Saturday, January 29, 2011

A new day in Kenya

Hello family and friends, today was a good day in Kenya with me feeling 100% after being sick for two days from something I must have ate. This morning we went and visited Cecilia and she is improving but has a ways to go. We were then off to Pastor Joseph's church for his feeding program. They normally feed the kids on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but had no food this week until yesterday so they fed the kids today. Rice, beans and a cup of fresh water is what they give the children and I was surprised at how big the portions were and that these little ones could put it all away. It was a joy to see them enjoying life and singing praise songs before they ate. Tabitha is in charge of the feeding program and has gone from living in the dirt to being one of the most involved woman in the church. Her gratitude shines through as I watched her cooking and feeding these kids and loving every minute of it.

Tabitha is wearing the red skirt.

Hard at work digging the new cho.

We were also working on building a cho for Joseph at his church. Last year they told him if he wanted to have school at his building he had to put in a concrete floor, fresh drinking water and a cho(bathroom). He had everything done except the cho but had the twenty foot deep hole dug. So with the help of a few friends we will finish the bathroom before the rain comes and fills the hole with water. It felt good to be working on the cho after having sat on one for two days straight. Tomorrow Rick will will be speaking at Boaz's church and I will be speaking at Samual's church. The house is going good as you will see from Rick's pictures. The trusses are being installed and things are moving along at a good pace. Thank you everyone for your prayers and support.

Your brother in Christ, Shane+

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Widow's Harvest, Miwani, Kenya

Shane asked me to post some pictures from our trip to Pastor Joshua's home. Joshua and Abagail run a 25 acre "compound" (as they say here in Kenya) that includes a big farm, primary school and church. I think they also have an orphanage, though I can't say for sure. Shane has the details, but he went home with a sick tummy...ahhh. So, even though I was there, I didn't really pay attention. These photos are from his camera, so don't blame me...

This is the church...

...and this is Pastor Joshua's house.

Housing update from the Chemelil Baptist compound

It's Thursday and I'm back at the Chemelil Baptist compound after spending yesterday scouting the "Widow's Harvest" in Miwani for another mission team in April. The work on Boaz's house is moving along well, and it is my professional opinion that it will be 99% done when it is our time to leave (February 15th.) So, as an update to you I have a few photos of the "crew" building trusses for the roof structure.

This is Pastor Samuel, our builder commenting to one of his carpenters about the wood. Please note how straight and uniform the boards are...he shouldn't be complaining, this seems to be the standard here.

The crew assembling the roof trusses...

Building trusses, with, yes that's right, a hand saw!

Well it looks like lunch and I have to sign off...I wonder what it might be, chicken?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Three days, two funerals...

Since Saturday we have attended two funerals. One for a 15 year old girl who committed suicide and the other for a woman from Chemelil. Luo funerals are very different then the typical one in America (at least the ones I've attended.) They are very lively, and seem to me much like a church revival meeting. There is music, singing, dancing, testimonies and preaching. Both funerals were at the grave site which was beside the home. Burial at the home is also a common Luo practice.

Every funeral requires a government official to be present. That could be anything from an MP (member of Parliament) down to a local chief. The funeral on Sunday had a chief, a county officer and the provincial Governor.The provincial Governor is shown in this photo. All of these men were "long winded" and the last one was cut off by the band starting to play. That was a polite way of ending the campaigning (elections are soon.)

Here is Pastor Boaz praying over the coffin (bottom center) as it is being placed into the grave. I have never been to a funeral where they actually lowered the coffin into the ground and buried it...this was erry to say the least. As the coffin was being buried the mood quickly changed and women began to wail loudly and passionately as they ran from the grave. I will not forget this experience!

Although I was told that I could photograph the funeral activities, and I did some, I felt uneasy about it. I am sure there will be several more during our stay (we have 3 weeks left.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Your servant...and blogmeister

There have been several requests for a photo of me...maybe to prove I am actually here? Trust me I am here (he says slapping another mosquito)...working as you see in this pic, in front of Boaz's house...or as I am now on my bed under a mosquito net. After going over many photos of me here in Kenya I have agreed to upload this one. Most of them create an optical illusion which makes my head look small and my body look big (Shane says that's no illussion.)

So now you have proof...but usually I am behind the point and shoot camera documenting our safari.

Oh, yeah, Tabitha called Shane her "huge" elephant, not her "big" elephant.

The return to Tabitha's

Hello to all our friends at home. It is another beautiful day in Kenya and Rick I are privileged to be here representing our Touchstone family. Today we returned to the house we built for Tabitha and visited her and her family. We picked up a couple of chickens yesterday and today one of them was having a great day until Tabitha slit its throat and we ate it for lunch. Rice, ugali and chicken was the lunch of choice. Tabitha asked us to say hello to everyone who was there last year and remembered everyone by name.

