An unplanned meeting

Well, as I sit in the Atlanta airport, waiting on a delayed flight home (the original one was cancelled), I wanted to use my time to finish up a final blog about my time in Africa. I took this shot on the way from Kisumu to Nairobi on Tuesday. It reminded me of God’s majesty.
In my last days in Kisumu, I was reminded of God’s provision for His people. I had strongly considered trying to change my flights to come home a day early. But God had another meeting for me to attend.
Meet Chris Asawo. He runs the Ajigo School and Orphanage in a small town about 30 minutes outside Kisumu. They have 180 kids, ranging in age from 3 to 13. Ninety percent of them are orphans. The community is largely a fishing village on the shore of Lake Victoria. HIV has taken a huge toll on the population and these orphans are caught up in that.

Kids at lunch
The kids are put in foster homes in the community because the orphanage doesn’t have housing facilities. They feed the kids one meal a day while at school.

The county has directed them to upgrade their kitchen facilities.

School building
Water is an issue as the school only has one borehole that is unreliable. It goes dry during extremely dry periods. They have some gutters on one of the school buildings, but need help to complete the cisterns. This water can then be treated and used for cooking and drinking, as well as possibly for a garden.

Chris’ wife also works with a group of about 30 widows in the community. They help provide food when they can.
I was sitting on the hotel porch Sunday morning, waiting to be picked up for church. Chris was meeting with a couple who is getting married soon. When he finished with them, he came over and introduced himself. He asked where I was from. When I told him SC, he said he had been through Spartanburg before. Small world.
When I asked him on Monday about what prompted him to speak to me, he said it was the Lord. He was taking a chance to make a connection. How about that? I’m glad that I didn’t change my flights and was available to meet with him. It’s a good feeling being putty in the Master’s hand.



A Busy Four Days in Kisumu

I am wrapping things up for this jaunt in Africa. It has been a busy four days in Kisumu. George and I traveled a good bit of Thursday to arrive here. I met with Pastor John Atieno of Neema Children’s Home on Thursday evening to talk about our schedule for next few days. We stayed at the beautiful complex of Le Savannah.
I think someone was checking to see if I was eating chicken nuggets…….
I said goodbye to George as he headed back to Nairobi on Friday. Pastor John and I spent a good bit of time on Friday getting prices on things in Kisumu. This is a shot of the street vendors in the city.
We are working with Neema on several projects. We want to get a sewing center started for the ladies. The home has two machines already, one good one and one not so good. The fancier looking one is a cheap knockoff that isn’t reliable. We were able to find a vendor with good quality treadle machines.

We also found a supplier for the flannel needed to make Luopads. We provided some pads along with a starter kit with material and supplies. We will be setting up the sewing operation soon.
We spent a little time getting some drip irrigation line ready for a couple bucket drip kits. I was able to bring 30 kits with me which will be a start.
We are also supplying Neema with a half-acre drip system for them to use on their farm. A technician will visit when they have the raised beds ready and help them get the system installed. We had a group of about 25 for training on Saturday.
We also spent some time in the garden installing a kit. The bed was not prepared, so it will be taken back out. But it was important for the students to see the water make it to the field.

I was a guest at Pastor John’s church on Sunday. This was the receiving line.

On Sunday night, a few of us went to Kiboko Bay Resort for dinner. It is on the shore of Lake Victoria.


Monday was a day of meeting people. I got to meet with the deputy governor of Kisumu county Dr. Matthew Owili. I also met the governor’s chief of staff, Patrick Ouya. Later, I met with the food and fisheries committee of the county assembly, pictured below. Pastor John chairs this committee.
Later Monday evening, I met the Minister of agriculture for Kisumu county, Gilchrest. He had been in Nairobi and made a special effort to get back to Kisumu and came by the hotel to introduce himself. All of this attention made me feel like a real dignitary. All of these officials are very interested in the drip irrigation and its use in increasing food security in their community.
Lastly, I have to introduce you to Mike, Pastor John’s son. He is a cute boy. When the music starts, he will be moving!



