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Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31, 2011

Greetings

It’s been almost two weeks since arriving back in the states.  Why is it?  Two weeks here in the states seems like no time at all but in Africa two weeks seemed like a really long time.  The ten weeks I spent in Kenya seemed like two and a half monthsJ.  Ever take a vacation for two weeks and wonder where the time had gone?  I did not get that feeling when I was away.  However I do wonder where the last two weeks have gone.

For the next few days I thought I would try to update my blog with a little update of what we were able to accomplish and how it is progressing so far with each project.  In the next couple of weeks I will try and paint a better picture of what we plan to accomplish in the next six months or so. 

Our first project that we got involved with was the ground nut and simsims at the United Methodist Church in Matasia (Ngong Hills) in the suburbs of Nairobi.  This five year old project helps support eleven or so orphans by providing funds so they can be fed, clothed, and pay for boarding school at various locations in Central Kenya.  Essentially all the product that is made for the day is sold out nightly.  The constraints are raw materials, roasting, packaging, licenses, medical inspections, and labeling.  We provided a donation to the UMC Nairobi District Headquarters to add money to their micro-finance operation to help fund and expand this project for the Matasia church. 


Ground nuts and simsims ready for packaging



With the money the church has purchased raw materials, a new bag sealer, and new Jiko.  They are also working on getting the license and medical inspections to operate legally.  On top of this they have now rented a store with two employees on the main road from Ngong Hills where they are now selling various raw materials to help fund this project even more.  I am told that the daily profits are about a thousand shillings and with time the profits will be much higher now that the local residents do not have to travel as far to get their grains.  The store sells cereals including the ground nuts, maize, rice, beans, and even eggs.  The store has electricity and the next expansion is to start making cookies and cakes to sell too. 

Some cereals



Some eggs



Cereal shop



Take care and God bless

Dave

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back in the US

Hi all

Well that was what I call a long journey.  I left the Sheywe Guest House for the Kakamega airstrip at seven am on Monday morning.  I spent a few hours with Pastor Ososo and family in Nairobi before going to the Nairobi airport at four in the afternoon.  I waited for about five hours before the night flight to Amsterdam.  We arrived in Amsterdam shortly after sunrise and I headed over to get some breakfast.  I do not know what they were trying to serve us on our flight from Nairobi but it was not fit for human consumption.  I remember the little box that it came in.  It had the KLM logo on it and it had some words printed on it "Delicious Food".  Both dinner and breakfast on the flight were just nasty.  Gives a whole new meaning to airline food.  Anyway I had a wonderful breakfast at a little eatery at Schiphol and it was worth the twenty six bucks I paid for it. 

After a few hours it was time to board the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.  After another long flight on another crowded plane we arrived on time in Detroit.  The food on that flight was much better but I can not figure out how to get any sleep.  By this time my eyes were on fire from not having any sleep and I knew I still had quite a few hours to go.  Upon arrival in Detroit I passed through the long lines at customs without any major hurdles.  After customs it was time to go back through the security procedures again.  I guess the US does not trust any other countries security procedures for boarding aircraft so everyone must be checked again before getting on a domestic flight. 

After going through the process again it was time to find Wendy's and a spicy chicken sandwich.  Right next to my gate in terminal B was a Wendy's.  I noticed I am not the only weird one out there.  I saw a few other people that had been on my flight from Amsterdam coming in the Wendy's too.  I really enjoyed my sandwich.  After another hour or two it was time to leave for Philly.  I walked from the gate onto the jet way and I got my first reality check since coming home.  The heat hit me like a ton of bricks.  Welcome home!!  After a short taxi out to the runway the Captain came on and said we were next for takeoff.  We turned the corner onto the runway and he started to fire up the engines for takeoff.  Before we moved very far down the runway the engines slowed and we just moved down the runway without taking off.  The pilot turned the plane off the runway and went back to the staging area.  He came on and told us that our tiny plane would be delayed for a while because Philly had just shut down. 

By now I was feeling fairly anxious to get back.  Not only was the plane hot but the person next to me was much too big for her seat and took up part of mine.  After about a thirty minute delay we took off for Philly.  We landed in Philly an hour or so later to a packed airport.  The airport had shut down again and planes were everywhere.  Planes were landing but none were taking off.  We could not get to the gate because planes were just sitting there blocking the terminal.  So we sat again on the tarmac waiting to move for another hour and a half.  The airport opened again and before long we were at the gate.  My forty four hour journey home had just extended to forty six. 

