Archive for November, 2007

Week 1 Events, Kakamega

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

So like i said prior, I visited a place called Kakamega. Now, one point of clarification before i start, when I say Kakamega, I could be referring to the Church OR the town. I’m sorry, it’s just habit now to refer to the chuch as Kakamega. I’ll attempt to utilize the term “church” but I make no promises.

So the Kakamega Church (see! told you I’d try) is loosely connected to my home church, Westside through work we’ve done with them and some financial help. Through that connection I am meeting up with these guys. I just stayed the night there and got back late the next afternoon (a bit before men’s bible study); and in that 25 hour period, a couple key events:

Trip Over to Kakamega
I was picked up late due to a mechanical issue with the car (break line finally broke) so I got to see first hand the Kenyan mechanic shop! or rather, lane. It was a street of old cars everywhere, people everywhere, parts strewn everywhere. Pretty awesome. Dr. George showed the bad peice and off the guys when on a quest to find the part. 20 or so minutes later we got the part, they haggled for a bit, I was able to pick up that they were fighting between 5 to 6 hundred shillings for the line (8-10 bucks); and ended up with a happy 550.

We also stopped by one of the guy’s parents or sisters house for some Chai and Ugali. Apparently Kenyan’s just drink a tea called Chai. No other flavors. In fact it was directly mentioned that he didn’t understand why so many flavors. Chai with a couple scoops of sugar is apparently the way to go. Ugali was pretty sweet though. Kind of a doughy, heavy bread that you squish in your hand and scoop up some boiled, spiced greens. First taste of authentic Kenyan food!! Then they brought out the milk; to which I was happy about. Sounded good at the time. Then they mentioned that I might not like it as it was fermented. Ever seen chewable milk? whoooooa there. While it actually didn’t taste too bad (I could stomach about half a cup) it was one of the more ‘odd’ things I’ve seen. Pretty stomach turning to a Westerner, seeing milk slop into your cup! hehe. Like I said though, tasted alright. Like a mix of plain, unsweetened yogurt with the consistency of watered down cottage cheese.

Simon’s Cell Group / Small Group:
Let me tell you, these African guys know to give an intro. When Simon introduced me to his cell group, I have to admit, I sounded pretty awesome! Hehe, just kidding… kinda. Seriously though, most of you know how I dislike being the center of attention but here I was crowded into a very small room with about 13 people where I was the center of attention; and then to have a pastor (Simon is one of the pastors at the church so he’s a practiced orator) talk about me or at least a solid minute. Can we say awkward? No worries though, I thought I made a pretty good comeback, err… introduction and thanks, when it was my turn to say something. I don’t remember what I said, but it’s one of those times where God helps me out because I was not only articulate but had a solid message/greeting. And you all again know that’s not me! That’s one thing I do love about missions, God always seems to be a little more obvious in the simple things. Maybe it’s that way normally, or maybe I just depend on Him less. but that’s some spiritual thoughts for later.

“African Shower”
Slept at Simon’s place. Nice house. But I found out later that their plumbing wasn’t fully finished. I actually started to suspect when told “We’ll make the preparations” when I accepted his offer of a shower. Huh? Preparations? His response to my look was a smile and something about experiencing an African Shower. About half an hour later I was led outside to their latrine/shower where one room had a hole in the ground (a good 40 feet deep) and some toilet paper; and the other room had a candle, a bucket of water (warm!! whooo hoo) and soap. So picture this if you dare! Me, bucknaked, crouching over a bucket of water holding soap. wait, actually I don’t know if I want you to picture that. Bucknaked crouched men are not the best to have dangling in ones cerebral cortex. …. hehe, sorry, I never stop when it starts to get inappropriate… and i love it…. anywhoo, I started to wash but cut it short when I got the water soapy and then realized that with soapy water it would be difficult to wash off the soap on my body. I made do with what I had and ended the shower. Next time, avoid the soap in the clean water. Note taken.

Detention Center
I posted a number of pictures that describe the place pretty well, check those out for visual and text. I got to give a couple speeches there; let’s hope I get good at this before God does the ol’ “push the bird out of the nest”.

And that’s roughly it for Kakamega! oh, and politically, Obama is from the area I guess, so everyone there want’s Obama to win. and yes, it was hard for me to “keep out of a political discussion” but I did it. aren’t you proud?

Upcoming Events!
Awesome Farmer’s Tan in the Making! Wait till you see how my sandle tan is turning out!
December 9th I get to give the Church sermon! my that’s getting close…..


