Monday, November 21, 2011

Part 3 and the last..South Sudan..The "varmits"! Then some funny stuff.

I saved this section till last.  I didn't want to scare anyone off in case God is calling you to serve in S.Sudan.  There was no lack of things to take pictures of under this category.  I wish I had been more camera ready.  I didn't get a picture of the little mouse that flew past my face when I opened a window.  He landed pretty heavily on the cement floor, but didn't waste time going outside.  Or  the shower where I had to herd out about 15 frogs before I could go in.  Then they kept hopping under the door to check to see if I was finished so they could come back in. They were very cute!  So, I should say in all fairness to the other species, only the insects curled my toes.  I also added a few funnies at the end.

This thing has been in some fights, that's all I can say!

Mosquito net tucked in? Check. Alarm set? Check.  Ipod on the floor? "Oh wait, let me turn on the flashlight, there's something down there."  Glad Jon thought to turn on the light, then glad he SMASHED this villain to smitherins.

Yes, those are cockroaches on steroids. Yes, there were four bathroom stalls just like this. Yes, you're nuts if you think I went in there.

Okay, if you'd have asked me, they should have squished this freaky thing straight away, but then I was still mad about the cockroach thing.

 Taxi? Looks comfortable!

Just FYI! Wash them at home!!

So I will close with this word of insight.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Part Two of South Sudan- The People!

One of the funnest things was the people we met.  Of course there was no time establish ever lasting friendships...that will come later.  If the people we did meet and talk with are any indication of the overall character of South Sudanese, then this country has tremendous promise.  Jon took these pictures.  The pictures he took while he was in the marketplace are some of my favorites.  What better way to communicate when you can't speak Arabic.

Deng was once one of Sudan's 'Lost Boys' today he is the administrator of a hospital.

Inside the refugee camp called Kakuma, on the border of Kenya and S.Sudan.
Praying with the faithful in Kakuma refugee camp.

Her name is Suzy, she speaks Arabic, lives in the bush, cooks for many people! My new hero!

This is Mango Ministries newest employee Adhanom, from Eritrea.

Jon took the following pictures in the market place!  He made some new friends that day!

Grumpy tea lady.  Thats a whole different story.

So, there you have it.  Some, not all, but a good variety of the people we met!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Look at the Newest Country in the Whole Wide World!

Recently, Jon and I were able to take a trip with Mango Ministries to South Sudan!  We had been asked about a year ago to be part of this ministries board and this was the first opportunity that we had to be able to go.  You can become more familiar with Mango Ministries through it's blog called A Journey With Joy.
"So, how was your trip?" You ask.  Thanks for asking.  Get ready for some pretty interesting stuff and a lot of pictures!

Let me begin with the catagory: The Land...

On the border of Kenya and South Sudan, these are Turkana houses.

Wouldn't you LOVE to be able to say, " Yes, well, I live on an island in the middle of the Nile River"

We got there at the end of the rains, so the grass was TALL!  At least a foot taller than impressed!

I loved this house!

This family lived near the shops, so they made good use of discarded tins.

This is the animal house on this little plot.  The whole thing just made me happy to look at.

The only bridge over the Nile River in all of South Sudan.

Almost every compound had their own United Nations blue plastic!
Living on one side of the Nile.

Making the most of US Aid oil tins!

I love this! The entire roof was constructed of flattened out oil tins from the US Aid food distribution agency.

Stay Tuned for Part Two! The People!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Power of Water

A few weeks ago, Jon came home from a long weary trip, and I said to him, “Too bad there’s no plug for the bathroom tub, you could have a long hot bath.”  He replied, “Too bad there’s no water either!”

At that time, we thought our water problems were the normal kind we’ve always had: broken bearings on the pump driveshaft, broken drive belts, loose connections, etc. and it would just take some tweaking to get it all back up and going again.  We had no idea this was the beginning of a long and arduous adventure of getting water back to Olderkesi community.

The diesel engine powered pump we had been using for two and a half years had finally burped its last load of water into the tank, and then stopped.  With optimism as our guide, the pump was taken into Nairobi to be repaired.  A few days later the verdict came back: death is final, buy a new pump.  However, that could not come to pass until AFTER our ministry team from N. Ireland came.  The irony of it was that last time these team leaders were here, they built the brand new shower and toilet block for the guesthouse.  How funny that they would not even get to use it on their return trip!  The team all hauled water and took bucket baths while they were here.  To their credit, not a single one complained - not even a whimper. You should have heard ME though.