It is good to be back and I finally got some sleep.  Many thanks to all of you that have been following along with this blog.  I pray that I have been able to show, explain to you a little about East Africa and the conditions in which these fine people live.  Our challenges here in the states are nothing compared to how some must cope with daily life in East Africa.  I will be posting again as soon as I can digest everything that has happened to me in the last few months.  In the last two and a half months there have been thousands of views from people in thirty countries.  I still have had no one from South America.  I also would like to thank all my friends in Kenya for making my stay as comfortable as possible for me.  I hope to see all of you again soon.

Again thanks and God bless you all

Dave 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 72 Amsterdam/Philly July 19, 2011

HI all

Made it to Amsterdam and sitting waiting for my flight to Detroit.  No sleep and I am tired. 

Take care and God bless

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 71 Nairobi July 18, 2011

Greetings

This morning got up early and started out to the bustling airstrip in Kakamega at sharp.  Within about fifteen minutes we were at the airstrip and my driver was assisting me with my baggage to the terminal for check in.  I had my baggage weighed and they told me that my baggage and back pack was about twenty pounds to heavy.  I thought I packed lite with only one suitcase and a back pack.  The plane had nineteen seats and there were only five of us on the flight.  Out of us five I was the only one that had a piece of luggage everyone else just had a brief case or backpack.  I guess my overweight bag really did not matter that much.

After I got my ticket there was a nice security dude and he told me that he did not have an x-ray device so he was going to have to remove everything from my bags and inspect them.  He ran across my extra Slim Jims in my backpack and he wondered what they were.  I didn’t want to tell them that they were little sticks of dynamite.  It could have been an international incident.  I gave him a few to eat later.  After he checked my luggage it was time for us to become more familiar and he gave me the TSA treatment.  I would have to say that there are not going to be any terrorists coming through Kakamega.

Kakamega Airstrip my journey starts here



Fly540 the Southwest of Kenya



We were supposed to land at Jumo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi but right before the flight they told us that we were going to Wilson Airport instead.  I quickly called Pastor Ososo that was heading to Kenyatta Airport to meet me.  I told him I would arrive at Wilson at .   Pastor Ososo was there to meet me and then we headed out to Matasia to see the ground nut project and the new cereal shop.  The cereal shop is doing very well and we need to look at finding a better source for his supplies to increase their margin.  After the shop we headed up to Pastor Ososo's home and they showed me the new bag sealer.  Perfect seal and no burnt fingers.  They are awaiting the approval of the certificate and once that happens and they get a label then off to the stores to increase sales.  After the visit in Matasia we headed over to the UMC District Headquarters in Kayole to meet with Pastor Odongo and his Pastor Ososo's on Reuben.  We spent a couple of hours working on his district blog.  After our visit to the headquarters it was off to the airport for my departure later tonight.

Pastor Ososo and staff at new Cereals Shop in Matasia



Some of the cereals they sell



New bag sealer and ground nuts



Sealed ten shilling ground nut bag



Sealed simsims in the bags



I made it through the process pretty quickly then went and found a bite to eat.  Found a nice little eatery at the end of the airport.  I had a bean and cheese burrito.  It was pretty tasty.  Then I splurged and had a piece of New York style cheesecake and a cup of Joe.  I now have another couple of hours to wait until my plane leaves.  I have found out that this plane is overbooked and they will be looking for volunteers to stay behind.  I already got one $1200 voucher for this trip when I was denied boarding in Amsterdam on the way here.  Another free ticket would really be a nice way to end the trip.

I am not sure what it is about Kenya.  I am in the main international airport here in Nairobi and there is no power.  I am sitting here in the dark again writing my blog.  I hope that the control tower and radar are working.

Take care and God bless

Dave

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 70 Kakamega July 17, 2011

Greetings

Today is my last full day here in Kenya and tomorrow morning I will start the long journey back to the states.  Today I finished up some documents and printed them out for Hezron.  I had my laundry done and everything is packed ready to go. 

