And that’s a wrap!

My apologies for taking so long to post again.  Things got busy over last weekend and with heading to Namanga on Sunday.  The internet also became a little more contentious and then I headed home on Tuesday.  Layovers were short and did not avail time to write.  Once home, I had to get in gear and catch up on a few things.  So here I am!

On Saturday, the 14th, we headed back up to the Kiriko Special School to finish things up.  It had rained more overnight and the ground was in good condition to set out some plants.  The Magruder family, my hosts in Nairobi, brought some supplies up for the school.  They are helping with the construction of a boys dormitory at the school.  They also got their hands dirty and helped set out some plants.

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We had lunch at the school and then said our goodbyes and headed back to Nairobi.  I was treated to an Ethiopian dinner with the Magruders.  Yum!  I got things repacked that evening because I had a 7am departure Sunday morning for Namanga.

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Wilson, my driver, was at the door a little before 7 on Sunday.  The Toyota Landcruiser above was my chariot for the next three days.  We headed out for Namanga in the cool Nairobi morning.  Traffic was the lightest I have ever seen it.  We arrived in Namanga in about two and a half hours.  We met Pastor Simon at his house and then went to Namanga Baptist Church for services.   Below is Pastor Simon preaching.

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We had lunch and then spent some time getting a few things prepared for our trip to Meto on Monday.  Meto/Empukani is a Massai village that Robert Dickinson and I visited in February with With Open Eyes.  I was glad to have also have a little time to rest that evening.  The pace of the trip was beginning to catch up to me!

I have been trying since April of 2016 to get an electric fence in place to help keep monkeys out of several garden areas.  I wanted to see how it would work.  We sent parts to South Sudan for this, but with refugees relocating, it did not get installed.  I bought another set for Namanga last October.  It finally made it there a couple months ago.  I was so excited to see that Pastor Simon had installed it!  And it works!  I was hoping to get to see it in action, but the garden didn’t have any monkey attacks while I was there.

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Early on Monday, we set out for Meto.  We had a 2 hour cross country drive to get there.  Pastor Timothy Moilo had a Mobile Messenger Bible training class going on this week.  It has been incredibly dry in this area for a long, long time.  The first picture below is the schoolyard in February of this year.  The second is the same schoolyard on Monday.  There is just nothing growing.

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This little goat was trying to find some green leaves on this acacia bush.  There wasn’t much there.  So sad.

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I was able to get some time with the Mobile Messengers before lunch to do some training on conservation agriculture and show them the videos on the drip irrigation system.  It helps having the videos in a language that the folks can understand!  No interpretation needed!  Below, Pastor Timothy is helping interpret my conservation agriculture presentation.

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Nicholas, the trainer doing the Bible teaching is from northern Kenya and has worked with conservation agriculture before.  He was very excited to learn about what we are doing with the irrigation.  It may be a connection for another area for EDEN.

The garden area and a large part of the compound had been fenced since we were there in February.  The garden had also been tilled and they were in the process of putting in beds.

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The engineer from the irrigation company was to be in Meto on Tuesday.  I measured everything off and made sure all of the parts were there.  We needed to get a few more items to connect the tank to the water supply line.  Meto has a deep well that they use for water.  We wrapped things up and headed back to Namanga to catch the hardware store before it closed.

We ran into some complications in getting the engineer to Namanga and in getting all the necessary items.  None of the pipes seem to be standard sizes and everything has to custom fit.  With election protests still a possibility and me having to get to the other side of Nairobi to get packed up to come home, I was not able to return to Meto on Tuesday.  Pastor Simon took the engineer and a plumber up to get the system installed.

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The guys still have to complete the beds in the foreground in the picture above.  The smaller tank on the right is the new one for the irrigation system.  This is a full half acre that will serve the community well.  EDEN is also supplying transplants for them to plant.  Those should get put in the ground this next week.

Wilson and I headed for Nairobi and made it to the Magruder’s house in the early afternoon.  It was good to be able to shower and pack with a little time to spare.  I even got to see Stephen Dinkins again as we were picking the kids up from school.

