Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greetings From Kenya - Guest Post

We have been so busy this past three weeks that we have had little time to blog. This is a picture of our Equip Disciples team taken after our first week here. My heart has been captured by the kids here. I am looking into and praying about how God can use me to help the orphan's in this place. Below is just a small portion of what has been going on as far as the drilling goes. 


We have been so blessed to be here in Kilifi, Kenya these past three weeks. The people here are wonderful and have welcomed us with open arms. Joe and Tammie have a great ministry at work here equipping church leaders. They have prepared and taught conferences each day to strengthen the church in east Africa. Our families have had a great time working together. It is a great honor to be on this trip and we are so grateful for all of the prayers and support we have received that brought us here. We thank the Lord each day for you all and feel your prayers.

The water well drilling has been both challenging and encouraging. Joe had arrived in Kilifi a day earlier and had begun resourcing supplies. When we arrived we worked on putting together a drilling rig and finding more supplies. Most of those working on the well drilling are pastors. They are studying half of the day in the leadership conferences and working on well drilling the other half. Philip is a member of the church where the conferences are based and does our welding. He truly has a servant’s heart and has built all of the equipment needed for drilling including the bits.

We have encountered many obstacles and challenges along the way. The first obstacle was finding the right supplies to put together a sturdy drill stem. We could only find light weight materials for our first attempt. Later we were able to locate some larger diameter pipe and build a stronger drill stem. Upon starting the drilling process we discovered that there is coral beneath the surface topsoil. The coral runs very deep. There is a 7 foot layer of very hard coral on top of 30 more feet of softer coral. As we considered the depth of the coral, we decided that we must try to drill a test well through it since the whole location has this coral.

We lost a drill bit during our first attempt to drill through the coral. At that point we strengthened our drill stem and started another borehole. We broke the treads on our drill stem after drilling several feet into the coral. We had to build a new bit that would penetrate the coral and secure it so it would not break at the treaded end of the pipe. We were successful at finding the right supplies and building the bit. This bit was able to drill from 6” to 16” every fifteen minutes depending on the hardness of the coral we were in.

An odd problem we encountered was our ropes continued to break at the pulley. We tried several pulleys before we found one that worked without breaking the pull ropes. We also knew we needed some clay to make a drilling fluid that would keep the sand from collapsing inside the borehole. We found local clay that some people use for building housed. We tested it and found it was suitable for our drilling purposes. We were able to drill a 50’ well through 20 feet of topsoil and 30 feet of coral. Before completing the well our drill stem stuck and we have been working to retrieve it.

While this well has given us many challenges we are all in agreement that God had given us such a difficult well so that we could learn how to get through the difficulties. We have spent many hours in prayer and encouraging one another. We have learned what it takes to get through the coral rock in this area. In talking with the pastors as we near the end of our trip they were all determined to see wells drilled in this area. We are confident that it can be done successfully and all of the supplies are available. We begin and end our days here giving God the glory for what great things he is doing. 


Our Last Week In Kenya

It is almost four in the morning here in Kenya and I am sitting in bed killing mosquitoes instead of sleeping. I just can’t sleep when I am being eaten alive, sorry. I have tried everything. Last night wasn't bad; I must have closed the net right or something. Tonight they keep coming in and I have many new bites. This is really the last night we will have here. Tomorrow night instead of sleeping we will be driving to the airport. I am not looking forward to starting that journey before a good night’s rest but that is the schedule we get to work with so we must make the best of it.

The kids have done really well, for the most part. Since this is a short term trip it is very focused because much work must be done in a short amount of time. The boys were bored in their off time but found ways to get along with their game boys and picking on their sisters. The girls easily went from sitting in on Discipleship Training to the water drilling site. At the end of each day, most of the time, they got to swim for a short while before dinner was ready. For the past week Tammie has been buying ice cream for dinner.  Those two things have given them something to look forward to. Most of their conversations are about the foods they want to eat when they get back to the states.

Today Jennifer told me she hopes to be fluent in Swahili by next year. I am not sure how we will do that but I think it is a great idea for our family to learn. I don’t think it would be hard for the two kids to learn and I believe we could learn it quickly. We would just need a teacher. The past three weeks I have had many teachers and have learned many things like words and they way they do things.