Tomorrow I will wake up early and have the guest house shuttle take me to the Kakamega airstrip at .  I had asked the lady at the fly540 office what time I needed to be at the airstrip and she told me that I should be there thirty minutes before departure.  Not only does she work the ticket office in town she is also the gate attendant at the airstrip.  I wonder if she is also the security agent at the airstrip too.  I remember being at the airstrip up in Kisima and the terminal building was a two stall outhouse with no doors.  My flight to Nairobi is about an hour or so and will arrive at around nine thirty in the morning.  I want to take time to say thank you to her for getting me a reduced priced ticket.  I went on line and the fare was one hundred seventeen US dollars.  When I went to the fly540 office the other day she told me the fare was about ninety one US dollars.  I had reserved my flight and when I came back to pay later she had gotten the fare reduced to sixty five US dollars.  Not bad for a last minute flight and the relief that I will not have to take the eleven hour grueling bus trip across the country.

I had taken that bus ride once before on my first visit and let me tell you it was no fun.  It was really bumpy, dirty, and hot in that bus.  Once we got down into the Rift Valley the temperature in the bus became quite unbearable and I kept putting down the window to get some fresh dusty air.  The guy in the seat in front of me kept putting it back up every time another vehicle came by so we would not get a face full of dust.  Once you get past Nakuru it isn’t so bad.

Pastor Ososo will meet me at the airport in Nairobi around ten and we will spend the day together before I have to be back at the airport later that evening for my departure back to the states tomorrow night.

Take care and God bless

Dave

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 69 Mumias July 16, 2011

Greetings

This morning we were cutting it close to get to Mumias.  Hezron got a call yesterday that thieves were stealing his maize in Lumakanda and he had to go there and take care of it.  This morning we were to be at the Equity Bank in Mumias at to meet with Pastor Robert and get the token keys for the micro-finance account.  Hezron was able to get back to the guest house just before eleven and we were at the bank at sharp.  The bank closes at .

Robert arrived shortly before and we waited for the Account Manager Vincent to greet us.  The bank shut its doors right at and we met with Vincent and he told us that we would have to wait because the token keys were still in route from Nairobi.  We waited about thirty minutes more and then they arrived.  Robert signed for one key and I signed for the other.  Both keys will return back to the states with me.

After our goodbyes with Robert we went over to visit with Mathew a bit before we headed back to Kakamega to take another look at the widow’s passion fruit orchard.  The orchard looks great.  The widow’s have added a little nursery for collards to be planted between the rows.  They will also plant about twenty more passion fruit seedlings in a discrete location in case any more die.  It looks like every plant is healthy and continues to have new growth.  

The seedlings are starting to look really good



The graft of a disease resistant yellow (below) and purple passion fruit (above)



Even the one I caught a goat eating one day is coming back to life



They all have new growth



Nursery bed for the Collard Greens to be planted in between rows

I can't wait to come back and cook a huge pot (with pork bacon) of them for my friends

They call it Sukuma Wiki here in Kenya but I will make a little different then they do



They all look so good



Fresh new growth (they grow pretty fast)

 

Tomorrow I will be wrapping up my stay here in Kenya before heading back to Nairobi on Monday morning.  I have more documents to finish and print out for Freedom Ministries.  All in all I guess this trip has been successful.  I believe that the most important goal has been accomplished and it is now time to move to the next steps.   I continue to be amazed on how God has brought all this together.  I sincerely hope that all of you that have been following along can see how God has touched his people here.  I am so happy to have been a part of it and my prayer is that some of you reading will want to take part in the future.  I truly believe that we can make a difference to the lives of people here in East Africa by helping to create opportunities that did not exist before. 

Take care and God bless

Dave

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 68 Kakamega July 15, 2011

Greetings

Today I just relaxed sat around doing nothing.  I did take a walk into town earlier to buy another pair of shoes and check out flights from Kakamega to Nairobi.  My shoes that I bought about six months ago could not hold out to the bush here in Kenya.  After I purchased a pair of shoes I headed over to the fly540 office to see about getting a flight out of here on Saturday afternoon.  Not a chance the only flight out of Kakamega is the to Nairobi.  Eldoret and Kisumu both have afternoon flights but are sold out for the weekend.  I really am not up to taking an eleven hour tortuous bus ride across the country at this time.  I do not even want to take a six hour car ride across the country either.  I then went back to my room and had a nap.  After my nap I went back to fly540 to see about getting out of here on Monday morning.  Monday morning is available and I think I am going to start my forty four hour journey back to the states early in the morning out of Kakamega.  I should be back in Philly Tuesday evening around .

