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Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012 Amsterdam

Greetings

It has been well over two months since my last blog.  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the upcoming New Year holiday.  The last two months have been pretty hectic for me.  I started a blog in Maralal back in October to finish out my last trip.  It doesn’t make much sense finishing up that blog page since I am on a flight from Philly to Detroit to catch my next flight en route to Nairobi for my next visit.

So far my first flight out of Philly was delayed and I was rebooked on another flight to Detroit that made me miss my connection to Amsterdam.  They then rebooked me on another flight that put me in Detroit 30 minutes before my departure on the last flight of the day to Amsterdam.  I was worried that I would be able to make my flight however I was not so positive about my luggage.  So at the airport I was able to book another flight out of Philly that would put me in Detroit two hours before my flight to Amsterdam.  Then my flight to Detroit at two fifteen was late and after I got on the plane the Captain said that they had hit a bird on landing.  They said there was no damage but the rules said that they had to have a mechanic take a look and certify the plane airworthy.  It’s Sunday and it was possible that the delay could take an hour or two.  Luckily it only took a little over an hour and hopefully my connection time will be more then the original thirty minutes.

This trip will have me spending New Years Day in Nairobi and then meeting up with Ken Black on the second for a journey up to Maralal until the eighth of January.  My plans put me in Nairobi, Western, and possibly Uganda again until the twenty second of January when I return to the states.  I will meet up with the Olathe team in Maralal for a few days to assist with some of the projects they are working on.  I also need to put a decent fix on the desks we made a year and a half ago.  The welds on the flanges did not hold up to well and the pipe threader we used cut to deep into the pipe causing the pipes to break.  The last Olathe team brought over some new flanges from the states and I have brought along some tools to get the job done right (hopefully).

Maybe in the next couple of blogs I will be able to speak to the events of the last couple of months in regards to church based Orphan care and some more details of the micro-finance projects we are working on.  Well we are making our approach to Detroit and I would like to get a post out before I head overseas.

Take care and God bless

Dave 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20, 2012 Maralal

Greetings

Two days in a row.  I am improving.  Aaron and I are spending our last weekend here in Kenya.  Today we went into town to get some propane and also visited the Bible training center here on the AIC compound.  Our main theme today was to visit the Compassion Program at Lare Oibor.  After lunch Ken, Susan, Tom, Ally, Crescena, Aaron, and I took a trip to the church site to see the Compassion Program.  Presently there are over 250 children sponsored into the program with a plan to take it over 300.  However as you can see by the pictures below the facilities that were constructed last year are stretched pretty thin. 

We met with the Director of the Compassion Program Elena and she explained to us that they need to have a bigger office since they will be hiring a social worker to add to her and the accountant.  The program needs a storeroom for food and other supplies.  They need to have a place to put the books and a computer room for about five computers.  There are presently three class rooms and they would like to expand to at least six.  The Compassion Program does no construction but they will provide new stoves for the kitchen, computers, and other supplies.

We met with the children in the church and it was amazing that all of them fit in such a small place.  After we met with them it was time for their meal and some play time.  The children had a blast running around the compound with two year old Crescena Brown.  Crescena was having the greatest time.  The one Jiko stove with two burners that was installed back in March of 2011 is getting a work out and has performed very well so far.  However it is sometimes a challenge for them to prepare the meal for two hundred and fifty plus children.  Compassion is going to add another stove in the near future that is approximately twice the size of the one installed.  This will be a real blessing for both the Compassion Program and the school.  Please pray that this program continues to be a success for this small community in Northern Kenya.


Ken addressing the children



Crescena addressing the children



Children lining up for the meal



Meat, rice, potatoes, cabbage, and carrots



Children lining up for water



Preparing meals for 250+ children



Some of the children eating



Crescena and the children having some fun



While we were out at the church site we checked on the progress of the bore hole.  They are over hundred feet down and water should be getting very close.  The hydrologist believes the water is somewhere around hundred and twenty or so feet below the surface. 


Bore hole progress 100+ feet



Tomorrow it is back out to the church for services.  Tomorrow afternoon we will meet to discuss a possible micro-finance project for the Lare Oibor church.


