Friday, September 24, 2010

A Sad Goodbye

Due to technical difficulties this post is much longer overdue then I would have liked.

Base of stove being laid in the kitchen

Stove in progress

Almost complete

Finished well

Fabrication of the water tower

Welding machine with bare wires kept apart by a plastic bag

Painted windows and doors

Floors painted

Floors polished, which really dressed up the homes

Loading water tower for delivery

Tower safely on site 

Unfortunately we have used all space on the server, and no more pictures can be uploaded.  The water tower did go up thankfully that tractors trailer actually had a dump on it, which without  I'm positive that it would have been a much more difficult and dangerous process.

After setting the tower and getting concrete around the base it was time to say goodbye. This was by far the most difficult task for me since arriving here.  Over the past three months working next to everyone, twelve hours a day six days a week we have all become a very close family.  Im very glad that i got to spend the last few weeks with some of the kids at their new home!  The older kids in Soy I didnt get to say goodbye to which is also heartbreaking. 

The Future of This Project
All the glass for the windows have been cut and are on site, now that the windows are painted they are ready to be installed and arrangements have been made for that.
Gutters for collecting rain water are also on site and have also been arranged to be installed over the course of next week.
The other arrangement that has been made was for the remaining lumber to be fashioned into tables, seating and shelving.
The bunk beds should be delivered on site within the next two weeks.

I thank God for all He has done here, and may all the glory be given to him, through whom all things are possible! Everyone here is so thankful for all who gave there time, support, and prayers.  The family here misses everyone in all the teams that came and send their greetings. They have promised that none of you will be forgotten.

This project not only gave a new home  hope and a chance at a brighter future to forty plus orphans, but also made  education and a better life possible for many of the children of our local workers.  They too will  be remember everyone whom was involved here and those who supported back home.

Such a powerful show of Gods grace in everything that has been seen here!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Last Minuet Goodies

Today was spent running around trying to get all of the last minuet goodies for the orphanage.  The list included a 5,000 liter water tank, steel tubing for building the water tower, the welding rods, hack saw blades, water pump and tubing. Also gutters and downspouts for collecting rain water, floor polish, glass for the windows and the steel putty to install the glass.  Another one of goodies was the fireproof additive for the cement to build an efficient stove in the kitchen. 

Of course it had rained by time that we made it back.  The driver made it into the site just fine, but getting out he wasnt as lucky.  It took everyone pushing and digging to get the truck back on its way to Kitale must have taken at least an hour, but it is Africa.
My time here is unfortunately running out so its push push push for all these things to be completed.  I realize that there will be many things that will be remaining to do that wont be accomplished while I'm here.  However the buildings are now homes and are a huge improvement from where they have been living in Soy.

Soon the mattresses and bunk beds will start arriving but they will first need to be built.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

small picture update

singing praises while marching into the new home

singing praises to God

Fairwell and thank you ceremony

James Obama standing in front of the buildings after plaster was completed on Friday

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reflections on a mission.