So, after much deliberation and pump shopping, a new, submersible, solar and generator powered pump was bought and the technicians were on their way… Monday, no Tuesday… “Oh sorry, we will be there Thursday.”  They did finally come - two lively, well-educated men who decided they were gonna make water happen for us.

Instead, other things happened.  The brand new generator they brought would not start up.  The solar panel mounting frame was three meters too short.  They did get the pump installed though, and left with the promise of bringing a new generator.

So we ran the pump for three days – but no water reached the tanks (which are over 1 mile of pipe away from the well).  On Sunday, Jon walked into the kitchen and said, “I don’t think we put in a non-return valve.”  So, on Monday a non-return valve was put in and the pump started again.  By this time the techie had come back, and had a generator that worked.   Then everyone realized the non-return valve needed to be horizontal on the pipe, not vertical.

Now, lest you think it was a bunch of Keystone cops doing this job, let me just say that these guys all knew what they were doing, they had done the math and made the predictions - it was just that every little tiny detail had to be thought out.

And no one thought of bees…  That’s right, bees came on Monday night and decided they liked living on the windmill, directly above the top of the well.  You can’t choose your neighbors, and these neighbors were easily offended.  They ended up chasing the workers into the Land Rover for cover, stinging some many times.  So, the men retreated up to the house to think this through out of danger.

We prayed and God moved the bees.

On Tuesday the non-return valve was re-plumbed how it should be and pumping continued. But, by Tuesday night, still no water had reached the tank.  Wednesday and Thursday included various interesting developments, as we got a pressure gauge to prove what we already suspected, there was not enough pressure.

  So, they pulled 100 feet of brand new pipe out of the well, looking for a break, a leak, a crack – somewhere the system was losing pressure – and there it was!!  On the first pipe attached to the pump - surreptitiously covered in electrical tape to hide it.  Hmmmm... 

By dark the pipe was replaced, and the pump started again.  Jon called our friend Dave Potts, a well driller in Montana for advice.

On Friday a series of unfortunate events happened yet again.  They found a break in the pipeline way down near the well.  They fixed it.  Then returned to fix breaks in the same section of pipe TWO more times that day!  By then they were running out of pipe glue. Its not like you can run out to Lowes if you are low on supplies!  So we once again held our collective breath and…the pipe held!

The pump was started once again – trying to get enough water to fill the pipeline (around 7,000 liters) and then reach the tank!  The technician had to go do another job over in Maasai Mara, but promised to come back.  He did!  Like I said, these guys were in it with us – as determined as everyone to see water come to the tanks.  Unfortunately though, it still hadn’t!  Jon re-did the math…again and again. And it always said what he already knew - that the only thing wrong with the water pump, was that there was just no water getting into the tank!!

Through all of this, the windmill (which has a separate submersible pump) had been able to pump enough water to give us hot showers at night.  Good thing too, diesel and sweat take a lot of water to clean off!


There was nothing else to do but wait. So the technician went back to Nairobi, Johnstone went home for the weekend, and Jon came home to catch up on his other jobs.  Saturday night, he went up to check the tank and found one gate valve that had been closed, so he opened it.  Within second he heard . . .WATER flowing into the tank!  This gate valve had been mistakenly turned off, directing water to a different tank – but had only reached it shortly before Jon checked.

He went to the river to check the pressure gauge – and it still read too low!  Well, the gauge had been faulty!!  But who needs a pressure gauge when you can hear the water coming in!

A couple last things to be done…  Jon climbed down into the concrete tank and took a bucket to measure how long it took to fill a five gallon bucket at its rate of flow…just over a minute, thank you!

Then he did the last great act of bravery.  He collected 8 bloated dead lizards, a bat and some other suspended solids out of the tank, wading around in his shorts and sandals. (Sorry, no pictures!)

Are you exhausted yet???  These guys sure were!!

The end result? WATER!  

The power of water to make tired workers smile, a call to Johnstone so we could hear him shout over the phone in happiness.
The power of water to make a shower much more than just a shower, but something to be appreciated.
The power of water to fill a teapot from the sink and make me sigh in relief, and…
The power of water to bring the Maasai ladies back to the project to collect water again.

Amen and amen!