This is Tabitha cooking the deceased rooster in the kitchen Shaun built for her last year.

Our friends that we met from Mississippi left today to go home. They said they have never met Christian men like us and that they will never be the same. So our question to our friends is, do you think this was a compliment? Tomorrow we are traveling to Pastor Joshua's and Abagail's to take pictures and gather some info for the team who is going there in April. We are at the house and the project is going well. Remember the house?? If all goes well we should start putting up the trusses on Monday. Keep us in your prayers we never know what God has planned for us each day but we are doing good in health and in spirit this day and for that we thank God for His goodness. We have had 2 funerals in 3 days and Rick will share with you his experience with that. If you did not know it was a funeral you would think you stumbled upon a worship service with all the singing.
Your brother in Christ, Shane

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marsha's Tomater Gravy

A few days after we arrived in Kenya with had the pleasure of having two missionaries from Mississippi join us at the Marvelon Villa (the guest house we are living in). In the past week we have shared much, and being the only mzungus for miles around we have spent a good deal of time together. Our friends and fellow missionaries, Marsha and Stewart Graham have made our stay so much more enjoyable and enriched our lives...they'll never know. Some day we may even travel to Puckett, Mississippi to harass them more. The photo to the right shows them with Mama Cecelia which was taken today (January 24).

Their mission here is to disciple some of the churches which were planted by their own church, Overflow (Magee, Miss.). Here you see Stuart out in the bush with a class.

Now all this time Marsha has been braggin on her Tomater gravy, so here's her own personal recipe...

Tomato Gravy

  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons of self raising flour
  • 2 cups of diced tomatoes with with their juice
  • 1 beef bullion cube
  • Salt and peeper to taste
  • 1/3 cup of milk
In a skillet combine cooking oil and flour; ad salt, pepper and the bullion cube. Cook on medium heat til it's golden brown.. Turn heat to low and add tomatoes. If it's too thick add some water to get the right consistency (thickness). Before serving add the milk.
Serve over crumbled biscuits (Stewart says not to crumble them.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hello to all our friends at TCF and our folks who are keeping up with us on the blog. We appreciate your prayers and encouragement. Keep Rick in your prayers, he is the one taking the time to post all the pictures and see to it that we keep you updated on our progress. I am grateful he is here it requires a lot of time, patience and knowledge to get this done over here. We are posting some pictures of Pastor Boaz's church that they are slowly building.
We are at the very first service inside the building Sunday. No roof, no floor, no windows or doors but the Lord showed up and lots of people which made for a wonderful time of worship and fellowship.

Today we are at the house "working" and this afternoon Boaz has asked us to go to another funeral with him. On our way here we stopped by and saw Mama Cecilia and she seemed as if she was not doing very well again. We contacted Dr.Joseph and waiting to hear back from him so that we can have him go and see her again. Please keep her and her family in your prayers when we there this morning her son and grandchildren were sick also.On a personal level Rick and I are doing very good and we are grateful to be here serving. The house is moving along except for right now while I am here doing this part of the ministry :-] .......Your brother in Christ, Shane

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Vivian arrives out of nowhere

Friday was another great day in Kenya. Pastor Boaz wanted us to go with him to the island of Suba which is in Lake Victoria. If that sounds exotic it wasn't but it was very interesting and a very long trip. Three hours of driving and a forty five minute ferry ride. We went to visit Pastor Peter which most of the fifty5five team will remember. He sends his love to all his friends that he met while we were here. Upon our return we stopped in Kisumu so that I could get my hair cut. I realize that statement has many of you confused and has put me in a position to be really severely roasted. Bring it on my brothers I just don't want any boohooing when its my turn.

When we were leaving Kisumu a young woman with her son approached the car and started speaking with Boaz. Her husband had left her and she needed a ride to speak with the husband's father. Boaz investigated her story and found it to be true and the husband will have to return to his parents home where his father will correct the situation. The new clothes you see her in (the photo to the right) were from those we brought. Things are very different here.

Today Boaz has asked to accompany him to the funeral of a young woman who committed suicide. We will go wherever we are asked to serve. Once again I have asked not to have my picture taken while I am working. When I stop for the photo shots the progress on the building of the home suffers in words that I cannot explain or even begin to describe.