Angel House Secondary School and Orphanage

Down the road a piece from Nairobi lies Tarime, Tanzania. I think I would be safe to call it an African Mayberry. Maybe a little bigger, but not much. On the outskirts of town is the Angel House Secondary School and Orphanage.
IMG_3293Anna Migera runs the orphanage part of things and I met her almost a year ago at an agricultural conference in Arusha, Tanzania. Anna made an 8 hour bus ride to Nairobi and then flew to Arusha to attend the conference. She had been praying for someone to help her with irrigation at the school farm. We ended up standing beside each other in the lunch line one day. Coincidence? I think not!
Angel House has an amazing compound and a lot of land to use for farming. They also have a bunch of animals, including cows, chickens, pigs, and goats. They have 327 students enrolled at the school, 300 of which live on the school grounds. Angel house also has 77 orphans, with 44 of those living at the compound. The rest of the orphans are older and away at school. Needless to say, it is a lively place!
IMG_3377Anna is an amazing woman. She shared how someone came to visit her and shared the Good News about Jesus with her. She found work and was able to get out of a bad marriage – an arranged one that started when she was 14. She married a great man, Marwa, who also works at the school. She is entering a seminary in a neighboring city soon and wants to become a minister. She seeks to help others in the way that she was helped.
IMG_3231This is a wide shot of the orphanage house.



These are pictures of the school buildings. They do rainwater harvesting on just about every building.
IMG_3190.JPGThese are the hostels where the boys in the secondary school stay.  The girls’ buildings are inside the fenced compound on the other side of the school.



Here are a couple shots of part of the farm.  The top one is maize (corn) and the bottom is tomatoes.
IMG_3196A river borders the farm property. It flows year-round.
IMG_3199One of their supporting organizations gave them a diesel pump about 5 years ago. It has been dormant for 3 years. You can see some of the tomatoes from the farm being stored here. We tried the pump, but could not get it to work. They had to call in a repair person and get a part from the neighboring city. They would like to get the river water up to the school compound, but it is too far and too much of a difference in elevation for the pump to get it there.
IMG_3353We chose a site closer to the pump to put in the half-acre drip irrigation system. They will install a water line from the pump and put in an elevated tank to feed the irrigation setup.  EDEN is helping with the cost of the tank and stand.

IMG_3217They also have 2 fish ponds that they can use to raise fish for the school to use for food. It will take additional funds for piping and possibly a secondary pump to get the water from the river to the ponds.


There was a group coming from Texas that is going to install a greenhouse for the school. It will go in the area in the first photo. Tthe school can use some of the bucket drip irrigation kits to water it. You can see the manual well on the right in the bottom picture. Unfortunately, it goes dry on them during very dry times. There is another manual well that always has water in another area of the compound.
IMG_3234There is also a solar powered electric well, but it also goes dry during really dry times. That is why rainwater harvesting is so important.
IMG_3262These are filter systems that are used to filter their drinking water.

IMG_3266.JPGI was excited to see that they are using rocket stoves to cook with. This is the style of stove that I am looking to supply for the Neema Children’s Home in Kenya. Anna says that the stoves reduce their wood requirement by half and that they really cut down on the smoke. The smoke can contribute to health problems, especially with the children. That is Anna and her daughter Grace in the photo.

The school has 12 sewing machines. The black ones are new treadle machines, from China, and the white ones are used ones from the US that have been swapped to manual drive. They don’t have a permanent place to leave them up, so they are usually in storage. They can set up and sew when school is not in session.
IMG_3294I showed 2 of the girls the instructional video on how to make Luopads. We supplied a kit with some material, templates, snaps and sewing supplies. The girls made a couple pads within a couple hours. They were so excited.
IMG_3360This is Rhobi showing off their handiwork. Great job!
IMG_3288.JPGOn Tuesday afternoon, I did part of the irrigation training. I showed the videos from SAWBO on the drip system, raised planting beds, and composting. I brought in 30 bucket drip kits for them to use and I showed them the details on these kits. They will use some of the kits in the new greenhouse and the rest will be distributed in the community to needy families. Anna’s husband Marwa is on the left in this picture. It was nice to have the videos in Swahili, so they could watch without interpretation.
IMG_3289It makes a teacher feel good when students take notes! This is Deo and he works on the farm at the school.

IMG_3325.JPGThis is the school poultry operation. It is further up the hill from the river. The chickens provide eggs and meat for the kids. Note the guttering on the big coop.
IMG_3326This building is for storing the grain and other products that are produced on the farm. That is William in front of it. He oversees this area for the school and is also a driver.

