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Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011

Hi all

The older I get and the more driving I do the more I hate driving.  Wouldn't it be great if we could just blink ourselves to our destination.  Not only do I not like it when people do not follow the rules at toll booths but I have come to the conclusion there are people out there that come up behind you on the interstate get into your blind spot and sit there on purpose.  It's not like the interstate was full today in fact it was pretty empty (Iowa is really flat) and riding my right back quarter panel where I can't see for umpteen miles is just plain rude.  It's like my cruise control is on and when I approach another vehicle I would like to pass them instead of braking so not to cause an accident with guy in my blind spot.  What's nice about the little Saab is that it goes from 80 mph to 120 mph in a matter of seconds.  There was at least two occasions today that I had to use the high speed getaway from rude driver and leave them about a mile behind.  The only problem with this tactic is that once I get back to my comfortable cruise control driving speed Mr. Rude finds his way back to my blind spot.  Sometimes I have to adjust my comfortable cruise control driving speed plus or minus a couple of mph's and I don't have this problem.  But there are those out there that know that I am changing my speed and adjust there's accordingly to stay on my back right quarter panel.  I feel better now.  Thanks.

While I was in Kansas celebrating Christmas with family and friends (Merry Christmas everyone) I was looking at some of the pictures from Kenya on the first orchard planted in July and behold I noticed that there was a fairly large passion fruit on one of the vines.  I know I have been waiting patiently for fruit to show up on the vines and should not complain but it's still a little too early to be fruiting.  The process is that the flowers and suckers are to be pruned on the way up to the wire.  Once it is on the wire then it is allowed to spread out, come back down to the ground, flower, and produce fruit.  Anyway the vines look like they are healthy and starting to grow more quickly now that they are at the wire.  This is great news indeed.  I am so excited and now its even harder to wait for a harvest.




See the little guy at the bottom of the picture on the post


Well I hope you all had a very wonderful Christmas and will have a prosperous New Year.

Take care and God bless

Dave

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18, 2011

Greetings

I have a little update on what is happening with the orchards in Kenya.  Bishop Hezron sent me a few pictures of the original widow's orchard in Kakamega.  I opened one of them and it struck me kinda hard especially from that angle.  I know it is just a plant but it reminded me of why I do this.

Passion



Anyway we have mixed results coming in from Kenya.  We have seedlings that are doing well and we have some that are not doing well.  I do not have a full report of all the areas but some of the plots are having a larger number of seedlings die then we wanted.  It appears that we are having some of the same problems that plagued the first batch.  They seem to die from the graft up.  The original yellow passion fruit is healthy but the purple passion above the graft does not survive.  During the inspection of the seedlings back in October the graft area and vine above looked very healthy.  The last time this happened we had problems with the scions.  To me it looks like we have a problem during the grafting process or during the handling, transportation or planting of the seedling.  I kinda rule out planting since most of the plants are just fine and many that die are only dead above the graft.  I will work on getting them replaced and we will move on.

Our vendor feels that much of this is from lack of adequate training.  I agree to a certain extent and we will work to make sure that training is a critical portion of our planting process in the future.  However I cannot get my mind to comprehend how training is going to help the plant above the graft area when the rest of it is doing fine.  Everyone is committed to making this work and I am sure over time we will do just fine.  Keep us in your prayers and if you have a little extra this holiday season to help our cause we would appreciate it too.  Fuel costs in Kenya is over $5 a gallon and we have quite a few different areas to attend to.  On the right side of this blog is our information on donating.  Thanks.

I am beginning to get ready to plan my next visit to East Africa sometime in late February, March, or early April.  Much depends on when we can expect the first harvests of fruit.  On this next trip I do want to get back into the slums of Nairobi and visit Uganda again to see what we can do to help with the orphans.  I recently got some pictures from Bishop Moses in Uganda on some of the orphan sites.  The vast majority of orphans are incorporated into church family homes where possible usually six to a dozen per household.  There are so many orphans throughout East Africa and my prayer is that we can start to help somehow.  An acre of passion fruit at an orphanage site will go a long way in providing adequate shelter, education, clothing, and a presence of family to these children.  The pictures below are just a small sample of the multitude of orphans that could use our help.

Namasavu, Uganda Freedom Ministries Orphan School



Kitambona, Uganda Freedom Ministries Orphan School



Bujagali, Uganda Freedom Ministries Orphan School

 

It is quickly approaching the day we celebrate our Lord's birthday.  I personally would like to wish everyone a joyous and wonderful Christmas.

Take care, be blessed and God bless you all

Dave

PS:  Last night at our Christmas party part of our dessert was Passion Fruit Cheesecake.  Very tasty but it wasn't colored purple.

 

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011

Hi all

Well I pray that everyone here in the states had a great Turkey Day and have recovered from overeating, disappointing football games, or the rotten ride to and from where ever you traveled to over the holiday.  Just think you can do it all over again next year.  I find it amazing that we all love our T-day.  Has anyone done a study on how many woman hours are spent preparing the meal only to be eaten in about 10 to 15 minutes.  My guess it is well over a billion woman hours and a few man hours too.  Come to think of it the Christmas feast is just around the corner.

On the other side of the ocean is a couple of dozen passion fruit orchards.  I am waiting patiently for them to fully mature and produce some fruit.  My last emails that I have received are all promising and they are coming along fine.  Next spring can not get here quick enough.  Hezron took some pictures and sent them to me.  However I am unable to get them off the word document to post them here.  Hopefully before too long I will be able to post some pictures of our progress.

As we have already given thanks for our blessings this last weekend and are about to come into the season of Christ please remember those that are less fortunate then ourselves. 

Be blessed and take care.

Dave

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 18, 2011

Greetings

It is really agonizing to be here eight thousand miles from the passion fruit project.  I have been back in the states five weeks now and my eyes yearn to see how the little vines are doing.  Well I hope that they are not so little anymore.  This waiting till they grow up is driving me crazy.  I am waiting on word on how the first orchard planted in July is doing.  Last I heard it was doing well and I would believe that by now many are at the 8 foot mark and starting to flower.  The first fruits should be ready by sometime in January if all goes according to plan.  The orchards planted last month will not be ready until sometime in March or early April.  Much to long of a wait.

