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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013


Greetings
 

It’s been over 7 months since my last blog and much has happened since then.  I tried to write a blog back in April then again in May and I actually wrote the majority of this one after the 4th of July.  I have been trying to write to this blog for many months but have not been able to get the thoughts I want out of my head onto paper or should I say blog.  I am not sure why every time I come back from Africa my enthusiasm dwindles a little more.  It is only after I start to think about returning that I start to get motivated again.  There was a plan to return in August but that did not happen.  I would like to go in late October or early November but that too looks like it might not happen.

 

First I would like to give my condolences to the Ososo family on the loss of the youngest son Romeo last month.  I met Romeo on my first visit back in 2009 and found him to be so full of energy, well spoken, and ready to take on the world.  I am not sure exactly how old Romeo was but I am sure he was in his early to mid 20’s.  Every time I met with him he was about as upbeat as anyone could be.  I have spoken before about how life can be taken at such early ages in Africa.  Many children die before the age of 5 however getting sick in Africa at any age can be deadly.  Again my heart goes out to the Ososo family and I will miss Romeo on my future visits.

 

Bishop Hezron was here in the states for two months back in April and May.  I had the pleasure of meeting with him the end of April and early May.  I left Chicago and took a quick trip back to Delaware for a few days.  I then headed west and picked up Hezron in Louisville, Kentucky.  After Louisville we headed west to Olathe, Kansas where Hezron met and spoke at Olathe Wesleyan Church.  After a few days in Olathe we headed further west to Colorado Springs, Colorado to meet with my brother Steve and family.  While we were in Colorado Springs we took a quick trip up Pikes Peak to enjoy the view.  I am not sure what I was thinking but there seems to be less air up there and it was really quite chilly.  On the drive up the Bishop told me to watch the road and he would watch the scenery.  After our time in Colorado Springs we then took a 14 hour drive to Minnesota to meet up with Aaron and the folks in Wilmar.  After Minnesota we then drove another 12 hours down to Cincinnati where he was to meet with some friends from his days with CFO (Camps Furthest Out).  The next morning I returned back to Chicago.  Total trip was close to 5000 miles.
 
 
Bishop Hezron on top of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado
 



 

As you know we have been experimenting for the last couple of years with ways to help the people of East Africa become more self sufficient.  Back in the summer of 2011 Pastor Ososo and the UMC Matasia church started YSAVE.  Two years later the micro-finance venture is still doing very well.  This last March we injected some funds into the venture to give it a boost.  As of the last time I heard money is being saved and money is being loaned out.  Some of the projects they have been doing include tailoring, catering, the cereal shop, jewelry making, security services, and other projects.  Our intent is to loan the money at no interest to YSAVE and the other ventures payable back to us in a time frame that is manageable to them. 
 
 
One of the roadside Kiosks
 
 
 
Inside the cereal shop started in Summer 2011

 
 
Security guards doing their training

 
 
Tailoring shop

 
 
Some of the bone jewelry

 

 

The Freedom Ministries micro-finance venture was initiated during the October 2012 visit and finalized during the January 2013 visit.  We also injected some funds this last March into their venture.  Bishop Hezron spent April and May in the states and upon his return to Kenya he had been very busy through July getting caught up in his ministry.  I have asked him to have the committee include me in some of their proceedings so I can get a feel of what they are doing.  I have told them success is paramount.  My understanding is that they are meeting monthly to review applications and distribute loans they deem viable.  I hope to get some more reports soon on their progress.

 

There had been some discussions about putting a micro-finance venture into a church environment.  To some this is contrary to what the church is all about.  However in order to stay away from creating a separate NGO and our desire to help the people in the church we need their legal framework to operate.  The church as a legal entity in Kenya or Uganda has under its charter this ability.  In order to help protect the ministry and the leaders of the ministry we felt it best to remove voting rights for the leaders of the Ministry.  Bishop Hezron is on the micro-finance committee however he has no vote. 

 

The original intent was to institute a few different micro-finance ventures and there are others we are still waiting to do.  I am not sure what happened to the fish farmers in Busia and hopefully with one of my return visits I can pick this back up.  With Freedom Ministries in Uganda we will proceed with their micro-finance venture after we get a good feel on how well the Freedom Ministries Kenya venture works.  Pastor Robert and Wamulu finished their micro-finance by-laws back in January.  However something just did not seem right and I sent Pastor Robert an email to explain my concerns.  We would also like to institute a micro-finance venture in Maralal. 

