Posted on April 9th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
This day dawned here as perfect as you can imaging; birds singing (less horns than usual blaring), 70 degrees, and only a whisper of breeze with wispy clouds in the sky. As this is our departure day, of course our thoughts are turned to reflection.
One of the common themes as we have said our goodbyes over the last couple of days is “please don’t leave”. Even the hotel owners are sorry to see us go. At the Dorothy home last night there were many tears as the girls sang us more songs and we had heartfelt words from Elias and some of the girls.
It was great to see the big chicken coup project that we helped seed was almost complete. It will be able to house up to 900 chickens and is another step to self- sufficiency for the Dorothy Home.
Today we will head over to Kings Gospel to drop a few things off and make sure the system is functioning perfectly. I received an email from Moses yesterday saying that they have formed a partnership with the academy next door and this will be a powerful alliance that will serve the community for years to come. All because of the purifier.
There are many things here that have made us laugh and poke good natured fun at and wonder why they don’t just do it our way because it is so much more efficient or smarter or better. As I reflect on that though, I realize that much more of the world lives and functions like they do here than they do in the west, particularly the US. Perhaps when some of these people visit the US they will stare and laugh and take photos to forward to their friends back home to show how weird we are. Perhaps there is a lot to learn in that thought and be thankful for and be humbled by.
Some people ask why we do these trips when there is so much need at home… This is a fair and good question. It’s true, there is much need at home, and there are many people who are called to do that; who have a heart for it. There are also people like us who hear the command in Acts …..”to the ends of the earth” and that’s where our hearts are. I guess my challenge for those who ask us that is are you doing what you can do at home?
It is with a great deal of ambivalence that we approach the trip home. While we are all looking forward to getting back to the familiar friends and comforts and conveniences, we recognize that there are new friends here that we will miss as they have grabbed a piece of each of our hearts.
But for sure we feel complete.
My hope is that you have been inspired and enlightened and challenged by what you have read here. Thank you for your interest and input and prayers.
May God bless you all.
Bill busting’ a move
Madison, Troy and Kendra
Christy doing communion
Fearless co-leaders surveying the savannah
– Brian McCall
Posted on April 7th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
For any of you who grew up on a farm this would be no big deal, but for those of us who prefer our cows served in little pieces, served on plates with butter sizzling at 1500 degrees, watching a cow get slaughtered was a bit much.
Fortunately we got there just after the throat had been cut so we didn’t have to watch or participate in her turning from Elsie the friendly cow to dinner.
This was preparation for the feast at the end of the Restore conference. The women certainly enjoyed it! They laughed and sang and danced and prayed and clapped and were just enjoying life. They felt free!
The feast idea got started when Cynthia asked Joshua if the women would like a cake or something to celebrate the end of the conference. In Costa Rica the thing to celebrate the end of a conference is wedding cake. Something that speaks to their hearts, makes them feel special, and that they almost never get.
Well in Kisumu that thing is cow. The women all loved it and even got to take some fresh Elsie home with them to enjoy later. I made the mistake of mentioning that I loved liver and onions. This is an attitude not shared by everyone on the team. As the day was wrapping up Abigail insisted we go into the house because she had a treat for us.
You guessed it. A heaping plate of liver! Not a scrap of beef to be found. While the widows were out enjoying their steaks and beef stew, most of the team was trying to figure out how to be polite while ingesting as little liver as possible. It looked like children trying to hide their peas under a lettuce leaf; “Look mom, their all gone!”
The water team was able to do a major overhaul of the water system at the Widows home. By the time the day was over they were able to drop a pump in an existing bore hole, plumb the house, the purifier tank, the church and the school across the road for on-going water and Kendra trained one of Joshua’s sons on the purifier system after Troy and Madison helped to put it together; truly a team effort.
It was a highlight of the week for Bill.
We are now headed back Nairobi and will get a chance to spend some time with the children at Dorothy home and follow up at Kings Gospel Center and say our final goodbyes.