The other day I got word that the training session in Mumias was completed with an attendance of thirty nine students.  It was originally to be only about twenty students over three days but was changed to two really long days with up to forty students.  I am waiting for the session report to see whom all attended.  The last I heard there were groups coming in from Kakamega, Mumias, Busia, Bulimbo, and Bungoma.  I am not sure if Mt. Elgon was able to come to the session or not.

I have also heard we did lose some seedlings but not in the percentages that we experienced with the first orchard.  The first orchard had some bad scions and we had replaced the dead ones.  All of them have taken hold and are doing fine now.  This batch of seedlings looked much healthier and more foliage then the last batch in July.  The seedlings are grafted from the yellow disease resistant variety and the purple preferred passion fruit we expect some to die but I do not know what that percentage should be.  I am sure some are damaged during grafting, handling, transportation and possibly during the planting process.  According to what has been replaced it looks like so far we are under five percent.  Again I do not know if this is normal or not.

Hopefully soon I will get word and some pictures of the first widow’s orchard planted in July and an update on the widow’s plot in Mumias and the plot that was put on Mt. Elgon.  Its one thing to fund a ministry but it is another if we can duplicate orchards to help support widow’s, orphans, and with Mt. Elgon a clinic to help provide much needed medical care to the community.  I pray that I will have a progress report to you all soon.  As we approach our Thanksgiving please give a few blessings to our friends that have much less then we do.  If you would like a good verse to read this Thanksgiving check out Matthew chapter twenty five verses thirty one thru forty six.


Take care and be blessed.

Dave 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2, 2011

Greeting

Just a quick update.  Got word that all of the last orchards in Kakamega and Busia are planted.  Still do not have a total number of seedlings planted but it is in excess of 6000 vines on 26 orchards.  One of the orchards in Kakamega was not ready and the seedlings were put on one of the other plots that still had space available.  The original orchard that was planted in July is moving along well.  I hope to have some pictures before too long.

I am also told that the training seminar has been scheduled for 11/11/11.  Just think next year we have Twelve Twelve Twelve and it will be the last of these special days in our lifetimes.  The session will be at the Jerusalem Church in Mumias.  I am waiting to find out how many people will be attending and which areas are going to be in attendance.  I do know that Bungoma and Mt. Elgon orchards are quite a distance from Mumias and they might be getting a separate training.


Inside of the Jerusalem Church in Mumias



Outside with some members of Jerusalem Church and I



What we had set up for training was to have a sort of train the trainer session so we would not have all the people involved in the orchards since it would be a really huge number.  The widow's in Mumias have over 100 members themselves.  I am under the impression that we are going to have somewhere around 20 to 25 people attending.  Some in Kakamega had already been through training back in July.  I am almost positive that Mt. Elgon will not be attending this session.  We are also asking for the Jerusalem Church to host those coming in from out of town in members homes.  We will be providing all the meals, training materials, and instructor costs for the seminar.  The only item not covered was any transportation costs to and from the seminar.

Again I am most grateful to all involved and those of you that keep us in your prayers.  So far everything looks like it is going well.  The rainy season is about to start not that it doesn't rain every day already at least when I am there.  It looks like everything was planted in advance of the heavy rains to follow later this month.  I will post more as I get word and or pictures. 

Take care and God bless you all

Dave 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27, 2011

Greetings

Sorry for the slow update.  Word in from Kenya is that all the seedlings have been delivered.  I am under the impression that all the seedlings are in the ground as well since the seedlings were not going to be delivered until all the plots were ready.  I do not have a final count of seedlings but there were over six thousand and they have been given out. 

The last of the seedlings were delivered to Busia earlier this week since there was a delay because Pastor Ososo wanted to meet up with Bishop Hezron and Pastor Robert upon delivery.  I had also heard that Hezron and Robert were in an accident on the way back from Busia to Mumias.  Both of them are fine but there has been damage to the vehicle and it is in the shop for repairs.  I am not sure how insurance works in Kenya but I would be left to imagine that there is going to be a large percentage of the cost left to the vehicle owners.  I have had a couple of conversations with Hezron about car insurance and he tells me that insurance rarely covers the cost of repairing a vehicle.  I am under the impression that it covers more bodily harm and liability then damage to the vehicles.

Out of the original 27 orchards that were going to be planted one orchard was not ready in Kakamega upon delivery of the seedlings and the seedlings have been distributed to other farmers or have been given to another orchard.  I did not understand the email and the status of those particular seedlings.  My understanding is that the orchard was not ready because the stakeholder(s) could not get the holes dug.  I have mixed feelings about the digging of the holes.  I know it is hard work to dig those holes and it is much easier to pay someone to come in and dig them.  I personally would not last one hole before I was on the ground gasping for air.  What we have asked from the stakeholders is to provide the land and the labor to plant the orchards.  We were to come in and loan them the money to buy the seedlings, posts, wire, and chemicals to plant the orchards until the orchards can become self sufficient upon the first harvest in six to seven months.

The cost of the orchards range from just over a hundred dollars to around five hundred dollars.  The vast majority of the orchards were in the quarter to one half acre range which we believed would be sufficient for a few people to manage.  Anything more then an acre requires quite a few people to maintain.  The passion fruit take a great deal of maintenance and TLC to bring it to maturity.  If a stakeholder(s) cannot find the time to dig the holes then does the stakeholder(s) have the time to care for the maturing vines?  If anyone would like to comment about paying for labor to dig holes I would be most appreciative.  The added cost of digging holes to a project is between ten and twenty five shillings per hole or up to two hundred dollars an acre.  Two hundred dollars might not sound like a lot of money but that two hundred dollars will plant up to another third of an acre for someone else.  I can also see that providing funds to dig holes provides needed income to someone in need.  There is benefit either way but what gives us the bigger bang for the buck?