Take care and God bless

Dave  


  


     

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19, 2012 Maralal

Greetings

Every other day seems to be about as well as I can do on this blog.  Yesterday Aaron and I met our pilot Tom Brown his wife Ally along with their two year old daughter Cresena for our one and a half hour journey to Maralal.  Weather was great as we flew around the clouds, over volcanos, lakes, mountain ridges, then over the bush to Maralal.  Finally after my fifth visit I was able to see some elephants grazing near a stream about 15 minutes from landing at the Kisima International airstrip.  There were about two dozen of them roaming around.  My batteries died in my camera about half way up the rift valley so I did not get any pictures of the elephants.

Ken was waiting at the Kisima International Airstrip to take us back to meet with Susan and have lunch.  After lunch we went to see the bore hole work at Lare Oibor.  Since my last visit the bore hole site had been moved from about a mile away to right in the church compound.  We met the Compassion director at the school and looked at the desks that had been constructed last summer.  The flanges that we had fabricated in town were not holding up too well to the weight of the school children.  Also some of the pipe threads are failing because we used thin walled pipe which was about all that was readily available at the time and the pipe threader we were using cut pretty deep.  I think we have a workable solution to repair the broken desks when the team arrives in December.

Today we took some medical supplies into town for the handicap school and the Catholic clinic.  We also went back out to the church to see the progress on the bore hole.  After this we returned to Ken and Susan’s to work on the Pajero.  We could see the oil dripping from under the car but it took a while to find where the leak was coming from.  It turned out that the leak was coming from a very small tube with a pin hole that happened to be under about 65 pounds of pressure.  The capillary tube was an addition to the Pajero for one of the gauges on the dash board.  What a relief for Ken that the repair will not be very costly.

Tomorrow we will go back out to the school to see the compassion program children and hopefully we will see them drill down to some water.

Take care and God bless

Dave  


  


     

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17, 2012 Nairobi

Greetings

I have really been slacking on the blogs lately.  Instead of every day I keep missing a day.  I think it is a deliberate attempt on my part not to write every day.  Yesterday we arrived in Nairobi after another long journey across the country.  The first time you do the drive it is pretty exciting but after the first few times the novelty wears off very quickly.  Of course we spent about eight hours driving from Kakamega to arrive in Nairobi at rush hour(s) to sit in traffic. 

This morning we said our good byes to Hezron and Peter as they journeyed back to western Kenya.  A short while later Pastor Ososo and his wife Hendricka arrived at the hostel to talk a bit.  They had to go in town for a short while and then they would return so we could go to Matasia in Ngong Hills to view the projects they are working on. 

After the Ososo’s came back from downtown I joined them as we ventured to Matasia.  Aaron had a change of plans with work and had to stay behind to satisfy one of his customers back home.  Aaron and I quickly went to get him a phone and a modem at the Safaricom store.  I found it a bit odd that we go to this store that was really just a couple of tables in a high rise building and they just so happened to have one phone and one modem as if it was just waiting for Aaron to pick up.

The Ososo’s and I took Ngong road all the way out to Ngong Hills with our first stop being the cereal shop that was opened in the summer of 2011.  After about fourteen months the shop is still in operation selling the ground nuts, simsims, eggs, and various cereals.  The proceeds of the sales have been able to maintain the salaries, the rent, the electricity, replenishment supplies, assistance with the orphans, and they have been able to make payments to pay back their loan with the UMC Women’s micro-finance program.  Last summer the Ososo’s and the Matasia church had eleven orphans and now they have seventeen that the church is taking care of.  After over a year this project looks like it is doing quite well.  The next step is to expand into cookies and cakes by purchasing a small oven.


In the cereal shop



After the cereal shop it was up to the bone factory to take a look at a new project that the Matasia church has funded through the YSAVE program.  The YSAVE program was started last summer as well.  The Ososo’s took their old chicken coop and turned it into a little processing center to cut beef bones and horns into pieces to make jewelry.  As you can see by the pictures below it really does not take much equipment to process bones to make beautiful jewelry.  After we looked at the bone factory we went to visit the office and place where they assemble the jewelry. They take the jewelry into town to sell at the various markets including the Masai Market.

Some raw bones to make jewelry



How about some horns to make jewelry



Cutting the bones with a saw



Trimming the bones into shape



A finished shape ready for drying and painting



Some of the finished product ready for sale



Some more finished product ready for sale



Bracelets



A necklace



Napkin holders and key holders




After we were done with the bone jewelry project we were treated to a viewing of the security guards that the YSAVE program is funding to provide security around Nairobi.  The YSAVE security venture has been in operation for a month or so and has 4 clients with a total of 18 guards employed so far.  My understanding is that they have a fifth client that will be starting next month with a possible sixth as well.  Let’s pray that they continue to acquire clients and this business can grow too.  YSAVE is also in Busia with their main project a catering business with chairs, tents, etc.