We have become very attached to a young Kenyan man that is on our team. He is twenty-three years old. He has taken us under his wing and made sure we get fair prices on things and that we understand what is going on. He has taught us much about Kenya and its people. We have “adopted” him into our family. The kids are planning on what we need to show him when he comes to visit in the states.

I have been learning more and more about the orphan situation that my friend is a part of. She has two acres of land and they have build three rooms on that land. The rooms have no floor. She has chalk boards on the walls to teach the children, remember, they can’t afford to go to school so she teaches them. They have a place to cook when there is food. Her vision would be to have a home for them so they have a place to sleep at night, clean clothes, food to eat and school supplies to learn. My heart has such a burden to join this cause and see it happen. They need a house big enough for bedrooms and school rooms. They need a water well and a windmill for fresh water and to grow crops. They need some fruit trees and some animals for food. They need clothes and school supplies. They need love, people who will care for them and show them the love of Christ through their actions. I am sure you can tell that this is heavy on my heart and I feel very passionate about it. Please pray that God will show me His plan for my life where this is involved, if any. It is a huge ministry that needs people and funds in order to work.

The drilling has been at a standstill for four days. The drill stem is stuck and so far they haven’t been able to retrieve it. They are still trying. They decided to use the first spot that they started to drill where they lost the bit in the hole to show everyone how to finish out a well so they have that knowledge. They did part of that today and will do the rest on Friday. They are still working on getting that drill stem out of the hole so they can figure out a way to continue on with this well and others using it. They are below 50 feet and might have even hit water but got stuck. We are still praying they will be able to finish that well and move on to the next test well. We won’t be here for that so we are praying they will carry on and keep going strong. You can already tell that some are not that interested in taking it somewhere else. But some are. Then there are some that want to look at it as a money making venture. That isn't what was intended so I pray they do not follow through. They can use the water to grow things to sell but to sell the water seems like a bad idea. I believe John and I both are praying we can return soon and help continue on in this ministry so that it will be a success and many will have running water as well as living water. The goal is to use the water well ministry to plant churches. We want to be a part of that.

There must be a storm out there tonight because the ocean is very loud. I think the boys are sleeping up on the roof of the third floor again like last night. I hope they aren't getting wet. I don’t want them to be sick. They didn't get to swim today but will get to one last time tomorrow. They jump off the second floor into the pool. I have taken pictures and it is quite funny. John jumped off once. I didn't get a picture so I will try to get him to do it one more time tomorrow.

I want to sleep so badly. I have to get up in an hour but I know if I try to sleep I will just get more bites so what is the point in trying? It’s this house, not Kenya. If the rooms had screens or closed windows it would be better and we could kill the bugs. Next time we will not stay in this house if I can help it. We are praying we don’t get Malaria from all the bites or an infection from the bites. The kids have a hard time not scratching.

I can’t wait to see Sami on Sunday. She will be at work but we will see her when she gets home. She has started her Mary Kay business back up and we are so excited for her.  We haven’t heard from Nick much. He is still in Missouri.  He is making some very teenage choices so we are praying he grows out of it soon. I am going to try to get one hour of sleep. I will post when we get home. Please keep your prayers coming.

Asante (Thank You) for your prayers. Please keep them coming.
Bwana Asifiwe (Praise Be The Lord)

Until next time...blessings to you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Some Happenings In Kenya (long)

Monday June 20, 2011
I have written many things about our trip so far in a notebook. I have been transferring it to the computer when I have some extra time to devote to that. I would be putting all of this on my blog daily if I had access to it, but I do not. (I didn't have Internet until a week ago. Trying to catch up.)

I have fallen in love with Kenya. I can’t really explain it but I feel warmth inside myself for these people. They have been so loving and kind and welcoming. Last week was so full of activity. This week will have some. Today we are supposed to go into town and pick up a dress that I ordered (funny story about the dress, will tell you about it later) and have the girls fitted for dresses for an ordination ceremony for Joe and Tammy that is next Saturday.