 

Last October when Aaron and I were in Uganda we promised to do a 3 month trial by providing some funds for church based Orphan care in Uganda and Kenya.  We spent a couple of days hashing out numbers and came up with 42 cents a day per child.  The number of children was determined and the funds were distributed for the 3 months.  However what we quickly learned as with most anything we do in Africa our intent has dire consequences.  I guess to put the main problem in one word it would be envy.  The need is so vastly overwhelming and we definitely do not have the ability to service everyone in our realm of influence.  Once word got out that we were helping by providing support for a given number of children more came out of the bush to receive the blessing.  This put a real burden on Bishop Moses in Uganda and I am still not sure how he resolved it.  I think about these problems all the time and maybe this is why I get so depressed upon my return from Africa.  I don’t have an answer and my desire is to help without creating any harm to my partners in the ministry.  The easiest thing to do would be to just give up.  Trust me it crosses my mind all the time.  Any way there is an answer out there and I will continue to look for it.  In the mean time we will be addressing the Orphan situation here in the next few months.

 

Take care and God bless

Dave   

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20, 2013 Eldoret

Greetings

Well today was another long day.  Started the morning on our way to church services at the base of Mt. Elgon in the little village of Mitoto (Me Toe Toe).  Made it to Webuye (We Boo Yey) before we had to have the car repaired.  We finally made it to the church sometime after noon.  The church had already been going for quite a few hours before we arrived.  Everyone had some tea and mendazi before we headed down to the church for services.  Not sure exactly what time we started after we arrived but I do believe church services were a good four or five hours.  I probably took an hour of the time myself.  Before we were to head back to Eldoret the staff had some business to take care of with the leadership of the church.  I excused myself to play some word search and angry birds on my phone until the battery went dead.  Luckily it was about the same time they were done so I wouldn't be bored just sitting there.

The roads today were especially brutal.  We did not get very far down the road before the muffler busted.  The potholes, the dust, the ruts, the mountainous speed bumps everywhere, and once it gets dark I can't see anyone.  We had just passed Webuye and there was a lady walking in the middle of the highway.  I didn't see her until we were right on her.  The Bishop is pretty good about dodging all the obstacles that come about so he missed her.  I pray that she finds her way off the highway tonight before one of the semi's hits her.

Tonight is my last night here in Kenya and I head back to the states tomorrow night.  We made it to Eldoret around nine pm and should be heading to the airport in the morning to start my journey back home.  I am so looking forward to four flights and almost two full days of no sleep.  So that is it this trip is almost history. 

Take care and God bless

Dave

January 20, 2013 Turbo


Greetings

Yesterday we left Kakamega and headed our way to Turbo which is on the main road from Eldoret to Webuye.  I have passed thru here on numerous occasions but the last time we stopped was way back on the very first trip in 2009.  We met up with Beatrice and after four years she remembered my name.  In fact she remembered all of our names that paid her a visit that day.  I am lucky to remember a name at the end of the day.  She pulled out some pictures from the visit and she told me I was now fat.  I really thought I was on the Kenya diet losing some major weight.

Beatrice and the four Turbo churches have eleven Orphans that are presently in Bishop Hezrons program.  Actually there are another nine more that are being helped to some extent.  A few years ago Hezron had hundreds of children in his program and over the years he has had to reduce the number for lack of funding.  What I am finding out is that once the funding decreases the rules have to change to adjust to the situation.  The Orphans do not disappear just because the money stops coming in.  Since the program here in Turbo is more for helping with their education the children are only helped through a certain grade then their assistance stops.  If there is a little extra money then some food will be given.  All of these children here are placed in a guardian’s home.  Some of the guardians are relatives and some are not.  Some of these children have both parents gone some only one parent gone.  It is my understanding that most or all the children here in Turbo that still have one parent alive do not live with the surviving parent for one reason or another.  All of the children live in the slum area of Turbo.  Hezron is going to have a meeting with the guardians on Wednesday to find a way to distribute the funds he has based on needs versus just handing everyone the same amount of money.  I am anxious to see how this works out.

After we left Turbo we paid a visit to Lumakanda to see the progress on the Freedom International Church main headquarter complex.  Since my last visit there are some more columns put up.  Seven thousand five hundred bricks are ready to be fired.  The church has been added on to.  There is now a three room school house for the little ones of the village.  A new toilet is being constructed and a kitchen was added on to the Pastors residence.  While we were visiting the church there was a young lady that had been selected to give the church a fresh new cow poop floor.  It seems that every two weeks this process is repeated by one of the members mostly by the youth.  In the states I am not sure if this would be a good recruiting tool to get kids to join the youth group or maybe it would.  I must say she did a really good job at it and she was fast too.