IMG_3317The school has a lot of diversification on the farm. The first picture is banana trees with beans growing between them. The second is an orange tree. They have a 7 acre maize field here surrounded by orange trees.
IMG_3336On Wednesday afternoon, we cut some of the drip irrigation line in lengths to use with the bucket kits. The tile floor was much easier to roll the line up on than what we experienced at Kiryandongo!
IMG_3344No, I am not impersonating an elephant! I am showing the men how to connect the lines from the elevated tank for the half-acre drip system.  We pray the tank and system will be a blessing to provide much needed vegetables during the dry season for many years to come.
IMG_3348The guys got some practice installing the valves for the half-acre system.
IMG_3357Just as I was preparing to leave, the mechanic came with the part for the pump. It was really great to see the pump operate. Marwa was very excited and tried to make a fountain!
IMG_3379There was a sprinkler head in the pump house, but no one knew much about it. I am going to research it and they may possibly be able to use it as well to irrigate with.

It was a very busy visit!  But I said my goodbyes, knowing that the irrigation supplies are in good hands.  I look forward to seeing how God blesses the school’s efforts.

My apologies for the misalignment of some of the pictures.  WordPress and I aren’t getting along to well right now.  I also have some great video to share, but uploading right now is kind of out of the question.  Stay tuned!



On the road to Tanzania!


I flew out of Arua on Saturday morning, arriving at Entebbe just before lunch. I was able to meet with our irrigation supplier and get a few things ironed out with them. I then was able to meet Pastor Gabriel Nicholas, with CRU. He is the first South Sudanese pastor we met with in 2015. We also did training with him in Juba in 2016. Their team has relocated to Gulu, Uganda during the instability in South Sudan. Once I got back to the Mission Guest House, I had dinner with Ronald Kuteesa, who was an instructor at the vocational school at the Harvesters in Yei. It was good to reconnect with him and here about his work with the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture.
On Sunday, I left Entebbe and flew to Nairobi. Me and my three huge duffel bags. Kenya Airways gets a gold star for only charging me $20 USD for the added bags. That was something that had been a source of worry on the trip.
WFP Planes.jpg
Got to see some of the World Food Programme planes on the tarmac at Entebbe. Our former governor, David Beasley, is now the chief of WFP.

I was met in Nairobi by my driver, George. He helped me change some money and get my sim card for my phone reactivated. Cell service is a bit tricky in Africa – each country has their own system. We then got on the road for Tanzania.We drove through the Rift Valley area on the way. It was really an amazing sight. We had climbed to an elevation of nearly 7000 feet. And then this:IMG_3126.JPG

Psalm 19:1  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

A truck had a little problem negotiating the curve. The ensuing traffic snarled us up for a good while. So much so that we had to change our stop for the night.
Yay! More baboons! No hitchhikers this trip, though!
Some of the scenery looked more like a drawing than real life.
We rounded a curve and found this Catholic church. George told me that it had been built by Italian POW’s in 1942. There is a sign to that effect near the church, but I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of it! Not sure if the POW’s were Italian soldiers or prisoners of the Italian soldiers. Maybe in my spare time I can look it up! Ha!
We overnighted in Narok. There is a lot of agriculture in the area. I probably saw more farm equipment there (including several combines) than in the rest of the trip up to that point. On Monday we got back on the road early.
This is the town of Kisii. It must have been market day, because it was pretty packed! Funny story…..I had left some drip tape with my friend, Mac Magruder, in Nairobi. The transport company was to make arrangements to retrieve it. Mac and his family had been gone since shortly after Christmas. His watchman gave the driver the wrong box! We had Aunt Gertrude’s prize end table in a cardboard box rather than my drip tape. I did not check things when we set out from Nairobi, assuming that all was well. Well, it wasn’t! Not knowing how the border would be about crossing, we dropped the table at a restaurant in Kisii. We will pick it up on the return trip and George will ferry it back to Nairobi. Never. A. Dull. Moment!
We got processed through the border without any issues. My Tanzanian visa from last year was still active, so I didn’t even have to pay anything! Bonus! I am hoping that our return trip on Thursday is as easy.
And I leave you with some sunflowers we found along the road in Tarime, Tanzania.