The money was lent out through the NGO micro-finance venture we set up back in July on that visit.  After the passion fruit start to come in after six months or so the loans will have to be paid back in time to Wamulu International so we can start to take that money and any future funds to plant more orchards or fund other projects.  We are not anticipating any loan payments until at least April of next year. 

The next six months cannot happen quick enough for me.  Before we move forward with this venture we have to see some real progress and viability.  This project is a real test of my faith.  I sit here eight thousand miles away from the project with no plans to go back anytime soon and all I can do is wait.  I do not know if I am conveying my feelings on this or not but let me tell you that this is not the way I like to operate. 

As I get more updates and photos I will pass them along.  Please continue to pray for God's grace to come upon these good folk in Western Kenya as they try to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Thank you for listening and God bless you all.

Dave

PS:  Many of you have commented on my ablility to spell correctly, get the names right, and such.  Let me just say that I have been making mistakes all along (how would you know) and my friends in Kenya are not about to tell me that I have made a mistake.  Just not in their culture to do that.  For the longest time I thought Bulimbo was Bulinda.  I also thought Wamulu International was Wamula International.  I thought Councilor Bibiana was Councilor Bianna.  Shoot I still do not know if Bibiana is spelled correctly.  I can't count how many times I talked with the councilor and called her Bianna.  Think about this the next time you are with someone that calls you the wrong name.  How many times are you going to let them say your name wrong until you correct them?  Not only did I say her name wrong to her personally many times.  Every time I referenced her no one corrected me until I heard Hezron call her by her real name.  He told me I could call her Bianna if I wanted to.  Are these people gracious or what?

  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 16, 2011

Hi all

Just wanted to check in.  When I started this blog back in April most of my viewers were from the states.  I check my blog audience every now and then.  For the last month or so I actually get more visitors from outside the United States on any given day then from within the United States.  So I would like to say thank you to all my viewers where ever you might be. 

Tomorrow Hezron will continue to deliver seedlings to the area orchards.  Hopefully within this next week or so I can report that all the seedlings have been delivered and put in the ground.  Deliveries of timber are also happening this next week.  I am not sure when the three day training session will be held.  I was hoping that it would be this week or next week.

As I get word on the progress of this week I will report in again.

Take care and God bless   

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 13, 2011

Greetings

Well I have been back in the states for a couple of days now and I thought I would be able to blog last night.  I was wrong.  Yesterday after I left the plant I found myself very tired.  I guess my body must have thought it was two in the morning so I slept.  I do not remember having the time change problem last time I came back.  For the last week I have been very tired and sometimes I get very nauseous.  Both Pastor Dave and Councilor Ben came down with something while I was in Busia.  This time I am going to continue to take my malaria medicine for a couple more weeks as recommended. 

Overall I feel that this last trip was a success.  Our goal was to be planting seedlings the first couple of weeks in October or five to six weeks before the rainy season starts in late November.  Some of the seedlings were planted about a month ago.  Some more were planted last week and some more are being planted this week.  Next week the balance or close to it should have been planted.  The chemicals, timber, and wire are all purchased and instructions have been left on how to distribute them all.  A training session is being planned in Mumias next week or the week after to train all the stake holders in proper care of the orchard.  I have also given instructions to everyone that if there are any problems I want to know about it.  Some time in February or March we will know if our efforts have paid off.

On my last visit to the first Kakamega widow’s orchard I noticed that the seedlings were starting to really take hold.  I did some more research on passion fruit and found out that the first 3 months after transplanting the seedlings are very slow to take hold.  After the third or fourth month they really start to take off.  I guess this is why there are different size vines all over the orchard.  The highest of the vines had just started to reach the eight foot mark upon my first visit during the first week.  After the third week that vine had already grown another one to two feet and is traveling across the wire.  Other vines that were below the wire had already reached the wire and have started to move across the wire as well.  Most of the vines that had survived from the fungi infected scions were in the four to seven foot range.  As I said in one of my earlier blogs Robert had been given some diseased scions that were grafted and did not take hold.  They have all been replaced with a new batch of seedlings.

As I get progress reports I will blog the results with some pictures of the various plots as time goes on.  We have prepared a total of about six to seven acres of passion fruit on 27 plots.  This is way more then I thought we could accomplish.  I am still of little faith and maybe I worry too much.  I am back here eight thousand miles from the six thousand little babies and if something happens I pray that I can fix it from here.  So stay tuned as I will continue to blog as I get information to pass along.  I would again like to thank everyone that reads this blog, everyone that has contributed to our venture, to all my hosts while I was in Kenya, to all that have prayed for our success, and to the one that has made all this possible our Lord God Almighty.  It is for him that we do this.  Amen!  

Here are some more pictures I shot out of the plane window.

A few fish ponds outside of Kisumu



Western Kenya farmlands



One of the many tea plantations in Western Kenya

1/3 or all the world's tea comes from Kenya



Another tea plantation with workers quarters



Edge of Kakamega forest with tea fields


   
Take care and be blessed.

Dave 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back in the states

Hi all

Just want to say I am back in the states safe and sound but extremely tired.  I tried to sleep on the plane from Nairobi to Amsterdam.  Could not do it.  Tried to get some sleep on my 7 hour layover in Amsterdam.  Could not do it.  Tried to get some sleep on the plane to Chicago.  Could not do it.  The last half of the journey from Amsterdam my eyes were on fire and my tear ducts were trying to put the fire out.  I really do not understand.  I get in my car.  I start driving and if I wasn't supposed to be driving I could sleep just fine.  I am on my last wind and it is off to Wendy's for a Spicy Chicken sandwich.  I was trying to think of something else to eat but I just can't help it.  I am a creature of habit.

Got to keep this short so tomorrow I will try and wrap the trip all up.