Freedom International Church compound Lumakanda



She really moves fast putting in a new floor



She did an excellent job



Bishop Hezron and some of the kids in the area



New three room school house



My guest for the evening



Yesterday’s blog I mention a guy in line that kept invading my space.  The guy in yesterdays blog is nothing compared to the guy in today’s blog.  I think God was reading my blog yesterday and thought it quite funny and decided that it was not funny enough.  So he throws in a new character.  You know God does have a sense of humor.  Here we are at the Lumakanda church and the neighbor guy sees us so he decides to pay us a visit.  Talk about being a space invader let me tell you that it is a real treat to be a captive audience to a drunken Kenyan.  You know Jim it is all about the relationshipJ

Today it is off to Mt. Elgon to visit a small town called Mototo (I think) for church services.  Also some of the Freedom International leadership will be there to speak to the members about tithing.  After the services I assume we will have some lunch and then I will say my goodbyes to the area and head for Eldoret so I can be near the airport tomorrow morning.  

Take care and God bless

Dave 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19, 2013 Kakamega


Greetings

Today was a really long day.  We got off to a late start.  Earlier I could not get my ATM card to work or the machine was out of money so I had to make the adventure to the bank to get some shillings.  I don’t know what it is about some people and lines.  Sometimes I wonder if people are taught proper etiquette while standing in a line.  Each of us humans we have our own personal space and when I can feel your breath on my neck you are way too close.  I stood in that line for what seemed like forever with a guy who kept invading my space.  I always make sure that I give the person in front of me plenty of room.  So here I am inching my way closer to the person in front of me so I can give the guy behind me some room to breathe on someone else.  Every time I inched forward the dude behind me inched along with me.  Even if I moved a half and inch he was right along with me.  Finally I had to realize that we were going to be inseparable for the duration of our time together in line.  I made sure that before I left the states I had 2006’s and above.  Not sure how many more years 2006’s will be valid here in Kenya.

After we fueled up we were on our way to visit a small church near Busia to see some of the Orphans that this church is taking care of.  The number was supposed to be five and yes they had five.  However it seems like they had another five that I assume were vulnerable children or partially orphans.  One of the Orphans in attendance was still considered an Orphan but she had a small child of her own.  Of course the father is no where to be found.  I still need to think about that one.  While I was at this small church I started to get sick and really did not feel like doing anything but going to sleep.  We still had a long day ahead of us and luckily I started to feel better a little later on.  I am not sure how much more Orphan information I can digest on this trip.

Pastor and Bishop with some members of Busia church
(the five children in front are the Orphans)



After we left the church it was off to see Pastor Robert in Bulimbo to discuss micro-finance and see his passion fruit orchard.  We went over his by-laws of the micro-finance program and spoke with some of the members of his committee to help them finalize the program.  After the meeting we took a stroll to the passion fruit orchard.  They still look great however Robert tells me that the vines are in a state of dormancy while the dry season continues.  This is what took us out last year when the drought hit here in Western Kenya.  The vines were not sufficiently large to withstand periods of no water.  Robert told me once the rain starts again the vines will start to produce again.  As we went through the orchard there still seemed to be a large number of fruit on the vines and there were also some flowers meaning more fruit will be coming.  The main problem for the orchard is theft.  It sits right next to the road and it is easy picking for all.  I think there are some witch doctors not far from here that can put a spell on the vines so if anyone steals the fruit they will be frozen on the spot.

This trip was not much to do with passion fruit since any future passion fruit will have to go through the micro-finance entities we are setting up.  However my understanding is that the surviving orchards in Bungoma area are doing quite well.  The vines that made it through the drought have survived the second dry season.  Some of Mumias orchards are still alive and a few of the churches are going to replant in other areas.  Kakamega took a hard hit and most of them switched back to maize.  I still feel that passion fruit is a viable crop and my prayer is that once the micro-finance programs are up and running passion fruit orchards will be back on the agenda.

Pastor Robert explaining dormancy during times of little rain


Young man showing me a passion fruit flower


Some of pastor Robert's family


The passion fruit orchard from the road



After we left Pastor Robert and family it was back to Kakamega.  On the way we stopped in Mumias to pick up Mr. and Mrs. Ometi to have dinner with the Bishop and Melissa.  Melissa has been sick for the last week or so.  She had been in the hospital and they could not find out what was wrong with her.  Everyone thought it was malaria but the doctors would not confirm it and sent her home.  She still does not feel well but she is doing better then she was.  My prayers are to you for a speedy recovery.  Maybe she has the flu that is going around in the states.  Do they have the flu here?