Tomorrow we are supposed to be in Mumias at the Equity Bank by to pick up the control keys for the micro-finance account we set up a week ago.  Before going to the bank we will stop at fly540 to pay my reservation for my flight Monday morning.  After fly540 we will then go to the orchard site to meet with the widow’s one last time before I leave.  I am not sure what is on the agenda for Sunday but I am still not feeling that great from whatever I caught in Maralal a few weeks ago.  I just cannot seem to get rid of whatever it is.  I am really too tired to do much of anything.  The afternoon storm is coming in and my steak and chips dinner is about to arrive before the daily power outage. 

I found out that Kenya does not have cuts of meat like we have in the states.  If you order a beef fillet sometimes you get lucky and it actually turns out to be a really good piece of meat sometimes I am not so fortunate.  I have had tender cuts and I have had grisly tough cuts even though I have ordered the same item every time.  Today’s cut was really good and tender well seasoned too.     

Take care and God bless

Dave

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 67 Kakamega July 14, 2011

Greetings

Today we spent the morning at the orchard site with some of the widow’s continuing with the pruning and replanting of the seedlings.  After a few hours everything was done.  The orchard site had been weeded again, completely pruned, and the new seedlings planted.  It was good to see the care that was taken to make sure that the razor was cleaned and sanitized between each seedling to help prevent disease.  The seedlings are being tied to the sticks as they continue to reach for the wire 8 feet up.  Some of the widow’s broke up the soil around the plants and removed all the weeds and debris.  I can see that they have attention to detail and the will to make this work.

After the orchard site Hezron, John Imala, and I headed over to the Kakamega Sports Club to meet up with Councilor Bianna and her husband for lunch.  We sat next to the ninth green and the way to the first tee of the local golf course.  I am happy to say that we were not hit with any overshot golf balls today.  From what I saw of the course it was pretty nice and I understand that a lifetime membership fee is about $300.  This also allows the member to attend all of the other sports clubs here in Kenya.  I understand a round of golf if free but you cannot carry your own clubs you must have a caddy.  The caddy is 200 Ksh or about $2.25 for nine holes.  Also do not answer you cell phone or you will have to pay a fee of 500 Ksh to do so.

We had a very good discussion with the Councilor about the widow’s program and she has promised to continue to encourage and monitor their progress through this project.  She has expressed her desire to plant the other third of an acre and if this can grow she will be willing to add more acreage later.

I got a message about an hour ago that the control keys for the bank account will not be available until Saturday morning in Mumias.  Tomorrow I will stay here in Kakamega for another day passing time until my departure.  I will need to find a way to Nairobi on Saturday or Sunday at the latest.  I will be leaving Nairobi Monday night for the long tiresome journey home and a spicy chicken sandwichJ 

Take care and God bless

Dave

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 66 Kakamega July 13, 2011

Greetings

Today we continued with the passion fruit training seminar at the Blessed the Blessed ECDC for the widow’s group.  I guess their official name is the Blessed Widow’s Group of Kakamega.  This morning was spent both in the classroom and in the field learning how to prune and properly plant.  While the class was going on this morning I went back out into the orchard and started to count dead plants.  As I was going around I noticed that many of the dead that I thought were dead have come back to life.  I thought that there were forty dead and sixty questionable.  I then recounted the dead and there were only seventeen confirmed dead.  Later when Robert came out to the field he said the questionable ones are ok too.  Sometimes the seedlings can take up to a month before the grafted portion starts to sprout and take off.

Once Robert and the widow’s got out into the orchard everyone got a chance to prune their own seedling with a razor and bleach (Jik).  After everyone got pruning lessons we started to replant some of the dead seedlings and Robert gave the women detailed instructions on how to properly plant.  After the training session the widows had a little celebration to celebrate their project and to thank everyone involved to help improve their lives.  They really love to sing and dance.  Of course me being about as white as can be I have literally no ability to move like they do.  I thought this group was about forty women and I asked the secretary for the exact number and she told me that there are fifty members.  Today we had over forty in attendance as well as a few area pastors, Bianna, Hezron and his wife Melissa.  I am quite pleased that the women and others are starting to really take ownership of this project.  I pray that every thing goes well for them during the next six or seven months as these passion fruit come to maturity.  There is a great deal of detail to keep these little babies healthy and in shape to maximize yield.  Robert also showed us that many of the plants that are starting to take off are starting to flower after only three weeks.  One of the seedlings already had three flowers that he cut off.  He told us that all the flowers have to be removed until they are at least a foot onto the wire eight feet off the ground.  I must say these women have their work cut out for them in the next six months.