Visiting BidiBidi Settlement

On Friday, I went with Pastor David Kaya and Pastor Moses of Empower One to the BidiBidi refugee camp outside Arua. It is the largest refugee camp in the world, with 350,000 South Sudanese refugees. The drive in was typically African. I was told it would take 45 minutes and it really took 2 hours. About half of the drive from Arua is paved and other half is dirt.
It is a mix of antiquated and new technology. Note the cell towers above. Most communication is cellular, and the outlying towers will have their own generator. Using cellular saves having to run so many telephone lines.
This is Liberty Baptist Church, led by Pastor Alfred Loboca. He is a refugee from the Kajo Keji area of South Sudan. The church has about 300 worshipers each Sunday. This is also the location of Empower One’s Bible training seminary.
EDEN is working to help supply the church with some bucket irrigation kits and the necessary training. This information and technology will then be dispersed to the pastors as they come for training.
The dorm pictured below will house 100 Bible students when they come for Bible training. Note the small solar panel on top that is used for a little bit of light.  And they are also using rainwater harvesting.  The tank is on the left.
The students will use mattresses on the dirt floor to sleep on. That is what I call a hunger to learn about God and to be trained to shepherd others!
The walls are made with split bamboo pieces and the UN supplied tarp. This is a temporary construction, but may be used as it is for some time.
East Africa Missions installed a borehole at the church. Each family contributes $500 Ugandan Shillings per month for maintenance of the well. That is about $0.14 USD. There is also a spigot at the church with water from a well put in by the Ugandan government.

About 40 of the big yellow cans (Jerry cans) can be filled per hour from the manual borehole. It is a lot of work.



This is a market area in the camp. You can see a water tank in the distance. The red kiosk is a cell provider.

This is shot of several homes. Some have constructed their native tukols (mud hut with thatch roof), while others are using UN supplied material for their home. Some have also made bricks and built a more permanent building.


As we were leaving, we stopped on top of a hill. Pastor David explained that the camp extended about as far you could see on the right and in front of us.

It is truly a massive place. All this land is owned by the Ugandan government and is probably not the best quality. But it is a safe haven for these war-weary South Sudanese.
Empower One is working with about 45 churches in BidiBidi. They also have 8 churches in the Rhino camp. At the Adjumani settlement, they have 20 churches. And at Moyo, there are another 45. Our participation with Empower One could help extend the drip irrigation technology and Luopad ministry to thousands. As I have said before, it such a unique opportunity to be able to reach these South Sudanese while they are located in the camps. We are excited to see how God directs our partnership.

Finishing up at Kiryandongo

It’s always fun to find a home connection while in the camps!  Ben ran into William who was wearing a Shandon t-shirt that I had brought over in April of last year.  IMG_2992

I think Kristin spent the ENTIRE day on this covered patio sewing Luopads!  She didn’t eat lunch until about 3pm!  On mission!


And just behind the patio is the constant reminder of the need for water.  And that is the best student pastor in Georgia on the right, Garrett Grubbs, holding up some guttering that was being installed.


We talked with Pastor Sosthen about helping them with a corn sheller.  Previously, all the corn had to be taken off the cob by hand.


We were able to help with getting a machine and it was delivered just before we left.


The church will be able to use this to shell corn for people and develop it as a microenterprise.


I was able to visit with several nearby homes where they have installed the drip irrigation.  Here is James and his garden.  He is a medical technician and has worked for Samaritan’s Purse and MSF (Doctors Without Borders).  He evacuated his family from Lui, South Sudan in 2016.


His garden is right beside a water point, which is really convenient.


We also stopped by this gentleman’s house.  He is preparing to install his drip lines and wanted some instruction from the ‘professor!’  So I was glad to go and show him how to install it.  He will be using several kits on a larger size container.


It warmed my heart to go by the spot where Jon Ozmint and I helped install the first drip kits back in February 2016.  Pastor Sosthen is still using it and has switched to a larger container running several kits.  He has also integrated some banana trees into the plot, which is a great idea.


We said our goodbyes and left for Pakwach, albeit about 2 hours later than our driver wanted to leave!


Happy New Year!


2018 Found the Mixson clan in a hotel room in Kigumba, Uganda. It was a little quieter New Year’s than we are used to in the USA. We heard some ululation from the adjacent houses and maybe a car horn honking, but no fireworks. And no dogs barking at the said fireworks!

We were up early the next day to start our work day at the Kiryandongo Camp. The camp was a beehive of activity before we got there and stayed that way all day. The church had planned a prayer service to begin the new year. They had also butchered a cow and had a big meal planned for midday.

The guys started work on digging a trench for the water lines for the new cisterns. It was hard digging in the dry ground. Blistered hands ensued.

Another group started measuring and cutting drip irrigation line. We had 1000 meter rolls that had to be cut into 30 meter lengths. We were able to prep 85 kits with the drip line.


