Sunday, November 13, 2011

After a long month of no updates im glad to finally get one up. The past three weeks I have been trying to get rid of malaria.  I am very thankful that God has given me the strength to continue working and keeping the project moving. 

The class rooms are having the final details finished. All the glasses are in the windows and the paint is complete with exception of the fascia boards
Pit latrines to the right of the school are near complete

Blackboards are up
Office door finished
Ceiling boards and crown moulding
Dorms have been started

Large mud hut that will be be plastered and used for housing

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Culture, Thoughts and Reflections...

It has been a busy couple of weeks, with much to do to finish the Neema school. The realization that time for this stay is running out, has caused a lot of reflections and realizations. This project which I had originally thought would be simple and completed in a few months time, turned out to be a much larger challenge taking much more time then i had anticipated. This is Africa and I know that the only thing that can be planned is that things will not go as planned.
A few weeks ago the acting foreman said that he would be leaving to get rich doing work for the government in Nairobi. Since he left about two weeks have gone by, and I have been learning from the other guys at the site why this was a more challenging project then I thought that it would be. The foreman had been taking the instructions that I had given him and then told the guys to do things different. He would then play the workers against me and vice versa.
Unfortunately do to the culture here fear is always present in a Kenyans life, which is one of the reasons that corruption is able to run rampant. Everyone is in fear, if it is a fear of confrontation or just the fear of a person in authority.  This fear is instilled in a Kenyans life at a very young age, if it doesn't start at home then it starts when the child goes to school.  In school children can be cained for the most ridiculous reasons, such as having a scuffed shoe, or messy hair. As i have come to understand it doesn't matter if its a public or private school, instead of right or wrong all that I have seen being taught is fear and memorization.
This is the reason that the men i work with never came to tell me of any problems, they were afraid of the foreman, who had warned them not to talk to me. From the beginning of the project I had told the guys that this project was for them and their community. To give them work and for them to be a part of building a school that would help girls from their village to be able to learn skills and how to use that new skill to provide for themselves and their families.
All things aside things have been getting accomplished. The floors have now been finished, the electrical work was completed on Friday, ceiling boards have been finished in the offices, and the interior door has been hung although its door handle still needs to be fitted. Next week most of the painting should be under way and if things go well the fascia boards will be started.
The ground has been broken for the dorm which I am really hoping to be able to get a roof and slab completed for before my visa expires in just less then a month. I know that its not possible for me to finish on my own or even with the help of my Kenyan team but I know that all things are possible through God whom gives us strength. It has started to cross my mind to get a ticket to Ethiopia just to stay there for a few days so that I would then legally be allowed to enter back into Kenya and get a new visa in order to finish what has been started.
The perception here is that "mzungu's," which is the Swahili word for European or white person, just have unlimited money, they all live in mansions and drive fancy cars, and never have to work. Of course this stereotype that has come from what is seen in movies. To a lot of Kenyans its like a free pass to raise the price of goods or services for the mzungu. Sometimes its understandable and within reason and other times it blatant robbery, so while here its best to always be aware. The other place that this type of mentality has reached the people here is that missionaries come here and without establishing a relationship with a group or a person give to them financially. Which is thought to be a good and noble deed, but often it is done out of guilt to get a street beggar to leave them alone. The financial gift only reinforces their behavior of begging and not working, which really just robs them of their self worth. They get the mentality that they don't need to do anything because someone will come along and give whatever is demanded of them, but this will only meet the short term need without ever solving the problem.
Amos lives close to where I am staying and I would often to see him on my walk home. We have had many conversations but an interesting conversation came up one day, after he found out that I wasn't getting paid for the work I was doing and that I was doing it to help the community. He told me that there were some pastors in a church that he was a member of (not at the church that he is part of now) that would take pictures of children in the congregation and say that they were orphans in need of sponsoring, then take that money that came from abroad for themselves. He wanted to know how we could still be doing missions when there are people like that taking advantage of the generosity of people and churches. I told him that I have found it very important to build relationships with the people or group, otherwise it could very well be a scam like the one his former pastor ran. Criminals always take advantage of peoples mercy, weakness or ignorance.
One day I met a kid in town while getting passport photos to extend my visa his name was George. He asked me if I was new to town and if I would buy him some chi, and give him some money. I told him that I wasn't new that I had been in town for a few months. After I had gotten my photos I walked and talked with George. He told me his parents had died and that he was living on the streets. I asked if he went to school at Oasis, which is a free school for street kids. He said he didn't because when he went the kids would beat him and take his money. This seemed odd to me because he speaks really good English, or English really well, maybe better then me. Anyway later on that night or maybe the next as a group of us were walking Shawn and Meredeth home I heard George yelling, when I asked if that was him he shouted F* you. The next time I had to go into in town to get some things from the hardware I bumped into George again, I confronted him about living in Milimani which is a really nice part of town to live in, and a look of shame crossed his face but he wouldn't answer the question. I told him that he had a filthy mouth, and that I was disappointed with him. He continued to walk with me saying that I had promised him that I would by him chi. So I asked him if he went to school, he wanted to know if he could tell me the truth. I simply responded that it would be great if he was capable of it. With a smile he said yeah I go to school but we are on break now and I do live with my parents. He then told me that he was going to go bath in the river. I didn't see him after that my guess is that he goes to a private boarding school, and comes from a family that is very well off here. Yet he puts on some ratty clothes to go into town to get some extra spending money because it is very easy. This is just one example of why it is important to build a relationship with those that are asking of handouts.
On the flip-side in the time that I have been here I have found that there are a number of organizations and people that are doing great things. They have a needs for expansion, or just help with some maintenance but don't have the time to make sure that things are being done right, and honestly. Construction here is a problem, there have been numerous buildings that have collapsed in Nairobi, even here in Kitale there was a school that crumbled. I hearing the Lord say “who will go?”
Here I am Lord, but will I stay? I know that if it cant be worked out to stay now if its in Gods will I would like to return very soon, to finish what has been started and continue to follow the needs of the widows and orphans, and to live the life that God calls us to. Glory and praise belong to God!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Sorry for the length of time since the last update.  The progress has been continuing but not all that visual over the past two weeks, while bricking up the gables but inside and out and filling the gaps between the trusses.  This week the interior walls have finished being plastered and are ready for paint!