Bill is headed back late tonight so that he can be at Orchard Park Church at 12:15 Sunday to help sort 13,000 pairs of shoes that have been donated By Dr. Comfort Shoes in Madison WI. So if you’re not doing anything it would be a great time to hear about the trip first hand and help a great cause.
No more headache, Hallelujah!
There ARE still full service stations in the world.
– Brian McCall
Posted on April 6th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
At the gate of the school we were working at.
What we Learnt Today
Troy: Only the Massai are allowed to carry knives.
Bill: Old, poorly maintained systems are able to be restored to full functionality.
Kendra: Learned that she is capable of doing the water purification.
Cynthia: The racial struggles between tribes here is still real and God STILL wants all “tribes and nations” to get along.
Madison: That the women care if you like the food that they have prepared for you and if you are nervous, just sing songs to God and it helps.
Christy: That People cross our paths all the time for a purpose, whether it’s a boy chasing a goat or the bagger at the checkout at home; God has a plan, a reason.
Tia: That boats like the small one she was in here and the raft in Costa Rica do not offer the kind of security that God does: no matter the circumstance God still has you
Brian: That this is an amazing team; it has bonded, has each others backs, and has been willing to embrace the uncomfortable to help the people here in Kenya with a smile. I have also learnt that here diarrhea is an acceptable table conversation.
Rainy season does not mean that it rains 24/7 here. In fact we had a very hot and sunny day. The foot of mud that seemed to cover all of the roads was hard packed and navigable by noon.
We found out that the bus we were stuck in the previous night got stuck again on the way back. We had gotten a ride in a very old range rover flatbed that had no lights. A strong LED that Bill had given the water team lit the way in pouring rain and pitch black. The driver, however, was undaunted and proceeded to go faster than we would have dreamed in broad daylight and on dry pavement. Our tushies went airborne a couple of times and it quite nearly scared the shabable out of us. Quite the experience.
Everyone got to sleep in a little because of the later start for the women and the fact that the water team had done some pre-work the night before. The women were picked up in a smaller lighter vehicle and driven all the way to the Widows home.
The teaching yesterday continued to engage the women and today is the celebration with the slaughtered cow as the women culminate by getting their crowns reminding them that they are the daughters of the risen King.
Lots of supervisors, just like home.
– Brian McCall
Posted on April 5th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
Hakuna Matata (ha kun a * ma tata) orig. Swahili. Phrase meaning no worries.
Shabable (shah bob el) orig. Troy. noun 1. What comes out the south end of a north facing antelope. Usage: A socially acceptable replacement for a shorter, similar sounding word meaning the same thing.
Rainy season has started…Hakuna Matata
We are 7 KM from the nearest paved road…Hakuna Matata
Our experienced driver is called away unexpectedly…Hakuna Matata
Our new driver is not experienced in the rain…Hakuna Matata
We are stuck in the mud…Shabbable
The women began the second conference in the afternoon with around 60 very enthusiastic women in attendance. The interpreter was Joshua’s wife Abigail. She was nervous at first but settled in and did a wonderful job translating into the local dialect Luo. The response of the women was terrific and when it was time for the day to end they didn’t want to leave, they were hungry for more!
The water team met with less success. Some of the systems we installed previously have not been well maintained and we are having to troubleshoot problems on existing systems instead of doing new installations. Bill is taking time to emphasize the importance of maintaining the purifiers at the sites and the people seem to be understanding and responding positively.
Our 2 hour round trip to town for supplies took almost 5, so goes Kenya. Even with the frustrations though the water folks are poised to do a lot of work today and catch up.
Interesting note: We found out that Indiana apparently has a world famous pizza recipe. See picture below.
The day has dawned with sunshine and rosters crowing and birds chirping happily.
Lets pray that no shabable happens.
World famous pizza
3,2,1, Chapati!! We have taught the kids to say this when we are taking a picture. They are always very enthusiastic.
