Thursday, June 21, 2018

KISII REPORT #5

In the past week or so, I have been in frequent contact with Pastor Joel concerning the building for the girls. Thanks to the gifts of several people, we recently have been able to purchase the crushed rock for the construction of the base. It is perhaps a small step
forward in the process, but this will most likely be a project completed by small steps. We already have bricks needed for the building, plus a few other basic materials.

We would have actually been able to purchase much more of the needed building materials, but the present food/clothing/malaria crisis has taken most of the money that has been donated. We are very thankful for those who gave, since it provided much relief for the orphans.

The high food prices continue, and three of the orphans are presently in the hospital with malaria, but I would like to take this time to talk about the building that I am praying can be finished before the next rain season.

The church had in mind to build quite a large building for the girls (30 X 48), which they said would sleep up to 70 girls. They are thinking of future needs, and I don’t mind saying that it is a little frightening to me to learn that the need is this great.

Presently however, the orphanage has only 42 children—boys and girls. I suggested to Joel to partition the building so that it could house all of the orphans that are there at this time, girls on one end and boys on the other. The present situation for the boys is not much better than that of the girl’s, and I thought that this might be a
Present Boy's Dorm
better use of the building at this time.

Having very little knowledge of local customs, I suspected that there may be cultural reasons for not doing this, reasons of which I was not aware. Just as I suspected, Joel responded that he did not know if the government would allow the boys and girls to be housed in the same building, even with a solid partition. It was for “security” reasons, he said.

I then suggested two smaller buildings, with a plan for expansion when that would become necessary. More cost, but it would better meet present needs. Joel said that he would go into Kisii town to speak with the Kenyan building authorities.
The Girls Inside Their Dorm
I guess I do not have an outside photo of the
Girl's dorm, but it is just a corner room of the
already small mud house where the pastor lives
with his wife and two small children

The end result is that the government will allow the common housing, given certain restrictions. To build under these restrictions will also increase the cost of the original plans somewhat, but nowhere near constructing two separate buildings. Since they have not yet begun to build, nothing is lost, so we continue to move ahead in short steps.

You can see that the care of these orphaned children is a large commitment. In some quiet moments that I have, it still sometimes hits me quite hard that the Lord has put this upon me in this twilight stage of my life. It is not what I had in mind for my life and something that I ran from for about a year until I could run no more.

I see no end to this work for me—no retirement, but I must say that it is a great honor to me that the Lord would entrust this to me. Certainly there are others who are much better equipped, but I have sought to serve God through serving his church my entire adult life. I am grateful (at least in some ways) that even in my old age, he still considers me trustworthy.

It is a ministry that is so far beyond me that I actually have no hope of being able to do it. This work is so large for me that it requires a young lad’s lunch. I think I have mentioned that before, but I will explain more in the next Kisii Report.

Monday, June 18, 2018

ISAAC - THE DIGGER OF WELLS

Finding Life 

After Sarah and Abraham had died, and when their son Isaac was living in the land of Canaan, famine again struck the territory, just as it had done years earlier in Abraham’s time. Isaac, the same as his father, also found it necessary to leave the area so that he could feed his family and herds until the famine had come to an end.

Unlike his father however, Isaac did not go to Egypt. In fact, the Lord forbade him to do so. It may be that he started out for that country, but the Lord interrupted his plans.

“Do not go down to Egypt,” the Lord told Isaac. “Rather, stay in the land where I will tell you.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

KISII REPORT #4


The town of Kisii is only about 47 miles from the equator (0.68º N). Because this seems like it should be a tropical climate, it appears strange to many people that one of the needs of the orphanage is blankets. We northerners have a general perception that the equatorial zones have only two seasons: hot and hotter. But it is amazing what a little elevation in altitude can do.

Kisii town has an elevation of 5558 feet. This altitude modifies the temperature considerably throughout the year. The daily highs remain mostly in the 70’s, with the 50’s at night. It does seem quite ideal, except when there is the wind from a storm system, you are in wet clothing under a thin wet blanket sleeping on a wet dirt floor, and you have had nearly nothing to eat all day.

Girl's Dormitory
The rains in Kisii are beginning to subside now, but for the past three months or so, they have had almost unprecedented wet weather, receiving rain about every day. I wrote in an earlier blog of some of the difficulties that this created for the people and the orphanage of the Log Church, including some of the difficulties that it caused for the children.

