top and side of a glass of water with condensation on it

photo: Creative Commons (flickr: Vinod Shankar)

When I was in college I had the fortunate opportunity to study for a semester in Kenya, which is a country in Africa. Kenya is thousands of miles away from here, and it is located on the Equator, which means that the sun is bright and strong and it is hot!

One day in Kenya, my friends and I had been working outside, helping with a project in a village. I was so tired and so hot! The only things we had to drink were glass bottles of soda, like Coke and Orange Fanta and Ginger Ale. This was because the water in Kenya was not clean and safe to drink. It had parasites in it which would make you sick if you drank it. So we drank a lot of soda and they were warm because people in the villages didn’t generally have electricity for a refrigerator.

Well, this one day I had the opportunity to go into a nearby larger village with our program director. On the way in the car, I got into a daydream and imagined someone handing me a tall glass of clear, clean icy cold water. [Pull out class of water to show. Pass around or let children touch it for fuller effect.] I could imagine the condensation trickling down the sides and how refreshing it would be. And then I imagined: What if someone were to approach me with this glass of water in one hand and this in the other? [pull out $100 bill. Pass it around because children love an opportunity to touch a big denomination bill!] What if they told me I had to choose between one and the other. Which would I rather have?

You know, in that moment, I clearly knew that I would choose the water. In that situation, $100 was just not as meaningful or valuable to me as a clear, clean, cold glass of water.

What I realized as I thought about this, is that what is most valuable and precious to us can change, depending on the circumstances.

And today, as we introduce the Guest at Your Table Program, I tell you this story because one thing that the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee does is to help people have plenty of clean, clear, safe drinking water, wherever they may live.


Props: $100 bill, glass of ice water. You’ll need to plan ahead to go to the bank if you have $100 available to withdraw if you tell this story as I present it here.


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