Take care and God bless

Dave

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 24 October 10, 2011 Nairobi

Greetings

Yesterday I could not get on the internet again so I did not even try to post.  Yesterday I spent all day going over the last of the calculations and documents for the 27 orchards.  Also yesterday Hezron and Robert joined me at the guest house and I showed Hezron and Robert how I wanted the chemicals packaged.  I showed them to how to measure each of the chemicals and put them in bags and plastice bottles based on the amount needed at each feed for each orchard.  Example the widow's in Mumias have 246 vines.  One of the fungicides is called Ridomil and is to be applied after one month every two weeks if needed up to the third month.  There can only be a maximum of 3 applications in the two month window.  The amount of Ridomil per feed is 61.5 grams in 24.6 litres of water.  So we package 61.5 grams in a zip lock bag and marked it Mumias Widows, Ridomil, 64.5 grams.  I have prepared a chemical worksheet for each of the 27 orchards with the right amount and instructions for chemical on each plot.  There is another fungicide that is put on at the 2 month mark for one application.  Then there is another fungicide that is used from months three thru six for a maximum of 5 applications.  There is also an insecticide and a miticide.  We also have fertilizer and a foliar that will help with the maturing of the vines.  After the first six months up to harvest has one set of chemicals and then as the orchard starts to harvest another set of chemicals will be needed on the mature vines through the life of the vine.  They all will be given a list of the chemicals that will be needed after the start of harvesting but it is not included in our project since once they start to harvest we are looking for them to maintain their own orchard with the earnings of the orchard.  God is great.

I am leaving the country and I have done the best I can to get all the resources and instructions to continue until harvest next March.  I have left some money for training, transportation, and some spare money in case we have a problem somewhere and they need to fix it.  Some more seedlings will be planted  later this week and then again next week.  We are looking to do the training either next week or the week after.  We were successful in planting all the orchards under our budget.  We used the rest of the budget money to pay for transport, training, extra costs, and some spare in case of emergency.

Today I got up at four thirty to get ready for the start of my long journey home.  My taxi was waiting at five am sharp to take me to Kisumu International Airport for my flight to Nairobi.  After a little over an hour we were in Kisumu.  No police on the road when it is dark.  The flight from Kisumu thru Eldoret was uneventful except no one wanted to sit next to me.  There was one empty seat on the plane and it was next to me.  I did take a shower this morning before we left? 

After arriving in Nairobi at nine thirty Pastor Ososo was waiting patiently outside and we rented a driver for the day.  We were then off to Matasia to visit a while before we had to head back to town to drop Pastor Ososo off so he could catch a bus to Kampala, Uganda and myself to the airport.  On the way to Matasia we were going by the Ngong road Nakumatt center and behold the Colonel on a big KFC sign.  Kenya has hit the big time.  We did not have time to stop and my craving is for spicy chicken and even though I like KFC I will be home in many hours and I can have whatever I want.  Maybe next time I will have to stop and see if the secret recipe has made it across the pond.

After our visit at Pastor Ososo's home we were off.  We took Pastor Dave back to the Huruma slum.  You know I have been in all major slums in Nairobi including Huruma several times.  But this time it seemed much different.  I am not sure if the driver took a different route but we were deep into the slum and he rolled up my window for my protection.  Personally I did not feel threatened but it looked and smelled much different then the previous times I had visited.  This time I noticed much more refuge piled up everywhere.  The flies and the stench was beyond belief.  People were sitting in their shops with little or no customers looking sad as usual.  Many of the children and many of the shop owners were covered in flies.  My only thought was that if there are billions of flies then somewhere there must be billions of maggots waiting to transform into a fly.   I really thought I was accustomed to the slums since I have been in them quite a few times.  But again going through the Huruma slum today was a real eye opener.  Huruma slum is the second largest slum in Nairobi after Kibera.  After we dropped Dave off we were then off to the airport for my wait to leave Kenya tonight.

I have eaten a hamburger at the Java Cafe and it was pretty tasty.  As I sat there I noticed that the place was packed with about 40 or 50 customers.  Every one of them including me was white.  Where do all these white people go when they are here.  I know when I am traveling around I see very few.  Just an observation.  Anyway my flight is going to be a couple of hours late and luckily I have a five hour layover in Amsterdam.  Should be ok with my flight back to the states tomorrow.  This is my last blog from Kenya on this trip and it has been a real pleasure.  I would like to thank all my hosts for their gracious hospitality while I was here.  Hope to see you all soon.  Good luck with the orchards and my God have his grace on all of you.  I would also like to thank those that have donated to this cause and all that have prayed and continue to pray for these people.  We still have much work to do so please keep these people in your prayers.

Take care and be blessed.

Dave   

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 22 October 8,2011 Kakamega

Greetings

This has been a really long day.  I have spent the whole day working to get all the documents and data sheets done for all 27 orchards.  We had purchased a total of seven different chemicals each of them having a different schedule.  I went through all the data on every chemical to make sure that it will be applied properly.  I had Hezron go out and get me some small plastic bottles to put the liquids in so I can give them exact measurements for the next six months.  I also have some bags for the powder chemicals to get them properly put onto the vines as well.

Hezron also had the wire in tow upon his arrival this morning.  When I had a meter of 12 gage wire measured at the hardware store it came in at 28 grams.  The total length of wire that I needed was around 12,500 meters.  When we calculated the total we were in need of a little more then nine 50 Kg spools.  So instead of breaking a spool down I decided to buy the full roll.  Today I took another meter of wire and this time it came in at 38 grams.  I told Hezron that this is not good.  I quickly took out the calculator and luckily instead of needing just over nine 50 Kg spools we now needed just under ten 50 Kg spools.  We still have a little bit left for error.

Well I am down to my last full day and I am not done yet.  After church tomorrow Hezron and Robert will be back at the guest house to wrap this up.  I am still printing out all the documents and will be for a few more hours.  I am writing this kinda late.  It is already in the morning and I feel like I am against the wall in getting the last little bit of stuff done.  The widow’s in Kakamega wanted me to come today to visit but I had to keep working and I feel bad but I do need to try to finish this before I leave.

  
Take care and be blessed.               

Dave 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 21 October 7, 2011 Kakamega

Greetings

Today is short and sweet.  I stayed at the guest house and Hezron left for Kitale early this morning to pick up the wire for the orchards.  It was supposed to be in yesterday but did not arrive until around today.  Hezron was not feeling well so he has stopped in Webuye to rest and we will meet up tomorrow.