One of these difficulties was that they did not have more than one set of clothes so that they could put on something dry (some of the smaller children had no clothing at all). Another difficulty was that many of them had to sleep on a wet floor, and since the floor is dirt, the wetness could almost be defined as mud. A third difficulty was that they had inadequate covering at night to try and stay warm.

These difficulties compounded to create very stressful physical living conditions. Constantly staying wet and cold at night kept everyone from receiving adequate rest, preventing the children to be able to fight off sickness.

Oh, there is one more difficulty I should mention that compounds this problem. This is that the availability of food has become very difficult because of flooding and ruined crops. The food that has been available has been very expensive. In the last Kisii Report I gave an example of an increase of about 34%, but Joel tells me now that many vegetables (their primary diet) have doubled in price.

Sleeping on the dirt floors have also exposed the children to a number of illnesses, soil born parasites among them. However, perhaps the most dangerous problem from sleeping in this way is the exposure to fecal matter that has been brought in on the shoes of the children, or on their bare feet. It almost impossible to sterilize the soil, and this causes much diarrhea, which is actually the leading killer of children in third world countries.

Of course good sanitation would help, but keeping good sanitation in such an environment with inadequate facilities becomes nearly impossible. You can see that there are many needs at the orphanage, adequate buildings and also latrines among them.

All of these things together has created a “perfect storm,” when the weakened bodies of these children are unable to fight off illness. I was also going to write a little about the malaria situation at the present, but I will wait on that for another time.


Those ain't plastic store bags!
We have been very grateful for several gifts from readers of this blog so that the workers of the orphanage were able to buy good amounts of food. They had to travel quite far to find it, but as you can see in the photo, they came home in a hired car with some full shopping bags!

The orphanage has been in emergency mode as of late because of the weather conditions and the food shortage. We are praying that we can move beyond that now and resume gathering building materials for a sleeping room for the girl orphans. It is my prayer that we can get it built before next rainy season.

More about that next time.

 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

THE ALLEGORY CONCERNING SARAH

- or -
HOW TO LIVE IN FREEDOM
I have already discussed much of Sarah’s history in a previous post, but perhaps it would be helpful to also introduce her perspective from the very beginning as it is given to us.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

KISII REPORT #3


I have been asking Pastor Joel some more about the food situation for the orphans. These past two weeks, and thanks to Lord speaking to some faithful servants of his who gave some money gifts for the orphans (These were also friends of mine, even going back to someone that I have not seen or even corresponded with for 35 years), I was able to twice send a nice amount to the orphanage. Because of the concern and obedience of these servants of God, these money transfers were $600 each time.

It is a good amount, but when you consider that their food/water
costs amount to about $3.00 per day per child if they were to eat well, and that there are 42 orphans besides others who are in extra need of help, you can see that it does not last that long.

Sometimes I am asked if we are not simply “enabling” these people and causing a dependency. I have been asked that all of my adult life regarding things that I have done in other countries. I have written quite a lot on this in the past so I will not do it again here, but I will very quickly say that I am working very hard to instill in the people that all sufficiency comes only from the Lord.

After all, every one of us is equally dependent on the Lord. Without
God, none of us have anything. It is only our arrogant western culture where we look pridefully at ourselves as being “self-sufficient.” If you feel like this, you have my pity.

Inevitably, the people who ask or accuse me of this are ones who have never lived in a third-world country and probably have never even visited one except to stay in some plush seaside beach resort (the bane of all cross-cultural appreciation). I challenge every one of you who feels this way to live one year in a third-world village. It almost does not matter in what country.

But you must live an entire calendar year with the people to see their struggles in each season of the year, and you must live as their neighbor. (Sorry, but a summer ministry trip capped by a couple of nights in one of the aforementioned beach resorts will not do it).

Now, I will step down off my soapbox and tell you what pastor Joel told me about the food situation there. Because of the recent flooding in the entire country of Kenya, there is a scarcity of virtually every basic food item. The inflation is not super-high, as it presently is in some of the other countries where we have lived (most notably Venezuela), but it still significantly effects the budget.

