An overdue update

Good morning!  A lot has been happening, much of it behind the scenes, since our trip in January.  I want to share a few photos and update you on some of the goings on.

29244127_413584639108945_4774605333534343168_n

We had a family who saw the posts about the kitchen at Neema Children’s Home, in Kisumu, Kenya.  They rallied together and have funded the kitchen upgrade that we are working on.  Above is the new rocket stove that was recently installed.  We have another one on the way.  The cooks really love it.  It cuts down on their cooking time, it uses about half the wood, and it produces much less smoke.

29258038_413584519108957_569626596047060992_n

EDEN helped connect the dots to get some food delivered to Neema, the Ajigo School and Orphanage, near Kisumu, and the Kiriko Special School, in Thika.  Through our partnership with GAiN USA and their partnership with Feed My Starving Children, nearly 3 tons of manna packs were delivered to these three locations.

29313144_413584559108953_7423630119622672384_n

EDEN was also able to supply some Uzima water filter kits to Neema and Ajigo.  These can be used to filter water from cisterns to make it drinkable.  At Ajigo School, they have to purchase water as they don’t have a well on site.  Many times the water that was bought was not clean.  These filters will help ensure safe drinking water for the students.

EDEN is working with the Neema Children’s Home board to get a rainwater harvesting system installed at the compound.  This water will be used for irrigation and if needed, for drinking.  A group of the board members are going to Neema in April and will be taking more drip irrigation supplies with them.

EDEN is also working to help Ajigo School and Orphanage with rainwater harvesting.  Their kitchen needs some upgrades as well.

IMG_5319

The ladies at the Kiryandongo Refugee Camp in Uganda have been very busy with the Luopad Project.  EDEN supplied them with some new manual sewing machines and some material.  Saturday is their sewing day and they sew all day!  The UN officials at the camp want them to go to other camps to train other ladies how to make the pads.  What a great ministry to other women for these ladies to be a part of!

IMG_5317

It is exciting to see things moving forward!  We have more work that needs to be done in so many areas.  And it all takes money to get it done.  If you would like to help support our efforts, we would welcome your donation.  If you would like to adopt a specific project, let us know and we will help with that.  Donations can be sent to:

EDEN

1110 Blakely Court

West Columbia, SC  29170

Happy New Year!

IMG_2964

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.

20180101_101634
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.

IMG_2971
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.

IMG_2979

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!

IMG_2981.JPG
Sometimes we had a little more help than we needed and a few of the Sherwood folks helped with some fun diversion.

IMG_2977
Kristin spent some more time with the camp ladies. After lunch, she demonstrated how to make the Luopads that we have been distributing.

20180101_160120
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.

IMG_3004

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.

IMG_2989

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.

20180101_140524

 

Underway!

Two of the travelers have made it to Uganda!  After a wedding tonight, David Taylor will be heading out tomorrow to join them! We are still working through some logistical hurdles with supplies, but are confident it will be an awesome trip for these guys!

My phone rang just a little bit ago and it was Jon Ozmint!  He, Mark, and their guide, Brian, had made it to the Jesse Hotel in Kigumba, about 30 minutes south of Kiryandongo.  Pastor Sosthen is coming to have dinner with them and they will discuss the schedule for the next few days at Kiryandongo.  Here is a view off the patio at the Jesse:

IMG_1622

Mark’s only question was what was the score of the Carolina game?  Had to explain that the players weren’t even up yet!  Must be that Citadel math!  🙂  Jon said everything went well with their flights and getting in through customs.  Jon and Mark had 100 bucket drip kit parts bags packed along with 80 Luopad packs.  David will be taking another 58 Luopad packs with him.

The guys were able to meet with Tommy Hopson, who works with the International Mission Board, this morning as they were leaving Kampala.  The IMB is the missions arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.  They left a drip kit with him so that Tommy can have a demonstration of the kit in his garden.  He hosts many missionaries throughout the year and it will be a good opportunity for them to see the technology.