After dinner we started to discuss church based Orphan care and how we are going to undertake such a task.  I told them we need to take this from the ministry level and move it to the church level.  It has become obvious to me that there are some that have Orphans in their care that might not need any help.  It is also obvious to me that there are some that have Orphans in their care that could use a little help.  It is also obvious to me that there are people that have Orphans in their care that need a lot of help.  Now the question is we have this little or God willing large pot of money to help and to whom are we going to help?  I am not sure if I would ever be in a position to answer that question but as Maurice said last night with proper training and discipleship the church can.

This morning Hezron had called me and said we are going somewhere but I am not sure where we are going.  I know we will be going to the Elgon area tomorrow for church services and then to Eldoret so we can be close to the airport for my departure on Monday morning.  There is only one flight out of Eldoret and I need to be on it or there might be a problem getting back to the states.  The Bishop does not have the most reliable car at times but it serves its purpose well when it does.

An Eagle that landed on a branch while I was typing this blog


Take care and God bless

Dave

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18, 2013 Uganda part two


Greetings

Before Bishop Hezron and I left Uganda on Wednesday we traveled west to Iganga to visit with the Orphans that Bishop Moses and his wife Esther house in their rented small two room apartment if you want to call it one.  It is essentially two rooms with each room about eight feet by ten feet if that.  The living room or sitting room doubles as the boys sleeping area at night.  The other room is the bedroom for Esther and the girls.  Moses and his wife have five children of their own and care for another twelve Orphans in a space smaller then my hotel room here in Kakamega.  There is no kitchen so Esther has to cook outside under a tree.  There is no bathroom and the facilities available are communal for all the families living in the complex.  I did see a bathing area next to the toilets and as I was walking around I happened to see a young boy in a bucket cleaning himself with absolutely no privacy.  Everyone sleeps on reed mats at night with no blankets or pillows.  We arrived right before the meal of the day which consisted of some rice, posha (ugali), and minnow soup.  This area of Uganda is a major rice growing area near Lake Victoria.  With the posha and minnows the meal is about as cheap as one can get.  However getting enough to feed nineteen people every day is a challenge.

Only thirteen of the seventeen kids were present as some of the older children were attending a youth conference with their church.  Moses started to explain the story of each child but my mind just wasn’t into it.  Does it really matter how each parent died or what happened to them?  The fact is that they are dead or gone and usually at a very young age since most of these children are very young themselves.  Some have died in the violence that has plagued this country for many years; some have died from the nasty diseases like aids, drowned in Lake Victoria fishing, or whatever.  In the last two days I have seen close to a hundred Orphans that are being housed within eight church families.  God gives us such a simple command but we happen to be so numb to it.  There are so many mouths to feed.  No telling what some of these kids have had to go through.  Granted the whole world has these same types of problems however Uganda has some of the worst of it.


Bishop Moses Wanyama and family 



 Esther Wanyama preparing the days meal



This is where they cook and eat every day 



Poshe (ugali) and minnow soup for dinner



 This is where the boys sleep at night



 The neighbor lady wanted her picture taken and published
(now I need to find a way so she can see it) 



Uganda has been in a civil war for a good twenty years with the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) mostly in the northern part of the country but the whole country has been affected at one time or another.  If you have not heard of this Kony guy look him up on the internet.  His army will raid a village and leave a path of death in a moments notice to acquire the children he needs to breed his army.  The girls are usually forced into sex slavery until they are no longer needed and discarded.  The boys are forced into the rebel insurgency by any means at their disposal.  The atrocities that these people have done are of the worst magnitude.  They go so far as to mutilate their enemies, their discards, those that try to escape, and they even cook them up for dinner.  Does cannibalism still exist in Uganda?  There are only a handful of places on this planet that might still harbor the practice.  Northern and eastern Uganda is included.  My understanding is that some villages had two types of butcheries one for the regular types of meat and ones for the other type of meat.  It is also my understanding that the excuse was not because they were hungry.  Let’s pray that this behavior no longer exists and that Joseph Kony is captured or killed in the near future.

This Monday night I will be going back to the comfortableness of my existence while so many of my friends and their families will continue to eek out an existence here in East Africa.  Every time I come here I get so darned depressed on the enormity of it all.  Who are we going to help and whom is going to be left aside?  There are those that have obvious needs and there are those that think they have needs but are they really just something they want?  As I travel the country side I see the good works of some of the missionaries that come here and I wonder.  Oh I so wonder why we do what we do.  We drove by this huge compound the other day just west of Busia of at least a hundred acres being fenced in with the construction of a huge church and a bunch of buildings being built with what looked like all the trimmings.  Is this what we are about?  Is this what God is asking us to do?  I can’t imagine the amount of money going into this project to help how many people?  I can’t remember the organizations name and I am sure they have great intentions but is this really addressing the needs of these people or is it something else entirely?  If we build it bigger and to our standards does God favor us more then if we come in with a measly amount of money to help as many people as possible because our hearts tell us to?  What is it going to be people?  Bigger and better or taking the same amount of money and making it adequate for as many as possible.  My friends here in East Africa hear this also.  What would Jesus have us do??  I think you know my answer or at least I hope you do.  Amen

Today we will be off to see some more Orphans on the Kenya side of Busia.  We will also pay a visit to Pastor Robert in Bulimbo to discuss micro-finance and passion fruit.