The orphanage tries to buy their food supplies in large quantities if they have the money, since it makes it less expensive per kilogram. The prices that he gave me was for a 90 kilo sack, which is 198 pounds. I did not ask, but it must come divided into smaller sacks. Who is going to carry a 198 pound sack!

Maize flour purchased in this way, for instance, now costs about $67.00. Before it cost $50.00 (They do not use Dollars there but the conversion is made from Kenyan Shillings).

This works out to about 55¢/kilo or 25¢/pound. For all you millennials, the ¢ sign stands for “cents,” and it is .01 of a dollar. We actually used to use this sign, and there used to be a key for it on the typewriters, but I had to look quite hard on the character map of my laptop to find it.

I was in town today so I went into the Medford County Market to see what maize (corn) flour cost here in Wisconsin. I know nothing about it, but the price range was from about 64¢ to about 96¢/pound.

Thus, 25¢/pound in Kenya sounds like quite a bargain.

But I asked Joel what the daily wage was for a person picking tea, which was about the only work for pay that I knew of in that region. I also asked him if the work was even available and if there were other sources of work that the people could do.

Here is what he wrote to me: “The wage of picking tea is $1 per day. We have other work, eg, cultivating shambas (small fields - it is all hand work) for those who have a larger piece of land but not easily found and its wage depends with the shamba. But in all each person earns about $1 a day.”

So this puts it into perspective. It will take a worker a full day’s work to buy 4 pounds of maize flour. That is like one of those little sacks I saw at the County Market. And that is only if he is able to buy it in 200 pound quantities.
************************** 

I was also going to write in this blog about something else that I have been asked. If Kenya is on the equator, how is it possible for the children to be cold? But I will write about that next time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

THE ALLEGORY CONCERNING HAGAR

-or-
How to Live as a Slave
 
We are introduced to the woman Hagar in the Old Testament. She is one of those characters of the Bible whose story is told in its pages, and if that were all that there was to it, we perhaps would not think a great deal more about her. But hers is a story that is more than simply a biography of an individual, for we continue to learn more about her even into the New Testament.
 

First: Her story

Friday, June 1, 2018

KISII REPORT #2

Perhaps sometime in your life you have been on a camping trip when every night you laid chilled in a damp sleeping bag listening to rain falling on the roof of your tent. With your flashlight, you could see little drops of water seeping through and falling from the seams in the tent material above you. After nearly not having slept most of the night, in the morning you finally gathered up enough courage to put on your least wet clothes and to go outside to try and get a fire going with wet wood and rain still falling.

I have been on some camping trips like these, and as much as I love to camp, I must say these times have been depressing, discouraging, disheartening, dispiriting, and a few other dis-words.
 
Now, imagine that you were on a camping trip like the one I described above, but that lasted nearly three months. Think of how demoralizing it would be to have to face yet another day of rain, cold and wet all day, and unable to find any place to get comfortable.

If you are able to get your imagination to go there, then you are getting close to what these kids from the orphanage of the Log Church of Kisii are facing.

In the past week or so, they have had a couple of days when it did not rain so that they could hang their few blankets out to dry, but I imagine that the humidity levels must be so high that they could not have dried much. These are not sunny days, only days when there was no rain.

I see there is a big hole in the middle of that one blanket. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I shared a double bed with my brother Danny. It was cold upstairs in our farmhouse in the winter, and we would fight for the covers.
 
One way was that we would each roll in the blanket from opposite sides, fighting for more than our share. Mom would complain that our blankets would always start to rip, right up the center.
 
I don’t know if that is what happened here with the blanket, but “boys will be boys,” as my mom would often say with a slight sound of exasperation in her voice.

Those mounds beside the hanging blankets are others that are draped on the bushes, trying to get them to dry.

Food throughout Kenya has remained in short supply and expensive because of the relentless rain. Some have sent help, for which I am very thankful, and so are the children and people in Kisii. 100% of funds go to the orphanage and church, and if you would like to help out, write and ask me how. Once it is received in Kisii, I will tell you exactly what your gift was used for.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

THE CONFESSION OF JOSHUA

The closing two chapters of the book of Joshua is a farewell. Chapter 23 opens by telling us that the initial conquest of the land was over, and that the Lord had at last given the people rest within the land that had been promised to their patriarch Abraham hundreds of years earlier.