As always, there is a lot to process and a lot of opportunity.  Stay tuned to see how you can help with some future projects!  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tired and dusty Mzungu!

Today has been a long day.  The hotel we are in at Thika does not have air conditioning.  Nor fans.  A window on one end of the room but no way to get a breeze.  Thankfully it has rained both nights and that has cooled things off a bit.  We scrambled last night trying to locate a tank fitting for the water tank that is part of the irrigation system.  The fittings ended up having to come from Nairobi.  We were also meeting an engineer from the irrigation company in Thika this morning and taking him to the Kiriko school with us.  So it was an early start.

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I was a little concerned as it rained for several hours last night.  But the soil had soaked the water up and it was in good shape to be worked.  The workers above were finishing up the beds where the irrigation will go.  The truck in the picture was bringing a load of lumber to the school (they are building a new dorm).  It was a tad overloaded and when it got about half way up the hill (a little past where this picture ends), the front wheels started coming off the ground.  The driver could not stop it and it ran back down the hill and spilled out about half the load of lumber on the road.  It was really something to see.  Wish my camera had been in position!  They took the remaining part of the load up the hill and then came back down for the rest.  Nice little bit of excitement and I’m glad no one was hurt.

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This is the water tank that we are installing with the irrigation system.  The engineer from the irrigation company, Victor, is in the coveralls and hard hat.  He is putting a bigger hole in the tank to accommodate the new fitting by heating a piece of pipe and melting the tank.  You sometimes have to use what’s available.  We got the tank in place and started putting water in it.  Then we got to run the lines for the drip irrigation.

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Each drip line has a valve so that the lines can be individually controlled.  To get started we partially filled the tank with the municipal water supply from the church.  They will be harvesting rainwater from the church roof to irrigate with.  EDEN is trying to help several groups in other locations with rainwater harvesting as well.

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And the moment of truth:

We finished up after long and dusty day and headed down the mountain to Thika.  I was glad to get a shower!  We will return to the school tomorrow and set out some plants in the garden.  I think kale, cabbage, and onions are on the menu right now!

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The beauty of the sky has taken my breath each day I have been out of Nairobi.  And as I said, the camera simply does not do it justice.

 

 

On to Kiriko Special School

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On Thursday morning, I awoke to the power still being out in our area of Nairobi. Yay for the generator! My driver and friend, Joseph Nganga was at the house at 8am. We loaded these drip irrigation supplies and a few other goodies and set off for the Kiriko Special School which is above Thika, north of Nairobi.
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The drive up through the mountains was really beautiful. I had to make Joseph stop and go back so I could take a picture of this overlook.
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We were greeted at the school by the principal, Peter Muiruri, the teachers, the area chief, and some other community members.
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We talked with Mr. Muiruri for a little while about the order of the program for the next few days. We also took our morning tea. African tea is mixed with milk and served piping hot. I opted for some black tea, which I did sweeten, by the way. We assembled the rest of the folks and I dove right into some training on conservation agriculture. Chief Joseph Munene is seated at the far end of the table in the picture above and is wearing glasses. He also serves as the Representative to the President for the Gituamba area of Kiambu county. I was honored to have him join us.
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The school is on the property of a large Catholic church. You can see the gutters on the side of the roof. These will be connected to 3 – 5000 liter tanks which they will use to water the garden area. They also have a municipal water source if there isn’t enough rain to keep enough water in the tanks.
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These are some of the beds that are being prepared for the drip irrigation installation.
We are overnighting in Thika. It has been raining steadily for several hours here. I am hoping it has not rained this much up at the school. If it has, it may be a real mess. Tomorrow we will set one of the tanks and get the drip system set up.

Ed. note.  My apologies if the spacing is a little off.  WordPress is not cooperating tonight and I am tired.  So it is what it is at this point!  Thanks for reading!

Finishing up in Kisumu

Today was a bit turned upside down as there were election protests in Kisumu today.  I could hear the protesters in the streets around the hotel.  Pastor John had difficulty getting to the hotel.  I spent most of the morning working on details for the Neema Children’s Home and also coordinating things for the Namanga/Meto leg of the trip.

