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Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23, 2012

Greetings

A week ago I received some sad news from Kenya.  One of the three farmers of the passion fruit orchards in Bulimbo has died.  Not only has he died but his wife too.  No one was left to attend to the orchard and it too is completely gone.  Stephan and his wife died in a traffic accident.  I am not sure if they were in a car, or were in a Matatu or just walking down the road.  I am still amazed on how many people are not killed every day on the roads especially at night.  I have told Bishop Hezron on many occasions driving at night that I can’t see anyone until we are right on them.  He tells me not to worry he can see them.  It doesn’t help when there are no lights except the cars headlights to illuminate the road, everyone is dark, and everyone seems to wear dark clothes.  To top it all off the people are literally inches from the car as we pass by.  Scary!!

I remember going to the plot with Pastor Robert and Bishop Hezron meeting with Stephan whom was attending to his beans.  After the beans were to be harvested Stephan was going to replace beans for passion fruit.  I remember we were in a hurry and could not stay very long because a major storm was rolling in.  Traveling on these isolated bush roads during a heavy rainstorm is not a very wise thing to do.  Even without rain it is an arduous journey back to a major road. 

This is the field of beans that was to be Stephans passion fruit orchard



I can’t even come close to knowing how many people I have met in both Kenya and Uganda during my visits.  I have really poor name recognition skills and many times I mix the name to the face (I even get members of my own family mixed up).  However if I remember Stephan properly then what I remember is that he did not look very old.  In his mid thirties if I remember correctly.  Death comes to us all.  Here in the states we can count our blessings that we live in a country where we can expect to enjoy a life span reaching into our eighty’s or beyond.  Sadly this is not the case for many of the people on this planet.   

Especially in Africa where there are many countries with life expectancies in the forties or fifties.  Fifty one percent of the population in Kenya is under fifteen years old compared to our seventeen percent under seventeen years old.  Granted we too have people that die to soon for a variety of reasons but for the vast majority of us we will live a full and healthy life well into our old age.  In East Africa and other parts of the world making it to age five is the first hurdle.  Malaria alone has killed millions of children under the age of five.  For most families that live in the bush losing a child before the age of five is not that uncommon.  Other diseases and lack of access to health care contribute to the low life expectancy at any age in East Africa and other parts of the world. 

This whole Africa thing is getting almost too much to digest sometimes.  How does one stay numb to the constant setbacks and knowing the conditions my friends have to contend with every day of their lives?  A few years back I told God that I would serve him however he saw fit.  It was difficult to let go of my life and follow but I did.  Soon afterwards I watched as my own life crumbled right before my eyes.  It was if God was saying “You want to work for me then maybe you need some humility in your life”.  “You have been blessed beyond your wildest dreams but for many of my children it has not”.  “This is your new life, enjoy”.  Even in my despair I am blessed far beyond those I desire to serve and I consider it a great honor to serve those far less fortunate then myself.  My prayer is that I can continue to strengthen my faith, endure my own personal struggles to help what little I can to bring hope and prosperity to those that have little to none. 

My prayers go out to Mr. Stephan, his wife, and family.  Thank you and God bless.

Dave    

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 9, 2012

I received an email from Pastor Ososo this morning and he sent me an update on his passion fruit orchard in Busia.  We had originally planted 230 seedlings at his Shamba last October.  The annual rains did not come as planned in November and December.  January, February, and March saw very little rain as well.  April the rains started again and it continues to rain on a regular basis.  If you have been reading along with my blogs you know that I have been on an emotional roller coaster for the last 6 months.  It has been really difficult to be 8000 miles away and not able to help with the situation.

I pray we are on our way to some sort of recovery.  Pastor Ososo tells me that he has 160 vines still growing.  By my calculations we have lost about 30 percent of the original seedlings.  It's a sad loss but if there is a silver lining we still have 70 percent of the orchard growing and we can always plant more to replace the gaps.  He has sent a few pictures to show you.  Some of them are starting to produced some fruit.  Of what is left of the passion fruit vines they look very healthy to me.  The posts, vine supports, and wire are all up.  The ground looks a little dry but it appears to be free of weeds.  Continue to pray with me that this orchard along with the others make it to maturity and help provide an income that these people really need.


Pastor Ososo and one of the passion fruit vines



Another vine



And another with some fruit



And another


We had planted two other plots in the Busia area.  I believe Pastor Odongo's orchard took a pretty heavy loss.  I am not sure how the Councilors plot has done.  If I get any word I will pass it along.  I should be getting some more updates soon on the other 20 something orchards. 

One of the other projects we contributed to last summer with Pastor Ososo's home church Matasia United Methodist Church was the sim sim and ground nut project.  They have been selling the two products in the shop they set up along with eggs and cereals.  They have also added ornamental items made out of animal bones, horns, and other environmental leftovers.  If you remember the proceeds of this project is to help support the dozen or so orphans this church supports.  Pastor Ososo will get me some pictures and more of an update later.  As of last summer they had hired two women to operate the store.  Hopefully as the summer progresses more items can be added to the mix of items sold at the store.  I know that this church has the desire to add baked products and honey to the mix.  The Matasia UMC has been working this project for years supporting the orphans in its care.  The long term goal is to purchase a plot of land and build a permanent home for the orphans.  The last I heard they were about a quarter of the way to their goal.  Helping this church help themselves will hopefully get them to their goal much quicker.

Take care and God bless you all

Dave

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5, 2012

Hi all!!

Just want to take a moment to wish the team from Olathe Wesleyan that is heading over to Maralal, Kenya as I type this.  They will continue showings of the Jesus film to the Samburan people that had been translated into their native Samburu language.  They will also meet with some of the children that have been sponsored through Compassion International.  I also believe they will be doing some construction work at the Lare-Oibor church and school site that was started last year. 

Take care and God bless

Dave