This first verse then follows by informing us that Joshua was an old man—“well advanced in years,” as Joshua himself put it. He was saying “Goodbye.”

Like an old grandfather with his children gathered around him and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren kneeling on the floor or sitting in his lap, Joshua reconstructs not only his own history, but even the history of their people.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

KISII REPORT #1

My phone says that the temperature here in Spirit is 89°, but the
thermometer on my wall at our farm on Two Pine Hill says it is over 90, so who are you gonna believe? I tend to go with the old-fashioned mercury thermometer. For the rest of the normal world, either one is over 30° C —too hot for us northerners. My poor highland cattle are lying in the shade of the trees down by the pond, waiting for evening and for a little coolness so that they can go out and graze again.

Quite a different story in Kisii, Kenya. This was the afternoon temperatures and conditions there, according to my phone (I don’t think that they have a thermometer on their wall). But the climatic conditions are striking, to use a small play on words. It looks as if they at least have one or two drying days coming up. Vivian and I have been praying that the rains there would abate.

I have been in communication with Pastor Joel today. I am sorry to report that the miserable conditions continue for them. I am dismayed to say that my cattle have a far better living situation than they. 


I asked Joel where the children are able to sleep in these days, since because of lack of room and beds, many of them usually sleep on the floor. Now, with the flooding and the rains, the floors of the buildings that they do have are now mud. He told me that they clear the mud the best that they can, and the children sleep there—or at least try to sleep.

I was able to send them a little money yesterday via MoneyGram, and with part of it, they plan on buying some timbers to lay on the floor to elevate them off of the mud. This at least will protect them from the mud, the diseases and the biting insects in the soil. I am not clear what they have to place on top of the timbers for a platform. It is difficult for him to communicate too much with text messages on the phone.

They also are going to buy some more blankets, since the nights are very cool, and of course everything is wet. The children sleep fitfully, if they sleep at all. Many lie and whimper most of the night.

I learned that the daily cost for feeding each child is about $3.00 US. When you consider that they have 42 orphans now, if you do the math you can see that they have taken on quite a responsibility. Warm clothing or any clothing at all is quite another matter. They simply have no resources for buying clothes. Some of the smaller children are obligated to walk around in public naked. And of course shoes,  and especially in this season—gum boots.

We did not even talk more about schooling, since this is a luxury at this point.

What I have been able to send in no way even approaches all of the needs.

I told Joel that this work is bigger than he is and bigger than Vivian and I. These are all children with no others to help, but only the Lord can feed and clothe them. We are so very thankful for several of our friends who have also donated to help these children. I know that many more are praying. If you are one of these, I thank you also.

Life would be easier if we did not know of these needs—to just remain ignorant of the situation of some of our brothers and sisters. I don’t know if this works for you, but it has never worked for me. Ever since my early days in India, God has repeatedly brought needs to me from various parts of the world and asked me, “What are you going to do about this?”

I was thinking that my retirement to my farm would be a rest from all of this, but I think this no more. Now I am looking only beyond.

“There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

KISII, KENYA FLOOD REPORT

I’m afraid it’s not very good. The heavy rains continue and the problems begin to build one upon the other. The area of Kisii is one of the areas receiving the heaviest of the rains. Homes are being lost to the floods and the much needed vegetable and grain crops are being destroyed.

There is a deep heaviness in my heart as I remember these people, and how for some years they have given what little resources they have to help the orphans of the area and to help people in need. It has all been done in the name of Jesus. It is painful to me to learn of their present situation.

Joel told me of one family that he and another pastor were visiting to see how they were faring. As they were in the house, a spring of water suddenly erupted from the floor, leaving the little one-room building uninhabitable.

This isn't just mud on the floor--it IS the floor!
In the words of Pastor Joel, “The floods have destroyed everything, including the peace of this family. It is not now a living house, but a flooding place!”

The children at the orphanage, perhaps like all the children of the area, are suffering from chills during the night, crying because they are wet and cold. Even walking outside is difficult
if not impossible. It is mud everywhere, and it is of the heavy clay type that sticks to everything.

I frankly do not know where all the children of the orphanage are sleeping now, since I know that many of them had been sleeping every night on the floors. But now, with all the mud, I would think that this could not be an option.