YSAVE security guards



After we left Matasia I couldn’t help myself.  On the way to Matasia we just so happened to pass by KFC at the Junction Mall.  On the way back into Nairobi food was brought up and I asked if anyone was hungry.  I just happen to know where a great little spot is.  I guess KFC last year only had one restaurant in all of East Africa and now they have three.  We stopped and had some fried chicken.  The driver and the Ososo’s had regular recipe and I chose spicy extra crispy.  They all had a three piece meal and I decided on two breasts.  We all had cole slaw and fries too.  It was a very tasty meal and I might not even have to have a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich for my first meal back in the states.  I called Aaron and told him that we were at KFC and asked him if he wanted me to bring him anything.  If there was ever a stupid question that might just be one of them.  Aaron enjoyed his meal as well.

Tomorrow we are heading to the Wilson airport around 8 am to catch a flight to Maralal for the last leg of our mission here in Kenya.  Both Aaron and I are so thankful that everything worked out so we did not have to do any more major driving.  Those of you that have driven the journey to Maralal can relate to what an adventure it is.            

Take care and God bless                                 

Dave       


     

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012 Kakamega

Greetings

Yesterday we traveled to Mumias to attend church services at Jerusalem church.  We were unable to give enough advanced notice of our arrival to get the other local Mumias churches to join us a Jerusalem.  I might have said this before but here in Kenya a church service can be an hour.  It can be two hours or it can be all day.  This is Kenya and we were late so the service had already started.  I think upon our arrival they decided to start over.  On our way to Mumias Bishop Hezron asked Aaron if he wanted to preach the sermon.  Aaron took the challenge and did an awesome job with only about an hour or so preparation.  After the services we went to the General Secretaries home for a meal and discussion on the micro finance society.

Today we were off to Busia to meet with Bishop Moses at the border to assist him with opening an account with the bank.  Without going into a huge amount of details but to open a church account in a Ugandan bank is going to take them possibly weeks to accomplish.  Listening to Peter explain what the ministry has to do to open an account makes me really feel sorry for the signatories of the account.  It sounds like they have to make at least two trips to Kampala so they can get a recommendation letter from the Born Again Church.  All protestant churches have to be registered through the Born Again Church which seems to be a quasi-governmental agency.  Without a recommendation letter from the Born Again Church no bank account.  They will also have to have a constitution, photos, meeting minutes, etc.  My heart goes out to them.

After our meeting with Bishop Moses and Samuel his General Secretary we were off to meet up with Councilor Ben in Funyula to discuss fish farming with the Chairman and Secretary of the Funyula Fish Association.  As of my last meeting with them last year they were going to register as an association and start to manage the farms as a single entity.  Part of the problem was that too many of them were harvesting at the same time causing too many fish coming to market all at once.  It was my hope that this one group could become large enough to help control the market instead of the market controlling them.  I believe that they have about fifteen to twenty percent of the active fish farmers in the area within their group so far.  It also sounds like there are still some independent farmers and a few other groups that have formed.  It still seems that feed is the main issue that these farmers face.  The availability, type and cost makes for lower yields.  The group prefers to have meal of rice bran and blood in a powdered flake form.  This meal would be very high in protein and makes for plump fish.  Also a local micro-banker Nicolas joined us to discuss forming a micro-finance entity with the fish association. 

After the meeting with the fish association it was off to see Pastor Robert in Bulimbo to review the chemical list and seedling replacements for the surviving orchards.  While we were at Pastor Robert’s orchard we saw plenty of fruit on the vines and he told me that they are harvesting every day now.  According to Robert he still has a couple more months before the vines are fully mature and the yields are at their best.  The vines look great however some of the locals have been coming in at night stealing fruit.  Also there have been quite a bit of hail storms recently and when the hail stones (up to pea size) hits the fruit it leaves a little blemish where it hit.  It doesn’t affect the taste or damage it unless it knocks it off the vine before it is ready to be picked.  Once the passion fruit is close to being harvested it comes off the vine with very little effort.  In fact I went to pick a purple one today and once I touched it the fruit fell into my hand without even having to pull on it.

Tomorrow we are off to Nairobi with Pastor Peter and Bishop Hezron.  On Wednesday we will spend the day with Pastor Ososo and then on Thursday we will be flying up to Maralal for a visit with Ken and Susan Black.


