Saturday, September 25, 2010

Road Trip

Romano's wife and kids pose in front
We have been needing and waiting for a Land Cruiser since we arrived in February.  We purchased this one from Austria from a Catholic Trading group called BBM.   It just took a while to ferry it here.

Again, this was a miracle journey . . . and a challenge!  Eugenio, his wife Jane, an electrician to work with us here, and Romano left Nairobi after very carefully and securely packing and tying the cartons of supplies in and on top of the vehicle.   They even took very good care of a "Christmas Tree" that I had a man from the Masai tribe make for us out of banana fibers.  It is about 7' tall and posed to be a big challenge to wrap it for potential rain and pack it on top.  But, once again, a delicate piece for our house survived the long rough journey!   Abigail and I will enjoy making memories as we make decorations for it.

Eugenio and Jane stopped their 'Land Cruiser' journey at the border town to Sudan and Romano and Peter continued the journey to Torit.  We were getting reports along the way that they had made it further and further and then cleared both borders with no problems.  Romano said that just the day before the border patrol had not let anyone pass.  He chuckled that they arrived "just in time" and they were able to pass.  A God thing!

I asked Romano if they had encountered any rain on the trip.  They had a tarp over the supplies on top, but I was still concerned that some things may have gotten wet.  Again he chuckled and said, "No, people were laughing at us and couldn't believe it had not rained on us the whole way!"  But, they did get stuck in the mud and had to, literally, repair a rickety bridge by changing around the boards to drive across a river.  From the pictures the vehicle was tilted and I am surprised the boxes on top didn't slide off.  Romano said, "They were packed very well." . . . it took a while just to cut through all the rope to unpack everything.  

When they arrived to Torit, they called and Kevin and the guys jumped in the tractor (Praise God it is out of the mud) and went to meet the Land Cruiser.  Romano had to park it on the Torit side of the river, and Kevin parked the tractor on our side and they had to completely unload the Land Cruiser in a river of water and mud to the wagon to bring the supplies to the compound.  We have to keep the Land Cruiser in Torit until the rains end and the road is dry enough to bring it to our compound.  So, we patiently continue to wait for "good" transportation in Moti.

Thank you all again for your prayers.  I am convinced they are the only reason this trip was so smooth and your prayers have saved us much this week!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On the Road Again!

Many thanks to Shalene as she has made a few posts recently about the tractor getting stuck.  Lets see if I can fill in some of the details.  The tractor is significant because right now, we are using it to bring water, stone, and sand for our block making, mortar, and concrete.  Our construction work will stop without it.  The river between us and the Town of Torit has risen so high with recent rains that no vehicle can pass.  Normally if the tractor broke down, we would visit the market and find a truck for hire until the repairs could be made.  Or when a vehicle is stuck, we could go to town to hire a truck to help pull it out.  But the town is cut off right now. 

On Saturday, we left to pick up Romano’s father who had broken his leg when a land cruiser ran his bicycle off the road.  We reached about one mile from him when we sank into a soft, muddy place in the road.  I worked with another man for five hours, but we couldn’t free the tractor.  With no water or food, we could not spend the night there, so at 6 pm we started a 10 mile walk back to our camp.  Fortunately I had a satellite phone and called for a friend to come on his motorcycle.  He met us about half way home and the three of us bounced and slid through the dark to our camp.

Monday we sent twelve of our workers walking the ten miles to the tractor while I made preparations with our crew leader for the rest of the compound.  We started work early Monday afternoon after about an inch of rain had fallen.  We worked until dark, lifting the tractor with a jack and making many trips on foot carrying stones and logs to squeeze under the tires.  We tried many times, but the mud was too strong.

Bush ambulance . . . Mr. Oguma waiting to be lifted into the wagon.
I could tell all of the workers were disappointed and discouraged.  Everyone was dirty with no extra clothes and few provisions for the night.  We walked a mile to the nearest village to sleep for the night.  I awoke many times that evening hearing thunder rolling in from some distant source, praying that rain would hold off.  Daybreak saw us back at the tractor and after a few hours of work the rain began to fall again.  We decided to make another try before the water began to rise.  I climbed aboard the tractor and rocked it back and forth, trying to get the traction to move forward.  Each wheel slipped in turn as the tires grabbed one stone and then another.  One inch it a time, we crawled until it was clear we were on solid ground.  Joy and cheers broke out as we celebrated our small victory.  But we turned quickly back to our work because now the tractor was parked on the opposite side from our home.  The only way home was back across the same treacherous ground.  We worked feverishly in the rain to rebuild a road of logs and stones that would support the weight of the tractor and prayed as we inched across it.  We walked to the village to finally pick up Romano’s father and eight of us took turns carrying his stretcher the mile back to the waiting wagon.  By this time, so much rain had fallen that a river flowed where we once worked to free the tractor.  

The ride home required that we cross many more now rain swollen rivers, and a few times I was worried we might get stuck again.  One was so high that it flooded our motorcycle and we had to load it into the wagon to carry back home as well.  As we arrived home, the clouds parted and the sun started to dry our clothes, but our spirits were already lifted that the job was done. 