Pastor Robert Wafula explaining proper pruning of passion fruit seedlings



Widow's and guests gathered around for instructions



Pastor Robert at the blackboard


Hezron’s and Melissa’s grandson (18 months) is doing better and should be released in a few days.  Hezron had told us that the boy had plus plus malaria which I assume is really bad and had it for a least a few days before he started passing out.  Thank you for your prayers for this little boy.

Tomorrow we will be back at the orchard site to finish pruning the older seedlings, removing the grafting tape and replanting the last of the dead ones.  I am still looking to wrapping up my trip here in Kenya and am anxious to get back to Nairobi.  We still have not got word of the control keys arriving at the bank in Mumias.  I do hope they come in tomorrow or Friday.

Take care and God bless

Dave

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 65 Kakamega July 12, 2011

Greetings

Today we got off to a slow start again.  Hezron had a flat tire this morning and we were late getting the instructors to the training session.  We dropped Brenda and Robert at the Blessed the Blessed ECDC for training the widow’s while Hezron and I went back into town to fix the tire and get some more chemicals for the orchard.  In the states we usually pick up a nail or screw every now and then.  Hezron had four holes in his tire two in the tread and two on the side.  What made this interesting is that the holes were not from a man made item such as a steel screw or nail but a fierce weapon of nature called a thorn.  You see when you travel around in the bush there are these really nasty bushes that have spikes up to three or four inches long and they have a really sharp point.  They have no problem going through steel belted tires.  Don’t let one of them get you they really hurt.

We returned to the training site before lunch time.  Hezron’s wife Melissa got an emergency phone call from her daughter that her son was very sick and the clinic in their small town had just sent her home because they did not know what was wrong with him.  Melissa and Hezron rushed home to take their grandson and daughter to the hospital.  We later found out that he has a really bad case of malaria and they have admitted him into the hospital here in Kakamega.  Malaria is one nasty disease and we are so very fortunate to not have it in our country.  Please pray for Melissa’s and Hezron’s grandson so that he might survive this deadly disease.  It is said that up to three hundred million people come down with this disease every year.  There are up to a million deaths every year and about 90 percent of them are children under five.  Out of the million deaths each year almost all of them are in the poorest of countries here in Africa.  The medical care here is not the best but at least this young boy will get some treatment and his odds are better then most children that don’t have any access to medical care.

For those of you that have had malaria can attest to the feeling that you are going to die.  Then you wish that you do die.  After a while and there is no death comes the fear that you won’t die.  I told you early on about John Imala going to the CFO conference in Western Tennessee back in June and how he spent his first trip to the states in the hospital and the staff not knowing what to do.  While I was in Maralal a few weeks ago I met a young missionary girl Ann from the same area in Western Tennessee that John visited and she just so happened to come down with a case of malaria here in Kenya.  She had the same problem John did.  They did not know how to treat her and she ended up getting really sick after a nasty reaction to the medication they were giving her.  Both of them thought they were going to die.

Tomorrow we will finish up with the training session for the widow’s in the morning.  We will replant the dead seedlings and will have some live demonstrations on proper care of the orchard.       