Take care and God bless                                 

Dave       


     

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13, 2011 Kakamega

Greetings

Well I missed another day’s blog.  Yesterday we went into Uganda to meet up with Bishop Moses to discuss Orphan care.  Once we crossed the border I lost my cell phone coverage and later that evening I noticed that I did not have coverage on my Safaricom modem.  I thought it was supposed to turn over to whatever service Safaricom partners with in Uganda like MTN but no such luck.

We arrived at the border at Busia in a raging rain and hail storm.  We waited about thirty minutes in the car to let the storm subside.  Moving from Kenya to Uganda takes quite a bit of time and if you do not hire an expediter to get your vehicle through many hours can be spent at the border.  Of course the storm caused a delay in processing people both in and out of each country so there were some long lines to deal with.  Getting back into Kenya is not as difficult since the vehicle is registered in Kenya.

Bishop Moses met us at the border and took us to meet up with Pastor Florence for dinner.  We arrived at Pastor Florence’s house just before dark and enjoyed a wonderful meal of ugali, rice, potatoes, cabbage, watermelon and chicken.  I am not sure what she did to the chicken but it had a mesquite flavor to it so I must say it was pretty tasty.  After dinner we were taken to the executive hotel in Bugiri where we spent the night.  Let me tell you that it was a major improvement from my last stay in Bugiri a few years ago.  Before we retired for the evening we found a spot to chat with Bishop Moses about Orphan care.

After an hour or so into the conversation it was obvious that the meeting was not going very well and that we needed to continue the conversation in the morning.  The barriers to communication with Kenyans have been a challenge to me since the first time I came here.  Come to Uganda and it's even harder to communicate.  After Aaron and I went to our rooms Bishop Hezron and Peter continued on with the discussion with Bishop Moses in his room.

During breakfast we continued the conversation from the night before.  Bishop Hezron had been able to break down the plan much better when he was able to speak to Bishop Moses in Swahili.  After breakfast we continued the conversation moving from shade to shade to get away from the tropical sun.  Originally I made no set plans on how long we would stay in Uganda and pretty much left it up to the situation to decide.  If we were able to accomplish something in a day then we would stay a day.  If it was going to take longer then we would stay longer.  It was decided that it would be best if we did not visit any Orphans today.  I believe we all feel that we moved ourselves from talking about it to doing something about it. 

It has become obvious that our mere presence causes problems.  So in order to blog what we are doing I need to be really careful because it might not be in the best interest to speak too much of what we are doing.  This blog is out there for the whole world to see and so far it has been read in over 100 countries world wide.  I have no idea who is reading this.  It might be a passing glance or some of you that read it all the time.  However I need to tell the story so you might want to help along the way.  Granted we are going to incorporate some sort of micro-finance program into our Church or Community based Orphan care project.  However it would be next to impossible at this time to do this.  So until the church or community can take the burden of the Orphans care some sort of aid is needed. 

This morning into early afternoon we spent hours discussing Orphan care with a large amount of time spent on how much it costs just to feed a child in Uganda.  We went over the costs of maize, beans, rice, fish (minnows), meat, potatoes, cabbage, salt, sugar, tea, and cooking oil.  After it was all said and done it costs about forty two cents a day to feed one child up to three meals.  You heard it right less then 50 cents a day to feed a child up to three times and this could be on the high side.  This comes right out of the mouth of Bishop Moses that has five of his own children and twelve Orphans for a total of 17 children along with his wife living in a two room rented shack.  He just so happens to be behind on his rent and has little to no income.  Aaron was deeply touched when Bishop Moses asked him if he was doing the right thing by bringing twelve Orphans into his home.  How would you answer that question?

Last night Bishop Moses was having a really rough time with the concept that we were trying to bring him and understandably so.  He desperately wants a piece of land that he can put buildings on and call home to his family.  He is tired of renting and being run off because he can’t pay the rent.  He has brought in Orphans and would gladly bring in more but he has no money.  Right now there are hundreds of Orphans within his ministry both in eastern and western Uganda.  Today we identified seventy six children in nineteen church communities and with them we have initiated what we will call phase one.  None of these children are in what we would call a traditional Orphanage but in homes within the church community (mostly the pastors).  Pastor Florence whom we had dinner last night has eight of her own and has adopted three.  If I remember correctly she has also lost three or four of her children to childhood diseases.