Take care and God bless

Dave 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17, 2013 Uganda part one


Greetings

Well I am back from Uganda after a few days.  This will be Uganda visit part one blog.  Today I want to just go over the details of the Orphans a little and tomorrow I want to get into something a little bit more difficult to discuss.

On Monday we crossed the border into Uganda met up with Bishop Moses and made our way to the Executive Hotel in Bugiri.  This border crossing was a complete surprise versus my other crossings.  I was the only one in line to leave Kenya and I was the only one in line to go into Uganda.  What seemed strange was that there were a large number of people on each side of the border and in no mans land in between.  For those of you who do not know what no mans land is let me explain.  This is the area between the two countries about the size of a football field where there is no jurisdiction whatsoever.  Crossing the border is actually going through a total of four gates.  Coming from Kenya into Uganda you pass the first armed gate into a staging area to fill out departure papers and have your visa exit stamped with customs.  The second armed gate is the gate to no mans land where you walk about a hundred yards to gate number three.  I assume that you enter this area at your own risk since none of the armed guards on either side are allowed to enter the area.  The third gate is the armed gate where you enter Ugandan customs fill out the form give them fifty bucks for a visa and they tell you to have a great visit.  Once past the customs area you then go through the last armed gate upon entering Uganda.  The return trip is the opposite except if you have a valid Kenyan visa the cost is nothing.

On Tuesday we were off to see some of the Orphans.  Our first stop was just outside of Bugiri to meet with 3 pastors whom have a total of 8 Orphans among them.  One pastor has four, another one, and the last three.  I am not that great with names since I meet so many people when I do these excursions.  The pastor/wife that has four Orphans also has three of their own.  The four were not in attendance since they were visiting their grandmothers while school is out of session here in Uganda.  My understanding is that the children are from two different families where as both sets of parents are dead.  The pastor/wife that has one Orphan also has five of their own.  Both parents of this child are dead and it appears that there are no other relatives to assist with her. 

The last pastor/wife whom is also the General Secretary of Freedom International Uganda Masava Samuel have taken in three Orphans to add to the three of their own.  These three Orphans are from the war torn north that had wandered into the area with a few others.  Their little village in northern Uganda was raided and their parents/relatives killed.  The violence in northern Uganda has subsided in the last few years as the rebels have been pushed into the Congo.  It is my understanding that in the bush many children do not get birth certificates or other documents until they are older if they get any at all.  So I guess once the relatives of these children are killed off no one else knows they exist making them virtually invisible and easy recruits for the rebels or others to take advantage of them. 

I was told of the neighbor woman living near Masava whom has aids and is close to death.  Her husband has already died of aids and once she is dead then there will be four more children left without parents.  I asked him what would happen to the children once the mother is gone.  He told me that they are already helping where they can since the mother has no income and no way of earning any income.  So they assist with food and some other essentials when they are able.  I am not sure what will happen to the four children upon the death of the mother but my assumption they will be absorbed into the community somehow. 


Pastor/wife that has four Orphans (not pictured)




Pastor/wife with one Orphan and five of their own



Pastor Masava/wife with three Orphans and three of their own



We made our way to the next stop just south of Busia and we were greeted by a large number of children.  Of course I was clueless to what was going on and I quickly found out that the 5 pastors of the area had brought their Orphans to this one church to greet us.  Aaron and I were here just a couple of months ago and there were only supposed to be 76 Orphans scattered among the 19 churches here in Eastern Uganda.  Earlier in the day I had met 3 pastors with 8 Orphans easy enough.  The numbers seem to be what we believed them to be.  Well now I have met 5 pastors with 72 Orphans with 4 more just added on today.  If I do my math correctly I have now met 8 of the 19 pastors with a total of 84 Orphans.  If I add the 12 that Bishop Moses has the new number is 96 Orphans.  There are still 11 churches with how many Orphans?  Did I ever tell any of you that communications here in Uganda is a little more difficult then Kenya?