I am sitting in the villa watching the rain poor down. I have learned that it rains often but doesn't last for very long. The kids and I stayed at the villa this morning but will head up to the church for lunch. The kids are playing a game in the girls room. They have their moments of getting along and I suppose this is one of them.
The food has been different but still good. We have tasted some traditional Kenyan foods and just some regular recipes that taste a bit differently than what we are used to. The kids are adjusting very well to it. They know they can eat it or not but they will have to wait until the next meal to get something else.

I am enjoying the villa except for the mosquitoes. They are eating us alive. The kitchen help says it is because the owners won’t cut down the bushes next to the pool. I wish they would because then you could see the ocean from downstairs. You have to be on the second or third floors to see the ocean because of the bushes. The ocean is beautiful and I have taken many pictures of it at different times of the day. During the day you can have all of the windows open and enjoy the cool breeze. But around 5 they put down the mosquito nets and shut the windows in the bedrooms. It doesn't always help. The windows also have shutters on them that do not fully close so you can’t spray your rooms and expect that to kill everything. More can get it. I am not sure why they don’t do anything about it when they rent out the home to people. Do they want their guests covered in bite marks? JC’s right side of his face is covered. Jennifer got her first bits last night, on her face. John and I have our foreheads covered in bites and my right arm looks terrible. People cringe when they see it. I also got bit by some kind of bug on my arm in the crease. It has been there for a couple of days now and kind of feels like a burn.  One of the ladies at church said it will just go away in time. We are keeping an eye on it. (It's healing slowly but surely). Next time we come I want to stay in a room that the windows close all the way so we can spray and kill the bugs in the room and not let more in.
Yesterday we were talking about roller coasters and other things that are scary. I said I didn’t do roller coasters because I have never been one to do things that are scary. I don’t like being scared like some people. For them it is a rush of excitement. Someone said that I was brave for coming to Africa. I said “No, there isn’t anything brave about that except maybe the plane ride. I’m not scared to be in Africa. I love it.” And I meant that with all of my heart. I was never scared to come here, only of the airplane. After being on five of them in two days I think I might be over that part. We traveled so many places just on the plane and went through different airports. Because of our cancelled flights we were rerouted to Dubai. That is an airport that is filled with people from all over the world. I wasn’t scared in any of the places we stopped. I just put on my smile and kept it there for all I passed by. Most of the time I got a return smile that was just as genuine.
Someone told me before I left that I need people too much. In a way I think I do need people but I don’t think that is a bad thing. It draws me to others in a way that builds relationships in a short amount of time. I have made many friends during this conference. I have only been here for a week (as of tomorrow) and I have made so many new friends. They can see that I care about them and want to be their friend.

John has just jumped in there and become a part of things. The people are so eager and happy to work. Even the women have gotten out there and worked at the water well drilling. And when there has been down time where they are waiting on something John will sit down and teach them out of the Word. One of the ladies told me about that last night. She said he really got them to thinking about how they need to use that well to reach out to others.

John and I were talking last night about the “next step” that God might have for us. We both feel that it will be even bigger than this trip and that there will be many challenges but it will be something big and exciting. We both feel if God truly wants us in a country outside the US He will make it happen. We also have said to each other we don’t see why we couldn't do it. We know God is the ultimate provider and He will supply all of our needs.

We attended the church service yesterday. They have an English service at 9:30 followed by a Swahili service. That service ended at 1:30. The kids (including our girls) got up and sang and danced during the service for a couple of songs. Their songs usually last about 7 minutes or so. They aren't as short as ours in the states. And when they worship, they worship with everything inside of them. I got some really good pictures. I can’t wait to get Internet so I can upload them and share all of this with you.

I got to listen to some wonderful Kenyan music the other day and when I get back to the states I want to get on Pandora and find a Kenyan station. I am learning some of the language already. One of my new friends told me yesterday she was going to teach me some and I told her GREAT, I want to learn. I think this is a language we could learn pretty easily, especially to read. The vowel system is so much easier than English. It would just be a matter of learning the words and remembering them. We would have to spend days just speaking Swahili and nothing else to make ourselves learn it.