Miwani Farm, Inital thoughts

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

So maybe a word or two about where I am in Kenya eh? I first arrived at the Miwani farm a week ago and have since then spent a majority of my time here. I visited a place up north called Kakamega Tuesday and Wednesday. More on that later.
Nehemiah International Farm @ Miwani, near Kisumu

I gotta admit, I was expecting a little less here at the farm. Or rather, my expectations were low as I was going to Kenya; but the Nehemiah compound is very nice, very livable. Which probably accounts for why the place has so many white, non Africans living/visiting. I was given the guest house as I’m the only unmarried male visiting, which is nice. It also serves as the water source (well beneath with a pump that pushes water to tanks on the roof, then gravity fed to the rest of the compound) and internet source (radio is beamed in from across the lake and distrubuted where I live and at the main house wirelessly. Anyways, as I was saying, the place is very nice, not too much of a hardship to live. A lot of work was put into the compound to get it to this state, so I’m just reaping benefits of past labor, but that’s how most things in this life are huh?

So the day I arrived and the day after I just kinda walked around, talked with people and helped out here and there. Mostly, just looked. I did go eyeball the goats cause their kinda cute, and their pens are right behind my ‘house’. We did lose a goat that morning though so when I entered one pen, there was a dead baby goat on the ground. sad. Guess that was due to someone not showing up to work and ignoring the goats. Babies are fragile and need care when their so young. Here’s my favorite though, very cute little guy.

I got to feed him some milk from a bottle and he was all over that. All I can say, I’d hate to have that guy try to get milk off of my glands! Ouch!! Go easy! Though I have noticed that baby goats who do get milk from their mother (not the ones in the pens (milk goats), but in people’s yards the babies have a tendency of sucking and ramming their heads into the glands. I don’t wanna know what that feels like.

Anywhoo, I’m tired. Got sunburned today and it’s past my bedtime.

Posted in Goats, Kenya, Miwani |

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Except replace Trains with Buses.

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Hello!!! Sorry it took me so long to write up something. All I did initially was send off an email to some people so word could pass that I was at least alive. So anyways, I can blab when I write so here goes.

Travel (53 hours total, 36 hours actual travel time)

Plane Ride
At Seatac I was given a starter motor for the Tractor on the farm. That guy weighed about 30 pounds so it more than doubled my weight. My bag actually then weighed 55 pounds but the check in girl was nice enough to let me pass without paying the 50 dollar overweight fee. Or was it just my inescapable charm? Hey! stop laughing, I have some charm. Oh wait, I drool in my sleep sometimes and forget to chew before swallowing sometimes. 🙂

The 20 hour plane ride was fairly uneventful. 10 hours to Italy and 10 hours to Ethiopia. Same plane but we switched pilots I think and some crew. Luckily the plane was 2/3rd empty so everyone got their own sections. I chose a window seat and thus the seat next to me was empty. Though I did sit next to an Ethiopian guy for a little while to talk. Nice guy, was moving from Minnesota to Ethiopia as he got a job there with their new central bank (poor guys, if only they new…). His wife and kids are still in the states incase this doesn’t work out, but if it works out he will send for them later.

Got to Ethiopia alright, but about 1.5 hours late. Which was bad considering my connection was supposed to have already left by the time I arrived. Thank God everything was on Africa time and my connection didn’t actually leave for another hour. Luckily I was asked to switch seats so some older gentleman could sit with his friend/wife. Luckily I say because then I got to sit next to a cute German gal who was teaching in Tanzania. No, she’s married so don’t ask! Ha! Overall I ended up about 2 hours late into Nairobi where I was picked up by a guy named Osbourne. Nice fella’! He works in the slums with HIV infected people primarily. The slums are for the dirt poor, and a majority of them are infected as HIV infected people often can’t get jobs. HIV is the new leporsy. For those who don’t read bible stories, Lepers (those infected with Leprosy) where shunned from cities and has their own leper colonies. African’s shun HIV people because they are afraid of catching it. Yes, we know that HIV is not really contagious in the normal sense, but the terms “Poor African” and “Any kind of Education” don’t go hand in hand, that and the heart still fears even if the Mind says it’s okay.

Anywhoo, total sidetrack. So I was picked up and dropped off at the Karibou Hotel (no that’s not a misspelling of the animal, it actually means the Welcome Hotel as I found out later). I bought some dinner there later for 230 shillings, (about 3.5 – 4 dollars). Roast chicken and vegetables. Attempted to stay awake as late as possible but I only made it to about 8.30 before I had to sleep. I was falling asleep standing up. Felt great and woke up around 4:30. My bus wasn’t until 7 so I repacked, went downstairs and ate breakfast around 6, and shot for the bus. Oh yah, breakfast consisted of initially some tea and cornflakes. The cornflakes included a small thing of hot milk, which wasn’t lumpy, but it was kind of stringy. I think it was cream, but I dunno. Then afterwards came eggs and sausage.