Busia area Orphans singing in the church



Bishop Hezron and the Busia area Orphans

(not sure why I missed Bishop Moses in the picture)



Overall the meetings went very well.  During my speech to the children I asked how many of the children were looking at a mzungu for the first time.   After my question was translated I was surprised to see that at least half if not more were seeing their first mzungu.  At the end of the meeting with the children I invited them all to shake my hand.  I think I have mentioned this before and it needs repeating for those that plan to come and pay a visit.  Once you offer to shake some hands be prepared to shake a lot of hands multiple times. 

After the group meeting we met with the 5 pastors to discuss church based Orphan care and a little about the micro-finance project to be started later.  Obviously there seems to be a little problem with the number of children and hopefully Bishop Moses and his staff will be able to come up with a resolution.

I will discuss Wednesday’s agenda and some more discussion on my time in Uganda in tomorrow’s blog.

Take care and God bless

Dave 


Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013 Uganda

Greetings

We got in pretty late last night from Mumias so I did not write to my blog.  We are heading into Uganda today and will be unable to use my phone or modem to access the world for a few days.

Last night I got back to my room and found a spider in my bed.  It didn’t take very long before I killed two more crawling around.  Today I was out here in the gazebo minding my own business when I felt something big crawling on my neck.  My hand moved a mile a minute to get the critter off my neck.  It was so big and soft it squished bug juices between my fingers and I threw it in the grass.  I tried to look for it but I could not find it.  Maybe it is better that I not know what it was.  Now I continue to sit here typing in fear of another attack.  I purposely kept the windows closed to my room yesterday so no mosquitoes would invade my room.  I am still not convinced on how effective a mosquito net is since they still seem to get inside and bite me.  Nothing more irritating then sleeping and being woke up by that distinctive mosquito sound getting too close.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Maurice Ometi’s home discussing the Freedom International micro-finance society and church based Orphan care.  The meeting went very well and they told me that the seminar they had back in October to roll out the micro-finance venture went well too.  As of today the society has about 20 members with quite a few more to join soon.  Each has paid their 300 shilling registration fee and contributing to their savings at 200 shilling per month.  There is also an annual renewal fee of 100 shilling to maintain member status.  The registration and renewal fees are non refundable.  The savings amount is refundable less any deficit taken out as loans.  Each member will be able to take out loans up to four times the share value.  They have written their by-laws, constitution, and have the committee established.  The finances of the society will be funded by a variety of means.  The sources include donations, registration fees, renewal fees, loan processing fees, interest on loans, monthly share contributions, and loans from investors or other financial institutions.  By all indications the executive committee of Freedom International is most happy that they now have a program in place to help and give some hope for a more comfortable future.

Mrs. Ometi cooked up a chicken, some kale, and ugali.  Very tasty and it actually agreed with me.  After dinner we discussed church based Orphan care and what would it take for the church to start addressing the needs of the church community in regards to Orphans, widows and the truly needy.  I think I struck a cord with the staff in regards to what are needs and what are wants.  They explained to me that their language does not really have a distinction between the two and were very happy that it was explained in English.  It is a common perception that once a Mzungu is involved the flow of riches are sure to follow.  We have conditioned both sides of the pond to act in a certain way.  The more I come here the more I realize that our good intentions are just that “good intentions”.  Without our support any and all projects seem doomed to failure.  Don’t get me wrong I believe giving is a good thing however what happens when the giving stops?  While I was in Maralal I heard of a story on a local Orphan(?) school that had lost its funding and could no longer support its mission.  It appears the funds were cut off because of some abuse of funds by those running the institution.  This is the way we operate, we get burnt we cut off funds.  Does God care if we get burnt?  The command is still there “take care of the Orphans” it is not the kid’s fault the director ran off with the money.  I have come to the conclusion that we humans need to be taken out to the woodshed for a good lesson in humility.  God gives us such simple commands and what do we do?  We have to complicate it with rules, procedures, our own personal beliefs, restrictions, or whatever because we are so smart and we trust no one.  What did Jesus say “ye of little faith” that’s us/me to the tee.  I try to be the obedient follower but I always fall short.  I could go on and on but enough said.  I am tired of getting beat up side the head with the obvious.

Bishop Hezron should be here soon and we are off to Uganda to meet up with Bishop Moses to talk Orphan care for a few days.  Trust me we are going to take the simple command and we will complicate it with our ways because that is what we do.

