And by cooler, I mean 95 degrees as opposed to 105! We are in Namanga, Kenya, which is a town right on the border with Tanzania. Mac Magruder and Pastor Simon Wairerah both work with With Open Eyes and are our hosts.
We are staying in a very picturesque lodge in Namanga. What it lacks in amenities, it makes up for in ambiance. Although, a fan for the room would be nice. And maybe some bug spray. And some screens on the windows. But I digress. At least I was able to finally get a decent picture of a monkey! The monkeys are also a problem here with stealing crops. They also have wild hogs.
We had over 30 Mobile Messenger pastors for training today. We met at Pastor Simon’s church, the Namanga Baptist Church. Some had travelled for hours by motorbike to come to the training. After some more technical issues, we were able to get started. We showed the videos on using the drip irrigation, raised beds, and composting. We had these videos in Swahili and did not have to worry with an interpreter.
We then headed over to Pastor Simon’s house where he had started with the demonstration garden. We explained about how to install the drip system and did one set of lines. Everyone was very impressed when the water started flowing. The guys in the group did another set and then the ladies did one.
We planted some okra, beets, and crowder peas. We then put mulch on top of the beds and ran some more water through the systems. Our students caught on very quickly. We returned to the church to do some more training on some other topics. We will spend some time tomorrow morning reinforcing what we went over today before returning to Nairobi.
We capped the day with a delicious meal at Pastor Simon’s house which was prepared by his wife Agnes and his girls. It was a good time of fellowship. It is now 10:30pm here and my eyelids are getting heavy. It has been a long day since the 5am Muslim call to prayer. Good night all!
Three or four days without internet has been trying to say the least. We may not have gone to the end of the world, but we did go to the end of the internet! The hotel was supposed to have access, but I think we were sold a bill of goods that wasn’t going to materialize! Jon and I are now in Entebbe, waiting to board our flight to Nairobi. We will drive to Namanga, Kenya for the last training session.
Our time in Kiryandongo was special. Pastor Sosthen is a great pastor with a real heart for people. The situation in their area in South Sudan (Lui) is really bad. He does not want his children growing up in war and strife as he had to. They have no plans for going home anytime soon.
Pastor Sosthen’s team had prepared a wonderful garden with beds for us to put the drip irrigation on. Everyone was really excited to learn about the system and how to use it. We planted some okra seed and covered the bed with straw for mulch.
Pastor Sosthen has installed a 1000 liter tank beside the garden which will fill from the public water system. They will use that water to fill the buckets for the drip system.
Today we finished up our training in Yei. Our morning started about 6:15am with the children’s worship. I will try to post a segment of the video later. It will bless your heart. I was glad that it was dark and Jon couldn’t see the tears coming down my face. To know these kids have nothing and to hear the love and the joy in their voices is just overwhelming.
All of our attendees came back today for our hands on session. We started with tea and doughnuts again. Jon led a small devotional and proudly displayed pics of Mary Grace (his daughter) killing a wild hog with a knife. Some of our participants are not Christians, so it was good for them to hear the Gospel. I explained a few last minute things and then we headed to the garden. I led them through the installation of a drip line. We planted some okra seed provided by GAIN USA in this first bed.
None of us have any room to complain about how hard we work. The nursing mother who came was working in the garden with a baby strapped to her back. And I could tell this wasn’t the first time she had done it.
Once we got the line in and working, I challenged the students to put in another one. They did very well. We planted crowder peas in this bed. We then had a presentation by one of the Vocational Training Center’s graduates about a solar food dryer. By this time, it was lunch.
After lunch, we gave each participant a certificate of completion along with a couple packets of GAIN seeds. The VTC also gave them a little bag of dried tomatoes to try. We took a picture of everyone with my Clemson Tiger Rag, but Jon is holding it hostage or I would be posting it now! We bade everyone farewell and sent them off.
This afternoon, we have relaxed a little. Jon went over to the hospital and gave blood. The doc told him he was walking gold….O negative. I wanted to give, but last year after I did, I got really sick. So we decided it would be best if I did not.
We are packing up tonight and will leave Yei at 8:30 in the morning (12:30am in the US) and fly to Uganda. I emailed the pastor there this afternoon and somehow he was expecting us first thing in the morning. I told him we would not be there until lunch time. Gotta love African communication! We are hoping for a little break in this heat in Uganda. We are both drinking water like it is going out of style but still feel thirsty. Not much sweat….think it all evaporates too fast. Thanks for your prayers!
Our training was to start at 9 this morning. The participants were provided tea and doughnuts for breakfast. In typical fashion, it was around 10 before we actually started. As I got over to the Vocational Training Center at about 8:30, I was able to see the preparation work that Ronald and his helpers had been doing. Ronald is a Ugandan who is the ag instructor for the VTC. They had some beautiful beds prepared.
We ended up with about 15 participants this morning. There was a nursing mother, another lady who runs several businesses in Yei, some former students of the VTC, a man who runs a crop advisory service here in Yei, and some other farmers from the area. Pastor Hillary, who runs the church at the Harvesters Compound, led us in a song. He then said a few words and prayed for our day.
Everyone was excited about what we presented. Many questions were asked by many of those in attendance. Jon helped keep me on track by asking some clarification questions along the way. We decided to postpone the outdoor session until Thursday morning as it was so hot by the time we finished up the classroom material at 4. One of the attendees was disappointed by this as he wanted to see the irrigation in action.
On Thursday, we will put in the drip irrigation and plant some seed!
111 degrees yesterday under the shade of a big old mango tree. It is seriously hard just to think straight. We made it to Yei this morning, albeit on Africa time. We got out of Juba without too much trouble but the man in Yei didn’t like our boxes of supplies. Have to take him some paperwork to show we aren’t smugglers. Every trip to the airport is met with a new twist. We spent time today setting things up for training tomorrow. I think we will have between 15 and 30 people here. This is going to be a short note as I still have some prep work to do and I don’t fully trust this internet yet. More tomorrow night!
Things started with some hurry up and wait this morning. My host, Gabriel had to drive around looking for gas. One of his team ended up waiting in line most of the morning to fill up.
We sorted the container that had the supplies we had sent. It was shipped here by GAiN. Can’t tell you how excited I was to find the box with the rest of the fence parts!
The headmaster of the YMCA school in Juba came to pick up the school supplies that Shandon Baptist collected. He and the chairman of the school were waiting on me tonight when I got back to the hotel. They were very thankful for the supplies.
Later this afternoon, we drove out to a farm near the airport. We installed a bucket irrigation kit and planted some Mississippi Silver Hull Crowder peas.
Everyone is very excited about the training I have done. I think it will have been worth the effort.
Tomorrow I will worship with Pastor Gabriel and then travel to his home farm. It is about 2 hours outside Juba. I may not get another post done before Monday. Wordpress still won’t upload pictures for me and I’m typing this on an iPhone! Check Facebook for some pictures.