Tonight at dinner Aaron and I were talking about the last couple of days.  Today we were with a man that is about as close to the end of the line as we can find to work with right now.  God has put us directly in front of him and he just so happens to have a really great name.  Our wish is to get him that piece of land.  Our wish is for him to build a home for his children (all 17).  Our wish is for him to grow his ministry so they too will take in some of the “Ones” we have been talking about.  In Uganda there are literally hundreds of thousands to choose from.  Let’s face the facts and realize that we are never going to get rid of poverty and we surely aren’t going to find all these children nice homes in the suburbs.  Every now and then a child wins the lottery so to speak but countless millions are left with little to no food.  What about a place to put their head, some clothes, some medicine for their sores, or even an education.

I will continue to write about our plans to help with Orphan care.  In time I believe Bishop Moses will have that piece of land to put his ministry and his home on.  I also believe that God is calling those that have a heart for the “Ones” to assist in providing adequate church/community based care.  So stay tuned for more on this matter.

Tomorrow it is off to Mumias for church service at Jerusalem Church.  After the service I believe we are going to discuss the program that Morris has been working on for the last week.  Hopefully we might have a little time to see the other two orchards in the area we did not see a few weeks ago.

Take care and God bless

Dave       


     

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 11, 2012 Kakamega

Greetings

I happen to be another day behind on the blog again.  Yesterday we were in Nairobi to pick up Aaron at the airport.  I had called Pastor Ososo on Tuesday so we could meet on Wednesday since we were unable to meet upon my arrival a couple of weeks ago.  I do not know what it is with me but I still can’t get this communication thing down right.  It was agreed that we were to meet at 2 pm however Pastor Ososo thought we were meeting at his home in Ngong hills and I thought we were meeting at the Flora Hostel.  So while we were waiting for Pastor Ososo he was waiting for us with the leaders of the UMC Matasia church.  I feel really bad that we couldn’t connect again.  All was not lost we were able to meet up with Pastor Ososo and his wife at the Flora Hostel this morning for a few hours before we headed back to Western Kenya.  We will possibly be able to meet with Pastor Ososo on a couple more occasions before we head back to the states.

Aaron’s flight was not due to arrive until 8 pm however we were staying in downtown Nairobi and for those of you that never have had the pleasure to drive in Nairobi let me tell you a simple drive to the airport can be an hour, it can be two hours, or it can be four to forever hours.  We decided that it would be better to give ourselves the four hours to get to the airport instead of trying to leave during rush hour and it taking six hours.  We left the hostel at around four pm.  It took us a good twenty minutes to go the first block and another twenty minutes to get to the second block.  At this rate the airport was a good twelve hours away.  I find it amazing how you can get six lanes of traffic on a two lane road.  If you are looking for some personal space around your vehicle don’t drive in Nairobi.  It really wasn’t fully rush hour yet and we did manage to get out of Nairobi within a couple of hours and made it to the airport in just over two hours.  Upon the return to the hostel I don’t think it took twenty minutes tops. 

After breakfast and our meeting with the Ososo’s it was off to cross the beautiful rift valley again.  This time instead of going through Eldoret we decided to take the Kapsabet road with all its pot holes.  We were pleasantly surprised that some of the road had been repaired within the last two weeks which helped take some time off the trip.  We also took a short cut through the Kakamega forest down a dirt road.  However it had rained and it was no longer a dirt road but a mud road.  I have told you what happens with the dirt road that turns to mud road before.  Well luckily we were in a four wheel drive vehicle when we went spinning for the ditch.  I personally feel that Peter did it on purpose since he enjoyed it so much.  It would not be the first time that Hezron, Aaron and I have had falling off a road here in Kenya.  Thank God we were in the vehicle we were in otherwise we would have been there for a while why we were trying to get unstuck.  Excellent driving Peter!! 

During dinner tonight we had an excellent discussion about Orphan care between us all.  It is really neat as you get deeper into the discussions how much interesting information flows.  Tomorrow we will be working our way into Uganda in the afternoon to meet up with Bishop Moses to discuss Orphan care over the weekend.    
  