As we arrived to the compound, Shalene, Abigail, the guards, and the dog gave us a warm welcome and Shalene had made a big pot of pumpkin soup for all of us.  Romano’s father had some heartfelt words for Shalene, “My children have helped me and they have not even eaten for many days because of me, I thank God and you”.  After spending five days in pain in the bush, these words were full of so much gratitude.

Unfortunately, we learned that Romano’s father has broken his hip.  His healing will require many more months, and it is uncertain right now what treatment may be available for him unless he travels which could be a very painful journey.  Continue to pray for him as he seeks the appropriate treatment.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


That is the best title I could come up with!  It was music to my ears today to hear the tractor coming way off in the distance.  After rain ALL day, and literally just in the nick of time,  Kevin and the guys got the tractor out of the mud!  They had to carry the man with the broken leg to the wagon and then take him on to his son's compound near Torit for the night.  I will share more of the story later. . .right now, I need to welcome my husband back! 

Thank you so much for all your prayers.  It TRULY was a miracle!



Monday, September 20, 2010

Continue to pray!

Romano and our Kenyan logistician Eugenio are leaving Nairobi tomorrow driving our Land Cruiser to Torit!  We have been waiting since January to have one for our compound.  Please pray for their safe journey and that the road from Torit to Moti would be dry enough for them to drive it to the compound.  That road may be the most difficult in the journey.  Also, continue to pray for Kevin and the guys trying to get the tractor out of the mud.  Kevin just called and said he and Thomas had a rainy motorcycle ride out to Makuru.  It has continued to rain making more mud and making their job more difficult.  The guys worked until dark to get the tractor out.  Kevin said he thinks they are close.  Hopefully. . .tomorrow!  The tractor is a vital part of our construction and remaining on schedule for building the first dormitory to take in kids in October.

Thanks for continuing to stand with us in prayer!



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tractor or . . . ambulance?

Romano, our indigenous leader's father rode his bike to our compound last week. He came up to our kitchen and introduced himself to me. It was an honor to meet him. He is from a village called Mokuru about 10 miles away. On his way back to his home, a land cruiser came whizzing through the bush. He didn't see the land cruiser until it was right up on him. He scrambled to get out of the road and wrecked his bike. He is an old man and his bones are weak. He broke his leg pretty badly. Romano's brother, Thomas, works here on our compound. He got word two days after the accident that his father had broken his leg. On Friday morning he came to Kevin to ask him for help to bring his father to the Torit Hospital. The only vehicle we have here that would make the journey over the long wet road is the tractor. Kevin noticed the tractor had a flat tire. By the time they got the tire fixed it was too late to make the trip. Thomas left with one of his brothers that has some nursing training to go help treat his father. He had almost reached the village of his father and stopped the motorcycle to examine a stream crossing. He tried to restart the bike and the battery was dead. He sent the nurse on to his father and Thomas started to push the bike back. 5 hours later, he returned to our compound. He had pushed the bike 8 miles over many steep hills. What persistence! The next morning, Kevin and Thomas ate a hearty breakfast of pancakes and eggs, packed their back packs of water and food, and set out for Makuru. We knew it would be an all day trip, we didn't expect them to return until dark. The nurse walked back and came to our compound informing me that he had seen the tractor and they had reached Makuru and they were on their way back. I breathed a sigh of relief and expected them home at around 6:00. Shortly after, Kevin called from his satellite phone and said they had gotten stuck and had been digging for a few hours to get out. Some men in the village took a stretcher that our welder had made and carried the father to the tractor in hopes they could get unstuck. Unfortunately they did not. They were going to start a 10 mile walk back and would return at around 10:00pm. Ugh! The nurse had just assumed they made it to Makuru because they were so close when he left them. It was discouraging news. Our two Kenyan construction workers had been in town most of the day. When they returned they were surprised Kevin wasn't back. They immediately began trying to figure out what to do. We have an old clunker of a truck here and they began searching for the keys and trying to start it. They had to charge the battery and it started. But, the clutch didn't engage. Wouldn't help much. Simon, one of the Kenyans, heard a motorcycle coming and walked out to meet him. It was Paul, one of Romano's friends. Kevin called Romano in Nairobi and asked him to call Paul in Torit. He reached Paul and sent him to get Kevin and Thomas. Kevin did not know he was coming. When he reached them, they had walked about half way (5 miles). The road was bad and muddy. The bike went down once, but they made it at about 8:30 pm. Kevin tried to pay Paul for his fuel and for making the trip. Paul refused it. It was VERY nice of him. Some guys that help us out demand more money. But, God sends us other guys that graciously help us for nothing. Kevin was pretty muddy and tired when he approached home. Thankfully I had made him his favorite peanut butter cookies AND brownies for him to come home to. Sadly, he informed us the tractor is stuck pretty bad AND Romano and Thomas' father is still out in his village. Kevin plans to try to get the tractor out on Monday. Please pray they can. . .they may have to wait a few months for the road to dry out before the tractor will come out. The tractor has already been used several times to carry people to the hospital. It has been a life saving vehicle!