Since we had bought all the chemicals and wire in bulk I now have to get the proper amount to each orchard.  Today I worked on the distribution lists for both the chemicals and wire so we can divvy it up.  I hope we have time to do this tomorrow.  I have two days left before I leave on Monday and I really need to make sure that everything will be alright before I leave.

I also went to purchase some packaging supplies for the chemicals and stopped by fly540 to get my ticket to Nairobi.  I am taking the early Monday morning flight and will have to get up really early to make it to Kisumu by .  Robert knows a taxi guy that is going to charge me a decent fare to Kisumu.

Tomorrow I will spend more time on wrapping up this trip.  The documents for each orchard are in the computer and I need to spend some time printing them all or taking them to the cyber cafĂ© to print for me.  Hezron should be here mid morning and we will go prepare the chemicals and wire for distribution when he takes the seedlings to the orchards.  The posts are all being purchased locally and only Bungoma has not secured any posts.  So after tomorrow everything should be prepared and ready for those left behind to finish.

Take care and be blessed.               

Dave 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 20 October 6, 2011 Bungoma

Greetings

Today we were on the road fairly early.  We stopped at Hezron’s home and exchanged the car for his truck so we could pick up all the chemicals in Bungoma this afternoon.  After a brief visit at his home we headed over to Mumias to the widow’s site to show them how to plant the vines.  We showed them about four holes then had them do another four holes before we left.  Since the holes had been open for well over a week we did not need to put any fungi killer into the hole.  The procedure to mix the soil is as follows.  Step one is to take about a hand full of DAP and put it into a cup.  We used a table spoon and about 4 and a half of them to keep the measurement even throughout the 246 holes.  Second step is to put a bowl full of cow poop into the hole with about half the cup of DAP with some dirt until the hole is about half full.  Step three is to mix the contents of the hole really well.  Step four is to repeat step two putting the rest of the DAP with some cow poop and dirt almost filling the hole.  Step five is to repeat step three.  Step six is to stick a nine foot stick into the hole for support of the vine.  Step seven is to dig a small hole about 2 inches from the stick to put in the seedling plug.  Step eight is to take the seedling plug and start to break up the dirt inside the bag.  Step nine is to fill the seedling plug with water and remove the bag.  Step ten is to break up the plug a little and put it into the hole from step seven.  Step eleven is to pat down the dirt around the seedling and give it plenty of water.  Step twelve is to attach the vine to the support stick with some twine.  We have now planted a passion fruit seedling.  We are now on our way to plant another 5999 or so.

After we left the widow’s site we headed off to Bungoma to meet up with Robert at the chemical store to finish this task.  On our way we had to be stopped by a few police people since we are in a truck.  Usually when you are in a car the police just pass you on.  All the Matatu’s and commercial vehicles are stopped at every town and sometimes in between towns.  We were in Hezron’s truck and as far as the police are concerned the truck is a commercial vehicle.  Luckily there are no issues with his truck right now thanks to one of our readers.  Thanks again.  It is really just too funny.  The police just stand on the side of the road and pull people over.  There are usually at least two of them sometimes more.  Hezron tells me they are all hungry so they just look for problems and either arrest you and take you to the station or you can pay on the spot.  I guess it depends on how hungry they are and how many of them there are to determine the duty.  Many of them know the Bishop since he frequents all these towns in the Western Province frequently.  They usually greet him and they pass him on.  He tells me that they think he is paid well from the churches so it is his duty to give the police some money since they are hungry.  If you are driving a commercial vehicle for any long distances here you might want to consider carrying a wad of money to pass out along the way.

We finally met up with Robert at the chemical store.  We went over the list of chemicals and ordered what we felt we needed in fertilizer, fungicide, insecticides, and foliar.  The total came out to be about 88,000 Ksh and all I had was about 80,000 Ksh in cash.  We then headed to the bank to withdraw the rest of the needed money to pay for all the needed supplies, training, and transport costs before I leave.  In Kenya the largest bill is a 1,000 Ksh note which is about ten bucks.  In order to finish off all the purchases before I leave I took about 290,000 Ksh and added it to the 80,000 Ksh I already had.  I am wearing shorts today and it was difficult to keep four huge wads of money in my pockets from being seen.  Robert was worried as we left the bank and kept saying this is Kenya (TIK).  I quickly told him the same thing can happen to me in the states as I walk out of a bank but here I have you to protect me.  We walked out of the bank and as usual I blended right in with the crowd as we walked up the street.  No one notices me here.

We got back to the chemical store and paid the bill and we were off to drop Robert off in his home town of Bulimbo.  I’m sorry I have been calling it Bulinda for a couple of weeks now and I now stand corrected.  Not sure where I got Bulinda from.  I must have read a sign as we passed by too quickly and I saw Bulinda not Bulimbo.  After dropping Robert off we headed back to Kakamega with a few pit stops to chat with the police along the way.  We did pass one officer along the way and did not stop.  As we passed the officer he gave us the pointy finger as if to warn Hezron for not stopping.  Hezron told me that he does not pull over unless they flag him down.  He thinks this guy just expected him to pull over to pay him a visit.  Luckily he wasn’t one of the police people with machine guns. 

Tomorrow in the morning I will continue to work on all the calculations and spreadsheets for each of the plots.  Today the exchange rate changed from 104 back down to 98 so I need to put in the new numbers.  Hezron is going to leave at about four thirty in the morning to leave for Kitale to pick up the wire.  There are many towns along the way and he does not want to stop and chat with all the police before and after each town.  He feels much better if he only has to do it on the way back.  Not sure what we are doing once Hezron gets back tomorrow afternoon.

It's snowing here in Kenya



The snowflakes are almost as big as marbles



Take care and be blessed.               