As I settle back into my life of reliable electricity and water on demand, I reflect back on the 15,000 mile trip that represented my 6th international mission and fifth to the “dark continent” of Africa.
Having responded in the past to these international callings, I count it a privilege to have served on His missions of the Pollock family and serve with the late Ted Pollock.  I must say that I saw many of Ted’s finer qualities in Adam as he took (and continues) the project management role for this mission. I’m sure Ted has been looking down on this mission with immense pride in his grandson as well as the rest of the family.
I first read about this mission appeal in August 2008 when traveling to the last mission in Mozambique. I was hooked at once. I did all I could to help nurture the mission along. As many of you know, for the past year and a half, I’ve been unemployed. That didn’t stop me from supporting the mission here at home. In fact, it made it easier. I knew all along that my best case scenario would be finding a job as the mission approached and not having any vacation time to be able to attend. I placed my faith in God and realized He just needed me in the planning part of this mission. So I thought.
I took part on a team that defied the odds to pull off this mission. After all, it would cost 3-4 times our usual project and require three times the labor. The scale of the work would also be 3-400% larger than anything undertaken in the past and we had no contacts in Kenya to organize the ground logistics. Forget that we were warned that it “would be the rainy season” when such an undertaking should not be attempted. For every road block the mission faced God clearly broke through and clearly demonstrated the need for this mission (except for, perhaps, a few of those muddy roads – God does have a sense of humor…). 
I was confused, however, as to why I couldn’t attend and be on one of the four teams. I certainly had the time being unemployed. But, I needed to remain at home for job interviews and further job hunting. Then, as the teams were completing for the summer and work remained, I watched as airfare dropped to Kenya. A last interview was positive but the employer would be delaying decisions for months. That was when I clearly saw my opportunity to go and serve. With eight days of planning I took my shots and left to be an add on team to help complete the floor portion of the construction.
As you have read, that went well and completed as needed. I was also there to assist after the thugs tore down the existing orphanage and the orphans needed to move in before the buildings were completed. Perhaps, from the beginning, this was all in God’s plan of some two years ago. I was glad to be there in the orphan’s hour of need.
Funny thing happened on my arrival home this past Monday night, I had a message on my phone telling me that the company I interview for was going to sign a contract to hire me for a project. I’ll start in the next week. Seems God needed to delay the contract to get His Kenya work done first. So, 90 job applications in one and a half years only led to one in person interview. And that is all it took. Oh, by the way, I never applied for this job. This one found me. Go figure!
God bless this mission,
~~~Brother Jim (as I’m known by my fellow Kenyan workers)

Remember that delivery of cement bags last week?

Bad day at the office?

Adam carried a lot of the project's weight.
Here, it's 110 lb bag of cement...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

By Foot

Well its been a few days without Internet connection here so an update has not been possible.  Jim had mentioned that they would come less frequently since i was here alone, but i still believe everyone wants and should be kept up to date on the progress.

I have been overwhelmed by the impact that a project like this has! At first i just thought that we were helping Martin, Ruth and the kids; however the longer that i have been here the more i realize just how large of an impact that it has on the whole community.  From the matatu driver Robert getting new tires, seat covers and other needed maintenance while being able to support his family.  Kimani the taxi driver replacing his tires and shocks, paying off his daughters school fees and still being able to put food on the table at the end of the day. One of the guys at the site that has been working for us also by the name Robert came the other day giving thanks for the opportunity to work as he was now off to attend school for optometry. One of the mason by the name of Martin being able to pay for his children's education, his son is attending theological school, and he is also supporting orphans from his family that passed.  The list just keeps going, over for over 21 people that have been employed, and the drivers that deliver materials, the hardware store the impact is much larger then i had ever thought. its Gods glory.  Everyone here is so thankful and grateful for everything everyone there has done! God Bless

With the teams all gone I have switched from the matatu then to the taxi for team 4.2 and now to public matatu for team 4.1 as Jim has dubbed me.  With the change there is a lot of footing that needs to be done.  The leave time is now 6:30 so i can walk from the TI to the Total station where I can catch a matatu,  this leg is about a 25 minuet walk.  Then the walk from Simatwet center to the site is another 35 minuets, which still gets me there about 8am. 

Monday was the first night that the children actually slept in  house one!  They almost didn't know what to do with all the space and not needing to be right on top of each other. House two has already been turned into the school house where the primary kids attend classes. the ABC's can