Bussing it Hardcore
On the bus I eventually met some Ethiopian guys in the same row as me. They were going to Kisumu (same destination as me) for some training associated with their job. I dunno what there job was, the accent was strong and I didn’t understand. They were good to have on the ride as they would explain some of the things we saw. For example, the monstrously huge Tea Farm. Huuuge! In the middle all I saw was Tea all around me for as far as I could see. And I could see far. Hills upon hills of tea behind, in front, and to the side. All hand picked. I repeat, All hand picked. Much like American’s Coal Towns that we had a couple decades ago, there was a large Tea Town called Kericho. Seemed faily booming, but was in the middle of this tea farm. Most probably employed by the tea people.

On the bus ride, a couple other things worthy of note. We had 3 potty stops. The one time I used the restroom was one of those “don’t touch anything” experiences. There was a large tub of standing water in the restroom, and I don’t know what it was for. Large as in one of those 50 gallon metal drums, full of water. Full of water in a somewhat dirty, smelly restroom. And the other thing to mention is guess what came on the radio? Deep Forest! I know only a couple people will find that awesome, but for those “not in the know” Deep Forest is one of those music styles that most people look at you funny for listening too. It’s Indeginous’ people’s chants remixed. In some cases it’s african, or asian or islander or pygmy. Their chants have been recored and then remixed with some modern music/beats/tunes laced in. It’s fabulous. I was so happy to hear it on the radio, you have no idea.

Oh, and on the bus ride, I found out how bad the roads where, and how fast the bus drivers still drove. The last half of it was the worst. My butt continually swing danced with the bus seat. In fact, my bum had moves that I didn’t know existed. Once my Jolly Bum even caught air. After that one pothole I heard a lot of seatbelts click together. hehe. Naturally I didn’t connect mine as the bus was swaying a lot at that point and wanted a quick escape if needed. John Kruegar picked me up at the bus station and said that driving on these roads requires skiing technique as you have to maneuver on the road to avoid potholes like skiers have to maneuver on the snow.

Pictures Available

There are a couple other pictures available on my Picasa site that I haven’t wrote about yet. But will soon. Note that a number of those pictures were taken for Westside specifically, but I think I put in enough context so it will make sense to non-Westside people.

Posted in Kenya, Travel |

More Information about Kenya

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

So I learned the following the other day:

I will be able to help out at multiple locations in Kenya.

The Farm. This is where I will spend a majority of my time. The people on the farm are working hard to try to make the farm self sustaining (as in the money it makes from goods, support it’s costs). Right now it still relies partly on donations from churches (like mine). They have multiple projects going on that involve things like: Methane Gas produces for houses (utilize cow manure to make gas. Apparently local kids deliver cow manure to houses for methane gas production. High Quality Goats Milk, the wife of the current “manager” down there is a horticulturist and produces specialized feed for their goats. And apparently goats milk helps alleviate a number of AIDS symptoms. I don’t know if the Farms special goat feed is primarily towards helping aids people or not. Irrigation, I guess the farm also attempts to utilize, cheap, never before seen in Africa, irrigation systems. Some kind of drip irrigation, I don’t know any details, but I’m assuming as it’s a 3rd world country it has a lot of ‘bang for it’s buck’ and is easy to repair and maintain.

Kakamenga: About 30 minutes north of the Farm in Miwani, there is a Church there that supports a number of humanitarian activities and is involved with the people at Miwani. The head pastor there has 3 boys (1 son, 2 son in laws) who all do a number of humanitarian activities. 1 son in kakamenga became the head of a boy’s detention center and totally revolutionized the place. Right now there are around 350 boys and I guess before he was head it was in pretty sorry conditions (the boys had worms, bed sores, were fed gruel, totally oliver twist). Presently I guess it’s a lot better and the boys are happy. Another son in Nairobi, works with orphans. I won’t interact with him too much as he is in Nairobi and is about an 8 hour bus ride from the Farm in Miwani. But he will meet me in Nairobi as that is where my plane lands and provide a place to stay for the night and get me to the bus the next morning.

I don’t know how accurate all of this is as I’m going off of memory from a meeting I had, but the general ideas should be correct and it looks like there is a lot of opportunities to really make a difference and help out. Should be good.

T-8 Days!