Our Kenyan friends on the team left yesterday. They were only here for one week of the three. I will miss them greatly. I did my best to pick their brains about everything I could think of. I learned a lot from both of them. The kids are sad to see them go because they have grown so close to their kids. They helped me to understand a lot about the people and the culture. I know there is much more to learn but I feel blessed to have learned the things that I did over the last week. And I gained a great friend. I want to cry when I think about her not being here. We had great times. She took me to the market in Kilifi on Saturday and it was great fun watching her haggle with the merchants over their produce. It is something I would have to learn how to do if we ever live in a place like this. I am not sure I could do as well as her but maybe in time.  

The rain has stopped after about 20 minutes. The sun was always bright in the sky but now the clouds have passed and it is shining brighter than ever. I am unable to sit where I can see the ocean because I am charging the battery in my computer. When it is fully charged I am going to unplug it and move over. I don’t like sand very much but I love looking and listening to the ocean. We hear the ocean at night and throughout the day. That is how close we are to it.

Everything is very different from American and what we are used to. The supermarket is kind of the same and the only shop that you don’t seem to have to barter at. The ones on the street you barter for everything. Ruth even got my dressed cheaper than they had them priced. I am glad I had her with me. I think that if I lived here I would just order material and make my own dresses. They are very simple to make.

Saturday, June 25, 2011
I find it so hard to believe that next week at this time I will be on a plane back to the states. It has gone by so fast. Last week we had the conferences that took up most of the time each day. This week we have done lots of running to the market for different things. There was an ordination ceremony for Joe and Tammie Friberg. Dresses and pants were made. Shoes and shirts were purchased. Hair was done on Friday (That took a LONG time!) This morning we got to the church at 8 a.m. The service didn’t start until 11:30 so it ended at 3:30 instead of 1:30. Lunch was served after that. It was a long service but very interesting. They take ordinations very seriously here. It is like a wedding. So many people came and it was great to visit with them when the service part was over.

There are children here that are “on their own”. A co-team member told me that they are street kids and they don’t really have a home. During the day they fend for themselves and then at night they sleep where ever they can find a place. And even sadder is the fact that some of these kids are raising other kids. These young girls, who are 9 and under, carry around babies on their backs. One of the younger ones who is always on her own has been coming up there with a infant that looks to be under 3 months old. She looks about 6, if that. A new friend, Joyce, has a program for orphans. They don’t have the money to pay to go to school. One hundred and fifty of them come each day. She feeds them and teaches them. She gets donations from other parents to help buy food.  She told me she doesn't have much help and sometimes the help she has doesn't do things the way they need to be done. Her vision is to get a well on that property so she can grow fresh vegetables to help feed the kids. When I wave at the children that stand around the gate to the church they get big smiles on their faces. And they come closer to talk to me or just smile. As I walk through crowds of these kids or even drive by kids they are so ready for me to notice them and say hello and wave. They especially want our kids to notice them and say hi. They also love for you to take their picture and show it to them afterwards.  

I am not sure what this next week will hold other than well drilling and more discipleship training of the pastors. We are very close to water. We are almost 50 feet down and water should be between 50 and 60 feet. We only have until Friday to get the well finished to completion. We know God can do a mighty work and get it done. It has been filled with many challenges this past two weeks. But they have managed to hit each one head on. There is hard coral that they have to go through. It is good for those here to see that there are things that will come up but there is always a way to work through them. There are some of the pastors that are really excited to take this water well drilling back to their church and use it to further the Gospel. We are praying that they can carry on once we go back to the states or that we can somehow come back and help them. It’s in God’s hands and He knows the plans He has for these pastors and us.

It is late. Time to rest for a bit. We have church in the morning and there are two services that we go to. John is speaking in the English one. Thanks for taking the time to read this long post. I know most of people don't have time to read things this long. 

