Indiana man builds water pumps for South American villages
Sep. 27, 2017
LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) — Ben Yantis has made more than 800 hand water pumps based off his design over the past 15 years for villages of a South American country to get clean water.
The 80-year-old Logansport resident isn't planning on stopping anytime soon. His water pump deliveries are just one part of his mission work that dates back 45 years in countries across the world.
He recalled his first mission trip in Haiti to visit a missionary his church was supporting. It wasn't long before he was leading short-term mission trips of his own across the world.
About 15 years ago, one of his missionary friends called him saying he wanted him to go to Guyana.
"Where's that?" Ben recalled thinking with a laugh.
The country on South America's northern coast is filled with villages of about 100 to 300 people, Ben said he soon learned.
Ruth Ann, Ben's wife who has joined him on many mission trips, said people mainly travel by boat in Guyana and many houses are built on stilts with walls made out of sticks.
Houses often have thatched roofs, Ben added.
"Very rugged, nothing fancy at all," Ruth Ann said. "But they're happy people. They're easy to work with. They just don't have resources."
Ben admires them as well. He recalled one Guyanese pastor who traveled five days by canoe with his wife and 18-month-old child to attend a seminar to be a better pastor before making the five-day return trip.
"He's a worker and a half," Ben said.
The mission trips started out by installing cast-iron pumps with interior leathers that would wear out quickly.
Then Ben said he had an idea to make the pumps out of polished stainless steel that wasn't as rough on the interior components.
Logansport-based Myers Spring helped him develop a durable sleeve that prevents the pumps' bolts from wearing slots through the tops of the mechanisms. He said various suppliers donate parts for the pumps as well.
"Used to spend hundreds of hours out at the farm every summer building them," Ben said.
Since last year, Roann-based CFC Distributors Inc. has been making the pumps, he said.
Ben said he and his cohorts pack the pump parts in suitcases for the six-and-a-half-hour plane ride out of Miami each year.
Most of the wells are 20 feet deep, Ben said, who estimated about 50 people benefit from each one.
"They have so much joy when you do anything for them," Ruth Ann said.
"They're so receptive," he said. "We're making so much of a difference in thousands of lives."
The short-term missionaries bring repair kits for the pumps as well, Ben said.
For years Ben said the missions also involved sending containers to Guyana full of equipment, including boat motors, wheelchairs, crutches, sewing machines, clothing and boats.
They've also been bringing packets of garden seeds so that villagers can improve their diets and have something to sell at markets, Ben said.
Over 200 church benches have been built and delivered to various villages, he also said. One year they brought at least 50 bicycles from a police auction.
His missions have provided about 50 volleyball nets and 80 to 100 volleyballs. Kids come out in droves to play and churches compete against one another, Ben said.
"It's taken off like wildfire," he said.
Ben has been leading short-term missions around the world for the past 45 years and estimates he's been on at least 50 trips all together. He's helped construct buildings in Haiti, brought medical teams to Romania and been to Albania, Africa, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
They're all typically 10-day trips, he said, with about six to 15 people.
"Ben recruits everybody he meets," Ruth Ann said.
Ben recalled attending a farm show in Ohio several years ago and recruiting someone he just met during an elevator ride.
He doesn't have to travel outside of the country to engage in mission work. Ben said he passes out scripture pamphlets just about wherever he goes, even on vacation. The compartments on the driver-side door of his pickup truck are packed full of the pamphlets.
Ben is heading back to Guyana in November to set up for January 2018, when he'll return with a team to build a church.
"So long as I can breathe and walk, I'm going to keep doing it," he said of his mission work.
Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune: http://bit.ly/2xxq91N
Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com