Rev. James Tengatenga, bishop of Southern Malawi, arrived in Texas on June 13 and immediately began an extensive tour of churches and ministries. As the partner diocese of the Diocese of Texas, many churches work on projects and mission trips to Southern Malawi, especially in building water wells across the country.
Upon arrival, Bishop Tengatenga first stopped at St. Andrew’s, Pearland where the Rev. Jim Liberatore presented him with a check for $8,669 to be used to build a water well in Malawi. Liberatore and Bishop Tengatenga attended seminary together at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. Tengatenga and his wife, Jocelyn, lived in an apartment above Liberatore’s house. The two have remained connected over the years, and St. Andrew’s has worked on several mission projects in Southern Malawi.
“Clean readily available water is critical to support community life in Malawi,” Liberatore said. The money was raised through a joint effort from St. Andrew’s and St. George’s, Texas City. St. Andrew’s also donated $2500 to form a reserve for micro-loans for women to start businesses in Malawi.
St. Mary’s, Cypress, also welcomed Bishop Tengatenga on the morning of Thursday, June 14 at their vacation bible school. Every year, the children at VBS raise money to help build wells in Malawi. Last year, they raised $1900, and this year, they have already compiled more than $500 through Wednesday.
“Most people just drink whatever they can drink and don’t know how to boil the water before they drink it. And that is a big, big, big problem,” Bishop Tengatenga told the children at VBS. “If the young people in Malawi drink water from puddles, their tummy complains. It’s like if you eat without washing your hands. All of those germs come in and give your tummy problems. A lot of children in Malawi are suffering from tummy-aches and other kinds of water-borne illnesses. And some of them don’t make it to the age of five. You’re help in drilling wells is helping them make it through.”
St. Mary’s VBS director, Brandy Lee Marsh, described their efforts to raise money for wells as a “spiritual mission trip.”
“We’ve thought about visiting Africa, but it costs several thousand dollars for each person,” she said. “Instead of spending that money on travel, we can use it to build more wells and hire people in Malawi to build them.”
Marsh has spent eight years working on projects raising funds for Malawi, and cherished her moments to converse with Bishop Tengatenga. “Meeting him is like meeting Aerosmith to me,” she said.