Saturday, August 13, 2016

We're on the ground!

The team just arrived safely at Philadelphia International Airport!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Part way home

We have arrived in Doha, Qatar, our layover stop on the long trip home. Our connecting flight is delayed a half hour, but they should make that up so we arrive in Philadelphia on time. This next flight is the hardest part of the whole trip for me, since it's over thirteen hours long. But we see the light at the end of the tunnel and will be glad to be home! It's an incredible experience to be a part of this team every year and serve in Kenya, but there's no place like home!

At the airport in Nairobi.

Well, we survived the ride to Nairobi after stopping at Amani ya Juu (women's empowerment center we always try to support) to shop and for lunch. We had the opportunity to experience the unbelievable Nairobi traffic we have often heard about. Thanks to our fabulous Kenyan drivers, we made it unscathed and on time! We drove past the Kibera slum as we entered Nairobi. It's hard to imagine what life must be like living there. Deep Sea is similar but small by comparison. It's estimated that close to one million live in Kibera, with most unemployed and the average person living on $1.00 per day. It's hard to put in perspective. It only underscores my gratitude for being blessed, a desire to share, and my desire to never take my blessings for granted. 

We've made it through the initial screening, check-in and passport control at the airport and are ready to go through final security prior to boarding our first flight, to Doha, Qatar. Then on to Philadelphia after a brief layover. Please pray that we make our connection without difficulty, since we must de-plane on the tarmac and get bussed in to the terminal, where we go through security again. All in less than an hour and a half if our first flight arrived on time! Again, your prayers are appreciated. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Last day of projects

Today was the last workday before we depart Nakuru.  We leave first thing in the morning to drive back to Nairobi for our flight tomorrow night to Qatar and on to Philadelphia. We were up and on the road early because we had a lot of work still to accomplish. 

This was the last school day of this term, so there were still lots of children present to spend time with, and several of our team do that amazingly. They are kid magnets! We feel like rock stars when we ride up in the morning in our vans and get mobbed by screaming kids! 

We also had a lot of concrete to get poured to finish the last section of the floor for the dining hall project as well as to pour the floor for Wanshakae's house.  When we started getting prepared for the first pour, we had our first hiccup: the valve on the rainwater cistern at the school was locked. We were told by the principal that there was not enough water in the tank and that they needed it all for the lunch preparation for the students. We decided to start on the floor first at Wanshakae's house and proceeded to move the mixer the quarter mile by hand. When we got there with the mixer and all the peripheral equipment, we found that the water that had been there two days before had all disappeared! At that point, we started to feel like the Israelites in Egypt, when they were told they had to continue making the same amount of bricks but had to provide their own straw! Satan was trying to stop our work any way he could, but there was no way he was going to succeed. The local women and several women on our team organized a brigade, carrying water in jerry cans and any other vessels they could find from several hundred feet away.   We soon had the 120 gallons we needed for our concrete floor for the house (the fact that a lot of tadpoles got sacrificed to make our concrete wasn't a major stumbling block!) With a major team effort loading and carrying buckets of sand, stone and cement, loading the mixer, discharging the mixer into wheelbarrows that were dumped into the form and screaded and leveled and "floated" smooth, the floor got poured in a little over an hour.  It was a blessing to see the joy on Wanshakae's face as her house gained a floor.  At the same time, our friends Rufus and Ibraham worked on installing the corrugated sheet metal for the roof.  When we left the site to move the mixer and materials back to the dining hall worksite, the house just lacked the wall panels, windows and door to be complete. 

The trip back to the dining hall project proved to be not only taxing for the pushers but also for the mixer, which broke welds and lost the front axle and steering mechanism. Nice try, satan! God wouldn't allow something like this to upset His plans, and a little extra manpower got the mixer up to the site and supported by building stone to complete the concrete work for the last section of the floor.  Once again, a major team effort like a well-oiled machine got the remaining work done by right after lunch.  

Some of our team also got to participate in the end-of-term school academic awards ceremony.  We had the chance to give the school some library books and soccer balls, and every student received toothbrush and toothpaste from us.  One other significant thing that we had agreed upon as a team is that we would use excess funds we had raised to sponsor two scholarships to send community residents to teacher's college. They are committed to coming back and teaching in the school after graduation. This is a relatively insignificant investment ($3600) that will have far-reaching impact on the lives of the children in the school and the community.  

For many on our team who have been to Kenya these last four years, this visit was truly inspiring! We had the benefit of seeing this old stone barn four years ago when it was literally a squalid environment with nothing in it but chickens and their droppings, debris and tin shelters of displaced persons. We had the benefit of pouring concrete footings and building walls two years ago, and we now got to see it fully functioning and bustling with children learning.  And now we have been able to work on construction as it grows and gains a dining hall to meet the students' physical needs and to help to provide more teachers.  It has truly been a blessing that God allowed us to share in this effort.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

An awesome day with the former street boys at Lake Naivasha.

We had a fantastic day spent with 31 of the former street boys who are now in VISOH (Victory Shelter of Hope) with Johnkim Kin. We travelled to Lake Naivasha together and took a hippo boat ride on the lake. The fellowship was great and the scenery was spectacular. We landed on Crescent Island and did a one hour hike among the wildlife and had a picnic lunch atop the main hill. It was a blessing to see the progress the ministry of VISOH is having in the lives of these young men. It was also fun to get up close and personal with the wildlife!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

More construction.

Today was our fourth day at the Gituamba IDP Community site. As always, team members split up into various task groups. Some of the group spent a lot of time with the school kids, telling stories and working with them on crafts. Additional painting work was accomplished on windows and doors. A group of the women had competition moving stone into the steel framework of the house we are building for Wanshakae's family, and the full steel framing was constructed. Since the day held a lot of potential for rain, we held off pouring the concrete floor till Thursday. It's really great to see this house go from nothing but a bare field the first day to walls ready for frame panels with a concrete floor poured in less than a week with just a small portion of our team working on it. Two complete 11' x 25' sections of the concrete dining hall floor were poured today, leaving only one section to complete on our last workday Thursday. It was a great day of accomplishment. 

On the way back from Gituamba to Nakuru, we took a detour up into the mountains to visit the equator. It is beautiful country, with coffee and tea plantations, up to an elevation of 7560 feet above sea level. We had the Lord's protection, as one of our vans had a serious breakdown that ended up being repaired quickly, since we broke down less than a half mile (all down hill!) from a "service station" (using that term extremely loosely!). We also saw His hand in preventing a head-on collision with a driver on a motorcycle, who only escaped a bad accident by mere inches. God is good!

Tomorrow will be another different day, with a boat ride, hike and picnic lunch on an island in Lake Naivasha with 29 of the street boys from Johnkim Kin's ministry which is supported by SWOK. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Assembly line!

Today was a different project for us. We did a food packaging project for SERV International. We set up an assembly line with 5500 pounds of rice plus lentils, mixed vegetables and vitamins in self-serve packets that will be distributed various places in Africa, including Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.  We packed a total of 54000 meals! It was a great time of fun and fellowship as we worked and traded stations on the assembly line.