Tuesday, December 11, 2018

KISII REPORT #27


At this point, the rafters and the entire roof structure may look like a jumbled pile of pick-up-sticks on top of the walls, but there actually is an order to it all.
  

 





Perhaps a view from up top might make a bit more sense.


 





Or a view from inside looking up:


 
 
 

To make it look complete from the outside, the rafter tails need to be trimmed and, of course, the “roof iron” has to be attached. 
 


View from inside of the church
building. This is near where
the dormitory is being built
I was able to send them a bit more money this week to go into the fund for buying the metal for the roof. It is not yet enough, but Pastor Joel is thinking that it may be enough in “earnest money” to allow the supplier to extend to us some good faith.
 
After all, we have been faithful in all promises so far. Besides that, we have nearly enough for all the tin at this point, and we certainly want to see this building completed before the heavy rains begin.

All of our purchases need to be coordinated with the transport, since the orphanage is in a rather remote area. When we pay for trucking, we do not want to pay for partial loads. That is why we cannot just buy a little at a time.

Of course, there is still more work to be done on the building after the roof is complete. Primarily, there are doors and windows to make. I am not sure what beds will be needed. It would be nice if the children did not have to sleep on the cement floor, but first things first.

Even as it is, sleeping on a cement floor that can be kept reasonably clean is better than sleeping in the damp dirt during the rains. A completed building to keep out the rains, the mud, and hopefully most of the mosquitoes will help with the health problems and the malaria during the rains.

We still have some time before that, but we also keep in mind the supplying of food and the other daily needs of the children. The new school term begins in January also. It is our prayer that all of the children will be able to attend classes again. This represents a significant cost, but if there is to be a future for these orphans, then they must be able to go to school.


These are all things I think about every day, but I am thankful to see how the Lord has been faithful in supplying the needs.
 
If you could see what the lives of these children were like before the church took them in, then you would be able to understand why each child is so thankful to God for how He has rescued them.


It makes me think of some verses from the book of Ezekiel. The context is all wrong of course, and the Scripture application, but the words nevertheless come to my mind:


On the day of your birth your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing. You were not rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one cared enough for you to do even one of these things out of compassion for you. Instead, you were thrown out into the open field, because you were despised on the day of your birth.

Then I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”

There I said to you, “Live!”

I made you thrive like a plant of the field. You grew up and matured and became very beautiful.

God has also said to each one of these children, "Live!"

"May God make every one of these children of the Log Church Orphanage live and thrive like a plant in the field."




 

 

 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

MESSAGE FOR ADVENT #1

Surprised by Christmas

Sometimes our spiritual journeys take on the manner of basically just plodding along in our lives, step after step, almost forgetting what our real purpose in the journey is. We become so accustomed to dealing with a chaotic and war-faring existence that we must face almost every day that we lose sight of our ultimate goals.

Then suddenly, when we expect it the least, we are surprised by the possibility of redemption. We catch a glimpse of the Redeemer.
--

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

KISII REPORT #26

If you scroll down a few reports you will see a tree trunk being sawed into dimensional lumber by a Husqvarna chain saw. That was done to a number of trees to make even a greater number of 2-inch framing boards—380 boards to be precise.



The logs are those of eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus is not a native tree to Kenya, but is a species of tree that has been imported from Australia. The tree is now grown not only in Kenya, but in most parts of the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world (this does not include Northern Wisconsin).

Mostly Eucalyptus Trees in the Background
It is called the gum tree in Australia, and some say that it is the Ausie’s gift to the world. It grows fast, is straight-grained and largely knot-free. Not everyone loves it, however. It drinks a lot of water, and some say that in drought-prone areas it exacerbates the scarcity of ground water. Our son Levi knows about this. He did a study of it in Ethiopia.

Some of the Church Leaders and some of the
Older Boys who are working the dormitory
(Not here.Here they are taking a break)

But eucalyptus also makes strong 2X6’s, and its aromatic qualities can inhibit termites. It has some natural insecticidal qualities. Levi also knows this.

When I was going to visit him in Ethiopia, he cautioned me to be prepared to get used to sleeping with bed bugs.

“They’re everywhere,” he said.

But then, about a week before I arrived, he made a smudge fire out of eucalyptus on the floor in the middle of his house, closed the house up tight, and left it for that week when he came to meet me.

When we came back after the week—  Boom!  No bed bugs!
The eucalyptus smoke had infused everything and killed all the bugs (or driven them away).
Also, all of his clothes smelled a little like arthritis ointment!
Win-win!
 


These are the aromatic boards that are now being made into the rafters for the dormitory. The roof design looks a little complex, what with the latrine addendums and the food storage room being added.

The roof iron? (metal roof sheets). We only have them about half paid for, but then again, neither are we ready to put them on yet. We have seen how God supplies for this building for the children when the need arises, and we will await to see how he will also supply this roofing material.
 



