned out to me an all steel boat with no cover on the top deck, but we were provided with a welder that had great vision of what we wanted to do and he provided the necessary skills to mount and secure the entire system.  He also designed and framed a permanent structure to be used for protecting the system from rain and sun.
5.   The plumbing on the boat was all 3/4 and 1/2 in PVC threaded pipe and fittings not 1 inch.  For some reason that I did not understand at the time, I collected all the spare PVC fitting in my home workshop to bring 'just in case'.  They were all 3/4 and 1/2 inch fittings, mostly threaded that I had amassed over several years.  We had to use every on of these fittings to complete the installation, bringing back home many of the 1 inch PVC glue fittings we had taken.
6.   The crew provided the electrical source, but needed 20 feet of wire.  John had purchased material for 2 weatherproof outlets with 2 110v plugs, 2 wire nuts and 20 feet of wire.  He was left with 2 wire nuts and 1 plug after electricity was provided.
7.   Tools.  John thought I was bringing the tools.  I thought I had told him, that due to weight constraints, I need him to bring all the tools.  I had a Leatherman Multi-tool and a PVC cutter.  John had his wire strippers, portable drill and screwdriver.  We were blessed to have the use of the crews limited small tools. (See Photo)
8.   Working the installation of our system around scheduled boat maintenance (including a short run up the river), preparation for the next mission trip and re-certification testing for Josè in Manaus each afternoon.
9.   One threaded ball-valve that I thought was bought by mistake, was the exact fitting that was needed to connect to the boats plumbing.
10. The new 1000 liter tank was purchased without measuring the tank-stand on the Mesquita, because we were sure we could find another metal tank like the ones being used. That did not happen.  With slight modifications to the tank-stand, the new plastic tank fit with no room to spare.

The installation was highly successful with the God providing what ever we needed.  John and I lived on the boat with the crew, Monday through Thursday, eating and sleeping most satisfactory.  Our work team was Pastor Djard, Junior (a Dental Technician), Nete (one of the 3 nurses), Cèlia (Nurse Assistant), Raimundo (Captain of the Fleet), José (Sailor-Maintenance Specialist), Amarias (Cook and wife of Josè), Raimundo (Sailor) and Inàcio (Welder for the Fleet).  Everyone on this team contributed to the successful installation.  Friendships were made that will last a long time.

             LWW Installation Team with J.J. Mesquita Crew and Pastor Djard                                 

Standing: John, Pastor Djard, Bob, Amarias and Josè.
 Kneeling: Captain Rai, Cèlia  and Nete

This was definitely a GOD TRIP, from the selection of the boat, each of the installation team members, the delivery of the materials and the parts and the tools to install them.  But to each of us evolved on the work site and to those at home, it was plain from the beginning that God left the heart of this project in place; to cheer us on, to encourage us and to challenge everyone he knew to pray for our safety and success.  That heart is Tom Carroll. 

Thanks Tom; from John, Bob and your Brazilian brothers and sisters.

It was truly an Awesome and Blessed Experience.

Submitted by Bob Friley and John Grambling