Dave 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 19 October 5, 2011 Mumias

Greetings

The days are winding down and only a few more weekdays before departure.  Last night I finished the chemical calculations and tomorrow we will be going to Bungoma to look for the supplies.  There has been a run on wire in the country and hopefully tomorrow or Friday at the latest the wire will be in.  I had lost the price that I had acquired a few weeks ago but when I did the revision with the new exchange rate the total cost is about the same. 

This morning we started out at the original orchard site to replace some dead ones and to check on the progress of the other Kakamega sites.  Progress in Kakamega is not going as expected and it will be another week before they start planting.  We took some seedlings to the widow’s in Mumias and we will be there early in the morning to show them how to plant them.  The rest of Mumias will be planting this week or next.  Bungoma is ready to plant as well so they will plant as soon as we can get them the seedlings.  Mt. Elgon and Busia are also within a week of planting.  The goal was to have them all planted within the first two weeks of October or four to six weeks before the rainy season later in November.  I won’t be here for the majority of the planting but everything should be in place to make it happen without me.

Today we delivered 250 seedlings to the widow’s in Mumias.  We will now have about 500 of the 5000 seedlings planted.  The Bulinda sites are ready to plant but since Robert has been doing passion fruit for many years I am not to concerned with the thousand we are planting in his area.

I flew in to Kakamega two weeks ago and I was looking to fly out of Kakamega on Monday morning.  I went to fly540 this afternoon to get a ticket and the lady told me that flights have been suspended out of Kakamega until November.  I asked her why and she told me that the runway was being repaved.  I was there just two weeks ago and the runway and staging area were like brand new.  She told me that they did not do a very good job and it had to be redone.  I have taken off on that runway and I have landed on that runway and it was smooth both times.  Now if the runways at the airports and airstrips are like the roads here in Kenya then by all means fix them.  So now I have some hard choices to make.  The nearest airports are in Kisumu or Eldoret.  I can take the 45 minute to one hour drive to either of them really early in the morning and have a short thirty to forty minute flight to Nairobi.  I will need to be at either airport at so I would have to leave the guest house by in the morning.  Or I can take Easy Coach and spend 11 hours in a bus dying because the guy in front of me will not let me keep the window down unless he wants to throw out some trash.  The journey back to the states has begun and I am so not looking forward to it.

Tomorrow we will first start at the widow’s site in Mumias to get them planting.  Then we will be off to Bungoma to finalize the chemicals.  If the wire comes in tomorrow we will then head up to Kitale to get it.  We will also work out some more of the details to get those that need to be trained either the week of October 17 or October 24.  As for the posts Kakamega, Bulinda, Mt. Elgon, and Busia are finalized.  The posts for Bungoma and Mumias are still in progress.  I do pray that this all comes together and I can feel better about leaving on Monday.       

Take care and be blessed.               

Dave 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 18 October 4, 2011 Kitale

Greetings

I lost the last couple of days so I will just go ahead and get caught up.  On Sunday after a long day on Saturday I did not do much at all.  On Monday we went back to Mumias to try and get the link between the accounts working at the bank.  The manager told us that they are having a technical problem with the internet banking in Nairobi.  They should have it fixed in a couple of days.  I have not seen it yet but hopefully it will be working before I leave next Monday.  We spent the rest of Monday sourcing chemicals, wire, and support posts.  Wow I wiped out two days in one paragraph.

Let me see if I can make today a little longer.  I will start out with another little story that you might get a kick out of.  I know the Bishop and I got a great laugh out of it.  This morning we decided to go up to the Bungoma orchards and to Moi’s Bridge to meet up with Colin for a bit.  On the way to Kitale from Webuye the police were out in force.  Normally we are passed through and not stopped.  Today we were stopped three times within a span of 50 kilometers.  The first cop was looking for a bite to eat but we did not give him any money and he let us go.  The second stop was with a more professional group of police with machine guns.  Hezron has a little problem with his car and the officer was kind enough to let us go again.  These gentlemen are out of Nairobi and they looked like they were doing a fine job with the arrests for the day.  As we approached Kitale we were stopped again by the local police without guns.  The nice young policewoman asked for the license and checked the insurance before noticing the crack in the windshield.  She also gave Hezron a warning and told him to get it repaired.  She then told him if she sees him again she is going to arrest him.  We then departed and went about our way.  As soon as we arrived in Kitale we had a flat tire.  After a small bite to eat we had it repaired and we were off to visit with Colin in Moi’s Bridge.  After a quick visit with Colin we headed back to Kitale to find some 12 gage wire to buy.  On our way back to Kitale we were following a few large trucks that were bringing with them some large dirt clouds.  We were now on a different road then we were on in the morning and up ahead was the nice young police lady that let us go earlier.  I told Hezron that the lady that was going to arrest you when she saw you again is right up in front of those trucks.  Well God has a way of coming in at the right moment.  As the trucks went by her she was enveloped in a cloud of dirt and she started covering her face and rubbing her eyes just as we happened to drive by.  I looked right at her and she did not see us since she was busy rubbing her eyes.  The nice young police woman got to keep her promise and Hezron wasn’t arrested.  Isn’t life grand?

On the way to Kitale this morning we stopped at three of the four orchards that are near the main road to Kitale.  We were unable to locate the forth plot and really did not want to wait around to find it.  Hezron had sent me the dimensions before hand of the plots and this was more of a visit to check their progress.  We stopped at the first plot and we took a look see.  We started to count the rows and holes until I started to realize that my memory of this plot on paper was not this big.  I went back to the car and took out the computer to find out what the size is supposed to be.  Well the plot grew considerably from 108 seedlings to 196 seedlings.  It was now time to go and visit the second plot.  We arrived at the second plot.  We started to count the rows and holes of this plot when I thought to myself again that this plot is now bigger then on paper.  I pulled out the computer again to check the dimensions.  This second plot was originally 168 seedlings and has now grown to 226 seedlings.  Before I put the computer away I checked the other two plot sizes before we went so I would not have to pull out the computer again.  We then were off to the third plot and Pastor Jeremiah’s wife (Mary?) told us to proceed to Robert’s shamba.  I do not have a Robert on the list for Bungoma orchards.  Well it turns out that there are not four plots but five that have been prepared.  I found this most interesting.  I have seen the first two plots grow considerably and there is now a fifth plot.  We then were off to what was supposed to be the smallest of the four plots and when we arrived I did not have to take a count to see that there was a problem.  I got out of the car once we stopped and I started to count the rows and holes.  This particular plot was supposed to have only 65 seedlings and now has grown to 186.  After we left this plot we went to look for the fourth plot but were unable to find it.  The fourth plot was to be the largest of the plots with 280 seedlings.  I guess I should be thankful that we didn’t find it since the first three have grown considerably and a fifth plot just so happened to be prepared.

