Todd and Maria Luke

Dear Friends,

The month of August was busy. Ten cisterns were built in four different villages bringing our 2011 cistern total to forty-three. In response to growing demand, we ordered two new cistern molds. Hand- crafted in Chetumal, each one cost about $1,500. Design modification suggestions from our foremen make these third generation (G3) molds even better than the second generation (G2) molds that have served us well for years. Since the G2 molds are still in use, we can now build four cisterns per week. The G3 molds were paid for with cistern owner repayment funds and cement mixer and mold rental fees that we charge each time a government agency contracts our guys to build cisterns.

Cistern Loan Repayment Statistics
Each family requests a cistern, helps build it, lends a hand to build their neighbors’ cisterns, and then agrees to pay back all of the material costs over time. We don’t charge interest, require collateral, or ask families to sign a contract. Instead, we encourage families to make repayments out of a sense of gratitude to God and the understanding that 80% of their repayments will be used to finance future cistern constructions in their village. Many of you have asked me about the rate of repayment by the cistern recipient families. This table shows the repayment rates in four villages where we have worked:  

  11 de Mayo Niños Heroes Castilla Brito La Lucha
Number of families in the village with a repayment commitment 35 17 52 6
Percentage of families honoring repayment commitment 86% 65% 65% 67%

These repayment rates are okay, but we want them to improve. During 2011, cisterns have been built using local repayment funds in the villages of Castilla Brito, 11 de Mayo, and Niños Heroes. We hold out these examples to every cistern recipient family to demonstrate that we are serious about reinvesting repayments in their community. We hope this encourages faithfulness in fulfilling repayment commitments.
The sheep microloan project for six Presbyterian families in the village of Castilla Brito ended in July. Each family used intensive feeding techniques to fatten 20 sheep during a ten-week period and then sell them for a profit. The microloan project ran through two ten-week cycles. In the first cycle, all six families either broke even or enjoyed a modest profit. In the second cycle, only two families broke even. The rest lost money. Finding a reliable sheep buyer and unexpected price hikes for store-bought feed hurt the bottom line. Before beginning another cycle, families interested in continuing in this business will focus on the cultivation of forage sources (sorghum, king grass, corn, etc.). Having a well-stocked “forage bank” will reduce sheep feed costs and increase profitability. 

Miscellaneous News 

  • The Xpujil Presbyterian Church is making a push to boost membership. Weekly adult attendance is close to forty for Sunday school and worship. The number of youth and children is also near forty. God has done some great work through Veronica (the leader of the church) during her 14 months of leadership in Xpujil. There is also growth at Veronica’s other church in the town of 20 de Noviembre.
  • My next trip to Xpujil will be in mid-November. I’ll lead annual meetings with the cistern owners in six villages and also spend one Sunday preaching and teaching on stewardship at a Presbyterian church in Chetumal led by former Xpujil pastor Isaias Beh. 
  • My mother-in-law, Encarnacion, continues to recover from her accident last December. She walks with a limp but was mobile enough to acquire a visitor’s visa and make her first trip to the U.S.A. in September. The weather in Chicago was mostly cool, overcast, and rainy, but Encarnacion was very happy to spend time with Maria, Leydi, Marco, and George.

Please keep our partners in your prayers, and thank you for your continued support.

Todd Luke