The team then traveled up to Kigumba, which is about a 4 hour drive.  They arrived safely and are getting ready for dinner…..remember, Uganda is 7 hours ahead of us time-wise.

Speaking of the Luopads, those 138 packs will bless 138 African women in a very special way.  In those 138 kits are a total of 828 pads, each individually sewn by women at Shandon Baptist Church and other area churches.  With those pads are over 3300 pieces of material that are hand cut from towels or flannel material.  We have an octogenarian, Mrs. Maxine Patterson, who spends hours each week cutting material for these pads.  She is the mother of several long time Shandon members.  What a blessing she is!

Kristin Mixson also met with the Women’s Missionary Union members of several churches in Ehrhardt, SC.  A teacher friend, Jana Chassereau called her to set it up.  The ladies had heard about the pad project and wanted to be involved.  Kristin will be going back to Ehrhardt in October for another sewing day there.

There will be a sewing night on Septemeber 12 from 4 til 7pm at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, SC.  Many hands make light the work!  You don’t have to knew how to sew…..you can help cut material or pack the kits.  The joy that these African women have upon receiving these pads is hard to describe.  Your donation of a few hours of your time will be an incredible blessing to these women!

Please be in prayer for our Uganda team!  David Taylor leaves on Sunday to join them and they will be working throughout next week.  If you would like to make a donation to help our efforts in East Africa, you can make your check payable to EDEN.  Our mailing address is 1110 Blakely Court, West Columbia, SC  29170.  All donations are tax deductible.  Thanks so much!

 

 

Looking Forward…….

Well, 2017 has been a year for the books!  I’d say it has been one of highs and lows.  I’ve had the worst corn crop I’ve had in over 20 years.  Just a perfect storm of things going wrong.  I’ve seen my son graduate high school and prepare to enter Clemson University.  IMG_2542[1]

I had so much fun planting soybeans the first time, I decided to do it again!  I had some herbicide damage and the beans were stunted and not growing.  And still aren’t growing!  Those larger plants in the above photo are 9 weeks old!  They should be over knee high!  But these might be 8 inches!  Do you remember the story of Jack and the Beanstalk?  Jack’s mother just threw the beans out of the window and they grew into an enormous beanstalk.  That’s how beans usually are.  But not this year.  Not for me.  I am beginning to wonder what I am doing trying to train others about agriculture if I can’t even get beans to grow!  I might need to turn in my ‘farmer’ card!  Farming does nothing if not keep you humble!  But God is faithful through it all and I am thankful for His blessings.

IMG_2536[1]

And speaking of blessings!  A container that was loaded in October of last year finally made it to Nairobi!  Yay, GAiN!  There were so many starts and stops to this process.  But drip kits are now in the field in Namanga with some more awaiting transport.  The container also has parts for an electric fence to help with animal control, but they haven’t unpacked that yet!  These are boxes of bucket drip kits that will be used by families in southeast Kenya and northeast Tanzania.  20187404_10213517413760568_341207848_oAnd these are the buckets to go along with them!20216259_10213517411200504_1474971055_o

EDEN has two trips on the not so distant horizon.  Jon Ozmint will be leading a team back to Uganda during the first week of September.  They will be taking a large drip irrigation system to the refugee camp at Kiryandongo.  EDEN is also purchasing a corn (maize) shelling machine for them to use to process their crop.  This will save money on the refugees’ food supply and also serve as a business start-up.  The team will also distribute improved crop storage bags (PICS) to help protect the harvested crop.  They will also train on irrigation at the Rhino camp in northern Uganda.  At a South Sudanese church in Arua, Uganda, they will work out the details of establishing a sewing center.  The ladies there will be trained on how to make Luopads for other ladies as well as general sewing.  They also hope to help distribute Bibles provided by With Open Eyes while in the Rhino camp and in Arua.  IMG_1179

