Monday, February 14, 2011

The Grand Finale

Where to start.....We had dinner in the house with most of the Omugah family and for the first time we caught a glimpse of what dinner looks like when they gather for a meal. As we sat down the kids started coming and coming and coming and we wondered when the flow of children would stop. As I looked into one corner of the room there was about fifteen children that looked as if they were from five to ten years old and I thought about how beautiful it was that they had a family. That's what makes this so unique is that Boaz and Helen are mama and papa to these kids. Then there was all the young teens and next to them the older teens and a group of young adults with their babies who all stay at the house. I tried to imagine what it was like to be in this new home with a bedroom that was as big as the old house. Pastor Boaz now has his own room with a door,closet,bathroom that includes a shower and sit down toilet.

That's right he used to have to walk through the mud to the out door pit toilet which is just a hole in the ground that is used by all the school kids. The girls and boys rooms also have there own bathrooms with the same luxuries.

I looked at Boaz and Helen's room today and it consists of a small bed in the kitchen/store room with a sheet hung up for privacy. Could you imagine the lack of privacy when this is where the refrigerator and all the food is with all those kids prowling around. They now have the bedroom in the back of the house with a door that LOCKS and a small room that can be used for a study plus the bedroom!! The dinner was a feast with lots of prayer,worship,testimonies and thanking the Lord for what He has done. The Omugah family says they really do not have words to thank the Touchstone family for this blessing that they could have never have imagined being done for them. They send their love and greetings. It brought tears to my eyes as looked at what the Lord had done for this family and that we as a church were able to be a part this blessing. We also want to thank all our family friends who helped us with their gifts and support. There were many people who do not go to Touchstone who helped make it possible for Rick and I to afford to travel and be here. So we will be home soon and we are signing out...

Ero kamano (thank you) Your brother in Christ, Shane

The new kitchen. There is a sink and a faucet (cold water only) on the countertop and cabinets will be underneath.

This is a view of the main room, which divides the girls and the boys rooms. The sink in the corner is for washing hands before eating (sinks such as these are common even in Kenyan restaurants.)

Dinner at the Omugah's...Mama Helen is in the front (in red) serving the gang.

Another chicken dies for of several that day. The chickens were offered to us fried, stewed and roasted. I think we also had goat, but I've learned not to ask what dishes are made of...for my own enjoyment of the meal.

Cooking chapti...kenyan tortillas.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh yeah, the house....

It's not that we forgot, but we have been all over this region (including a 30 minute trip into Tanzania) and have seen and done many things. To be honest the house project is pretty much taking care of itself...with some occasional intervention on our part. We have consulted on changes such as the roof style, which is now more appropriate for the Kenya weather then as we planned it. Which is to say it is good we are here.

The home is progressing well, but it will not be complete when we leave tomorrow. However, besides the exterior plaster work, all the big tasks are done. So here you see the house as of Sunday afternoon. A little paint and a little plaster and she'll be done.

There will be a dedication of the new house tonight as we take dinner in the new home...more on that later.

A new church is born in Kenya

Hello friends and family. It has been a fabulous two days here for Rick and I. The pastors were doing a church plant up in the hills in place known as Oneno Nam. It was an hour drive on a very rough dirt road but some incredibly beautiful country that you will see in the photos. A large group of pastors arrived on Thursday and started with door to door evangelism. We arrived on Friday and were split up into eight groups of four people and set out walking through the country and visiting homes in this very rural area and inviting people to the church. Most of the folks camped out on the property where the church will be. Today (Sunday) was special when we got to sit outdoors under the tree where the church will meet until God provides a building for them.

