California: East Porterville and Pastor Roman

Water2One of the themes of our trip is the severe drought in California, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. In the small city of East Porterville, the drought has certainly made itself known. The residents mostly depend on wells for drinking water and showers. Due to the drought, many people’s wells have dried up and people have no water to drink. Many are suffering, and almost all have looked to the Church for support. Pastor Roman Hernandez of the East Porterville Iglesia Emmanuel has made connections with Tulare County and some large corporations to help provide his community with water. On top of the usual spiritual support, the Church has collaborated with the county to set up two shower houses and an additional series of sinks and mirrors. The showers are separated by gender and age and run from 5 AM to 9 PM. Members of the community circle in throughout the day to utilize the facilities that, unfortunately, will only be available for two more months. Pastor Roman commented that as a minister he never imagined himself working with the Anheuser-Busch Beer Company, but surprisingly, the company has come to this community’s rescue. Budweiser generously donated 50,000 cans of water to the East Porterville Church to give out to suffering residents. Pastor Roman said, “In the beginning I was generous with the cans and I gave a family more than what they needed; now I am worried that I will be out of water by the end of the day.” Unfortunately, the large shipping container outside the Church is just about empty and the 50,000 cans of water have dwindled down to about 200. To show our support, we donated our only three gallons of water to a family who arrived while we were there. By chance, we visited East Porterville on a day when the county was conducting a door-to-door survey to find out which residents had water. Some of our students were able to go with the volunteers to help fill out the surveys. Hopefully, the county and the church will continue to work together to provide for the community but the drought continues with no end in sight.

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