Take care and God bless

Dave 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12, 2013 Kakamega

Greetings

Did not get much done today since we were waiting for the car to be repaired.  I am never going to understand why something that should cost a lot of money doesn’t and things that should be cheap are not here in Kenya.  The clutch and the pressure plate on the car needed to be replaced.  Someone had to drive to Kisumu to get the parts and return them to Kakamega.  If I was going to have someone drive me to Kisumu it would cost somewhere between 3500 Ksh and 5000 Ksh to do so.  The clutch parts were purchased for 5000 Ksh including picking up the parts in Kisumu.  The two guys repairing the car essentially removed the engine to replace the clutch parts.  They spent a good 8 or more hours doing so over two days.  The total labor to repair the clutch was 3000 Ksh.  So the entire repair cost about a hundred dollars.   

On the other hand breakfast is no longer included in the cost of the room here since it has been outsourced.  For breakfast I had two small hard boiled eggs at 200 Ksh a piece, two pieces of toast, and a small glass of passion fruit juice.  With the tip the cost of breakfast came out to be about 10 bucks.  Who in their right mind would spend over 2 bucks for one small hard boiled egg?  To top it all off they wouldn’t even be classified medium eggs in the states.  I think that is my last breakfast here for a while.

Campaign season is in full swing here in Kenya.  This weekend Kakamega is crawling with politicians clamoring for votes.  The new constitution has created Governors and Senators for the counties on top of the MP’s that normally run.  After ten years the President of Kenya was term limited out so a new President will be elected on March fourth too.  I assume that there must be a higher level of excitement in the air since this is something new.  The promise of the new constitution with more power at the local level should help keep tensions low.  I pray that this country will not have the same kind of violence that came about from the last election. 

Tomorrow we are off to Mumias to worship and pay some visits.  We will also work our way up to Bulimbo to visit with Pastor Robert before coming back to Kakamega. 

Take care and God bless

Dave 

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11, 2013 Kakamega

Greetings

Yesterday did not go as completely planned.  Pastor Ososo had some personal business to take care of and we were unable to meet until it was too late.  So I spent the day at the Consolata Sisters resting and reading.  I will try to put Nairobi back on the agenda for the end of the trip.  Kym did come by yesterday after work and I took him to the China Plate down the road.  He said he never had Chinese before.  It was pretty tasty but a little on the high side ($$$) if you ask me.  The guy seating us looked at us kinda strange and I tend to believe it was because we were not dressed appropriately.  I think that is why he put us in the corner.  They really did not have to it was like we were the only ones in the place since most people probably could not afford to come in the place.  For the money KFC spicy chicken would have been a much better choice.

I was not really up to traveling across Kenya in a crowded bus with my stomach acting up so I decided to book a flight to Kisumu.  Bishop Hezron was gracious enough to come and get me.  The problem with Fly540 is that they only have very early morning flights and after dark flights.  So I splurged a little and flew Kenya Airways so I did not have to be to the airport at five in the morning.  Even though the flight was about 30 minutes I now have a much better impression of Kenya Airways versus my first flight with them.  In the states we get pretzels, peanuts, or cookies with a drink on our short haul flights.  Kenya Airways has the same selection of drinks but with two little bags of mixed cashews and macadamia nuts yummy!!

Luckily we made it from Kisumu to Kakamega before Hezron’s car broke down when we arrived at the Sheywe Guest House.  The clutch went out.  Not to worry this is Kenya and before you know it Hezron had his favorite mechanics at the guest house taking the engine apart piece by piece.  One of the guys was actually able to fit into the engine compartment after he removed most of the components to start removing the transmission.  Well see what tomorrow brings and if they will be able to find the plates for the clutch or not. 

Tomorrow the Bishop and I will talk some more about church based Orphan care as the mechanics continue to work on his vehicle.  Hopefully they can get it fixed soon so we can go out look at some projects and possibly go into Uganda for a couple of days.

Take care and God bless

Dave 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 9, 2013 Nairobi

Greetings

This morning Pastor Ososo and Councilor Ben showed up here at the Hostel.  We started off with Ben discussing the fish farmers association in Busia for an hour or so.  Ben is very busy with campaigning and raising funds for the spring election so he did not have a bunch of time to spend with us.  Once I get into Western Kenya I will meet with the management of the association and we can discuss the banking arrangements further.

After meeting with Ben it was off to the Kibera slum to address a personal issue with Pastor Ososo.  Afterwards we were off to Westgate Mall to meet with the owner of the Breezy Boutique to discuss a business arrangement for the jewelry project at the Matasia church.  I remember driving by the Westgate Mall a couple times before but this is the first time I have been inside.  Quite nice inside, Christmas decorations were still up, and a huge contrast to where I was an hour before.  Had a couple cups of coffee and Pastor Ososo had a sugar coated donut.  Now I know why it is so nice inside the mall.