There was a lot of worship, great teaching by Pastor Boaz, the introduction of the new pastor whose name is Lawrence and an assistant from Pastor Boaz's church to help until the church gets going. They had their first baby dedication (Pastor Lawrence and his wife's baby girl) and also a dedication of a plot of the land that was donated by the owner of the property we were staying at. The view was so beautiful it looked like a painting. This new church will be a part of First Baptist Church of Chemilil which is Pastor Boaz's church and referred to as the mother church in this area. The last thing that the pastors did was name this church. The name that they had decided on as a group is Touchstone Christian Fellowship in Oneno Nam, Kenya. We were honored that this group of twenty or more pastors had decided without our knowledge to show their gratitude for the work that our church back home has done for them. Its kinda like when someone names their child after you. Thank you church family for your gifts, prayers and faithfulness and risking the reputation of TCF by sending a couple of clowns like me and Rick to oversee our first project in Kenya. The house is going great but will not be finished by the time we leave but they have worked very hard and are doing a great job. We will have dinner in the home tomorrow night with Boaz and his whole family and dedicate the home. They are doing more than we expected and we are pleased with the construction. So sit back and enjoy the photos of the very first service at Touchstone Christian Fellowship Oneno Nam.

Your brother in Christ, Shane

Boaz (in the brown suit) and the other pastors pray for some brand new Christians.

Helen, Boaz's wife, gets jiggy during worship...which was very lively! We have the video and may post it needs some editing due to poor camera work.

Here is the new pastor (Lawrence) being prayed for (I know that's poor grammar, give me a break I'm in Kenya!)

Pastor Lawrence shows his appreciation and respect to Pastor Boaz by giving him a hen and a rooster. We've been in several cars with live chickens in the "boot" during our stay. We've even eaten a few.

From the left are pastor Lawrence, his assistant, pastor Cosmo, the man who donated the lot to the church and some unknown guy...they're standing at the new church site.

This is a view looking east from the new church looks better in person! In the distance is the Rift Valley province.

This is another view of the church site looking to the west.

Dedicating the site...

This is one of the better stretches of road on the way to Oneno Nam. It looks like rain ahead.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kenya on 400 schillings a week

Here are some assorted photos from our safari posted simply to show you examples of life as we've experienced here in Kenya. They're mostly about people, but that is the Kenya we love...BTW 400 Kenyan schillings (Ksh) is about $5 American.

Shane photographed these kids through the window of Joesph's car on the highway to Kisumu. They're trying to steal sugar cane from the truck as it moves down the road.

Here is our friend Pastor Boaz and his wife Helen relaxing before our meal at Pastor Cornell's home in Kisumu.

This kid's parents are both HIV positive and Mama is in denial about her disease. So far she hasn't been tested and put on the government medication program. The symptoms are obvious to Pastor Joesph. Without treatment this child will become another orphan.

Late afternoon at Lake Victoria from the Kisumu Yacht Club (yeah, they have a yacht club...)

Here is Pastor Joesph with our lunch. I think we ate the brown one, but they all look the same stewed.

Four on a Boda Boda at the border...

The fish mongers in the Ahero market...I think Shane is talking to them about fish. The woman is cleaning a "mud fish" (looks like a catfish to me.) This is very near our guest house.

A man working his garden near Kanyipola. Leaning on his hoe as we passed...

Wherever we go the kids come out (or just stare) as the Mzungus drive by...

All dogs in this area of Kenya look the same, "African dogs" they call them. Can you see the African dog in this photo?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

There goes my Gluten free diet

Thursday we will be going to Tanzania so this may be the last post for a day or so...but who knows. So we thought we might explain why we will probably come home a "few" pounds heavier. Everywhere we go we are invited for a meal.

Here we are at Tabitha's home. I'm the camera man, but you can see my empty seat. That's Joesph with his mouth full. On the table you see Ugali (with the knife stuck in it) and to the right is Chapati (kinda of like thick tortillas.) This meal featured rice, beans and "wet chicken". Plenty of carbs!

Here is another meal in another part of the province (Kisumu). Our hosts here are Pastor Cornell and his fiance. The good thing is that we still fit in the clothes we brought...the bad news is there's several days (and several meals) to go.