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Once Pastor John arrived, we talked for a while about some details and then ordered lunch.  Mmmmm – can’t go wrong with bacon wrapped chicken!

We wrapped things up after lunch and then they dropped me at the airport.  Here is a shot of Pastor John and I at the airport.  Don’t know why I look like a possum in all these pictures!

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A Beautiful Day in Kisumu

 

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My day on Tuesday started out early with a 6:30am departure for the airport.  It took an hour and 40 minutes to get across town, but I made it in time to get checked in.  My driver adeptly stayed off the main roads for the most part and carried me through some of the industrial area of Nairobi.  When I landed at Kisumu, school children were lined up outside the airport looking very smart in their uniforms.  There was a group of about 8 people dressed in native regalia doing a native dance.  I was apprehensive about trying a photo or video as the officials often do not like such around airports.

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This terminal at Kisumu is relatively new and very nicely appointed.  We dropped my bags off at Le Savanna Hotel near Lake Victoria and then drove out to Neema Children’s Home.  It is about 30 minutes outside of Kisumu.

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This is the dormitory where about 60 children are housed.  The solar panels you see on the right of the roof were donated by the family of Jim and Rochelle Starkey from Columbia.  The panels provide light for the kids at night.

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This was my welcoming committee when we arrived!  They have about 115 students in the school that Neema runs.  Pastor John Atieno was taking the picture for me.  He started Neema in the slums of Kisumu about 15 years ago.  They moved to this compound in 2009.

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These are the classrooms that are used for the students.  The one on the right is a temporary one and they are seeking funds to complete a permanent structure.

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This is the well that is used by the home.  It is hand dug and not very deep.  It goes dry when there is no rain.  It has a manual pump that people from the community use to get water.  There is also an electric pump that is used to fill the tank on the stand.  The water gravity feeds to several locations in the compound.  They also have a cistern system on Pastor John’s house and the rainwater is caught, treated, and used for drinking and cooking.  The compound really needs to have a deep well installed to assure a steady supply of good water.

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This is the garden area that they use.  They had some peas still growing and had just planted some cabbage.  Pastor John’s home is on the left and you can see the tank on the stand at the far rear across the compound.  We are looking to help install drip irrigation in this area for the home.

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This is a larger farm area outside the compound fence.  They had sorghum planted here earlier and you can still see the stalks.  We are thinking about using a portion of this area to do more drip irrigation for vegetable crops.

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Pastor John had just let the herd out of their pen and they were headed over to the school yard for a snack!  The home also has done chickens.

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This is the kitchen building where the meals are cooked for the school and orphanage.  It is a pretty inefficient means of cooking.  Pastor John is looking into some improved cookers that will reduce the amount of wood they have to burn.  Can you imagine cooking for over 100 people a day with this equipment?

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As we were getting ready to leave, the clouds started building in.  My penchant for attracting rain in Africa seems to be in tact.  By the time I had been back at the hotel for about 30 minutes, there was a nice thunderstorm.

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And one last shot – this morning looking out on Lake Victoria.  I am wrapping up in Kisumu today and fly back to Nairobi tonight.  Thanks for reading!

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Greetings from Nairobi!

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Well, it has been an eventful trip so far.  I was late in doing the booking for this trip, so I had to take what was available and relatively affordable.  That meant going through Paris.  Hope I don’t have to do that again!  What a hot mess!  But my checked bags liked it so much they decided to stay an extra few days!  I was assured they will make it to Nairobi tonight.  The only problem is I am flying to Kisumu tomorrow and won’t be able to retrieve them until I return.

Sunday was spent with Stephen Dinkins, who is Stephen Lincoln’s college roommate.  Stephen D. is now with the International Mission Board in Nairobi.  Stephen L. and Andrew Carr are in Nairobi to spend some time with Stephen D. and talk about how Shandon Baptist might support the work he is doing here.

