This report was one of the very few that was in English, something this person (I never did catch his name) is probably justifiably proud of (how’s your Chinese?). It was/is a little hard to follow, but if you pay attention, you can hear some Story.
On cell phones in Kenya. We noticed that more people than we expected have a cell phone in Kenya, including some of the orphans. It turns out that having a cell phone in Kenya is actually pretty cheap, in addition to being useful for business and for just plain human connection.
Here’s an article on cell phones and the “law of one price:” http://www.economist.com/node/9149142
The upshot is: we shouldn’t make assumptions that what we pay for cell phone coverage in the U.S. is what the rest of the world pays.
After the group did their presentations, and we each spoke, Reegan spoke. He had strong “you can do it” encouragement for them (hopefully, I got it on video, but if not: it was powerful). He knows what the orphans face, and he knows they are capable of overcoming it. I hope to hear from this group (“Barakuro Glory”) to see if they get crops next year, because that landscape looks almost Martian.
Continue reading The Rest of Our First-Year Group Visit
On Sunday, we didn’t visit anybody, but we did attend church, at the Maua Methodist church (MCK: Methodist Church in Kenya). It was very loud (the PA system was turned up to 11). It was also very well attended. The minister is a former banker. He preached a sermon about “drive”: as a Christian, what drives you? It was quite the exhortation, and at several points, he interrupted his sermon to check to see if we were listening. “Hello? Is there anybody here today?” I think we were all stunned by the PA system, which may have been turned up so loud so that it could be heard out in the street, over the traffic.
He called our little missioneer group up to the front of the church to introduce ourselves and say a little something about our trip. I suppose one must always have an elevator speech, ready to go at the drop of a hat.
After church (between the 2nd and 3rd services), we visited with the minister and several of the church’s leading members, including the church’s chairman. (I probably didn’t get that quite right; head layperson, at any rate.) We had tea and biscuits. It was very pleasant, and, I felt, an honor.
After we left the church, several of us had expressed an interest in walking around the town of Maua, just to see what we could see. Carolyne, the wife of the minister, just happens to work for ZOE, and she agreed to walk us around. It was “interesting”.
So, our mission trip to Kenya had two purposes:
- Represent our church to the orphans of our working group.
- Represent our working group to our church. To that end, here’s the first big step in that direction: Our church newsletter.
The second day of visiting groups (Monday, I think), we visited a third-year group in Tharaka-Nithi county, usually just referred to as Tharaka county. Reegan came with us, and I videotaped a lot of the presentations. (I’ll get them posted as soon as I can.)
The road to Tharaka was incredible. Substantial parts unpaved and very rough. I sat over the back axle of the van we were in (one of those all-wheel drive safari-type things, although not the stereotypical Land Rover). That ride was the part of the entire mission trip that was the most physically taxing, and I would not recommend that anyone with back problems sit over the rear axle on a road like that.
When we got to where the group was, we all shook hands with each group member. It was like two soccer teams shaking hands after a game: missioneers on one side, group members on the other, lines passing each other. “Jambo, jambo, jambo, …” It was nice, actually.
After the presentations we heard (on that first day when we visited our (UUMC’s) working group, Samaritan Liliaba), the orphans all took us back to where their harvested produce was laid out and we helped sort potatoes into two categories: those large enough to eat, and those too small, but perfectly good for planting. (These potatoes, by the way, looked pretty good, kind of like Yukon Gold: yellow and thin-skinned.) There was no sorting for the beans. I wish I could have brought some home to cook and share, but, you know: U.S. Customs is SO picky about bringing in agricultural products. (And I’m glad they are. One kudzu species is enough, thank you very much.) The sorting was quickly done (there were about 30 pairs of hands doing the work), and I’m sure it was more or less ceremonial, but I think it was important that we get our hands dirty.
Erika had brought some videos she recorded of our VBS kids singing and of the Cotton Patch Gospel, which she showed to our working group (in shifts). While she did that, I handed out the postcards we had made for the group. (In retrospect, I wish we had not done those things in parallel. It maximized efficiency but it was kind of low-ceremony, and I think a little more ceremonious presentation would have been good. Oh well, lesson learned. The perfect is the enemy of the good.)
I think I found a better way to share these photo spheres. The photo spheres I took on this trip were casually done, and people were moving around while I took them. When they get stitched together, sometimes there are two parts of image that overlap, but one part had a person in it and the other part didn’t. In that case, you’ll see a sort of ghostly half-image of the person(s). You can click on an a picture’s caption to get an image you can pan around in.
(Update: I discovered that Google+ displays photo spheres without me needing to do magic stuff with Google Maps to get them uploaded. Here’s the link: Same photos, viewed via Google+.)