Pastor Ososo brought some of the bone jewelry that the project had made and even though she liked them enough it was not something she would be able to sell in her shops.  She explained that the rent is very high in the mall and she needs to be able to mark up the product substantially.  With these particular pieces of jewelry they are too similar to the jewelry that is being sold at the Masaii market or other authentic Kenyan curio shops for the tourist market.  She needs uniqueness so she can justify the higher cost of the jewelry she sells.  She supports the idea of providing employment or engaging the needy through the sale of her products.  She loved the idea that this project is helping to support the eleven Orphans of the Matasia church. 

The meeting in my opinion went very well and she is very interested in working with the project to either supply jewelry on consignment and/or purchase (cash) the parts for her own jewelry making operation.  Pastor Ososo will be visiting her work shop next week with some paper beads (will look at and explain tomorrow) and possibly some other jewelry/parts now that he knows what she is looking for.  For me it is really great to see how far and how much further the seed that was planted in July 2011 will grow.  Not only is this jewelry/parts that is already being sold to the tourist market, it will possibly make its way into some of the higher end shops here in Nairobi and abroad.  My understanding is that she also sells her jewelry in Italy and online as well.

On my first visit back in 2009 Pastor Ososo told me that none of the pastors within his organization were getting paid by the church.  Now four years later with the help of the various micro-finance projects that the UMC church and YSAVE have been doing tithing among the members has increased.  Pastors are starting to get paid now.  Some of the money is also working its way into a small pension fund.  Even though it is not up to our standards it is a great start and in my opinion highly needed.

Kym was to come by tonight so I could take him out to dinner.  He had to work late in the hanger.  Hopefully tomorrow we can meet up.  Not sure where to take him but I did see a Chinese restaurant down the road on our way back from Westgate.  I hope I am up to it.  Last nights meal really didn’t go over to well.  Not sure if I made a mistake drinking the water that I was told was ok to drink or something else.  I did have the lettuce with oil and vinegar.  Last nights meal here at the Flora Hostel was pretty tasty.  The menu consisted of roast beef, sausage, mashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, green beans, cheese, something noodle soup, salad, bread, bananas, and oranges.  Bishop Hezron keeps telling me it is possibly the oil that doesn’t agree with me.  He might be on to something.  Last night my bottled water wasn’t that cold and the container of water on the table just came out of the cooler.  I knew I shouldn’t have drank it but it looked so so cold and I was willing to pay the price for a cold glass of water.  Let’s see if I make the same mistake tonight?  

Tomorrow it is back out to Matasia to look at the progress of the ground nut project, sim sims, cereal shop, expansion of the jewelry project, the new cookie operation, and the security guard project.  Not sure if we will have time tomorrow to visit any of the other projects or not.  Traffic in Nairobi can be a nightmare and it takes half a day to visit one place.

Take care and God bless

Dave 

January 8, 2013 Nairobi


Greetings

Today was our last day in Maralal.  Everyone finished packing, most of the Olathe group went into town to do some shopping, and the last two desk frames were repaired just a few minutes before we were to drive off.  We arrived at the Kisima airstrip a little after two for our flight to Nairobi with AIM Air.  It was a busy day at the airstrip there was another missionary couple from Dallas waiting for a flight from Marsabet to Nairobi.  Our plane arrived from South Sudan around two thirty, loaded it up, said our c-u-laters, and headed for our one hour journey to Nairobi Wilson.  Along the way the pilot gave us a wonderful ride next to the Aberdare’s for some great views of the countryside.  At one point there were a couple of large waterfalls and he did a complete three sixty around them so we could get a great view of them.  We arrived at Wilson about a quarter to four.  The Olathe group was off to the Mayfield to freshen up before their flight out of Nairobi tonight.  My ride arrived at four and I was off to the Consolata Sisters Hostel for a few more days here in Nairobi before heading to Western.

Ken and Susan are ending their extended stay in Maralal this summer.  God willing this is not the end of the mission.  True Ken and Susan are returning to the states but their hearts are still and will be with the Samburu people.  There is a long term proposal on the table, plenty of discussion, and with the commitment of those willing to keep it going it will. 

Tomorrow I will be spending the day with Pastor Ososo and Councilor Ben from Busia.  I am not sure what the complete agenda is for the next two days since it seems to be better to wing it.  We will be visiting the school again and checking in on some of the recent projects Pastor Ososo and the YSAVE program has started.  Since Councilor Ben is in Nairobi I will get a chance to discuss with him the progress of the fish farmers association in Busia.


At the airstrip in Kisima getting ready to leave for Nairobi




The Aberdare mountains in Central Kenya




One of the many waterfalls that could be seen along the Aberdare's



Tea fields on approach to Nairobi



Take care and God bless

Dave