 be heard shouted by them throughout the work site. 

The exterior plastering has also been completed on house one yesterday and today the Gable ends of house two have been completed and the rest of the house should be finished tomorrow.  So all external plastering will be completed about half way through Saturday if this paced schedule is kept. 

All the interior door frames have been set in house one as of today, so there is a good chance that all frames can be installed by Saturday.  Hopefully hinges and knobs or handles will arrive soon so the doors can be installed onto the frames. 

Hope to have a picture update as soon as possible.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Team 4.2 --->Mission Accompished!

The internet has been down for the past 12 hours so I'll post a last blog on the progress this morning (Sunday) and save my final reflections (and some pictures) for when I get home in a few days. I leave for my flight in an hour so here's how Saturday happened and team 4.2 completes:
Saturday had an unusual start for me. For the first morning since my arrival I didn't require two extra strength pain killers to subdue my morning headache just to get out of bed. As we drove to the site it was pure sunshine for the first time with only one band of clouds on the mountain horizon. The day was off to a great start, just the way it would end. When the usual 3:00 rains tried to come, the skys would clear the thunder and the few droplets to end the day with sunshine. Glory be to God.
After the previous day's problems, we found the cement truck removed from the mud road where we had left it the night before. We immediately started to work.
There were four floor sections remaining for our team to accomplish our goal of completing floors. The bags of cement on hand may or may not be enough. By the time we completed two and a half slabs the cement ran out. Soon enough, with the roads drying out in the morning sun, the remainder of the needed cement arrived. We worked on. By 4:00 PM the last wheelbarrow of cement was poured into the form at the kitchen door. Mission accomplished for our team.
About that time, the kids had formed a line at the tool shed where they had been living for the past week. They began with song and a prosession toward building one that they had swept clean that morning. At first I thought they were praticing for their Sunday morning services.
A ceremony would follow with 50 + people gathered in the sitting room of building one. A very comfortable fit I do add. I'll bring you more on that ceremony when I post my mission reflections later this week. Dry eyes were not a part of the 45 minute ceremonies.
This is when team 4.2 surrenders the mission project to team 4.1. That, of course will just be Adam. I wish him God's speed as he spends the remainder of September setting the mission on its final path to "Mission Accomplished, Mission Completed." There are doors to hang, windows to place and other tasks that remain. Adam will share some good news on other objectives in the days to follow.
At this time, we should also set new understandings on the blog postings. As those before me understand, doing these postings is challenging on a daily basis. Not only are there connection problems and electric problems that are everything Africa, there is also the time it takes when you have also just completing a very tiring 12 hour day and have a few other items to attend to, like take a hot shower and catch a meal.
As Adam takes on the balance of the mission details there won't be daily milestones to post. Slow but sure is the new direction toware the ultimate success that all the previous teams have assured.
So continue to follow the blog daily knowing that Adam will continue to post as exciting new events take place. Postings may only take place a few times a week going forward. I'm looking forward to the first pictures with the kids moved in. Just think of the change when they take the first dozen kids out of an 8' X 8' mud room into the buildings. Soon to be followed by bunk beds.
Read on faithfull followers, my ride to the airstrip has arrived. See you back home.
With God's blessings on the kids,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Goal missed for today. And a moment while it rained...

The morning was going great. Three slabs done and priming up for the fourth. Then started the 3:00 PM rain at 1:30 which shut down cement mixing. Turns out it wouldn't have mattered. We didn't have enough bags of cement to make all the batches for the final pour we wanted to do. We had 100 bags expected but it had not arrived. Long story short (can you tell the mud road is coming into play again?) at about 5:00 the truck was stuck halfway down the road. So...15 or so of us walked out with shovels and such and worked for an hour on getting the truck out. Turns out, he only had 20 of our bags on board. The balance of his load was for another customer.
Well, there may have been some math working against us. Like a few tons of cement and truck. Some guys in bare feet and others only in sandals (it's all they have - or don't have). If you think that lacked traction, the tires on the truck are bald! At one point we lightened the load by taking our 20 bags off. Of coarse that means walking them on your backs down the mud road that you can hardly walk on without slipping. Did I mention that each bag weighed 110 lbs!
Here's where this is left for now~ the driver may be sleeping in the truck tonight until he reaches his company for further assistance (I gave him two granola bars as we parted at dusk). Even with the 20 bags we rescued, it may not be enough to do all the remaining work we intended for today and Saturday. This would be very disappointing. Adam is going to look into having some areas of the road rebuilt before suppliers all refuse to deliver to the site. The road just can't be driven on when it rains every day (and hard).