Pastor Jeremia's site



Pastor Augustine's Site



Pastor Doricus's site



This is what happens when you let a passion fruit vine go



Mt. Elgon was in view today



A couple of boys came to rub my arm while waiting for Colin


I have now been in Kenya four times.  I have told you about time many times.  Agreeing to stay for ten more minutes means that lunch or dinner will be served shortly.  Many times the chicken is not even dead yet.  I can understand this completely.  It is not often that visitors come and the hospitality of the Kenyans is beyond gracious.  We could learn much from their culture on treatment of visitors.  I need to find the right line to getting the work done and being a good visitor.  I have ADHD and I usually prefer only one meal a day.  This is not very conducive to being here in Kenya.  Today the plot sizes are just another learning experience for me to absorb.  This I can understand completely as well.  Put yourself in their shoes and maybe you can see what I see.  I have a budget, I have only a certain amount of time, and I want it done right.  Try and capitalize on any two and the other suffers.  Kenyans see me and there is no such thing as a budget.  Even with the small amount that I am working with right now is a fortune to some of these people.  Time well I have already told you about time.  Lastly I want to have it done right within my budget constraints and in the allotted time.  Some day I will need to spend a whole blog on doing something right.

Just another small example and maybe you can understand it is almost impossible for many of these people to do much of anything right all the time.  In the US if I had as many puncture holes and lack of tread wear that Hezron has on some of his tires I would of gotten new tires by now.  You would too.  Today while we were having our flat tire fixed I noticed another gentleman bringing his tire to have it repaired.  The attendant pulled out the tube and there must have been fifteen to twenty patches on the tube.  The tire was bald with little to no tread left.  They found the leak in the tube and put another patch on it.  He pulled out some change and off he went.  Our flat tire was something similar.  The attendant pulled the tube and there were numerous patches from where Hezron had had it repaired before.  Now the tube which still looks brand new except for the patches has at least a half a dozen holes in it.  What does a poor person do?  If I wasn’t with Hezron at the time his options would be very limited.  He does not have the means to spend 40,000+ Ksh on new tires.  A new tube is anywhere from 500 Ksh to 1000 Ksh.  Or to repair with a patch for about 100 Ksh which includes labor.  Today we bought a new tube and we were on our way.  In the course of a few weeks quite a few thousand shillings have been spent on repairing tires.  It is not near the range of new tires yet but I would bet that in a course of a year or so many thousands of shillings will have been spent.  This is their life and they make do with what they have.

As of right now the people in Bungoma have to live within the budgeted numbers on the plots.  I am going to re-crunch the numbers to see if we can accommodate some more seedlings, wire, and chemicals.  The posts pretty much stay the same since the amount of seedlings grew within the rows and not the number of rows so much.  I only have a few days left before I leave and there is so much more to do before departure.

Tomorrow we will be delivering the seedlings to Mumias since they are ready to plant.  I will finish with the chemical calculations tonight so we can get the dosages to the farmers.  I put the deposit on the wire and it should be delivered by Friday(?).  The exchange rate went up and so did the wire price.  It should be close to a wash since it went up about the same as the exchange rate. 


Take care and be blessed.               

Dave 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 15 October 1, 2011 Nabeki

Greetings

I wish everyone a happy October first.  On the first day of the tenth month Noah saw land where only water was before.  He realized that the waters were receding and that there was going to be a new beginning.  I too mark the first day of the tenth month (I use a different calendar) as my new beginning.  It was four years ago today that I made a commitment to our Lord to be a different person.  I went from being the pilot of my own way to allowing God to fly the course.  Granted it has not been easy to be in control for that many years and to suddenly allow your life to be controlled by faith alone.  Since that day four years ago I have watched my life ripped apart at the seams.  I watched as my health took a turn for the worse and I still feel the effects especially today.  I watched as my family was torn apart as if a piece of paper.  I looked on as my earthly riches (not that I had a lot) disappeared to virtually nothing.  Four years later I sit here with tears in my eyes and wonder what in God’s name am I doing here?  This is not what I expected and sometimes I want to throw him out of the seat and take my life back.  God has given us free will and I can choose to get out of the car at any time.  Or can I?  Along this journey I have seen too much to ignore the fact that God is in control of the Universe and I might not like the course he takes but in the end we will both have gotten to where we wanted to go.  I am so humbled to be his hands and feet on the ground here in East Africa.  I accept my position in life and if this is what he wants of me then so be it.  Also if anyone is counting today is my 100th post to this blog. 

Today was one of those days here in Kenya (TIK).  It started with a flat tire and it pretty much ended with a couple of flat tires.  We were to leave Busia this morning around but Ben had a flat and we were delayed for a bit to go back to Kakamega so Hezron and I could travel to Kitale/Mt. Elgon.  We arrived back in Kakamega at and by about eleven we were on our way to Kitale to meet up with Pastor Moses and his wife Jane.  We arrived in Kitale around one thirty and spent an hour or so with Moses and his wife before we were to head across town to meet up with Pastor Joseph to head up the mountain and look at the orchard site.  The road to Webuye from Kakamega is a really fine road however the road from Webuye to Kitale well let us say you try to miss one pothole you hit another.  I find it interesting that you can be arrested and pay huge fines here in Kenya for not keeping your car in good condition but the government has no responsibility to take care of the roads that cause much of the damage to the same cars.  I guess it’s all about revenue.  

Janean this is for you!!