Did I mention that some of the line was a mangled, tangled mess? No, well it was! Kind of like trying to untangle spaghetti.   The rolls with the silver duct tape at the lower right are the 30 meter lengths that are distributed.  And yes, that is my dirty boy, working hard!

Sometimes we had a little more help than we needed and a few of the Sherwood folks helped with some fun diversion.

Kristin spent some more time with the camp ladies. After lunch, she demonstrated how to make the Luopads that we have been distributing.

Ben and I also had to sort through the half-acre drip kits that we brought up. Unfortunately, some parts were missing. Neither location is ready to install them right now, so at least we can get the other parts to complete the kits.

Sherwood Baptist Church and With Open Eyes provided funding to put in a rainwater harvesting system on several buildings.  Pastor Sosthen had gotten a contractor (a South Sudanese refugee himself) to start the installation.   This is the system on the large school building.


Note the gutters on the eave of the building.  At the far end, there are pipes that direct the rainwater into the large 10,000 liter tank.  The Sherwood youth helped dig the trench for the pipe that will take the water from the tank up to the elevated tank at the garden area.


With the three buildings that we installed the systems on, enough rain can be harvested to provide water to the half acre garden for about a month.  EDEN also supplied a small gasoline pump to move the water from the cistern tanks up to the elevated tank, which is 6 feet off the ground.

A very tired and very dirty group headed out before sunset to rest and clean up.



A Dry and Dusty Land

Hello from Uganda! It is hard to believe that the Mixson clan has been on the ground here for a week now! My apologies for not doing a blog post yet, but time and internet just haven’t been available to get it done. I am in Arua, Uganda staying with our friends, Karl and Rachel Anderson. I originally met them in Yei, South Sudan on our first trip to South Sudan in 2015. Kristin and Ben are back in Entebbe and will fly out for home tonight.


We started our journey from Entebbe last Friday. Jim was able to meet with several suppliers about future needs. The John Deere dealership is owned by a South African company and it is in the industrial district in Kampala. It was good to meet some folks face to face who I’ve been emailing with.

After lunch, we hit the road north to Kigumba. We stayed at the Max Hotel while we were visiting in the Kiryandongo district. The hotel has a very neat compound.


On Saturday, we met with Pastor David Kaya with Empower One. We spent some time on the farm that Empower One has at Kiryandongo. It is about 200 acres and is called Ebenezer Agricultural Farm. They are using the farm to make money for their ministry.


It will also have some demonstration areas for the bucket drip irrigation systems to train pastor groups that Empower One is working with. EDEN is supplying them with a half-acre drip irrigation system that they will use to produce vegetables. Empower One is in the process of putting in two wells at the farm and they will be used for irrigation.
Their second maize crop is just being harvested now. It was a very good-looking crop.




They are building a grainary to store their maize in. EDEN is also going to help them with some PICS grain storage bags. These reduce insect and mold damage in stored grain and beans.  David Nekyon is the farm manager for the project. He has a good head for business and for farming and he will be a great asset to the farm.


On Sunday, we went to the Kiryandongo Refugee camp where Pastor Sosthen Lahti lives. Each time I return here, I am blown away by how much he has improved things at the church compound. This trip was no different. God is blessing his ministry and his efforts.



At the camp, we met up with a group from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. They brought some sound equipment for the church as well as Bibles. EDEN had also supplied a half-acre drip irrigation system. We were able to pray over all the equipment and Bibles and dedicate it all for use in the camp.

Three pastors from the Sherwood group preached in three different churches in the camp on Sunday. In our church, we really didn’t get started until about 11 and finished up about 2pm. We then shared a wonderful meal that the ladies had prepared.



We ate in a newly constructed rest area that they put up to use with the school. It gave a nice respite from the hot sun! It is the dry season now and it is incredibly dusty. Some areas are also doing a lot of burning and it is really hazy. After swallowing so much dust, my voice has left me.

Later in the afternoon, all the kids played a little soccer with their African counterparts.

After the Sherwood group left for the evening, Ben did a little instruction on Ultimate Frisbee

We brought a video of the Singing Christmas Tree that Shandon Baptist performed in December. We were able to use a big outdoor screen to show the video. The folks in camp really enjoyed seeing the video and hearing the music.

Three dusty, tired mzungus headed back to the Max hotel to clean up and welcome in the new year.