Cho nears completion

The Kanyipola Baptist Church cho is nearly completed. Today we brought paint to the site for a some final touch up work. Monday the two pastors and some of the church members gathered to dedicate the new, but still uncompleted, structure. I know it might be hard for you to understand why the congregation is so excited about a new "outhouse"....but this might explain it...

This is Pastor Joesph in front of the old cho.

...and this is Pastor Joesph standing behind the new cho. At first you will notice the new one will be much more comfortable to use in bad weather.

Here are some of the church members praying over the new facility (the doors hadn't been installed yet.) To the right of Shane are Pastors David and Joesph. This simple addition to the church grounds will allow the church to have a preschool. It will also make the farmer who owns the field next door happier.

Stimulus money found...

We have good news for those of you might be concerned about the financial things going on in our government. We try to stay away from the political arena for this is not why we are here. But when we discover something this encouraging we feel it must be shared......Shane

(Look closely at the upper left of the photo)

Monday, February 7, 2011

A different world

Good afternoon friends and family. It is Wednesday afternoon and we have had some problems getting a connection the last few days. My main thing is to introduce you to a new friend named Pastor Jack but before I do that I will update you on some things that we ask for your prayers. Today while we were at Pastor Jack's home the neighbors were carrying their three year old daughter who had just passed away. We were told by Jack that this woman's name is Benta and she is one of he women who do the cooking at Boaz's church each day for the children. Yesterday Boaz told us in the morning that the electrician whom we had met on the building project got up to come to the jobsite and collapsed and died that morning. Please pray for his wife and five children not only have they lost their father but the one who provides for them. Everyone we meet here is touched by death in ways that are difficult to comprehend. Almost all the reasons are easily corrected with medicine but this is a luxury that they can not afford.

So now about Pastor Jack. I first met him at the building project as he was there just helping the foondies (builders) doing anything they asked him to do. He is not a construction kind of guy but was receiving a few schillings a day (1 dollar) for helping. He walks one and a half hours from his home to Boaz's. To get to his church he walks three hours and has been pastoring there for fifteen years. Of all the pastors I have met he is the most humble,meek soft spoken man I have met up to date. Extremely kind and polite until.....he stands before the pulpit and shares what Christ did on the cross for us. This man had a passion and fire for the Lord that absolutely blew me away. No dog and pony show but a man whose faith and love for his savior was so real that if I was not saved I would have been that day. He lives in a very small home on his fathers property with his wife,three children and twenty orphans. His house has a small living room, small bedroom and a thatch roof that desperately needs to be replaced. When asked about his living situation he says that it can be difficult and tight but they are happy and he knows he is doing what God has called him to do.My commitment as a servant is deeply challenged by the way these men lay down their lives.

I am loving our stay here and each day is an adventure. Tomorrow we leave at 6am to go with Boaz and Joseph to Tanzania to meet with some pastors from that area to go over details for an upcoming medical mission that is happening in June. This weekend they are doing a church plant up in the mountains and will go through the villages evangelizing and inviting people to come on Sunday for the first service. We are talking about approximately one hundred pastors and elders coming to this area and then sleeping in their cars or tents or just on the ground. So the rest of this week will be very busy but I am excited about the things God has planned for us. The house is going great, they finished plastering the interior walls today and were working on the plumbing and a concrete counter-top for the kitchen. I am missing my family but as long as I am busy the days are flying by. In the picture you see Pastor Jack and his daughter, his church building and the rules.

Your brother in Christ, Shane

My day with Pastor Daniel

Sunday Shane and I separated again so that we could each visit and preach at different churches. Each of the pastors here want us to be their guest so we are trying our best to visit as many as we can. I went with Pastor Daniel to the Samaria First Baptist church somewhere south of Awasi (google map it). The church is in a drought stricken area. The photo to the right shows the local water supply. It is a river, but as you can see it is running very low and slow. This photo was taken during the hottest part of the day and there are still many people there. Earlier in the day (when I couldn't get to my camera) it was packed with people and livestock.