But there is some good news. Building one is totally cleaned out of all construction materials and only needs to be swept. Yep. That's it assuming interior doors and window glass will follow soon. These are not critical to getting the kids moved in out of the mud tool shed. Frankly, with no glass in the windows we get better air circulation curing the concrete.
AND, you should have heard the noise of the kids today in building two. Imagine the sound at an indoor pool with 100 kids yelling about with the echos. That is what it sounded like when 6-8 kids were cleaning floors at the other end of the building this morning.  Talk about excitement and joy filling the building.
In our trivia thoughts for the day it is interesting to note that 74% of households in Kenya have radios and 63% have cell phones. Only 28 percent have TVs. Now the big note -- 6 million Kenyans are young enough to require diapers. Now there's a fact.
A closing thought in the rain~~~I normally take about 15 minutes to eat a sandwich each day as my lunch break. Today I took a full hour because the downpour halted our production. As I sat on the floor I looked up in amazement at all that was before me. Walls straight and true nicely plastered resting upon footers now missing the eye's detection. The sturdy steel roof and trussing amplifying the rain pelting the panels and of course there's the flat, level  and smooth floors beneath me. Then the thought ~ only 10 weeks ago I would have been sitting in an open field surounded by corn fields. By the grace of God, is it not a wonder what He has had us develop before our eyes and with our hands? Is it not wonderful to be an answer to a prayer?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Another day in Africa...

Perhaps this should be short tonight. Two power failures in last 45 minutes is making this a challenge once again this week.
Let's see, Taxi stuck in mud this morning and another delivery truck that took about 10 crew to push out. The cabbie wouldn't even try to do the last 1/4 mile to get us so we walked in the rain and mud to meet him to get home (really couldn't blame him). Ahhh, another day in Africa
We pounded out another 5 floor slabs today plus the ramp into building two (a beautiful job by Adam). Building 1 is complete for floors. Yahoo! Goal tomorrow 4.
Tonight's trivia information is again on Kenya. As we go about creating the floors in the buildings you should know that 57% of Kenyans live on dirt floors. Only 41 % of of them live on concrete floors. What a change up in society we will provide for the orphans. Can you believe that only 23% of the people have electricity? Now apply the math to Kenya's population of 38.6 million people which is up by 10 million in the last 10 years.                       Have you thanked God for your blessings today?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Over the hump day

Monumental day today in what was done. Real happy that we had the first floor pour started at 8:30. Everything was ready when we left the night before. End result - 5 slabs done (one more than we intended and that doesn't count two shower stalls and the handicap ramp at the main entry to bldg 1). Phew! But what really happened was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel where we have a game plan for each day through Saturday with great results intended (you'll just need to keep on reading to learn of those results). There was some lost labor in not keeping everyone at 100% over the past two days so 5 of the local labors have been reduced.
The truck delivering the cement bags today got stuck in the mud. I'm not sure if it was the same location we got stuck this morning or not. Either way, like the cab ride, we sent the man power out to push the truck. It rained this morning and at the usual late afternoon period. Mostly cloudy all day long with perhaps a half hour sun.
Not sure what happened to yesterday's blog. I was just about to start it when the power went out so I retired for the evening. The funny report would have been the duck foot prints on one of the floors.Yep, it wasn't the chicken, but some how a duck got into the building after we locked the STEEL doors. Humm, first I'm thinking chicken dinner. Now duck. At the end of the today I felt someone was watching me while work on a step. I turned around and saw a turkey for the first time (wonder if I could bring it home on the plane for Thanksgiving?). Do you think the peanut butter and honey sandwich I've eaten every day with water are getting to me?
So, today morale was great as we see many parts of the plan coming together while completing floors in all three buildings. With work going on in the three buildings we are doing well to maintain quality control in all areas and keeping labor running at full (though now adjusted). Floor results run about: bldg 1=92%, Bldg 2=60% and dining hall=33%    Will they make it???????
And for the kids today... Nothing further on the pox. I find I get them laughing every time I imitate the roosters, chickens and goats. Adam gets them captivated when he does some of his gymnastics with applause his reward. Two of them, real young, got a kick out of smoothing some of the cement when I handed them a float while working on that one step. Might as well start them young on the home ownership part.
Small trivia for tonight: In the city of Nairobi 75% of the people have flush toilets available. In some regions of Kenya, 65% of the people "prefer not to have a pit latrine. They would rather 'go off in the woods (fields).'"