Take care and God bless

Dave

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 64 Kakamega July 11, 2011

Greetings

I continue to be amazed on what costs and what does not.  This morning we were to be off to go and pick up Pastor Robert and Brenda to bring to the widow’s passion fruit seminar.  Hezron picked me up around ten after eight we started up the road and we heard a noise coming out of the back wheel.  We quickly pulled into the Nakumatt parking lot and removed the back wheel to find out what was wrong.  As Hezron pulled off the wheel and the brake drum it became apparent we had a serious problem.  The back brake adjustment screw and the bolt that held one of the shoes in place were in many pieces.  This did not look good for the first thing in the morning.  Hezron as cool as ever gets on his phone and calls his mechanic.  Within about fifteen minutes his main mechanic had sent one of his workers walking across town to come and look what was wrong.  The mechanic took a photographic memory of what he needed and about thirty minutes later he walks back with parts to fix the brakes.  After another 30 minutes or so he was done and crisis averted.  We then drove the mechanic back to his shop.  He got out went to Hezron’s window and said something.  Hezron then handed him some cash.  I had to take a double take because I thought I heard 250 shillings.  I quickly asked Hezron how much that repair cost and he told me 250 shillings.  He had just given the guy a 500 shilling note and said he was waiting for the change.  This guy just spent an hour and a half fixing the rear brake for less then three bucks.  Yet a gallon of gas is pushing six bucks.  I quickly went to my pocket pulled out 250 shillings gave it to Hezron.  I then asked Hezron to tell the young guy to keep the change.  We made the young man’s day.

After the repair we were off to pick up Pastor Robert and Brenda for the seminar.  We arrived at Wamula International about and Robert informed us that we had to go back to Mumias to give some more money to the bank for the control keys to the micro-finance account and officially stamp the minutes and the Constitution of the NGO so the bank can proceed with opening the account.  Getting the control keys is now going to be delayed a bit but hopefully they will be here in a few days.  The manager said it could take up to a week but said he would expedite it since I will be leaving Kenya next Monday.  After the bank we headed back to Kakamega to the widow’s passion fruit orchard to start the seminar.

Once we arrived back at the orchard we quickly gave Robert the grand tour of the orchard and we showed him the good ones and the bad ones.  The ones that I showed him that I thought were fair he told me that they still looked good.  The 40 that are dead are dead.  Anyway we now have 60 extras in case any more die.  After spending a few minutes in the orchard we were then off to lunch.  After lunch the seminar started and lasted for a few hours before we adjourned for the evening.  I decided not to attend so they could speak in Swahili and not have to interpret for me.

The widow's did a fine job weeding this morning



The replacement seedlings



I watched a goat eat this one the other day and it looks like it is coming back



Starting to look really good



Another good one 



Widow's having lunch



Now that Robert had been to the site the only item left on the list to buy is the pesticides and other nutrients that will be needed for the next six months.  He also suggested that we buy a 16 liter back pack sprayer for proper control of the pesticides and fertilizers that will be sprayed on the plants.  We then went off to the Agrovet store and bought the needed items for tomorrows lessons.  This is now the last of the associated costs for this project.  It looks like the total cost of this project is going to be about 38,000 Ksh or about $425.

Tomorrow is an all day seminar with some classroom lecture and out in the field learning what is needed to care for the orchard.  We will be doing some replanting and we will also be pruning the existing plants now that they have taken off. 

Take care and God bless

Dave

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 63 Kakamega July 10, 2011

Greetings

Today I spent the day resting and continuing to get over whatever I caught in Maralal.  I feel much better but it just continues to be a nuisance and I want it to be over.  I have two more days of Amoxycillin and I pray that will be the end of it.

I did walk into town today to try and find a fax machine.  I went to three different cyber cafĂ©’s and all of them had network issues.  Africa must be cut off from the world I was not able to get onto Facebook all day as well. 

Tomorrow Hezron will pick me up around eight to pick up the two instructors to have a three day seminar on growing passion fruit.  While we are at Wamula International we are going to pick up the replacement seedlings to replant the dead and this time I will have proper instructors to teach us how to plant. 

This might actually be my shortest blog entry!!      

Take care and God bless

Dave

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 62 Mumias July 9, 2011

Greetings

I can’t believe that I continue to write this blog everyday.  My attention span has never been this long.  It’s the weekend and my readership drops quite a bit for a couple of days but I continue to write for those of you that follow along daily.  I do appreciate it.  I still have no one from South America following along.  If anyone knows of someone in the other America could you please get them to take a look.

Today we went back to Mumias to open the micro-finance account at the Equity Bank.  It took about 2 hours but I am happy to say that everything went well.  There is one control account with the key in possession of one signatory in the United States.  We added another account for funds to be transferred into and will add other accounts as other ministries are added.  I do believe that this completes this part of the mission.  Hopefully the key will be in early next week so I can take it back to the states with me.  Pastor Robert with Wamula International is formulating the other documents needed to be legal here in Kenya and will have them to me in a couple of weeks. 