Matete Kenya along the road to Webuye



After we left Pastor Moses and Jane we headed across town and picked up Pastor Joseph and started to travel up the mountain.  Once we left the tarmac at Endebess the climb started and Joseph told us that we could not take the road that we used on my last visit because it was not in good shape and that the road we were going to take was in better shape.  We turned off a really bad road and onto a worse road to continue our journey up to the site.  We are in a four door sedan and we are not on a road but a path that the people and cows use to come up and down the mountain.  We are literally going to eight or nine thousand feet up a mountain in a Nissan four door sedan.  What are we thinking?  We must have stopped at least a half a dozen times or more to get out and survey the situation for a proper route.  At one location we actually had to dig out stones to clear the way.  We went through pastures, gulleys, corn fields, forests, and all different kinds of terrain.  We went down into a pretty deep valley and we were going through some bush and we had a puncture.  Well let me tell you what it feels like to be where we were with a bad spare for the replacement tire and we were still on our way up the mountain not down.  I really did not feel that comfortable.  The rain was over the mountain and we were unsure when it was going to hit us and I really did not want to be where I was once the rain starts.  We continued to travel out of the patch of forest into the fields of maize zigzagging up the mountain until we could go no farther.  We got out of the car since there was no way our car or pretty much any vehicle except a motor bike could pass.  Joseph pointed up and said we have to go up to that tree.  That tree was at least another four or five hundred feet straight up.  I could feel my heart pounding as it was trying to supply oxygen throughout my body since we must already be somewhere around eight thousand feet up.  There was no way I was going to be able to walk up to that tree.  For those of you that have a hard time believing there is a God then why was there a motor bike just happening to be at that spot to take me the rest of the way?  We are in the middle of a corn field in the middle of nowhere and this kid just so happens to be sitting there waiting for a Mzungu with a breathing problem to show up.  We also used him later to travel back down the mountain with the bad tire to be repaired and to be ready to travel back with it if we had a problem on the way down.  The kid was a gift from heaven and I hope that the money that I gave him made his day. 

Once we were at the orchard site I had decided that this site is the most picturesque of all the orchards we are going to plant.  The view from up here is magnificent and the pictures do not show the real beauty from this vantage point.  On this plot we will be planting about eight hundred seedlings for a mixture of ministries.  Not only do we want to help with the clinic but there is the overall ministry to help address the IDP’s and squatters in the vicinity.  My understanding is that the violence with the help of the Kenyan military and the death of the rebel leader things have calmed down a bit.  I learned the difference between an IDP and a squatter today.  An IDP is an Internally Displaced Person(s) whom were moved from their homes by the government after the post election violence in 2008 to tents on the mountain and elsewhere.  My understanding is that the camp near our orchard site has about three hundred or so people that still need to be relocated.  Some have been given land, some have since left, and some are still there.  There are only two camps left on the mountain.  A Squatter on the other hand is a person that has their roots on the mountain from Colonial times.  The mountain is very fertile and the British Colonists denuded large swaths on the side of the mountain and put up huge plantations.  After Independence in the mid sixties the government seized the land, kept some and redistributed some to those they wanted to have it.  The violence stemmed from the fact that one tribe was the ruling tribe and the others were not.  Majority rules and the majority got the land.  Well those that worked the land for the Colonists had no where to go after the Colonists were sent packing.  So they just stayed and the government has been trying to make them leave for quite some time.  We are now almost fifty years since Independence and the original workers are pretty much dead or very old and it is the generations that have followed that are still there working the ground.  I am lead to believe that within the next couple of years under the new Constitution the government and the people of the mountain will have worked out their differences.  People are being relocated and some are getting land so they can stay.  However all these people that live on this north side of the mountain near the Uganda border still have to travel about twenty kilometers to any resemblance of a medical facility.  So my prayer is that we can really help this ministry by planting an orchard to help fund a clinic in this small village named Nabeki. 

Orchard site on Mt. Elgon



Has a great view towards Uganda



Another view of the orchard site



Some children in the village of Nabeki Kenya



After a quick bite to eat we started back down the mountain and it was getting late.  The rain was just sitting there looking to hit us at any time.  We really did not want this to happen and we thank God that we made it to the main road before we encountered any moisture.  Luckily we were on the main road once we started to move sideways because of no traction.  We were able to stay out of the ditch but if we were to go in there were plenty of people to get us out.  On one occasion we went into a pretty cool swerve and the people on the side of the road scattered out of the way as quickly as possible.  All we could do was laugh it off.  We met the young man with our spare tire and we thanked him with his time and effort for us today.  I wonder if he realizes how his contribution to our effort was so important to us.  It was now dark and getting late but we still had a bit before we could get back into Kitale to change our spare since it would not be sufficient to get us back to Kakamega.  We went to a gas station that had a tire repair and there was only one person with a boat load of customers.  We changed the spare with the repaired tire and while Hezron was checking the other tires we had another tire that was loosing air.  We had a two hour trip back to Kakamega and it would not be a good idea to go back without a spare or use the spare he has.  It was decided to repair the tire before we left and it was already late.  The poor guy had so many customers and we waited our turn to have our flat fixed.  After an hour or so we were off to Kakamega.  As I said earlier the road from Kitale to Webuye is not so good.  Well let me tell you when it is night time it is really dark and the road is worse.  You cannot see the potholes until you are about to hit one.  Try to miss it and you hit another.  If I had to guestimate how many potholes and bumps my kidneys were punched today it would be well into the hundreds.  We finally arrived back in Kakamega around eleven thirty and I started to write this blog. 

As I said earlier in my blog it is my choice to get in and out of a car.  As I left Hezron I told him that tomorrow I am not getting in a car.  We will do something Monday.  It is now Sunday and I am going to rest and enjoy the day.  I have tried to post this blog but I cannot get to the internet with my modem either in 3G or 2G.  I will post it as soon as I can.  I was not able to post my last post to facebook either but was able to send it out to my other lists.  This is Kenya (TIK).    


Take care and be blessed.               

Dave