I would also think that the road is impassible. During my visit
Main Road Into the Town Where the Orphanage is Located
there, we had mostly dry weather. But there were a couple of days when it rained, and the road instantly became a muddy slough. In the places where there was a crown on the road, anything trying to drive on top simply slipped sideways down into the ditch.


There are no government disaster relief agencies to help, no FEMA (the agency we complain about here in the US). No Red Cross, no charitable organizations that I know of in that remote place. Just the Log Church. I hope that I am wrong on that account, but I sincerely doubt it. Except for how the church can help, the people simply have to fend for themselves. (I just confirmed that this is the case. The people are left to themselves)

Last week, through the kindness of friend from our church, I was able to send the church and orphanage $500 so that they could buy food, blankets and gum boots—needs that I mentioned in the previous post on this blog. Since I have begun to be involved with these folks, all of my “sacred funds” have also gone to help these brothers and sisters. Joel reported to me what he was able to buy for the children, so I am thankful that they at least have those items. 

We do what God puts in our hands, but in the end, this is the Lord’s work. They are His children and His workers. It is God who will meet the needs of his people.

The rains are falling from above, and so must the answers for our prayers. Thank you for praying with Vivian and me, and with all the people of Kisii.

We are all looking to the Lord for help.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

BALAAM—NOT SUCH A BUFFOON

If the story were to be written as a play, the character of Balaam would probably be cast as the hapless buffoon, who because of his stupidity, had to be rebuked by his own talking donkey. But Balaam was no buffoon. For such a seemingly minor figure of the Old Testament, it is surprising how often he is mentioned in not only the Old Testament, but also in the New.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Kenya Report--RAIN!

I asked for a photo of all 42 children together.
I am not sure if they are all in there or not
To the present, God has brought 42 children to the Log Church Orphanage in Kisii, Kenya, twice as many as when I visited there last November. It is difficult for the leaders and the people of the church to turn anyone away. Nevertheless, I believe that they have now reached the point of saturation where they simply are not able to take in more. Others do come for food, however. There simply is no more room to stay there, but at least they can get something to eat.

I have no idea how the children they presently house are able to find a place to sleep. Last year when I saw the situation and at that time with even with half of the number of children, many of them had to sleep on a cloth on a dirt floor. It makes the completion of the dormitory we are trying to build all the more urgent.

Speaking of the building, we continue to buy the materials as money becomes available. We have now begun to purchase the bags of cement for the base. I will be glad when they are able to begin building with the bricks, as I think that it will be a big encouragement for the people to be able to see an actual building starting to take shape.

The building is needed now more than ever for another reason as well. Perhaps you have seen some news reports of the historic flooding that has been taking place in Kenya.

I have an app on my phone that shows the weather each day in Kisii. For at least the past two months, it has shown rain falling every single day. The extended forecast is also for daily rain. Pastor Joel did not mention the difficulties that they are presently facing until I asked him about it. He tells me that they have never experienced anything like this.

The price of vegetables has increased significantly because of the flooding, and there is a general food shortage. Kisii is located in the highlands, so they have not seen the worst of the flooding. Nevertheless, the constant and historic rains is putting everyone under unprecedented hardships.

We are very thankful that the 42 children of the orphanage are now able to attend the school there, thanks to the funds that God has supplied through some readers of this blog who have seen the need and contributed.

Nonetheless, many of these children still have no shoes and not even a change of clothing. When they walk back to the church (the orphanage) after classes at school, they are soaked to the skin and with feet caked with mud. The nights are cool and there are not blankets enough for everyone.

As you can imagine, these little bodies are in constant physical stress as they lie and shiver all night, especially when their diet has been lacking. I am not sure of the current state of food supplies for the orphans at the moment, but I do know that they sometimes go without food for entire days.

I actually began this blog post thinking to write a happy report of how the children are able to attend school and to tell you a bit of what it is like for them, but when I began asking questions of the situation there, I learned of the level of difficulty that the people are facing now. I must admit, the long-term goal of a supporting business that the people can do seems a long way off right now.

Vivian and I are praying that sickness and disease will stay away from the children, and that the malaria will not make a resurgence. Other needs there are for warm clothing for the children, shoes and especially gum boots, school fees, and of course food—always food. They distribute a lot of it these days.

It’s a good day to pray!