Classroom back wall

Front wall

Fascia  boards have started to be primed today by a few of the TI interns and will be ready to go up soon.

We are looking forward to getting the classrooms finished so that the girls can start using the facility.  As this project is coming to a finish I can see God starting to turn the wheels on the next project which is the dorms that will be attached to these class rooms to house the girls.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Roof is Up and On!

The last few weeks have been long and frustrating.  The communication barrier has been more of a challenge this year then it was last, and one of the biggest challenges of the past few weeks. The most frustrating thing to deal with, is one day having a conversation with someone whom understand sand speaks perfect English. Then the next day they no longer know how to speak or understand a thing being said to them.  To me it seems like a case of selective linguistics.   All things considered the progress is moving along and the project will soon be complete far above most standards here, and there will be new class rooms to teach a larger group of girls important skills to improve their lives.
Standing trusses

setting perlins


The last piece of ridging in place!
The electrical conduit and boxes have been put into place, all the window glasses have been cut and are on site. All that remains is to plaster, pour floor slabs, put up fascia boards, install window panes, do electrical wiring, and hopefully Paint.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Last week the pace slowed down a bit without the extra help from the team, and lost time due to rainy weather.  The brick work reached ring beam height by end of the week.

This week the focus was on forms for the columns and getting the concrete poured into them. We lost a day of work this week due to the truck that was going to deliver gravel Friday broke down with troubles to the gear box, and was still not fixed by Monday. Tried to get another truck to deliver by Tuesday but this is Africa, the guys were given the day off.  The delivery didn't make it till well after three and wasn't unloaded till about six because it got stuck, not surprising.