Thanks to all who have helped!
It is going well.

Monday, December 3, 2018

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE (FOR CHRISTIANS ONLY)

When someone whom we love dies, it is natural for us to have some questions about death. In fact, it would seem unusual to me not to have some questions. Despite the fact that death is something that is part of everyone’s experience, there remains much about it that we do not know or do not understand. Our questions about this are not surprising, since there is also much about our very existence that we do not understand.

It is our nature to react negatively to the concept of death. We react in this way because there are so many unknown factors about it. We have some assurances in the Bible about what to expect if we have placed our trust in Jesus, but there are still many questions that we have.

What actually happens when a believer dies?

Friday, November 30, 2018

KISII REPORT #25

Please remember that the Log Church orphanage is located in an extremely poor area and the present situation is very unhealthy for the children. They constantly are fighting sickness because of poor sanitation. It is not that they do not care or do not know better, but it is just that the conditions are so desperate.


Pastor Joel and the church have graciously been caring for these orphaned children, but they themselves have very little. It is difficult for us to imagine what it is like to care for 42 children and provide them with food, water, clothing, schooling, housing and all the other essentials when they do not even have enough for their own families. That is why we are helping.
One of the workers with some of the children

Besides that (I am only speaking for myself personally on this), we have those words from the apostle John when he said, “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

It is one of the two verses that the Lord gave to me when I was dragging my feet about getting involved. I could not continue my life and just ignore this situation after God went to great lengths to lead me into it.

This said, let me show you a little about the sanitation needs at the orphanage. I have mentioned that the plans for the orphanage include two latrines, one for the boys and the other for the girls. This is part of the overall improvements in sanitation that we are hoping to establish for the children.
 

The photos are of the two latrines presently at the orphanage. The one made from blocks is one that we made last year after the former one had collapsed. It is a nice latrine, but insufficient for the large number of people that must use it.

The other photo is the other latrine currently in
use. Of course you can see how inadequate it is and how difficult it would be to keep oneself clean.

When you consider the number of children and when you consider that they are in constant contact with the soil and even sleeping on the dirt floors, perhaps you can understand why stomach illnesses are very common, along with other parasites that enter in through the skin.

Also remember that these are children—not adults. Even the most responsible of children do not always do things properly, and these children are orphans, some of them rescued from the rubbish heaps. Sanitation is a new word to them. It must be taught to them.

With the two latrines that we are building in conjunction with the dormitory, along with the cement floors instead of dirt, we hope to greatly alleviate these problems of illnesses.

Pastor Joel with two of the boys
Clean water is yet another major difficulty there. The children need to carry the water about a kilometer, and as you can see in the photo, it does not come from a very clean source. I did not see this when I was there so I am not clear on the specifics, but I intend to go and look at it when I return next month (January).


Water needs to be carried about a kilometer to the orphanage.
 
There are several questions that I have concerning the water situation, but I will wait until I am there to see how it is.
 
 

I know that the answer is a bore hole (a drilled well), but it is not small undertaking. In the words of Joel, “Praise to God, clean water can be obtained at the deep table of 129 metres down.”

 
Right now we are doing nothing in regards to water, but we will see what God will do in
the future. We work as God provides. Thanks to all of you who have taken on part of this burden along with us. I can tell you that it is really appreciated!

A bit more money has come in for the tin roof sheets. We still lack just under $1500 to complete the roof, but we have seen that God will provide for these children of His

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

KISII REPORT #24

Construction of the dormitory for the children is somewhat on hold at the moment until we have enough money to buy the tin sheets (or the “iron,” as they call it) for the roof. But as you saw in the previous Kisii Report, we have the logs for making the trusses and rafters, and that is currently happening.

As we wait, I thought that I would take the opportunity to show some of the other things around the orphanage.

Some have asked me why the people there cannot grow enough food to feed the orphans. Here is a photo of the land that they have to grow crops. It is an area of about a quarter acre.


How big is that?

In our increasingly urbanized US, not many people have any idea what a quarter acre is unless it is compared to a city lot, or as more common in these days, comparing it to a football field. (I recently heard a news report about the recent devastating Carr Fire in Northern California, comparing the area burned to the number of hundreds of thousands of football fields instead of the number of acres! This alone is a commentary of where our culture has moved).

Well, look at a quarter acre in this way: If Aaron Rodgers completes a pass for a 25-yard gain, that area gained is about a quarter acre. Or if you prefer, if Aaron Rodgers is sacked for a 25-yard loss, the Packers just gave up about a quarter acre of field. A nice gain (or devastating loss) in football, but hardly enough to feed 42 children plus Joel’s family and the staff.
OK, now everyone wave!

The crop that is grown there is called locally sukumu wiki (kale), which should be to the considerable delight of all you health food enthusiasts out there. The fact is, it is a good food to grow for them.