Take care and God bless

Dave            

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 9, 2012 Nairobi

Greetings

This morning we were off to Nairobi bright and early.  Well not that early it was almost 10 am but that is considered early sometimes.  The road through Kapsabet through Nandi Hills is in really bad condition so we decided to take a detour through Eldoret.  It seems like I have traveled all the major roads in Western Kenya many times now.  I know that I have traveled the Kakamega to Webuye road more then a dozen times in the last three years.  What seemed odd to me was that today was the first day that I was actually able to see Mt. Elgon from Kakamega dominating the horizon.  I have looked in that direction countless times and have never even caught a glimpse of it until we passed the forest in Malava into the crossroads at Matete.  This mountain is huge and today you would have to be blind not to see it.  I have always been fascinated with mountains.  Today I could not take my eyes off this mountain.  Every time it came into view I was looking right at it.  What is it about this particular mountain that fascinates me so much?  Why is it that I chose this mountain to be my backdrop to my blog?  As you gaze upon it she looks like a big pimple on the horizon.  There is nothing that would call attention to it except it is really large.  There are no jagged peaks like the Alps or the Tetons even though Elgon is just as high.  Why was today the first time that I saw it in all its glory from a distance much further then before?

Here is a mountain that does not get any respect or any recognition whatsoever.  Most of you have never heard of this mountain but most of you have heard about Mt. Everest or even Mt. Olympus on Mars the tallest mountain in the solar system.  I am sure that most of you have visions in your head of some mountain or another.  I know I am rambling about a freaking mountain but there is a point to this I think.  Most everyone knows that Everest is the tallest mountain in the world and because it stands the highest upon all the others its recognition is not questioned.  K2 is number two and it gets its recognition by being the most deadly and possibly the most difficult to climb mountain on the planet.  Other mountains such as Kilimanjaro south of here claiming to be the highest free standing mountain in the world gives her the recognition she deserves.  Mt. McKinley in Alaska as the mountain with possibly the highest prominence on the planet gives it the recognition it deserves.  The main island of Hawaii and its two peaks if measured from the sea floor would dwarf Everest by miles and because they too are large they have been given the distinction of being the largest mountain on the planet in volume even though the main island of Hawaii is not one mountain.  Mt. Everest does not stretch for fifty or sixty miles at its base in every direction.  Neither does McKinley, Kilimanjaro, or any of the two peaks of the main island of Hawaii.  I could be wrong and it would take someone much smarter then me to prove the point but I believe that Mt. Elgon is the largest single mountain on the planet.  I am not saying tallest I am saying largest.

If I am correct then why doesn’t Mt. Elgon get the recognition it deserves?  While I was trying to answer my crazy question in my head the “Ones” came up.  Obviously Mt. Elgon was always there but I never saw it from Kakamega until today.  The “Ones” they too have always been there but seldom seen.  Mt. Elgon is huge and gets virtually no attention whatsoever.  The “Ones” well their numbers are huge as well and we see right past them.  Why champion Mt. Elgon?  It is not something spectacular to look at like mighty Everest or McKinley.  It’s just a pimple on the landscape.  The “Ones” well why would anyone want to try and reach anyone at the end of the line when we can show much more progress with those at the front of the line?  The Alps, the Canadian Rockies, the Tetons, Everest, McKinley, and Kilimanjaro are all beautiful sights to see and millions of pictures have been taken of them.  Mt. Elgon well just another mountain.  Pictures of Mt. Elgon go to the web and see how many you see.  The “Ones” well just another poor orphan, widow, etc. not really a picture perfect specimen.

Mt. Elgon the largest mountain on the planet



My call is to serve here in East Africa and Mt. Elgon sits right in the center to remind me of why I am here.  She’s huge and she hides in the clouds coming out to be seen every now and then.  Personally I know she is way too large for me to scale and if I attempted it without God I would surely fail.  I know when I look at her the world will not see her as I see her.  To me she is special.  She is the "One". 
  
Take care and God bless

Dave            

     

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 8, 2012 Kakamega

Greetings

I think it is finally over.  Today I felt the best since I arrived almost two weeks ago.  I still fear food so dinner consisted of a peanut butter and fluff sandwich, some macadamia nuts, and a candy bar.  The honey coated macadamia nuts are very tasty indeed.

Today Bishop Hezron joined me this morning to continue discussing the micro-savings aspect of the micro-finance venture.  We also spent some more time discussing Orphans, Orphan care, and how to make Church based Orphan care a success. 

