Monday, March 25, 2013

Let the Work Begin

With the elections behind us (well, almost...the Supreme Court will hear the case of alleged improprieties on March 25...if they overturn the results, there will be a runoff election in April), it was time to get to work in a serious way.

ATS Mt. Eglon Campus - guest house where I stayed on left.
Last weekend, I went to a place called Kopsiro, on Mt. Elgon, a small rural town where the Africa Theological Seminary (ATS) has another site.  The road leading to this place gives the roads in Liberia (and some in Ghana) a run for their money.  I'm glad I wasn't driving!  The place is absolutely beautiful, and I've realized that the camera I have cannot capture the beauty at all.   But I will include some pictures anyway...just imagine a depth of color in red soil, green plants, blue sky, and a view that goes for miles.
Farms are ready for planting...waiting for the March rains.

Pastor Chrispine Juma and church members after the service.
On Saturday, I spoke to about 22 pastors and several business people about Business as Mission (BAM).  As seems to be the pattern, this was new information to them and they were very encouraged by it - of course, the majority of pastors here are also involved in a business as well.  They want this information for their churches, as well as to be trained as trainers, so that they can carry this ministry out.  So the ATS Mt. Elgon campus is going to begin working on a schedule for that.  At this point we are thinking that I will come to train businesses, with potential trainers in attendance.  Then in September, I will teach the BAM class at that seminary campus, followed by a ToT session.  That afternoon, I was invited to preach at one of the churches the next day.  I tried to beg off, but they said their church needed to hear this message.  So I quickly prepared...then at about 10 pm, they informed me that they wanted to give me an hour to make sure the full message was given.  :-)  I am finding that I am preaching a lot more than I had planned...but it went well.  I'm now learning to travel with a message or two ready to go...thankfully I can repeat the messages since I'm not often in the same church twice!
The church shakes everyone's hand in a receiving line and forms a circle after the service; they then listen to announcements. A great way to greet everyone!

Tomato farmer
On Fridays, I am teaching the Basic Business Principles class with the Friends (Quakers) Church in Kitale.  I had requested that the size of the class stay at about 30.  The first class we had 48...and then this past Friday, we had 60.  The pastor is having a difficult time turning people away, who are accusing him of trying to deny them this opportunity!  Thankfully, no one new can now join.  We will decide this week whether to split this group into two.  We are spending Mondays visiting the businesses, which is what I love.  Seeing the God-given creativity and initiative that people have is an inspiration.  Almost one-half of the participants are small scale farmers, and what they do on several acres is pretty amazing.  I've included some pictures.
Zachary (right) and Pastor Ashivaga (left).  Zachary is a crop farmer, growing mostly maize.  He also has these three dairy cows, whom we found in the unusual position of resting.  Many people own one or more cows and it is a viewed as a source of wealth in some areas.  The question is, if a person owns one cow...consumes some of the milk and sells the rest on a daily basis...does that qualify as "owning a business"?
Pastor Kibairu, Dana, Priscilla (owner of Adorable Creations), and Martin
This week, I start a project with a church called House of Hope, a small church in the "slums" of Kitale (as they call them); the pastor is anticipating about 25 business people...I preached at their church a few weeks ago.  Next weekend (Easter weekend), I will be in Butere again, where we will start a similar program.  That pastor is thinking that about 70 business people will be in attendance.  I will spend a few days there visiting businesses.
On Saturday, Dana Boals and Martin Mutuku flew to Kitale to visit me.  It was great to have some time with friends!  They visited some businesses with me, visited the Friends Church, and helped me process some of the challenges relating to quick growth!

This is Richard, my translator for the class.  He a teacher by profession and also a farmer.  I call him my "partner in crime."  He is (by his own statement) mischievous and I can tell he doesn't always translate directly...throwing in his own message or contextual jokes.  But he makes it fun.  You can tell by my face that he had just cracked a joke before taking this picture...and he does it with a straight face!
So lots going on...lots to do!

In the meantime, Hannah and Noah just had their Spring Break from Calvin College.  Hannah was able to go to Tucson, Arizona where she visited with dear friends Ev and Mary Vermeer.  She was able to soak up some sun, as well as visit the Grand Canyon, where she met other dear friends, the Barres.  Noah was able to travel to Washington DC with a Political Science group and attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).  He then spent the remainder of Spring Break with long-time friends, the Steenwyks.  I thank God for dear friends who love my kids and open their home for them!!
Hannah and her good friend, Steven, at the Grand Canyon.
Noah loves wearing suits!!  Who would have guessed?!  He cleans up so well!  Looks like Bob in this picture...