The columns were all poured and ring beam forms have been started.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Its been a great week with the team from Providence church in Pennsylvania staying on the TI compound. They were working with the Neema and Shimo girls, and helping with the construction of the new classrooms which they had done the fund raising for. Thanks to the extra help that came from the team all the windows have been set and the walls are almost up to the ring beam. The lumber for the trusses is now on site and they will start to be made soon.

Its unbelievable how close the relationships with people can become in such a short time when living in a close community. Sharing devotions in the morning, experiences of the day in the evening and all the laughs while breaking bread together. I see this type of community working as the body of Christ, so much more then the institutional church that we are all familiar with, the ones that are attended once a week for about an hour. I think that the when the early church developed it would have interacted in a similar manner, which we see when reading Acts. In a discussion today it was mentioned that there could be a much larger link between the relationship that we have with one-another and the relationship that we have with God then we usually give thought to. Jesus taught that we should love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

Honestly I'm a person that enjoys being alone in quiet, or just in small groups, but am learning that in a proper community the size of the group to some extent doesn't seem to matter. Its amazing that after just a short amount of time together with this larger group that the goodbye was still like having a part of the body being ripped from the flesh. This is something that I had experienced last year while here and there were teams that came and left every other week. Although it was made a little easier knowing that there was a new team that would be substituted for the one that was leaving.

Today the PA team headed back to Nairobi, and after an overnight there and a short safari tomorrow they will be flying back Stateside. There they will face the the struggle of being away from the community that had become more like home then home in some ways. Another challenge that they might be faced with when arriving back in the states is reverse culture shock. Something I have struggled with for years and am not sure that I will ever be able to wrap my head around, is how it is possible for people that are just barely surviving with minimal subsistence are still able to be so full of joy and happiness, while people who have been given everything they wanted from the time they were children so miserable and depressed? Sometimes I feel as Americans we can become so caught up in trying to achieve the so called American dream that we become enslaved to our possessions, status and things we think we are entitled to that we lose site of whats actually important. I know that this was something that I had struggled with for most of my life and in some cases still do.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moving Forward

Another week and things have finally started moving at a better pace. The water lines were fixed on Saturday although when we arrived on Monday the water tank on the tower wasn't filled so water pressure was low and it took a long time to keep up with the demand of the house and construction.
The doors were made over the weekend and were ready to pickup on Tuesday. It was interesting leaving the site during the day going to town, finding a pickup truck to carry the doors back to the site. I was lucky enough to pick the most decrepit one around, it had a column shift that could barley make it into reverse. Whenever it had been shifted into third gear it would just slow down as if it was being choked out. It was hard not to chuckle at how ridiculous this vehicle was, but after about twice as long as it should of taken to get to the site and with a stop at three different gas stations along the way but the doors finally made it.

All the interior elevations were leveled out after two days of jembe work wheeling it from the high end to the low. Now the floor slab now has a good level base and be ready to go. Also worked on some landscaping to help the water flow away and around the building and not back toward it. Which was good because Thursday we got about three inches of rain in one hour and it was handled pretty well and it helped pack down all the soil, and even made some quicksand, but gave a good trial run to see how the rain water would be flowing.

Friday the team from Pennsylvania came to the site, they are also staying at TI, and will be helping out for the next week.
Monday was a day of great accomplishment with the six from PA things really got moving. I had the local masons start the morning preparing corners so that when the team got to the site they could fill in between. The doors were set after lunch and I headed to town to pick up the windows which were done and ready on Friday if I could of made it to pick them up, but with the new team working they needed the proper training before left alone.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Opportunities

This week started off with the guys changing the method of how we were mixing concrete to go back to the Kenyan way. With their method they put 9 wheelbarrows of sand and 18 wheelbarrows of stone in one pile then put three 50 kg bags of cement on top and pour water on a little bit of it mix that little bit together and put it in the wheelbarrow. It makes for a very inconsistent mix, some wheelbarrow are all water and stone, others are just sand and cement. After that mix, it was back to retrain them how we would be mixing for the rest of the project. One bag per pile mixed with sand stone cement and water all the way through at one time. Unfortunately we did not finish the pour Monday.