Your humble servant in Christ, Shane

Note: Sorry for the bad exposure in the photo with Boaz, Vivian and Boaz's wife Helen. For someone who understands photography well I have no excuse.
-- Rick

Friday, January 21, 2011

House project update for January 19th

These are some photos Shane took on Thursday while he actually worked on Boaz's new home. Mysteriously there are none of him working(??). I was in Kisumu at the Baptist seminary working alone and unnoticed.
These workers are assembling the reinforcing steel that will be placed in the forms on top of the brick walls which will form the "rim beam". The Kenyans call it "twisted steel", we call it rebar.
This worker is constructing the forms and placing the twisted steel on the brick walls.
The concrete for the rim beam is mixed by hand on the floor of the house. In the background you can see children at the school Boaz runs.
After the concrete is mixed it is handed up and placed in the the forms with buckets.
Pastor Samuel, the contractor of the project (in the blue shirt), is inspecting forms at the building site.


Although we have had trouble connecting to the internet, I have nothing but praise for our provider, Safaricom. Boaz has a USB cellular broadband modem which generally works well, but sometimes the network does get overloaded and we have issues. The problem is that we usually are trying to use the network at it's busiest time. It's just the way it is...after all we are in "bush" country.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you come to Kenya on a mission don't worry about the toilet paper, bring a laptop!

In the area we in which we are working everyone has a cell phone, they may live in a mud walled house with no electricity and outdoor toilets, but they have a cell phone. And the amazing thing is the phone service is extremely good and cheap. I mean it is cheap with no dropped calls. We have a local service phone that was loaned to us for the duration of our visit by Phil Johnsey from Church Missions Network, another mission group which works with Boaz. We have been calling the "states" for less than a dollar per hour of talk time...AT&T offered me their best iPhone deal for about 4 dollars a minute.

When I get back home I will drop AT&T and switch to Safaricom immediately.

BTW...this is a quick post while I go through several days worth of images from 3 different cameras...and (don't tell Shane) I just lost a day's full of pictures due to a slight malfunction of the anti-virus software on Boaz's PC

Wednesday and Thursday in Kenya

Hello TCF family and thank you for your prayers. Yesterday we went and visited Cecilia with the doctor and she had improved a little bit. The next door neighbor came to say hello. He and his wife are in their early 20s and both are HIV positive and he recently lost his sight. They have three children, please keep them in your prayers. This is the type of story you hear everywhere we go. Today Boaz took Rick to Kisumu to the seminary and he got all the computers and printers working for them. I am grateful for his knowledge in this area I don't even know how to sign on to the blog. Tomorrow we are going to the island of Suba in Lake Victoria with Pastor Boaz to do something for Pastor Peter. The PC can be very slow and some days we don't get a connection but we will try daily to update you. Today I "worked" on the house and the progress is going great. We will download some pictures tomorrow so you can see what is being done. Me and Rick recognize daily that without the Lord and the family back at TCF we would not be here helping.

Your brother in Christ,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quick Update

Shane and Rick have been unable to post to the blog the past couple of days because of technical difficulties in Kenya. (No fault of theirs.) So, they wanted me to tell everyone that things are going great and they will post an update soon.

The rumors are not true that the "Big Elephant" stepped on Rick's computer, crushing it into tiny silicon and plastic bits.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mama Cecelia

These are a few pictures of our time with Mama Cecelia...

Doctor Joesph checking Mama Cecelia's blood pressure and heart rate at her home. Just try to get a doctor to make a house call in Sacramento, much less rural Kenya. Doctor Joesph is a christian doctor from Awasi who donated his time and rode on the back of a motorcycle several miles on a dirt road to meet us at Cecelia's home.

Doctor Joesph administering medicine to Mama Cecelia for Typhoid Fever. The effects of Malaria will always be with her. Malaria is naturally a problem in this region and the sugar cane fields add to the threat.
In this photo Pastor Joesph and Doctor Joesph are starting to burn Mama Cecelia's old bedding. Besides having been "soiled" from her chronic diarrhea it was infested with bedbugs.
Mama Cecelia resting on her new bed. Thank you Touchstone family, God is good!!!

A typical day in Kenya...

I want to thank the Lord first for He is good. Next I want to thank the TCF family for their generosity which helped to save a life today. We will post some pictures of mama Cecilia showing her old sleeping place and her on her new bed and pillow. Doctor Joseph came and helped her and gave shots and medicine for typhoid and malaria. He said she would not have lived another week due to the dehydration from the chronic diarrhea. Now she should be doing much better in a few weeks. We were able to get her a case of water, 25 lbs. of rice, 25 lbs. of beans, bread and bananas. It is because of God's goodness that pastor Joseph just happened to see her and the Lord was able to minister to her.

Next I would like to address the posts by Pastor Jeff and Deacon Jed Lynch my faithful friend. I have specifically asked to not have pictures taken of me doing all the work because in my humbleness I do not want to look like a glory hound. So I purposely stopped working for the photo shoot......your brother in Christ, Shane.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More photos from Chemelil...