We continued to talk about the issues that arise with aid money.  I continued to beat him up (in a good way) that we have to make sure that people understand the difference between a gift and a loan.  I told him that discipleship and training are key to making this a success.  All of the leadership on all the teams have to understand and work by the rules.  Today we also talked about interest rates since that was an area that had much discussion the other day.  I explained to him by using a loan calculator that we had developed for him on my last visit that ten percent is not always ten percent.  During our meeting the other day the magic number of ten percent came up and I told them that ten percent might not be enough to manage the loans.  Is the loan ten percent per month, per quarter, annual, or just ten percent of the loan value?  What people think here is that if you are to receive a 10,000 shilling loan that the loan needs to be paid back with an extra 1,000 shillings for a total of 11,000 shillings.  It does not matter if the loan is one month, three months, or ten years.  I then explained to him if this is the desire of the group to make ten percent on the loan then different interest rates need to be applied for different time frames.  A one thousand shilling return on a one month investment of ten thousand shillings is an interest rate of one hundred and twenty percent. 

If the plan is only to charge ten percent compounded annually and the loan is only for one month then only expect to receive about 83 shillings in interest.  If the loan is three months then only expect to receive about 168 shillings in interest, 293 shillings for a six month loan and only 550 shillings if the loan is for a year.  In order to get the ten percent that they feel would be fair a one month loan would be the ten percent loan.  A three month loan would jump up to fifteen percent or 250 shillings on a 10,000 shilling loan.  A six month loan would jump up to seventeen percent or 500 shillings on the loan.  If the loan is for one year to gain the ten percent or 1,000 shillings on the loan everyone seemed to want the interest rate needs to be about thirty four percent.  I had mentioned thirty five percent the other day but they all said it was too much.  I did stress to everyone that what ever is done the goal continues to cause no harm and it should be done within Biblical teachings.  More needs to be done to get them ready to start.

We also spent some more time discussing Orphans and their care.  As I might have already told you that Hezron was brought up as an Orphan.  I also believe that he spent his childhood up to his early adulthood in Uganda so he is quite familiar with Orphan care in Uganda.  Hezron spent thirty years working with Orphans in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo.  Many of the children were in traditional institutions run by the ministry he was associated with (Bible and Literacy League of Kenya) as well as home based care similar to our Foster Care program except it was run by the ministry.  After leaving his last ministry Bishop Hezron formed his own ministry Freedom International Ministries of Kenya, Freedom International Ministries of Uganda, and he is starting Freedom International Ministries of Tanzania.  Don’t look for them on the web this is more of a grass roots type of organization even though there are quite a few churches involved. 

The Bishop prefers the home based Orphan care concept versus the much more expensive traditional bricks and mortar concept.  Hezron told me that his Orphan care project has been declining over time since he does not have the money to sustain it.  Here in Kenya the Orphans in the ministries care is down to about thirty.  It is my understanding that Bishop Moses in Uganda has somewhere in the neighborhood of five hundred or more scattered all over Uganda.  I will know more later this week.  We have continued to discuss the Orphan Report.  On how Joe has been able to take his experience working both sides of the pond and putting them to words so all of us can learn from it.  I told Hezron that in order to make this work we mzungu’s are going to be working from the shadows.  This is their baby and it needs to be done by Ugandans or Kenyans. 

I am going to be talking with Joe some more after my return to the states.  My most nagging question continues to be how I (we) going to be in the shadows when I (we) stand out like a sore thumb.  We want to visit and our plans are to bring missionaries over from the states to help, take some pictures, etc.  We have a story to tell back home.  Sermon = Offering.  Story = Aid.  Once we arrive the cat is out of the bag so to speak.  Our mere presence invokes $$ in the eyes of the people.  The mzungu has come to visit and has not given you any money?  What did he just come over to say “how are you?’ and you want me to believe you?  Where is the money?

Speaking of cats I was reading yesterday that Peru just had a kitty cat festival in one of their towns where they prepare little kitties for dinner.  I have known and I know plenty of fine kitty cats and for the life of me I could not imagine any of them on my dinner plate.  What are these people thinking?  This is about as close to eating a family member as one can get.  It almost makes me want to go out and protest.

Well tomorrow it is off to Nairobi to meet up with Aaron whom arrives Wednesday night.  We are leaving a day early since I would like to spend some time on Wednesday with Pastor Ososo since I missed him upon my arrival last month.          
 
Take care and God bless

Dave            

     

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 7, 2012 Kakamega

Greetings

Well I thought I was doing better.  I was feeling fine the last time I wrote however once every one left on Friday it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Not sure what it was or is but for a minute there I was about to check myself into a hospital.  After two long days this morning I woke up and did not feel too bad.  I was able to have two eggs, two pieces of toast with red plum jelly, and two cups of coffee this morning and I have so far after eight hours been able to keep it down.  Still feels like it wants to come up but so far so good.  Bishop Hezron must of said something since I have many well wishers and people checking up on me every now and then from the guest house.  Either that or they missed me at meal times.  There is nothing like being in a foreign country sick with that nagging feeling that food is your enemy.  I have a few more weeks to go and I have to eat sooner or later. 