After the bank we headed over to meet with a widow’s group with Freedom Ministries here in Mumias.  I was told that the group had about 40 members but the real number is around 110.  About 35 showed up today.  There was another funeral today nearby so many of the widow’s did not show up.  I still did not feel that good today so I only talked for about an hour before my throat got sore.  After our meeting with the widow’s we headed into the house for the customary meal and of course I am never hungry.  It also does not help when you feel bad too.  Did you know that chickens are like dogs they eat almost anything?

The widow's group in Mumias



"Hey has anyone seen Fred?"



I'm in here somewhere



After we left Mumias we went back to the orchard site and counted the dead.  It appears that some of the seedlings were not properly planted.  I found one planted still in the black bag the seedling came in.  I did not care to look at any others until Pastor Robert comes on Monday.  I said earlier in one of my blogs TIA or TIK.  I am learning by almost every experience.  I am happy to say that we only lost 40 out of 169 and that 70 of them are growing like wildfire.  There are another 59 that look healthy but I think I am going to replant them anyway.  Lesson learned.

A healthy passion fruit seeding growing nicely



This is for Kym in Maralal

I believe this answers your question if chickens have a right and left foot



Tomorrow I am going to rest and get over this ailment.  On Monday it is off to get the replacement seedlings and pick up Pastor Robert bring him back to Kakamega to educate all of us on passion fruit for 3 days.    

Take care and God bless

Dave

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 61 Mumias July 8, 2011

Greetings

I have been battling a bug that I caught in Maralal for quite a few days now.  I think I caught something when I was shaking hands with the children up at Lare-Oibor.  I don’t know why I let this linger so long.  Here in Kenya you can go to the Chemist and get the drugs you need without a prescription.  Drugs are pretty cheap too.  I bought fifteen adult Amoxycillin tablets good enough for a week for 460 Ksh or about five bucks and they were not generic they were GlaxoSmithKline. 

We were supposed to go to Mt. Elgon today to meet up with Pastor Joseph but Hezron has been unable to reach him for a couple of days now.  It was also better for me since I am not feeling that great and I have had enough driving for a while.  This afternoon we did go to visit with Charles and his family to celebrate the purchase of his motor bike.  We had a very good visit with Charles and he is about the happiest guy on earth.  I also got to meet his parents and they were so excited to finally have a white person come and visit their family enclave.

Before we headed to Mumias we went by the passion fruit orchard so I could look at the plants.  I am not sure what the prognosis is but some of the seedlings have really taken off, some have died or look like they are dying and some still look healthy but are slow to start moving up the sticks.  I talked with Pastor Robert and he has offered to replace the dead or dying seedlings.  He will also be in Kakamega on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to train the widows and a few others on growing passion fruit.  He seems to think that we might have planted them improperly.  This time we are going to let him plant them so everyone can see first hand how to plant them.

Tomorrow we will meet with Pastor Robert again in Mumias to visit with Equity Bank to see about opening up the accounts for the micro-finance institution with Wamula International.  It might prove to be an interesting day.  Hezron and I are also going to meet with another 40 plus widow’s group that one of his Pastors whom is a widow herself has formed in her church in Mumias.  They too have some land that can be used to grow passion fruit.  But before we plant another plot I need to find out what we did wrong with planting the first plot.  I tend to believe that there was a combination of errors and I know that we did some damage to some of them during transport.  Robert told me that he usually does the training before the planting not after.  I am so thankful that this has happened before I left for the states.     

Take care and God bless

Dave

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 60 Moi's Bridge July 7, 2011

Greetings

Well it has been 60 days since my arrival here in Kenya.  It really seems like it has been a long time since I have had a Wendy’s spicy Kuku sandwich.  In less then two weeks I will be landing in Detroit and I am going to look for the first Wendy’s and order two spicy Kuku sandwiches and a maybe a single burger too.  I was reading somewhere about last meals on death row.  I think I know what I would have.  After my first two trips to Kenya my first meal back in the states was a spicy Kuku sandwich.  I guess I am a little Kuku for a spicy Kuku sandwich.

This morning Hezron picked Kym and I up at Taidy’s restaurant in Eldama Ravine at eleven o two in the morning.  Talk about timing.  He had at least a three hour drive from Kakamega and to be within two minutes wow!  He might have been right on time I think my phone might be off by a few minutes.  We said our goodbyes to Ken and Susan and they were off to Kijabe to meet up with their sons Joseph and Robert at the Rift Valley Academy.  We had to do a minor repair to Hezron’s car before we headed off to Moi’s Bridge.