The second trip will be in October to Kenya and Tanzania.  Jim Mixson will be leading a team to work with several schools and orphanages on irrigation training.  We are also looking into providing a well at one of the orphanages.  We will also go back to the Maasai village that was visited in February to install a large drip irrigation system there.  Sewing centers will also be established in several locations.  What?  Ya’ll didn’t know Jim could run a sewing machine?  It’s got a motor on it doesn’t it??  All joking aside, Kristin Mixson has done a great job with video training on making the Luopads.  So rest easy, the pupils will be well trained.   20160719_095400

We feel that now is such an opportune time to minister to and teach the South Sudanese who are in the refugee camps in Uganda.  God has brought so many out of their country and congregated them in the camps.  The logistics, while not ideal, are much more conducive than those in South Sudan.  IMG_2399

All of these efforts are costly.  We first ask you to pray for us as we undertake the ministry that God has laid before us.  Second, we would ask you to consider helping us financially.  EDEN is fully registered as a 501(c)(3) corporation and all donations are fully tax-deductible.  Any contribution can make a big impact.  Donations may be sent to our mailing address:

EDEN

1110 Blakely Court

West Columbia, SC  29170

 

Africa Update

My apologies for not posting for a while.  It has been a busy season on the farm!  But I got some pictures from Africa and I wanted you to see them!

New Church

This is from inside the new church at the Rhino Camp.  These folks had been meeting under a UN provided tent.  You can see a picture of the tent in my post on the Rhino Camp from April.  The roof and the walls are up.  They will cover the walls with mud to finish them.  With Open Eyes provided the funds for them to construct the structure.

IMG_3913

This is a new church at the Kiryandongo Camp where we visted in April as well.  These folks had been meeting under a tree.  They will also finish the walls with mud to complete the building.  With Open Eyes also provided funding for this building.   I am so happy they have a building now!

EDEN has a lot of projects on the horizon!  Several of our team are looking to be back in Africa in Septemeber.  Watch for details!

 

Moru Christian Fellowship Center

On Wednesday, we went to meet with the leaders of the Moru Christian Fellowship Center in Arua.  This church started in 2003 and has had several rebirths over that time as the numbers of refugees in Arua has changed with the fighting in South Sudan.  These believers are mostly from the Mundri area in South Sudan and are from the Moru tribe.  They are currently meeting in a public school room and are having to pay rent to use the room.  They have a maximum of around 600 people and they are meeting in a room designed for 60 students.  About 250 of this number are children.  They have about 80 orphans who live in the community with other families.

I do not have many pictures from this visit.  We met in the home of the lay leader, Penina Samuel.  It was a small room and because of the lighting, many of the pictures did not come out well.  As with most meetings like this in Africa, we had to eat.

IMG_2414

The ladies of the church had prepared a wonderful spread for us with chicken, ugali (something akin to mashed potatoes made from either corn or sorghum), beans, bread, and one other dish I can’t remember!

IMG_2413

Before a meal, one of the hosts comes around with a pan, a pitcher of water, and soap.  The guests can then wash their hands before eating.  The South Sudanese don’t use many utensils, so you sometimes have to eat with your hands.   I have finally gotten pretty good at eating beans with a piece of bread or ugali.  My mother would be mortified!  All I can say is that when in Rome…….  After eating, the water and the pan come back around for you to wash your hands again.  Two things strike me about this process.  One is the servant heart of the one coming around with the water and pan.  The second is the cleansing that comes as a gift – not something we can do for ourselves.  We need help.  That reminds me of how Jesus died on the cross for us.  A beautiful picture indeed!

The needs are great here.  We heard from several of the leaders of the church.  They had each prepared a typed presentation, which was informative and helpful.  They only have five Bibles that they must pass around the leadership for Sunday preparation.  That means that the general member really has no access to a Bible.  They have bought part of a sound system to use on Sundays, but need to complete the system.  As you can imagine, it is hard for 600 people to hear with no pa system.  They would also like to have a keyboard to use for worship.  Music really is a drawing card to bring the unchurched in.

Their mother’s union would like to expand a sewing project.  They are already making handbags by hand and selling them to raise funds for the church.  With a couple sewing machines, they can branch out into other areas and increase their output.  I discussed with Penina the possibility of them making Luopads.  She was very excited about this idea.