Until next time...blessings to you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Five Flights to Kenya (Long)

June 10, 2011
We got a ride from a friend to the airport and got there at 2 p.m. When we got to the counter we found out the flight was cancelled and they didn't have another one going to Washington anywhere else that we could make in time. The connecting flight out of Washington to Accra was only an hour and a half after this flight was to land. We spent a little time trying to get United to get us there somehow but they just said we had to go through our travel agent. We sat on the phone for two hours trying to get through to the travel agent and trying to get them to understand what we needed. John finally went back up to the United counter to get them to fix it since they had cancelled the flight. The main problem was our third flight, the one from Accra to Nairobi. It was all booked for the following two days. We told them to please find a way to get us to Nairobi anyway they could. So they came up with a flight from Accra to Dubai and then from Dubai to Nairobi. Yes, that is so crazy. It was WAY out of the way. Accra is in Africa and Dubai is NOT. So we were to fly to Africa, fly out of Africa and then fly BACK to Africa. Jennifer was upset the whole ride to the airport and for two hours after we got there. I am not sure if she was just going to miss her big sister or if the fear of flying got to her or both.

Since we had gotten a ride from a friend with a large truck to bring all of our luggage and ourselves to the airport we really didn't want to have to go all the way back home and find another ride the next day. United gave us a discount coupon to call a local hotel at a lower rate. They had a shuttle to take us to the hotel and one to bring us back again the next day. We loaded up our stuff on the shuttle and were on our way. As soon as we got there we walked to the Whataburger next door. We had no eaten lunch yet because we were going to eat at the airport as soon as we got checked in, which we never did. Dinner was good. We went swimming for the next three hours and just relaxed for a bit. Sleep didn’t come easy but we all finally did sleep.

June 11, 2011 (Flight from DFW to Dulles. Flight time 6:15 p.m. to 10:05 p.m. Total hours 3, time zone change)
A good breakfast was served downstairs. The kids and John went swimming for an hour while I repacked our bags and made sure we had everything we needed together. We had to check out at noon. We headed back to the airport and checked in only to find out our flight was delayed. Later we found out it was delayed even longer. We ate lunch at Burger King and tried not to be concerned about the delayed flight. When we found out it was delayed an hour and twenty minutes we began to worry we would not make our flight in DC. John tried to talk to the people at the ticket counter but no one would even speak to him. Finally we decided we would get on the plane and deal with it in DC if we missed the flight. We were just so tired to dealing with United at DFW.

The kids were excited to get on the plane and find their seats. Jennifer cried for just a bit at take off. But was soon doing ok. She didn’t like the landing either. At the landing her ears began to hurt very badly (her dad has that same problem) and popping them and chewing gum did not work for her. Jonathan loved taking pictures out the window.

We arrived at Dulles with only about 30 minutes to spare for the flight to Accra. We grabbed our carry-on bags and took off running. John was leading the way and Jonathan was next. Jennifer stayed pretty close to me. I was able to run half of the way but I just couldn’t make it any further running so I urged JC to catch up with his dad as we walked and sometimes ran as fast as we could. The terminals were on opposite sides of the airport, complete opposites. We got there just in time. Since it was an International flight they wanted to know if we had our Visas and we told them no because we were just doing a plane change there. They asked about the Visa for Kenya and we told them we would get it on arrival. So they let us board.

June 11-12, 2011 (Flight from Dulles to Accra. Flight time: Total Hours: )
The flight to Accra was really long but the kids slept a little bit. I was able to catch a couple of small cat naps. When we arrived at the airport in Accra it was raining. We unloaded on the tarmac and got on a bus and were taken to the airport. We knew when we got there we would have to get our luggage and recheck it in. We talked to a very nice lady and man at the counter and they helped us sign in and go find our luggage. When we got our luggage we could not find my suitcase. It wasn't there. I suppose it didn't make the fast switch at Dulles. We went to the counter to report lost luggage and they told us we needed to make a report when we got to our final destination because the baggage was checked all the way to there. We headed back around to the flight check in counter by way of the outside of the building; we had to walk all the way around. While we were checking in some ladies that worked there took the bag tags off our luggage (they weren’t supposed to because we had them checked all the way) so when the man that was checking us in saw that we had no tags he asked about them. We told him what happened and he went through the process of making new tags for our three bags we had left. We found a restroom and then headed to our flight area. The man there told us we had to fill out some forms so we stopped and did that. When we go to the spot to turn those forms in they man there said we should not have filled them out and not to do it next time. Too funny! We waited in the terminal for a little while and tried to keep busy. We were so tired at this point that the kids were a little grumpy having to wait. We had used up a lot of time with all the running around that our wait was only about 20 minutes or so.