Tuesday we were able to finish the footers before lunch. It was so nice to have a self leveling laser to use to make sure the concrete was being poured nice and level. The rest of the day was spent bringing bricks closer to the building so that they would be ready to go on Wednesday. The road also needed some attention before more deliveries would be coming in so it was a good day to so some repairs on it.

Wednesday morning was spent laying out walls and putting down lines for the masons to fallow. The two ten by ten offices came up three courses today and have been back filled.

Thursday is when we found a new opportunity, upon arriving at the site I was told that there was no water. Apparently the kids at the primary school next door were doing some digging and hit the mater line. The water lines around here are in very shallow ground and are just very thin light PVC, so a child with a jembe could easily destroy it. The water company had been notified and were suppose to send someone out that day. I knew that there would be no point to keep the guys there with no water because we wouldn't get anything done. I sent them home for the day and planned on getting to town to find windows and doors before they were needed.

Friday still no water once again I had to send the guys home. With the day off I decided to go and make another visit to the orphanage that we constructed last year.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"If You Accomplish EverythingYou Set Out To Do You Didn't Set Out To Do Enough!"

Last Sunday I made a trip to see the kids that we built the home for last year.  It was great to see them kids after a year. The visit was shorter then I would have liked, because it took much longer to get to the home then I thought. The half hour to forty five minuet trip ended up taking over two hours  because  matatus do not run as often on Sundays. The one that I finally got on took a long time to fill up.

This week was mainly spent getting the metal bent and wired together for reinforcing the foundation. This took so much more time then I ever imagined it would with just four Kenyans and myself working. Then there were the things that slowed down the progress that I had not expected. Deliveries of bricks that we had to off load from the tractor, and once that was done I chose to have them stacked in piles five high and in ten rows of ten so that there would have piles of 500 bricks. This makes them easy to count, and easier to keep track of. Plus this way we only pay for the quality bricks that are actually received. This week we stacked a total of 3205 bricks so you can imagine how much time was lost to that activity.
 This week has moved slower then I had expected not in the respect of time but in accomplishments at the construction site. Throughout my life I have often heard my grandfather say “If you accomplish everything that you set out to do then you didn't set out to do enough!” The goal I had for this week was to have the entire foundation poured with concrete so that next week we could get started with the brick and be moving ahead. It seemed like a reasonable goal at the time when I had set it last week.

Friday we did start working on the concrete but we were stopped by a very severe rain storm, we continued working through it until marble size hail started falling with such velocity that it hurt. So we took shelter for about and hour till it was over. By that time the concrete that had been poured had been covered by the mud that washed in and some of the footers were toward the lower end had a bit of water in them. I remember the same thing had happened last year, guess its the baptism of the foundation. If its in Gods will the concrete will be finished Monday, He obviously didn't want us to finish Friday. 

