Friday, April 20, 2018


Besides the air that we breathe, there is nothing more indispensable to life than food and water. Probably for most people who read this post, these are seldom in question. We turn on the faucet and we expect clean water to come out, and we open the door of the refrigerator to a variety of vegetables and meats. 
It will not surprise you that this is not the case for the people of the community where the Log Church of Kisii is located. To correct something from a couple posts ago, I asked Joel the correct name and the spelling of this community. It is Matagaro, not Mata Oro as I remembered hearing it.  
The people there go through various times of hunger throughout the year. Many, and perhaps even most people have a small plot of ground where they can grow a garden. However, the area for the garden is so small that it cannot grow sufficient food to sustain a family. 
I keep thinking that it would be a good place for some teachings of gardening techniques and soil maintenance. There has been a lot that has been learned about these subjects through the years, things that have been learned through experimentation. Many of these are methods that could benefit the people of Kisii. 

Nevertheless, I have worked among people in developing countries most of my adult life, and it is also true that I have grown to have a high respect for the methods of these people. Many from the more wealthy countries look on these from developing lands as being a “simple” people, whose farming methods have not changed for hundreds of years.  

This is certainly true in a sense, but there are some additional matters to consider.
One is that the methods that these simple farmers use are methods that have worked well in their areas and in their culture. I tend to guard against assuming that the methods that we use in our big farms in the US can simply be adapted anywhere.

My first experience in working with agriculture overseas was during the “green revolution” of the 1970’s when we were attempting to do this. There were many good things that came out of the green revolution, but there were other things that was not so helpful.

That first experience of mine was with the Peace Corps in Northern India, where I saw this to be true. This first experience of mine taught me that listening is more important than talking. I could tell you many stories, but that will have to be for another time.

In Kisii, the family land has been repeatedly divided between the children for many generations, until today the tiny plot left for each one is not enough to sustain a family. This leaves the people of the agriculture community dependent on outside work. The difficulty is, there is very little work to be found.
There are some tea plantations, where one can be paid for picking the tea leaves. But these are not large and expansive gardens that hire many workers, and what work there is, it is very sporadic.
When there is no food or money to buy food, there are no food banks to go to, no community pantries of donated canned goods. There is nothing. The people simply do not eat. They stay home to conserve energy, and they go hungry. 
I was a little surprised when I learned that water was also at times in short supply. I was told when I first went there that they received rain in every month of the year. Certainly, some months are dryer than others, but there are no long periods when rain does not fall.
But Joel informs me that getting clean water is actually quite a problem, and the people have only contaminated water to drink. I do not need to tell you what health problems that this can cause. It is like the inadequate latrine situation. The reoccurring diseases and parasites have a cumulative and cyclical effect.

The answer of course is to dig a well. They call them “bore holes.” Kisii is at a higher altitude, so I assumed that the bore holes would need to be quite deep, but I did not know how deep. I sent a text to Joel to ask him if he knew how far down the water table was. 
Joel responded, “Praise to God, clean water can be obtained at the deep table of 129 meters down.” 
This coming Sunday on the 22nd of April,  in the sermon at the Log Church of Tripoli, Wisconsin, I am going to be sharing something that the Lord has been teaching me through this experience that he has given me will the church and orphanage in Kenya. 
The motto for our church: "All Are Welcome"
And YOU are welcome. We meet at a new time now - 9:30 AM. It's a one hour service.


Monday, April 16, 2018


I know that I had closed the previous post saying that this time, I would be talking about the food and water shortages of the people of the Log Church of Kisii. I still intend to do that, but I think that it will need to wait for another day. First, I need to write about a subject that should have properly been part of the previous post, because it involves the housing and health needs of the orphans.

That subject is the need for at least one additional latrine for the church and orphanage.

I am quite certain that it would be no surprise to anyone that there is no septic system at the church, which doubles as an orphanage. They have one open pit toilet—what we would call an outhouse, or as we called them in New Zealand, “a long drop.”

The sudden need for a latrine was actually how I began becoming financially involved with the church in Kisii in the first place, long before they called themselves the “Log Church of Kenya.” Before that time, my relationship with the church was simply of a teaching nature. They had been using the sermons that I post on this website as part of the teachings that they used in their meetings. The pastor would often write to me about the sermons, commenting on them and how they used them in their meetings.