Monday was spent securing irrigation supplies and talking with a new potential supplier.  I also met with Ibrahim Omondi to talk about ag development for a little while.  It actually took all day to do those three meetings.  Traffic in Nairobi is just horrible.  And today wasn’t really a bad day, traffic-wise.

I am staying with Mac and Ashley Magruder, who I met through With Open Eyes a couple years ago.  They graciously invited me to stay with them while in Nairobi.  Mac is now with the Center for Mission Mobilization.

I fly to Kisumu early tomorrow to go to the Neema Children’s home.  EDEN is looking to help install a drip irrigation system and possibly help with the drilling of a deep water well.  We will also talk about setting up a sewing center at the school.

I will try to do better on the pictures!  The one above was taken at the irrigation company I was at this morning.

 

Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp

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From David Taylor, Missions Pastor at Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, SC:
On Friday, we went to the largest refugee camp in the world, Bidi Bidi, located in Northern Uganda. It has only been open for one year, yet it has over 300,000 refugees who have recently fled South Sudan because of the ongoing killing between tribes.  As Jon, Mark, our new friends, and I drove into the camp, stirring thick clouds of dust from two Land Rovers, we noticed tent structures, makeshift housing, and designated play areas provided by UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision, and others.  I was glad to see signs of help, yet I wrestled that this crisis was too much to handle for government and non-goverment organizations.  How could they, much less our two small carloads, cause warring tribes from a war-torn country to be at peace with each other?  Like the dust we stirred on the road, I felt our impact would likely settle back to the ground within a few minutes of our passing through.  Although certain we three Americans would not have sustained impact; my hope in God and His church swelled in the next several minutes as we made our way to one of Empower One’s refugee Bible colleges.  I’m grateful for what He allowed me to see.
Through the dust, we arrived to a rather well-groomed plot of structures, considering the conditions of a refugee camp.  We were in the middle of a Bible college set up by Empower One to train young church planters.  The well-planned plot contained a small dorm, an outhouse, a kitchen hut, a shaded area for fellowship, and a chapel.  As we got out of the car, five South Sudanese men warmly welcomed us.  They were the teachers.  It was good to learn their names and chat with them in the shade for a few minutes.  I was eager to preach the message I had been invited to share.
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Since the dorm looked small and the area was quiet, I assumed I would be teaching about 20 church planters.  To my surprise, there were more like 85.  They had been quiet because they had been patiently and eagerly waiting to hear God’s Word.  Stepping into the crowded chapel, I stepped into a room of hope that proved God was stirring something which would not quickly settle.
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In this same room, men from various warring tribes, even the Dinka tribe, were gathered in one accord with their Bibles open.  We stood to sing, and I won’t forget what God said to me through their strong, loud, jubilant unison:  “Our God is able; Our God is able; Our God is able; We shall Sing Hallelujah! Amen!”
Yes, God is able!  Jesus is the answer to this crisis.  These church planters with Empower One are preparing to take the gospel to various tribes. In a land with unstable government, among tribes at war, God will bring a new and eternally stable Kingdom.  Empower One has a bold vision to reach over a million people with the gospel by 2020 by planting hundrends of church-planting churches in Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and Ethiopia.
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I have been praying for some time now that God would bring healing among tribes in South Sudan through a massive movement of God.  He was at work before I even knew to pray, and He will do more than any of us know.  I am so grateful for this glimpse of what God is doing and that Mark, Jon, and I had the opportunity to connect with yet another solid mission organization on our trip this week.   I look forward to exploring how we can work with our new friends: Lona, Patricia, Favor, and Pastor David Kaya.

A note from Jim:

Jon and Mark should be in Entebbe by now, in the middle of a few last meetings.  They will get dinner, probably on the shore of Lake Victoria, before heading to the airport.  They fly out late tonight (about 4:30pm US time) and be back in Columbia Sunday afternoon.
David is traveling back to Kiryandongo with Brian and Pastor Sosthen.  He will attend worship at Emmanuel Baptist Church tomorrow and then head home.  He will get back to Columbia on Monday afternoon.
Prayers for safe travel are appreciated!  If sounds like it has been a great week of ministry and I can’t wait to get all the details!
Team