After

Besides the dormitory which is being built, I see that they have also have taken advantage of the construction happening in the orphanage to upgrade the swing. It is the only playground equipment that the children have.


Before


When I was there a year ago, I had purchased those chains because the nylon rope that they had kept breaking. But I see that they also have put in some concrete footers for the uprights.

I wonder if they still have the football (soccer) that I bought. They before had none. One of the boys came up to me and said so politely, “Sir, we would like a ball that we could kick.”

The signs that the children are holding are not legible on the photo, but they say:

 
“Thank you donors,” “Thank you for the building.”
“Thank you for the food.”
“Thank you for the clothes.”

Joel tells me that these statements of gratitude were written from the hearts of the children. I believe that it is true. The thankfulness of the children is one of the things that was so notable to me when I visited.

God willing, I will be back in about two months.

 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

INVESTMENT ADVICE FOR THANKSGIVING

These days with the various responsibilities that have been given to me, I spend a good amount of time visiting with old people. I am not talking only about old people like me, but people who know that even under the very best of health circumstances, their days left on this earth are few.

At that time of life, all pretense is gone. All need to impress anyone has disappeared, and it becomes evident what is truly important to these old folks.

As I visit with these people, do you know what we talk about more than anything else?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

INFATUATED WITH GOD

A teenage girl, who has just started dating, asks her mother, or a son his father, “How do you know if you love someone?”

The mom or the dad, with all the wisdom in the world, gives some sort of answer that sometimes is really just quite silly. They might say, “Well, if you have a dizzy feeling when you are around someone, or if you feel a kind of sickness in your stomach, it means that you are falling in love.”

Perhaps their answer may not be quite as nonsensical as that, but the point is, very few people have a clear idea of what love is. Despite all of the studies about love and despite many people making millions of dollars teaching us about finding true love, the subject of love remains for most a very mysterious concept.

Friday, November 16, 2018

KISII REPORT #23

I must say that it is encouraging for me to see the step-by-step progress on the dormitory for the children. Seeing the photos as it goes up, it is apparent that the building is more complex than what I had at first envisioned.


I think that I mentioned before that they are putting in two latrines, one for the girls and one for the boys. I am sure that this will help the children stay much healthier, since as it is now, it is impossible for them to maintain a clean environment.

There will also be a place for storage of food. Buying food for 42 children requires constantly looking for the best prices, which come when they buy in bulk. Having a safe and clean place to store the food will enable them to better do this.

The preparation for putting on the roof is being made. There are trees around the Kisii area, but they are a precious commodity. So far we do not have enough funds to purchase all that are needed to make the roof structure. However, the man who is selling the trees is allowing them to cut all the timbers that they need so that the work can progress. We gave him what we had now, and will pay the balance as God sends it to us.

I am pretty impressed on how straight these planks being cut by chainsaw appear. I have tried to do this in the past, and it is not as easy as you might think. I blamed my chainsaw. My boards did not come out so straight, but I did make some pretty good wedges.

We will keep you all informed the best that we can. Progress is being made. There is still a long way to go, but the Lord will see this through.
It is a journey of faith for all of us. As the children see their home being built and as they pray daily for it, they also see how God answers.

There is still the metal to buy for the roof, and this also is a large expense. But we are all amazed at how many people are helping in this effort. Each one is doing so as they are prompted by God.

Thanks so much to each of you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

SAMSON—A WEAK MAN WITH A STRONG GOD - Judges 14-16

“The woman bore a son and called his name Samson. The young man grew, the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol” (Judges 13:24-25).

It is with these words that we are introduced to the life of Samson. The names of those towns are not important to us at this point. They only tell us where Samson was living with his parents. What is important is the phrase, “The Spirit of the Lord began to stir him.”

This word “stir” used in this way causes me to ponder it a little.

Friday, November 9, 2018

KISII REPORT #22

In the previous Kisii Report, I mentioned that meagre words could never express the gratitude felt for all the donations to help the children in Kenya.

Early this morning I received this email from Pastor Joel. Click on the READ MORE link below to read it.

It looks like they did a great job in expressing in what is a second language for them their expressions of thanks. Even the orphans had one of them write on their behalf. (I added the photos)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

THE VOW OF THE NAZIRITE - Judges 13

If you thought that the story of Jephthah had some unusual twists, hang on to your armchair for the story of Samson.

I believe that most people in western cultures know something about Samson. Most everyone has at least heard of him. Perhaps you did not remember that Samson is listed as one of the long line of judges of Israel, but probably you do remember that he was incredibly strong until he got his hair cut, and that his wife Delilah had given away this secret of his strength.

Unfortunately for those of us who are trying to explain the story and find applications in it for our own lives, these are not the strangest aspects of the life of Samson.