To get to the church I had to ride a matatu (a taxi van) and then transfer to a boda boda (a motorcycle taxi). Here you see Pastor Daniel on the boda boda ahead of me riding back from the church. The area looks like a desert, but I was told it is a green grassland when the rains come. I took this picture while I was riding on the back of a boda boda so excuse any do have to hang on, too. Daniel said it is an hour walk from his house to the church which he usually walks every Sunday. The matatu and boda boda were luxuries for his guest. I think it is about 7 or 8 kilometers, and his time estimate, as with most Kenyans, is based on "African time."

The church is held in a typical mud-walled building. Since the Samaria Church is new, there are no doors or windows, there is a dirt floor and the remaining "mud work" must be delayed until the rainy season starts (usually by the end of February). The congregation is small but lively and God-fearing...I won't even attempt to explain it, you must see it to know. The attendance was small Sunday even with the news of a visitor, because many have to travel 6 kilometers or more each day to get water...and if the walk isn't tough enough the return trip includes carrying your water. Making the journey to church is also a long walk for many of the fellowship.

This is Benta, the church secretary and Pastor Daniel inside their church. They are both very dedicated to their calling and their church members. You should hear this little woman preach. I had lunch at Benta's home which was a simple meal of stewed chicken and ugali, but it was meant to be special to honor their guest, and I was. On the way back to the church, where we caught the boda bodas for the return home, we stopped at a blind widow's home to look in on her.

If I had half the love and commitment to God that these folks...

...I teared up today at Pastor Joesph's church when I talked about leaving here. And if you know me, that's a big deal.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Every day a new thing...

Good morning to all our friends and family. I would like to send a special shout out to my good friend Jed "The Deacon" Lynch. As you can see from the pictures the house and cho (bathroom) are moving along quickly.

The cho will be a real blessing for Pastor Joseph's church as until now the children and adults go into the sugar cane field that is next to the church and use that for their cho. The man who owns the field will come over during church service and interrupt the teaching and start yelling his displeasure with this. Only Pastor Miles could deal with something like this and not be disturbed or annoyed by this type of interruption.

The man you see me with in the picture is Peter. He used to be a priest in a Kenyan cult known as the "Legend of Maria". Did you know Jesus had a Mercedes Benz? Anyway he accepted the "Real Jesus" and is now a deacon in Pastor Joseph's church. He tore down the building they used to worship in and donated the land to Joseph where they built the church that is having the cho built.

Pray for Rick he is not feeling good today. Other than that things are going very well and we have nothing to complain about. Thank you for your prayers we will be back soon. Also want say hello to my two new grandchildren that God blessed us with. Hunter James Michaels and Samantha Grace Phillips. I look forward to getting to spend time with them when I get back.

Your brother in Christ, Shane

Here is Shane stirring the pot, again....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A note from the IT staff

The TCFinKenya IT staff would like to remind you that many times there is more than one new post. Several of our followers have missed some on our better work by just looking at the top posting. Today, for example, we are uploading 4 new posts.

And, if you are reading this from a PC (using Windows or Linux) you can double click on any photo to view it enlarged. If you are using a're on your own. We have uploaded large image files and they should look pretty good enlarged.

In the photo you see me and our new intern, Moo Chin, who has the bad habit of licking the modem.

The roof is on...

Work on Boaz's new home is progressing well. As you see in his photo the rafters are almost finished, and Samuel the builder (and Pastor) says that the "iron sheets" will start going on by noon.

This is the back of the house. The foondie is placing bricks in between the rafters.

This is another photo of Shane actually this isn't one of those photo ops he likes me to put up. Unloading this lorrie was hard work. I even broke down and helped. It carried the interior doors, cement (for the wall plaster), nails, and the iron sheets. Here they are moving some of the iron sheets.