Thank you for your prayers to retrieve our tractor and for the man with the broken leg to recover.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

There is no place like home

We arrived back to Torit on Monday at around noon to a very warm welcome.  Well . . . the road wasn't very "warm".  When our plane landed, Kevin called for a motorcycle driver to take him to Moti to our compound where he picked up the tractor to come back to get Abigail and I.   We were waiting at the Nobles' (other missionaries here) house and having some lunch.  They had flown in with us after a break in Nairobi.  Kevin came for us at around 3:00 pm and we loaded the tractor with our luggage, passed by the market to get some chicken for dinner, and began our long slow trek back to Moti.  It is only about 3 miles away, but on the tractor it usually takes about 45 minutes.  Not this day.  We were able to navigate through some of the mud filled road.  We picked up some women carrying their load on their heads and Kevin had filled two 800 liter drums with river water for the compound.  I felt like we were riding a slippery surf board. I was watching the road closely so I could discern which way to lean as we slid over the road.  And then, the trailer tilted.  We were stuck in a huge mud hole.  I thought the trailer would tip over.  I called for Kevin to stop the tractor and he helped Abigail and I jump out of the wagon.  We assessed the wheel in the mud and Kevin walked back to the river to get some guys to help bail the water to make the trailer lighter to be pulled out.  He came back and chuckled, "It will cost more for me to have this water bailed than it did to have it filled."  Through prayer and bailing the water, we were able to pull the trailer out and get home before dark to unpack our tent enough to sleep in it.

Even though the wagon rides are a little nerve racking, I am able to slow down and take in the culture around me.  My soul is alive with many thoughts and wonderings as we drive over the long bumpy road.  It was heart warming to pass by the villages and see the kids run out waving and smiling calling Abigail's name.  A thought stood out to me as I looked down watching the road pass under the trailer, there are many foot prints in the sand. Some are bare and others have various shoe prints.  Each of those prints are leading some where . . .to the market for food, to the woods for firewood, home to a family.  Each print tells a story of someone who is valuable and has a place in this world.  Those feet may never step out of Torit to have many of the experiences we in the western world may have, but they are a valuable and a cherished part in the Kingdom of God. 

We were warmly welcomed back to our compound by the workers and Moti (dog) and Mango (cat).  They were so excited to see us and especially Abigail.  Moti stayed glued to me as Abigail and I pet him and she kissed and hugged him.  It was very special to see her so delighted to see them.  She knew they were hers and that we were home.  Mango and Moti took their places back under our feet and begging for food.  Moti found his place in front of our tent to bed down for the night to guard us.  It is nice to have our little family back together again!

The cook's kids came over to greet Abigail and play with her.

A Farm in Ethiopia

Kevin and Romano visited a farm in Ethiopia called, Genesis Farms.  Genesis Farms is the result of a collaboration between American and Ethiopian investors, and a mission group called "Double Harvest".  They have 150 acres of vegetable farming, a dairy barn, and 30,000 laying chickens.  Around 600 people work there every day.  It is an amazing ministry to the community, incarnating the gospel through just business practices and regular teaching.  It is also a very profitable business, hence the mission's name, "Double Harvest".  They have graciously agreed to donate drip irrigation equipment to us for 5 acres for our future farm at Hope for Sudan.  Currently our market is supplied with vegetables being carried approximately 500 miles from Uganda and Kenya.  Producing local vegetables will provide fresher produce to our community, provide jobs, and improve the selection in the local market.  We hope that with our vegetable production, we will be able to provide adequate nutrition to the kids, as well as sell enough to purchase food items which we don't produce.  We are so excited about what Kevin learned to have a successful farm here!

These tanks flood the seed trays with water once a day as the plants leave the greenhouse and await planting.

We enjoyed our time in Nairobi and some special treats.  Kevin and I found a nice place for a dinner date with live Jazz.  Eugenio, our logistician in Nairobi, and his wife and daughters enjoyed an evening with Abigail.  

As I said in my last blog entry. . ."There is no place like home".  I have found that very true.  We do lack many "modern" comforts that we have in the statse and in Nairobi, but we love our home here and the openess it provides.  As we sat down for dinner the other night, I smiled as I could watch the sunset from our out door kitchen.   We will soon begin building our house that will provide running water and a kitchen sink!

I will share an update and pictures of our construction progress soon!  

Please continue to be in prayer for the selection of the kids that will fill our first dormitory, for the staff selection, and the upcoming referendum intended to be in January 2011.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Flying home tomorrow!

Hello family and friends,

We are flying back to Torit, Sudan tomorrow.  Please pray for our trip as you go to bed tonight!

We will post a blog update soon of some highlights of our time in Nairobi and of some of what Kevin learned in Ethiopia on the farm he visited.


Kevin, Shalene,  Abigail