Then one day, after a few months of these types of letters, Pastor Joel wrote to tell me that the latrine that they had for the church suddenly collapsed, sending two of their orphans to the hospital. They needed money to build a new latrine and also to help with the hospital bills. He asked me if I could help them out. For our relationship to suddenly take on a financial aspect was a little troubling to me.

The internet being what it is, I could not help but be a little suspicious. I wrote frankly to him, telling him. However, the Lord would not allow me to let go of the matter. After several exchanges of emails, I eventually sent them some money to help pay for these expenses. I wrote about this pretty extensively about a year ago, so I will not go into detail about it again.

As a confirmation, I asked him to send me photos of the collapsed latrine, and also the reconstruction as it began to take place.
They finally were able to build a very good latrine, and when I was there, I could see that it served them very well. However, as good as it is, I know that it is very inadequate for the number of people who use it. Herein is the problem with outhouses.

I am old enough that I remember having an outhouse on the farm where I grew up, complete with the Montgomery/Ward catalogue. We also had indoor plumbing for most of my growing up years, but I also remember using the outhouse many times. We usually only used it in the summer, as I remember, since it was quite far from the house, which is better than being too close to the house.

But having an outhouse on a family farm that is used by one family is far different than a single latrine that is meant to serve fifty people or more. The main problem is hygiene. 

First of all, the failure in hygiene with outhouses is that not everyone bothers to use it when they should. If a single latrine is meant to serve a very large number of people, it is easy to see that it will not always be available at any moment for anyone who might need it. Kids, being who they are, do the next best thing. Adults may also do this, of course.

When you combine this with the fact that the orphans often do not have shoes, you can see why parasites and diseases can easily spread. The kids run around bare-footed, picking up any worms or other soil-borne pathogen. This often causes diarrhea, which only exacerbates the problem.

Of the multiple difficulties that the orphanage faces, this is actually quite an important one. They mentioned it to me several times when I visited there. When good hygiene is impossible to maintain, it has a very negative and cumulative effect. One health problem causes another health problem.
I think I will need to wait a couple days to continue this series, since I cannot see how I will have time to write anything extra for a while. I need to work on my sermon for next Sunday, which actually will be centered on what I have been learning in my own life through this relationship that I have had with the Log Church of Kenya.

I also have several other things going on. Plus, it looks like I need to plow snow again this morning. The snowfall is over now, but we got an unbelievable amount. It is hard to say exactly how much since the blowing and drifting was so extreme, but it was certainly well over a foot. Some areas are reporting 20 inches or more—even close to 30inches.

Spring anyone?

Sunday, April 15, 2018


This is a winter that is trying its best not to go away. On this Sunday morning, the 15th of April, the government travel map has State Highway 8 colored in black, which means “travel not advised.” This is the road that runs past the Log Church of Tripoli.

So once again, we have cancelled the Sunday service for this morning. It is not the first time this winter. I don’t remembered if we cancelled only one other time this winter, or maybe it was twice. This winter has been a long one and my mind is tending to drift like the snow outside my window. We are all winter weary up here in the northwoods, and waiting for spring.

It will come—just not today.

But this quiet Sunday morning at home gives me an opportunity to put down some thoughts that you may or may not be interested in. My thoughts are regarding the Log Church, not of Tripoli, Wisconsin, but of Kisii, Kenya.

If you are interested to know some of these thoughts—read on. If you are not—turn on the TV.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Pastor Joel to explain to me more about the challenges that the people of the Log Church face, and in fact, the challenges of living that all the people face in that region.

When I was there in November, they had me so busy with my teaching in the Bible conference that they arranged, I had little time to get to know the region. I asked many questions, but I still was not able to learn a great deal about life there. Should the Lord send me back there, I am going to ask them not to have a conference, but just allow me to get to know the people better and learn about the local situation.

But that being said, Joel has been a great help in educating me during these past couple of weeks. He has sent me many photos, which is not a simple thing for him to do from over there, and he has written to me many pages of information. It is some of that which I am going to share with you. 