June 12-13, 2011 (Flight from Accra to Dubai. Flight time:     Total Hours:  time zone change)
I’m so squashed. This is the nicest air plane we have been on but I am so cramped. I would rather have had less fancy and more room. The young man sitting next to me doesn't seem to have a concept of personal space. He is all in mine. But I have not said anything when he bumps into me and says nothing. I have said noting to him about him putting his legs in front of my seat where my legs are supposed to go. It is hard to put up with for eight hours but I will manage. I’m so proud of Jennifer. She is a real trooper. She has not had any more issues except her ears hurting. She is not scared anymore and loves the fact that she gets to watch movies or play games on the flight. We flew over the Nile River and the Red Sea. I pointed out to Jennifer on the map that we are flying over places we have read about in the Bible. The kids didn't sleep at all on this flight. They have been too busy playing with video games and movies. I have dozed off here and there but it has been too uncomfortable to really sleep. We were served two meals and what they call a snack but it was more like lunch. It seems like they spend so much time feeding you. Some was good, some not so good. The same movies over and over get old, too.

We landed in the Dubai airport at about 6 a.m. This is a busy place. People from all over the world are here right now. The bathrooms are “holes in the ground” type potties. I was surprised that Jennifer didn't pitch a big fit. But she just did what she had to do without a fuss. Inside this airport is a lot of shops. They have video games and other electronics and then the more traditional type souvenir shops. We walked through the places and checked things out but didn't buy anything. I didn't want to have to exchange our money just to buy something small. Our next flight wasn't leaving until about 10:45 so we spent time playing Uno after walking around. JC was the champ; he won 3 of the 5 games we played. We girls each won one game. John slept as best he could while we waited.

June 13, 2011 (Flight from Dubai to Nairobi. Flight time: 11:?? a.m. – 3:30 p.m.    Total Hours:  time zone change)
The plane boarded at the correct time but it had some issues plus they had to reroute us a bit because of some bad weather on the route they usually took. That got our plane in an hour later than it was scheduled to arrive. The flight was a little less cramped even though we were on the same type of airlines. I made sure I got an aisle seat this time. This is the first and only flight we sat right next to each other without an aisle between some of us. On the flight before John and Jonathan were two rows ahead of Jennifer and I. That was odd but we were fine. John and the kids slept this whole flight and ate nothing even though they served a meal and some drinks. I tried to sleep but it did not happen. It was odd being awake and plane hopping for that long and changing time zones so many times. On this flight we actually go back over a time zone we crossed before and gain and hour.

When we got to the airport we did found a restroom and we so glad it wasn't a hole in the ground. We got our luggage, got our Visa’s and then went to the baggage counter to report my lost luggage. It wasn't in the system at all. I told them what happened with the tags in Accra and that when he redid the tags he must have erased my bag. I had the part of the tag from the other bag so I was able to give that to him. Plus we had our name on the luggage tag. We gave him our team member’s phone number and left the airport to head over across the street to the local airport for our next flight.

June 13, 2011 (Flight from Nairobi to Mombasa. Flight time: 4:40 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. Total hours: 45 minutes)
This flight was a very small plane. It took a very short time to get where we were going. But Jennifer slept the whole way. I fell asleep for a short time while we were waiting on the runway to take off. I am not sure that Jonathan slept on this one. He loved the fact that he got a small can of Fanta. It didn’t take long to get off this plane and find our luggage. As we walked out of the airport we were praying our team members would be there to meet us…they were! YAY! Almost there.

We got in a safari vehicle that they had rented for their time here and drove for about an hour and a half to Kilifi. And not just to Kilifi but way in the bush near the coast. We are staying at a villa that is on a plantation where they raise milk cows. The roads through there are so rough and bumby, it's terrible. The villa is beautiful, especially in the daytime when the mosquitoes aren't out. We had dinner and then went to bed. We were so glad to be in a real bed!

Until next time...blessings to you.