The Chancel of Valley Presbyterian Church
Valley Presbyterian Church
945 Portola Road - Portola Valley, CA 94028

Living Waters Moment for Mission - June 7, 2009

“We consider access to clean water to be a basic human right and not a privilege.“ That’s what we told the members of our sister church in Tekax when we were asked to speak to them last Sunday.  Over the years of going there, we’ve discovered that it is not only us who get sick from their water.  They do too, and it primarily affects infants and young children.

Living Waters for the World is a specific mission of the Presbyterian Church USA that brings safe drinking water to communities around the world.

Last Saturday morning, we visited an operational Living Waters system in a small town near Tekax, installed on the grounds of the local Presbyterian Church.  When we arrived, the operators were in the middle of a production run, purifying and bottling their local tap water, and we couldn’t interrupt their work or even enter the facility because of sanitation rules.  As we waited for them in the 100 ° heat (it was morning, so it was cool), a worker appeared at the vending window with 3 bottles of their purified water.  This was the moment that we either believed in this system or didn’t.  We’d all been to Tekax before on multiple trips, and on the earliest trips had fallen ill to one degree or another when we accidently ingested some of the local water.  Robin, Gian, and I looked at each other briefly, pretended that this was no big deal, and proceeded to drink from our bottles.  The water tasted fine, but more important was what it was going to do to our digestive health over the next few days.  And I’m here to tell you that we were perfectly healthy for the entire duration of the trip.

The tour of this facility was really eye opening, as we were able to see how it was set up (with the filtration system equipment, the PVC piping, the bleach wash for shoes, and so forth).  This is a really successful installation, and a great model for our future success in Tekax.

Our first meeting with the session at the Tekax church provided a wonderful surprise.  They had been so excited by our upcoming partnership that they had managed to purchase the little house on the corner of their church campus for the Living Waters project.  The existing house looks to be the perfect size for this new purpose, and renovating it to Living Waters’ sanitary standards is very feasible.  We thought this was a great symbol of their enthusiasm for the project.

As many of you know, we’ve been going to Tekax for over 20 years, helping to build their church campus buildings, getting to know them socially, and worshipping with them.  We usually stay at the Hotel Peraza where, on the first trip, a beautiful swimming pool was advertised in the brochure.  Upon arrival, the Valley group found it empty and looking nothing like the brochure.  Over the course of the week, they filled it up using a dripping hose, and after days in 100° heat, Gian Polastri, our resident scientist, said it was “a living petri dish”.

So, on this trip, Gian was in charge of testing that water for real.  He turned on the spigot at what will become the Living Waters source, behind the new house, and did the necessary water testing.  It showed very hard water and a total lack of chlorination to kill the various bacteria (which is why we get sick – and so do they!).

During church service #3 that we attended while there, J we were able to address the entire congregation and explain why the people of Valley want to partner with them in this project.  It really touched them to hear that our congregation will be working to raise funds to make this project possible.

We left knowing that the clean water we bring there will be an important part of their own ministry, both in their congregation and the surrounding community.

All this will cost money, for the renovation, their training, and the equipment.  Sally Pfleiderer has organized a sale of some eco-friendly items (depicted in a handout in your bulletin).  Funds raised in this and other efforts will be matched up to $5000, so we are asking you to be generous when you buy.

There will be a youth and young adult component of the Feb Tekax trip that will be organized by Ashley Pogue that will be concurrent with the installation.  Alice Chiang and I are keeping track of those who intend to go, so please email one of us with your interest.  Space for the trip will be limited to 25, so please consider over the summer whether you’d like to be a part of this trip and decide by Sept (unless space fills up sooner).  You can see the updated list on our church website.

There are all kinds of ways to be involved, and we want everyone who wants to be involved to find their niche.

We have wonderful pictures of our trip running in the Fireside Room after worship, so bring a cup of coffee and stay for a few moments.  We’ll catch you up on the Tekax news, which is bountiful.

Thanks, everyone.


Whole Group in Tekax June09


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