Oct 31, 2007

Wed, October 31, 2007

How amazingly blessed we have been to have a cable connection to the Internet while we are in Kenya. Most people in this area of the nation have to settle for a dial-up service which is a long distance charge to Nairobi - i.e., expensive. We suspect the Mubichi home is one of only a handful (maybe less) in Meru to have cable service at this time. It is because (1.) we are on a hill and the computer service people have installed a tower in our yard; (2.) Fridah worked for Dell in OKC and we give the crew good feedback; and (3.) Steven's brother, Lawi Imathiu - the former Bishop of the Methodist Church in Kenya, is putting in a Community Center that will feature a computer lab. But all is not perfect as my dear old Dad would say. Throughout my stay, we have had difficulty uploading and down loading data (pictures, podcasts, music, etc) much of the time. Fortunately, we HAVE been able to upload pictures through Blogger and Liver Journal -- but not today. So I have only words to offer you tonight.

It is been awhile since I posted. The Foundation staff (i.e., Fridah, Kate and I) have been busy getting ready for the followup board meeting we scheduled last Sunday and which took place at 6 pm this evening. We got minutes drawn up of the Sunday board meeting and are sending handouts and minutes out to everyone.

Today Kate, Fridah and I met with Superintendent Minister Kiogora to discuss (1) the current status and future operation of the library at the school for deaf children, (2.) ditto for the Preachers' library we constructed to the Superintendent Minister's headquarters (which is on the grounds of Kaaga Methodist Church, and (3.) plans for John Boster's mission team coming in January of 2008. While we were there, we also had a lovely chat with Charity the librarian. She was grateful I gave her permission to throw away the odd books in the collection. She also has a long wish list of special requests starting with Bible dictionaries and Bibles in various translations. I kicked myself for not bringing a Eugene Peterson and the NSRV. Oh well.

Rev Kiogora sits (and represents the Methodist Church) on the Board of Governors of the Kaaga School for Hearing Impaired Children. He was very interested to hear our assessment of how the library is working out - as well as some of the issues we would like to see resolved.

If we had known before we broke ground what sorts of issues would crop up, we'd have prepared a Memorandum of Understanding between the school, the church and the foundation way back then. But it was a new venture for all of us. Now we think a Memorandum of Understanding is needed and he is most supportive.

Indeed, this evening, while our Foundation board was meeting to consider what might go into such a document, the Rev. called to say we are invited to send 4 representatives to the meeting Friday of the school's Board of Governors.

We had a wonderful board meeting tonight - excellent turnout and lots and lots of good discussion (and food - we had tea/coffee/hot chocolate and two kinds of samosas).

We think it might be prudent to organize a coordinating committee composed of representatives from all three entities to resolve management issues (who pays the electricity when it finally gets turned on? who will oversee and pay for any modifications to the building? if we install a copier that generates revenue, who collects the fees? etc).

We decided to send 5 people to the meeting Friday: me, Fridah, Wilson Kinoti and Chris Kinyua plus Kate (who will be our secretary and just take notes - although she certainly didn't stay quiet in tonight's meeting; I was terribly proud of her).

I like the Foundation's board very much and especially enjoy visiting with the younger members. We talk politics (it is Presidential campaign season here) and culture. I think Kenya is changing very fast thanks to this younger generation of well educated business leaders. It is an exciting time to be here. (We did note that while we like Kibaki and want to see him re-elected, he is 75 years old already and his running mate is 80; there is a need for young Kenyans to step forward as Presidential candidates!)

I have wanted for some time to gather up all my income and expense records associated with our involvement in Kenya. Frankly, when I started raising funds for a library in 2005 and then led a team here in January of 2006 to build the library, I had no idea it would be such a large building or that it would be so - not complicated but multifaceted. There was the building and the mural and exterior and the books. But then we needed to fill the gap between the walls and the roof (which is not normally done here) to keep moisture and birds out. And the ground shifted a tad during the rainy season and one wall developed a bit of a crack that needed patching. And then we needed shelves and tables and chairs - and they needed to be small for primary school students and large for older users. And then we hired a librarian who works for a song and a smile. And we needed to catalogue the books and get them sorted and shelved.

And all our wonderful donors have been amazing -- but it has added up. If I had known when it all began that it would grow into such a wonderful but multifaceted project, I'd have been much more conscientious about saving all my receipts and writing down amounts of money whenever one of us made a contribution to the project. So I have done my best to reconstruct our spending and tomorrow, God willing, I will reconcile my records with the Foundation's and, hopefully, be able to put an approximate value on what we have brought to Meru both for the library and in the way of gifts for children and institutions including the church and the School for Mentally Challenged Children as well as the School for the Hearing Impaired plus the local economy (White Star Hotel, etc). And that includes both monetary contributions and in kind (all those baby dolls and school supplies and wheel chairs and who knows what else we tucked into every nook and cranny we could find in the 20 foot shipping container we shipped back in December 2005 or carried to Kenya in our suitcases).

It is late (1 am) and every once in a while I will hear a terrible squealing just outside the living room window. It is the guard dogs getting into a fight. Again, I wish Cesar Millan was around to work with this pack of dogs. I have 79 emails to read but they will wait until the morning.

Love and God's blessings to you all from Kenya.

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