Here are few more pictures from our mission:

Here Shane is discussing the project with the local builder, Pastor Samuel. Behind them is one of the Real Home Life Center's classroom buildings.

Part of the job here is to constantly inspect the "sanitary facilities", a task which Shane does well.

Shane and Pastor Samuel standing in the entry to Boaz's new home as work goes on around them.

The Mzungu, Shane (aka, big elephant), is always popular with Boaz's kids.

A new day in Kenya

Hello TCF family and thank you for your prayers. We are doing well and at this time we are at Pastor Boaz's watching the progress on the house and helping where needed.

Yesterday Pastor Joseph took us by a widow's home who is very ill. He saw them carrying her naked to her house becuase she was too sick to walk. Her name is Cecilia, please pray for her. I am using the gift that Dawn and Joe gave me to buy her a bed,blanket, insecticide to kill the bedbugs that have infested her home and food and water. Dawner...Cecilia is your new BFF in Kenya.

Side-note ,if you are not saved you do not want to drive here.Boaz could make a career in Nascar .....Shane

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Photos of our project

Shane and I were picked up at the Kisumu airport by Pastor Boaz and are now at his home. I have the laptop setup outside the door of his home and the sound of children playing at his school is in the background. The weather is perfect.

Here are some photos:

Shane and Boaz in downtown Kisumu.

Some photos of Boaz's new home (much has already been done). That's Shane near the center of the photo introducing himself to a worker.

Here you can see another angle of the job including the "scaffolding" that I was standing on and from which I took these two photos (in sandals). You can also see a little of the surrounding area in the background.

Friday, January 14, 2011 last.


After about 23 actual hours in the air and several stops, Shane and I have cleared customs and were delivered to the guest house in Nairobi in which we will stay until this morning. Actually it's 4 am Saturday here...5pm your time (on Friday).

The time difference was made obvious to us as we landed in Amsterdam at 8am yesterday after our departure at 9am the day before...a 23 hour jump ahead in time but really only about 13 hours.

We will be leaving in a couple of hours (6am) for Kisumu and then on to see our friends.

I will add some pictures after I awaken Shane...and I need some coffee anyway...

Sorry, but we had to leave in a hurry for our plane to coffee. Below is a quick photo I made at the Kisumu airport, it was a very simple place to say the least.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


We're leaving for Chemelil in the morning...but we'll be staying in Ahero...

Here is a map of the area around Chemelil, Kenya (that water to the west is Lake Victoria.)

View Larger Map

The rainy season is from March to May, so we'll miss that. You can see how we're doing weather-wise at any time from just like you'd check your local weather. The local weather for Kisumu, a little over 30 miles away, is here:

Looks like highs in the upper 80s with mostly sunny skies when we might take some getting used to, I guess.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Departure and Flight Schedule

Here is a complete flight schedule to and from Kenya for Shane and me:
  • Thursday 1/13 - Leave Sacramento at 9:20am on Alaska Airlines Flight 365, arrive in Seattle at 11:15am
  • Thursday 1/13 - Leave Seattle at 12:45pm on Delta Airlines Flight 232, arrive in Amsterdam at 7:45am on Friday 1/14
  • Friday 1/14 - Leave Amsterdam at 12:45pm on Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) Flight 565, arrive in Nairobi at 8:30pm on Friday 1/14
*** From Nairobi we will be taking an aircraft which has yet to be identified by Shane to Kisumu, Kenya.

Now back from Nairobi...after a flight from Kisumu...
  • Tuesday 2/15 - Leave Nairobi at 10:55pm on Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) Flight 566, arrive in Amsterdam at 5:30am on 1/16
  • Wednesday 2/16 - Leave Amsterdam at 11:00am on Delta Airlines Flight 233, arrive in Seattle at 12:25pm
  • Wednesday 2/16 - Leave Seattle at 3:05pm on Alaska Airlines Flight 374, arrive in Sacramento at 4:50pm

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Welcome to our blog...

    This is the first post for our blog about the Touchstone Christian Fellowship's mission to Kenya in 2011. On the morning of Thursday, January 13th at 9:20 am Shane and I will depart from Sacramento Metro Airport for Chemelil, Kenya. Once there, we will be working with Pastor Boaz Omugah to construct a new home for his family and him. 

    This blog will be the main media contact between the mission and our friends in the US. Please feel free to add your comments as we share our stories and upload pictures of our experiences. You can follow our trip by clicking on the "Follow" widget to the right. All of your our words and prayers will be appreciated.

    If we are lucky the new home may closely resemble this drawing...

    You can view a video of Pastor Boaz speaking at Touchstone on November 14th, last year by following this link