– Brian McCall
Posted on April 4th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
As a leader on these trips one of the things I love to do with the team is get them out of their comfort zones – easy to do here. Last night after we were done at the widows home we had some time and went to Lake Victoria to experience the “Kenyan car wash” where locals drive all manner of vehicle directly into the lake to hand wash it.
We also got to go out on a small boat to experience some of LV water level. The boat itself was interesting with numerous repairs that were loosing the battle at keeping the water out as well as couple of leaks yet to be repaired. But it was fine because a young boy came along with us whose job it was to bail water out of the boat.
We got a chance to see the giant floating pad of water hyacinth as well as some hippopotami. Interesting fact: We learned that hippopotamus are able to move in the water at about 8 knots. Jared and I calculated the top speed of the craft we were in at 10, so we were fine…
One of the things I have been learning this last year and leading up to the trip is what an important leadership characteristic humility is.
Yesterday we got to experience that first hand in church. As predicted Pastor Joshua asked us to say a few words, “well, why don’t you just do the whole sermon?” I asked if they would like to hear a nice Easter sermon (I could adjust the one from last week, already written). He said sure and I had some measure of relief.
As Joshua stood up in front of his congregation, he asked his wife Abigail to join him up on the platform. He started to introduce the Revive and Restore conference, then proceeded with a heartfelt apology to Abigail with how poorly he has been treating her. He stood up and said restoration is already coming to him (the conference hasn’t even started yet). This went on for quite a while bringing Abigail, and many of us, to tears. God is indeed working one thousand steps ahead.
At that point I abandoned my sermon as it added nothing. I did challenge the men of the congregation to follow the lead of their pastor and treat the women in their lives better. Cynthia then had an opportunity to connect this to the message of R&R and talk about how men and women were created to be co-laborers in God’s creation.
For our prayers, the conference starts today and there seems to be something called “white spirits” which affect the community here. So there is an awareness of the real presence of satan’s work here. Prayers for discernment and for the women to stand in the authority granted by God.
It’s good to have friends who will bail you out.
My favorite car wash.
– Brian McCall
Posted on April 4th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
Even short trips in Kenya can be wrought with adventure. Yesterday morning we were scheduled to meet the children at the mini amusement park at 9:00 AM. Because of space logistics our driver arranged for a second bus to pick up the children at the Dorothy Home. The Dorothy home is off one of the main highways then down a 2 KM winding dirt road at the bottom of a hill.
Did I mention that it rained heavily that night?
Predictably, the driver who was not used to those kinds of roads, got off the high part of the road and instantly stuck. It then became apparent that the implied professional driver title was undeserved. He had not a clue of how to get this beast unstuck from the red mud.
Just then Elias and the children came walking up the hill with the workers from the home. A shovel, a long board and the pushing of 24 orphan girls and the bus was free. Welcome to Kenya.
We enjoyed a couple of hours at the amusement park laughing and playing with the children. Had a soda then had to say our goodbyes. The children seemed to have a great time and this was a very special treat for them. The last time most of them were off the compound was probably more than a year ago.
We then headed off to Kisumu. The 5-6 hour trip stretched to 8 ½ because of heavy rain and traffic. We finally turned off the highway in Aherro. Actually, that is the town we are staying in, just short of Kisumu but as it is very rural it doesn’t show on most maps.
On entering our rooms some of us were greeted by cockroaches that were as Maddie put it “the size of my hamster”. No, we are not in Kansas anymore. We were so tired that a rock and a palm frond would have been all we needed to sleep, so the other residents were forgotten as our eyes quickly closed.
This morning we awoke with sunshine and smiles chalking it up as part of the adventure. We are off to church now and might or might not be speaking in front of the congregation. I have something prepared just in case.
Prayers for us to keep our eyes focused on Jesus as we are not anywhere comfortable.