With Open Eyes (withopeneyes.net) will be starting a fund raising campaign for Bibles in the next week or so.  We are still nailing down prices, but hopefully the Bibles will be about $5.00 US apiece.  Take a look at their website if you’d like to contribute toward that.  These will go not only to the Moru church but also to the churches in the refugee camps.

EDEN will be looking at how we could help facilitate the growth of the sewing project.  This would be teaching a life skill to new ladies as well as providing income for the church.  The production of the Luopads would also be a blessing to many women in the area.  We could also use your help to cover these expenses.

I am going to bring this puppy in for a landing for now.  I have a few other thoughts I want to share and I will try to share a couple videos we took if WordPress will cooperate!  So stay tuned.  I will try to get that up soon!

 

On to Arua and the Rhino Refugee Camp

IMG_2363

It wasn’t until morning that I found this gash in the screen.  The screen where the lizard had been hanging out!  Glad I didn’t wake up to new bed-mate!  Below are a couple of scenes from our journey on to Arua.  We stopped at a roadside stand to get some mangoes which are now ready.  Several ladies were selling shea oil in reused water and soda bottles.  In the second picture, there is a carcass of some description under the leaf covering.  We did not partake of that!

IMG_2366

IMG_2367

We made it to Arua around lunchtime on Tuesday.  The road getting there was paved and in good condition.  Arua is a larger town northeastern Uganda, near the border with South Sudan.  Our hotel was very well appointed and had air conditioning!  It worked well until the power went out on the first night.  But the room had already cooled down and we were able to sleep well anyway.  Electricity is fairly dependable in Uganda, but you can run into random outages every once in a while.

IMG_2405IMG_2373

We decided to go on out to the Rhino Camp that afternoon.  We got several differing estimates as to the amount of time it would take us to get there.  It ended up being a 2 hour excursion on an unpaved and bumpy road.  I believe the distance was about 60 km (37 miles).  We were surprised at the size of the camp.  Once we passed the entrance, it took us another hour to get to the first church we wanted to visit.  These are a couple shots from the road to Rhino.

IMG_2377IMG_2378

I have already published this on Facebook, but let me state it here also:  Let it be known, now and forever more, that Pastor Simon Kariuki was the first member of our With Open Eyes team to set foot in the Rhino Camp on the 25th day of April in year of our Lord, 2017.  If you can’t tell by the picture, our team had a lot of fun together!

IMG_2382

Below is our welcoming committee when we arrived.  The ladies even sang for us.  Tom and I had the honor of being the first white men to visit the church.  It was started in October of 2015.

Pastor Simon (#2) is in the middle of the above left picture in the dark blue shirt and on the left in the below left picture.  Pastor Sunday is on the right in the below left picture.  They are refugees and Mobile Messengers living in the Rhino camp.  This church is the one that Pastor Sunday works with and is an interdenominational one.  You can see the exterior in the below right picture.  Pastor Sunday’s son is on the left in the below left picture.  What a handsome boy!

We did not know that the church was going to have a formal program for us.  They had been waiting for us to arrive since around lunchtime.  We got to hear about each area of the church and their specific needs:  youth, Sunday School, worship, women.  The people are hungry for Bibles.  Many of them had to leave South Sudan in such a hurry, they left with nothing but the clothes on their back.  They want musical instruments to help in worship.  They are using drums now which are mostly handmade.  And they sounded great, by the way!  They see music and worship as a means of attracting new people to the church.  Many of the women do not have cooking utensils.  The pastors would like to get some Bible training.  Many of these people have experienced trauma in their flight from South Sudan.  Trauma counseling and social counseling are needed to help reconcile victims and those responsible.  So, so many needs.

IMG_2391

Above is the With Open Eyes bunch:  Pastor Tom Burger, Pastor Simon Kariuki, and Pastor Sosthen Lahti.  Sosthen is translating for Tom.  Note the bullhorn behind Tom that is used as a pa system.