As I mentioned, the church is in a rural area. There is a town of sorts, but most of the people live on their portion of their own family’s land out in the country. The town is not actually named Kisii. Kisii is the larger town of the area. It is where I stayed when I visited there last November. Every day, it took me about a half an hour by taxi to reach the smaller community were the church is located.
Market Day in the Village Near the Church

I never properly got the name of that community. I asked, but I did not have them write it down for me, so I do not know the spelling. I only remember that I thought that it sounded like “mata oro” in Spanish, which means “golden bush.” But I am sure that is not what it means in Ekegusii. Ekegusii is a Bantu language and the local tongue of the Kisii tribe of Kenya.

The housing is very basic, generally one room that may be divided
(The photos are actual photos of church member homes)
into two or three sections by curtains of cloth. The houses are usually of wattle and daub construction and with tin roofs. It provides adequate living conditions for the temperatures of the region, but it also presents some problems.

This type of construction also is not well suited for longevity in that climate. It requires constant repair and occasional reconstruction. It is for this reason that we decided to build the sleeping room for the girl orphans out of brick. The cost to construct it is about ten times as expensive, but our thought that this is a ministry that will last for many years (scroll down to see the blog 5,500 BRICKS).  

Health Problems

One of the disadvantages of the mud houses is that they become very dusty—dusty to the point where they can cause health problems. This is actually a problem in the place that the girl orphans presently sleep. Several of the girls have to sleep on the dirt floor with only a thin cloth covering the soil. This exposes them to chiggers and other soil-borne parasites. Many of the girls also have respiratory problems because of the dusty conditions. This is also true for the boy orphans, but it is more severe for the girls. That is why we are addressing this problem first.

Malaria is also a difficulty of the area. This is highland malaria, which is regarded by some medical personnel as being a separate strain of malaria.

During the colonial period of Kenya, the British considered the higher altitudes of the region around Kisii as being a “safe haven” against the malaria prone lowlands. However, in the time since then, factors such as population growth, improved road systems and more interchange with lowland tribes, malaria has now spread into the highlands.

In some ways, this highland malaria is more virulent than the lowland variety, especially since the local Kisii tribal people do not have built up immunities as do people who had been exposed to the disease for several generations. When I was in Kisii in November, I occasionally would hear of a church member who was presently suffering from a bout of malaria. Since returning, I have continued to hear of this from people there. 

The food and water shortages are another of the difficulties that these people face—almost on a daily basis. I will write about that tomorrow. It sounds like spring will not be returning tomorrow either.

Friday, April 6, 2018


I have not spoken a lot about the day-by-day needs of the orphanage of the Log Church in Kenya. I do not intend to sound super-pious, but my speaking has been mostly to God.

After all, I have always considered this his work. I had no vision for doing this when we first became involved. It was not something that I personally had in mind to accomplish. Quite unexpectedly to me, God suddenly placed it in my lap.

As I have shared before, it is a great surprise to me that God has me involved in this work to this level. I never saw any of this coming when Vivian and I finally returned home after serving for a long time in other countries—none of them in Africa prior to this one. But for reasons unknown to me, God has put the lives of these children in our hearts.

It has been an experience of faith to see how God is raising funding so that the children, who before had not been able to attend school, now for the most part able to do so.

I believe that they have also been able to have meals on more of a regular basis as God has provided money to buy food.

These needs will continue of course, but we are also looking to build an adequate place for the children to sleep. There are even more orphans in the church now than when I was there in November, and many more children end up sleeping on the floor, separated from the dirt by only a thin cloth. It is the girls who are most in need for a sleeping room.

We are in the process of buying materials so that work can begin on a place for them. We have the bricks and are now praying for the provision of enough so that a cement footing for the walls can be poured. It is a slow work, but we know that God will provide in his time.

Thank you also as you pray for this.

Meet a few more of the orphan girls below:
This is Mongina  Kaisa. She is 8 years old and an orphan in our orphanage since 2016. She was found thrown in a rubbish pit, crying and brought to our orphanage. She is in  grade 3. She likes singing and reading the Bible. She also wants to become a teacher.
This is Eunice Nyandwaro. She is 9 years old and an orphan in our orphanage since 2016. She was left alone when her parents were involved in a severe road accident. She is in  grade 7 and likes singing and playing with other children. She also wants to become a doctor.
This is Vivian Mosoti. She is 7 years old and an orphan in our orphanage since 2016. Vivian was picked from the street and brought to our orphanage after her parents were unknown. She is in grade 2. She likes singing and reciting Bible verses .She also wants to become a nurse.