No, really, it’s perfectly safe…
– Brian McCall
Posted on April 4th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
It’s early in the morning on Saturday and the rains began in earnest overnight. We are very thankful for a dry week here in Nairobi and are hopeful that they hold off a little more in Kisumu, six hours to the west. We are headed there today after spending a couple of hours with the girls from the Dorothy home at a local amusement park.
Last night we celebrated Bill’s birthday (Yes it’s on April fools day…insert joke here) with the staff and children at Dorothy home. It was a beautiful evening of prayer and praise, and cake and ice cream!
We began the day with our morning safari drive. Unfortunately Mt. Kilimanjaro chose not to lift her veil of clouds and the peak remained hidden. However, Amboselli did not disappoint.
The two animals that we had not seen the day before were giraffe and cheetah. We had said some prayers for these sightings.
Almost as soon as we were out of the gate we had stopped to look at some birds we hadn’t seen before and Madison saw a brown blur and shouted LION! It wasn’t a lion, in fact it was 3 cheetahs giving chase to some zebras!! A fairly remarkable sight that we were blessed to see. Alas, the cheetahs had trouble separating one from the herd and finished the chase with empty mouths.
We continued on the drive and were treated to many more glorious sights. We were approached suspiciously by a young bull elephant replete with trumpeting warnings for us.
Still no giraffe though.
Amboselli park is very flat with the exception of a mound that is about 100 ft high that sits not far away from our lodge. There is a small observation deck there and we had a chance to sit at the top for a little while. It overlooks one of the watering holes frequented by the park inhabitants.
The feeling I get when I am up there is one of almost total peace. It is quiet and the vistas are spectacular. I feel almost like the king of the jungle as I watch families of elephants make their way to the water. It is soul refreshing for me.
It was disappointingly time to leave the park. Everyone was enjoying Gods wonder. As we were headed down the road toward the highway, (about a 70KM stretch of dirt road) I spied some very tall necks on the horizon. GIRRAFFE! We stopped and looked through the binoculars at these graceful creatures. A few more klicks down the road there was another family right by the road and we were able to get some very nice pictures.
Trip to the park complete, thanks God!
Well the place is waking up here now and I need to get my own herd on the bus for our time with the children then long ride to Kisumu.
Prayers for safe travels and rainy season to hold off for a few more days to the west where we are headed.
Well crap! Now what are we going to do for breakfast?
– Brian McCall
Posted on April 1st, 2016 in Brian's Blog
For just sitting in a van all day we are awfully tired at 8:30 PM. We slept in and were “wheels rolling” at 8:00 AM this morning. It was about a 5 hour drive down to Amboselli park on the Tanzanian boarder to the south. The time went quickly with singing and a great message for Madison about God incidents. Lots of laughing and great conversation passed the time.
As we got further out of the city we started witnessing what were deemed “real zebras”. Apparently quite different from the fake ones we see at the zoo. Finally we turned into Amboselli National park, which at 300 SQ. Miles is one of the smallest game preserves in Kenya.
We almost instantly saw a nice size heard of elephants engaged in a variety of activities. It was quite impressive. We slowly made our way to the lodge, which is 20+ miles into the park and at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately the peak was obscured by clouds and we could not see the full majesty of this 19,000 foot peak. Fun fact: Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world.
We dropped our luggage in our beautiful rooms and set out on our evening safari drive. We saw Thompson’s gazelles, greater gazelles, elephants, hippopotami, hyenas, cape buffalo, and it goes on and on as well as a plethora of exotic birds.
Truly we experienced the tremendous creativity of God today. They say God made the wildebeest last and just mixed up all the animals he already made; the head of a cow, the back of a donkey and the rear of a horse.
Late in the day, for just a few minuets, the clouds lowered and we could see the peak of Mt. K. over the top of the clouds. It was glorious. Our driver says this indicated the peak will be clear early in the morning. We are praying.