My last blog was on the fourth and today is the seventh.  Friday morning into the afternoon the Bishop, Morris, Matthew, and Patrick came to the guest house to discuss establishing their micro-finance and micro-savings bank.  Morris is the General Secretary whom I have talked about before.  Matthew is the Project Manager and is the owner of the furniture shop in Mumias that I have also talked about before.  Patrick I have never met before and the Bishop had thought it a good idea to bring him into the picture.  Patrick is retired from what he said was a British Bank.  I think it is the Standard Bank or something like that.  Patrick also owns a small grocery in town and has some dairy cows that he tends to.  Between the five of us we discussed pretty much all the particulars of getting this institution started.  It was decided that Bishop Hezron would not be a voting member of the committee and that four others would join them to make a committee of seven.  I informed them that I am going to become more of a shadow since my presence seems to cause some problems.

During these last few blogs I have been talking about the issues of aid coming into the country.  The deeper I get into this the more I realize our good intentions of giving have created a nightmare for our ministry leaders here in Kenya.  The leaders and the pastors of the ministries all realize that the only way to help their people is to lift them up through employment.  The giving is not enough to sustain them and when the giving stops they are right where they were to begin with.  Don’t get me wrong they will gladly accept any money you might want to give.  We agree with our friends here and are willing to help in the form of loans.  However the people see money and they have been conditioned by many years of our giving to believe it is just another gift from the mzungu. 

While we were sitting discussing the program on Friday Matthew told me a terrible story to add to my grief.  This could also be contributing to my condition.  Anyway Matthew owns the furniture shop in Mumias and who got the lathe last summer.  Well it turns out that some of Matthew’s employees came to the conclusion that he was getting large sums of money from the states.  A few of them started to skim some of the orders and some of the lumber to feed another furniture maker across the way for a share of the profit.  It took many months for Matthew to find out what was going on and in the mean time he had to go to the bank for a couple of hundred thousand shilling loan to keep his small business afloat.  Once he confronted the employees about the theft they quit.  I am not sure if trying to press charges against them would amount to anything.  Matthew tells me he is recovering and he has learned a valuable lesson.  I told Matthew it saddened me that he was taken and that we will win over this evil.  Our Lord is still in teaching mode and I am still convinced that we can accomplish what God has intended for us.

In order for these people to get out of their poverty we have to stop willy nilly giving and start helping.  Please use your hard earned contributions by making sure that the organizations you are giving to are using your money effectively.  Churches, schools, and clinics are all good however they do not need to be St. Peters Cathedral, Harvard, or the Mayo Clinic.  Are these organizations using your money to Americanize our friends here in Kenya or anywhere else for that matter?  How much of your money is being used to build fancy office buildings, pay huge salaries, or funding other non profits that you might not agree with?  We have created the entitlement mentality in our own country and look what it is doing.  There isn’t enough money to go around so the government takes it in the name of charity.  Everyone wants to keep what they feel is adequate for themselves, their families, their retirements, etc. and who suffers?  Some of you might disagree with me but my Bible does not say that money is to be taken from those that have to be given to those that don’t.  Our Lord would never condone the use of force to take anyone’s money.  If you do not believe that the government uses force then do not pay and see what happens.  God tells us that charity starts with those that have to give and we all know what He expects.  We can’t hide He knows our hearts even before we were born.  The unknown is kinda scary isn't it? 

We feel in order for our friends here to own this they all have to realize they are not getting a gift.  Our investors have no desire to collect any interest from the loans and only require the principal be paid back in time.  Our friends here in Kenya will charge interest and fees according to their own by-laws to manage their micro-finance and micro-savings banks.  Our desire is for them to provide a mechanism for their members to save and to use some of that savings to secure a loan to help sustain them selves through projects.  It is also our desire that within the church community those that are unable to be business owners or farmers be helped by becoming employees.  Then there are those “Ones” that can be neither and whom better to take care of Them but their own church.

Not sure what I am doing tomorrow.  I still need to make it through the night.  You Know I Have Been Thinking That I Might Do A Whole Blog Where All My Words Have The First Letter Capitalized.  Try it sometimes it is not as easy as you think. 

Take care and God bless

Dave