IMG_20170425_151500

I also got a chance to speak to the church briefly about the agricultural training we are doing and the drip irrigation kits.  Pastor Sunday is translating.  We had planned on returning on Wednesday, but God had other plans for us, which I will detail a little later.

IMG_2394

This is inside Pastor Sunday’s house.  It is a tukul and has dirt walls and a thatch roof.  We were not aware that they had prepared a meal for us until we finished the meeting and where trying to go to the next church.  I cannot tell you how humbling it is receive food from people in a situation like this.  To know that many times over the past year or so they have probably been hungry and now they are giving food to you is just incredible.  So, we sat and we ate.

IMG_3944

This is Pastor Simon #2’s church.  This is a shelter that the UN provided, nothing more than a pipe structure and a tarp covering.  A really strong wind had just come through the area while were at the first camp and I was a little surprised the tarp was still holding on.   We were able to say a brief hello and then get on the road back to Arua.

IMG_3941

IMG_2399

It is difficult to fully describe the spirit of these people.  They love God.  They seek to learn more about Him and to worship Him.  They are so very thankful for the things they have, even when we would say it is very little.  They recognize that everything comes from God.  Their hearts overflow with joy when they worship.  They are faithful givers, even out of their impoverished situation.  And they are active in spreading the Love of God to their fellow man.  This was my fourth trip to Africa and each time I have been touched in a different way.

IMG_2395

The duffle bag in the above picture has 50 kids t-shirts from Shandon Baptist Church.  We also brought 20 drip irrigation kits that were supplied by GAiN USA.  I am so thankful for their US staff and the help of Marvin Bozard in getting these kits for us.  This is truly a team effort!

IMG_2393

In the background you can see the water point near Pastor Sunday’s church.  You can see a light pole on the left with solar panels on top.  This water point is connected to a central well at another location.  They have the same problem as the camp at Kiryandongo with there not always being water available.  Below is another water point we saw as we were driving into Pastor Sunday’s church.  You can see all of the water jugs lined up.

IMG_2380

We were also told that food distribution has also been spotty.  The UN is struggling to keep up with the demands of so many refugees, with over 50,000 at Rhino camp alone.

The needs are staggering and can easily be overwhelming.  It is our belief that God has brought the people of South Sudan to this point for a reason.  After being in South Sudan in 2015, you could have never convinced me then that the country would be where it is now.  We see this as an incredible opportunity to reach many people in a somewhat confined space.  Once they go back home, the logistics of ministering to them become so much more onerous.  When you are doing metalwork, you put the iron in the fire and get it red hot and you must bend it into the shape you want while it is hot.  Strike while the iron is hot, the saying goes.  We believe that God has brought the South Sudanese to this place to make them more open and receptive to His Word.  We are redoubling our efforts of teaching and support to do as much as we can as soon as we can.

We finally were able to get back on the road to Arua.  Brian, our driver, had wanted to get us off the road before dark.  There were some very dark clouds also building in around us.  About half way back, the heavens opened up.  It was the kind of rain that would drown a frog.  And remember we are driving on a dirt road.  At one bad spot, our 4 wheel drive van got stuck and started sliding into the ditch.  The ditch that had a river of water running in it.   We got out in the pouring rain to try to help push.  That didn’t really help that much, but finally with us out of the van, Brian was able to maneuver the van back up on the road.  But we were soaked!  Wish I had taken a picture, but I was just ready to get in out of the rain!

We continued up the road and finally hit the paved road on the outskirts of Arua.  I think I could ring water out of my pants when I got to the hotel!  Because of the condition of the road, we had to make the hard decision to not go back to the Rhino camp on Wednesday.  But, God had plans for us to see something else, which I will detail in another post.

IMG_3946.JPG

Above is a shot of us eating dinner once we were back and cleaned up at the hotel.  Going from left to right, it is me, Simon, Brian, Sosthen, and Andrew, a Bible translator who is a friend of a friend of Tom’s from Charlotte.  I think Tom might be a little camera shy, so that’s him taking the picture!  But his food looks good, doesn’t it??  Thanks for reading!