One of the highlights of this evenings safari was, as we were looking in the distance to the south a young bull elephant came charging out of the water directly at us from the north, startling all of us including the driver. He was braying like mad and his ears were flayed and we quickly moved ahead a little and he turned his attention to the vehicle behind us and took down the road after them.
Quite the excitement.
We only have 2 more animals on the list that we would like to see tomorrow which is the cheetah and the giraffe.
Our game bus leaves at 6:30 tomorrow morning so I’m going to sign off and try to find a few nice pictures to post here.
How do you stop an elephant from charging?…Take away his credit card. I couldn’t resist
Big 5 stare down.
Posted on March 30th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
Bone tired, throats raw from singing and talking, eyes burning from the ever-present dust. We are just back from an extremely long day and will probably have to wait at least an hour for them to cook dinner here at the hotel diner.
But all we can do is shake our heads, overwhelmed, from the blessings of the day. We were blessed by children surrounding us for most of the day; happy and curious about what the “mzungu” (white man) are doing. The women were blessing other women. There were blessings of physical healing in the conference. There were several blessings of intentional thanks from the people that we are here to serve. Not just empty thanks but sincere thanks saying how this was going to change their communities.
I fear if I tried to share all that’s happened, I would loose every one of you before you were halfway finished reading this.
Thus the Cliff notes version:
Last night we had a special dinner with normal roasted meats like chicken, beef and pork. Additionally there were items like goat and camel and crocodile. Most everyone tried at least a little of everything. The consensus was that the crocodile was not as bad as they feared and no one is scheduling a trip to Egypt anytime soon for more camel.
We were then treated to some traditional African dance in a variety of different styles; Zulu, Luo, and Masai to name a few. Although I’m not sure how classics like the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean fits as traditional African music…
Today was a early morning again and the final day of the Restore Conference at KGC.
This space can not contain all that went on surrounding that, but please know that God showed himself tangibly evident in many ways there. I recommend taking one of these team members to lunch and letting them share what all went on.
The water peeps finished the set up of the tank and the training, even though the pad was not yet ready to have any weight on it.
Well food is not ready yet but my eyes are slamming shut so I will sign off right now.
Tomorrow we travel to Amboselli for our safari drive and the team will get a chance to see some “Discovery Channel” type of Africa.
Please don’t forget us in your prayers. It is blessing us and we pray you are blessed through it.
Traditional Kenyan Dance/ non-traditional Kenyans
– Brian McCall
Posted on March 29th, 2016 in Brian's Blog
I think I used the title “Exceedingly and Abundantly” too soon in the trip. The women were somewhat overwhelmed yesterday when they got to Kings Gospel Center and had more than 300 women there. They had “over planned” for about 150 women.
150 of these women were Congolese refugees in traditional garb; simply a riot of color! Speaking of riots there was a near problem yesterday when some of the younger Congolese asked for money instead of the food they were being served. Moses was able to diffuse the situation but, to be honest, it was very stressful and a little discouraging.
I am very happy to report that Madison is very well today and wearing her beautiful smile. The water guys were able to assess a site (right next door to KGC!) that is a perfect installation site. We began the process buy having the tanks delivered and arranging for the stonemason to make the pad for the installation.
It is at Kayole Hekima Academy where there is over 350 children enrolled. When we quizzed the headmaster she said that at least ¾ of them have suffered from typhoid or cholera in the last year. We are thrilled to be bringing the gift of safe drinking water here and had dozens of mini bystanders looking on.
When we were finished for the day we walked back over to KGC and found our women having lunch in the office. Cynthia could not wait to tell us that one of the Congolese women pulled her off to the side and apologized and wanted to make sure that Cynthia understood that was not who they were. Furthermore the woman said today they understood who they were in God and now they know how to pray!
What a turn around from yesterday! Even thought the women are very tired, they have an energy about them and a much more peaceful and purposeful countenance.
Tonight we get to eat some traditional Kenyan dishes and meats as well as enjoy some Kenyan dance.
All’s well indeed.
– Brian McCall