Other reflections of the week
Tuesday on my way to work I met a man standing by the road, he introduced himself as James. We talked for a while and then he told me he was looking for work. I asked him a few questions and he wanted a to be paid double the rate then what is in the budget. So after refusing to accept the rate that everyone else is getting, he just wanted me to give him some money. “Because Kenya is so corrupt you know” which he says with a smile on his face. So as I waited for a matatu that was going in my direction I continued to talk to James. I told him that the problem isnt just that fact that Kenya is corrupt, but that the people of Kenya have accepted it as a fact of life. One that they can not change, and instead of saying no to the corruption they themselves become corrupt too. Then a matatu came that was going in my direction and I got on and headed for work. The conversation that I had with James was stuck in my head
Corruption is not just a local problem here in Kenya, nor is it something new. Its a global problem and it has been for a long time a very long time. The more I thought about it I remember that the children of Israel wanted to be ruled by a king instead of by God. I couldn't remember where it was till I looked it up, 1 Samuel 8:5. This is where I believe corruption began. We wanted to be ruled by man instead of by God. So one corrupt person is exchanged or voted out for another corrupt person, but the end result is still the same more corruption. We can blame one political group or the other, the economy and the bankers; we can protest and riot, but it will not change a thing unless we give the reign back to God as a society, nation and world. Unfortunately, I don't see people coming together to give up their faith government to turn back to God. I could go into more detail but I am getting way off topic. Anyway this is where my conversation with James brought me and the fact that thousands of people are protesting governments all over the world, and that change in government wont make things better because no man made system is perfect and power does corrupt man.
On Wednesday as I got to the place where I catch rides in the morning a taxi pulled over and wanted to carry Jon and I to where we were going. I told him thats fine but I was waiting on one more person because Mark was going to work on the shamba (garden) at the veronica home and then help out with construction a bit. The driver said he would wait and then said that I should pay 50 bob for the ride. Now this ride on a matatu is 30 shillings and in a town service car or taxi its 40 bob or shillings. So I asked him why I would want to pay 50 when I could get a ride for 30? His response was because his car is more comfortable and that we are friends. I couldn't understand his logic that because I was his friend I should pay more, but told him with friends like these who would need enemies? After a little while he agreed to take the three of us for 40 a piece. In the car we got to talking more and he said that whenever he sees a white person he thinks he should get more money from them because we colonized Kenya. I had to tell him that I wasn't British I am an American, and that we had been colonized by the British also, and that we really weren't all that different. This seemed to change his opinion on things even if it was only a temporary change.
Also on Wednesday the shilling dropped to its lowest value ever being from 80 per dollar to 90. A lot of the imports will be effected by this change. As I learned Thursday when I went to get materials from the hardware store, the price for anything with metal had gone up. I had came on the right day because I had gotten the price that was quoted to me the week before, but if I needed anything else in the future the price would be noticeably higher. While at the hardware I was advised that I should purchase anything with metal soon because the price would most likely be going up each day. I know that its not the price going up, its really the currency value going in down, that thought will get me back off topic again so, that will be all for now until next time. May the grace and peace from God be with you and glory to God in all things through His son Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The construction is now underway

Last week the site was staked out and cleared of the top soil. 

 On Monday a Jon a visitor, from Reno staying at TI came to the site to help out. Early Monday morning the foundation was measured and squared up and staked out again. 

The rest of the week was spent digging trenches, and moving soil from the high end of the lot to the low end getting the elevations correct. The Kenyan hoe know here as a jembe is the main tool to be used in this process it works great to break up the hard clay, of course a backhoe would work even better but they aren't as readily available here as the jembe is.

Friday there was a need to do some work on constructing a road for delivery vehicles to get through what was a garden plot.

The trenches are now finished and materials have been delivered at the site so that we could start pouring a foundation.

Wednesday a trip to the baby orphanage called In Step was planned, so the guys were given the day off. In Step is as of yesterday careering for 102 children most of which are under the age of five. 

Its hard for me to remember all of the statistic and logistics of the place because it is a bit overwhelming. There is about thirty four employees that help keep everything running. Most of the treatments for sick kids are done in house, so they rarely need to go to the hospital. In Step is in the process of building a medical clinic on their 20 acre compound in order to have more space and a better facility to treat the children.

There is also a floor slab down for a new two story dorm, for now once that is completed one floor will be for boys and the other will be for girls. There is also plans to build a second one next to it which will also be a two story and then one dorm will be boys and the other girls, and there will be a veranda connecting it. They are hoping to have the two dorms built within the year and after the completion plans to build a school. The Goal is to build a small community to meet all of the needs of the children as they grow.