After about 4 hours we arrived at Kym’s home in Moi’s Bridge.  Once we got out of the car the very first thing I noticed was passion fruit vines.  Kym had no idea that his uncle (neighbor) was growing passion fruit.  We later found out that they had planted two hundred seedlings and they look really great.  They are about to get their first harvest and they told me that they will sell at the market as 80 Ksh a kilo.  By the looks of the plants it is no worry to grow passion fruit in Moi’s Bridge.  Kym and his parents have plenty of land to grow an orchard we just need to find a caretaker.

Passion fruit on Kym's uncles land in Moi's Bridge




Another view of the orchard



Here's a spot near some bananas



It started to rain and we decided it was best to leave before we got stuck in the mud.  We left Moi’s bridge somewhere around four and arrived in Kakamega around six.  Tomorrow we will be going to Mt. Elgon to meet up with Pastor Joseph and look at his acreage for passion fruit.  On the way back we are going to have dinner with the Associate Bishop Charles and his family to celebrate the purchase of his motorbike.  Words cannot describe how happy he is be working to own his own motorbike.  Paying three hundred shillings a day in rent for three years vs. one hundred and seven a day for a year to own is a real Godsend to him.

I have received a few messages on how to help with the food crisis in Northern Kenya.  Sometimes pictures cannot describe the reality of what is happening.  I urge for a spicy Kuku sandwich and I will satisfy that craving whence I get home because I can.  For these people they do not have the means therefore they cannot and most likely will continue to be hungry.  It’s not that I feel guilty about my spicy Kuku sandwich it’s the feeling of despair and my inability and urge to help feed these people.  My prayer is for every one to have their fill of whatever they desire.  On Sunday it was only beans, rice, and vegetable fat but for the two hundred or so that got to eat that day it was Manna from heaven.  God bless all of you that are concerned and praying for these wonderful people throughout the Samburu area.  Ken and Susan’s ministry is not just in Maralal but stretches across many square kilometers over a vast area of scrub land.

Here are the details for donations that Ken sent me.  Ken also told me that AIM is moving their offices from New York to Atlanta in August.

Donors should send their check payable to Africa Inland Mission with the memo field indicating: Kenneth and Susan Black, Project 017580-031 (Samburu).

The mailing address effective 1 August 2011 is: 

Africa Inland Mission
Missionary Support
P.O. Box 3611
Peachtree City, GA 30269-7611

The mailing address through 31 July 2011 is:

Africa Inland Mission
Missionary Support
P.O. Box 178
Pearl River, NY 10965-0178

Again thank you for your prayers and support they are greatly appreciated.

Take care and God bless

Dave

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 59 Eldama Ravine July 6, 2011

Greetings

We started out the morning packing and getting ready to leave Maralal for Eldama Ravine by .  We really needed to be ready by since we were going over to Jane’s and Pastor Moses home for breakfast.  Jane had prepared us some mendazi, chips, and bananas.  The mendazi’s are really good and I would think that they could be converted into jelly filled, cream filled, sugar coated, donut substitutes.  Susan tells me that not all mendazi’s are created equal and that some are not as porous as the ones we had this morning.  I really believe a Krispy Kreme donut shop would do well in Maralal.  We would just need to figure out how anyone could afford one or a dozen. 

We were off for our journey at a little past and what a long journey it was.  There were times that the road was so bumpy that my feet would vibrate across the floor board like one of those electric football games from years ago.  Six and a half hours after leaving Maralal we arrived in Eldama Ravine.  We did not see any elephants but I did see a few camels now and then.  Once we got to Sunrise Acres it was time for a nap.  Poor Ken he had to drive and let me tell you it was a good six hours of a constant obstacle course of potholes, gullies, rocks, goats, cows, and even a few camels.

Tomorrow Bishop Hezron will be in Eldama Ravine to pick Kym and I up for another long ride to Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, and then back to Kakamega.  We will be taking Kym to his home in Moi’s Bridge so we can look at his parent’s one acre farm to see the potential for a passion fruit orchard.  Should be a wonderful day on my kidneys.     

Take care and God bless

Dave