CHARLES AND ROSE MAKANGA OUR INCOMING
HOUSE PARENTS. THEY WILL HELP OUR CHILDREN
THROUGH THEIR TEENAGE CHALLENGES AS LLM CONTINUES
TO GROW AND EXPAND. THEY HAVE ONE
GROWN SON AND THREE SMALL CHILDREN.
CHARLES AND ROSE MAKANGA OUR INCOMING
HOUSE PARENTS. THEY WILL HELP OUR CHILDREN
THROUGH THEIR TEENAGE CHALLENGES AS LLM CONTINUES
TO GROW AND EXPAND. THEY HAVE ONE
GROWN SON AND THREE SMALL CHILDREN.
35+ hours of travel, a few hours of mediocre sleep, eight additional checked baggage fees, one missing bag of safety glasses, seven $10 Dubai Shake Shack milkshakes, and thousands of replayed memories later, the team is back in the States.
We are grateful to have made it home safely, but sad that our days of sipping chai and playing endless games of basketball in Kenya are over (for the time being…). It feels like we have left our hearts in Kenya.
As Josh mentioned, the LLM kids and staff put together a farewell program for our final dinner together on Friday. They told us what a blessing we were to them through our projects and in spending time with the children, but I hope we made it clear how much of a blessing they were to us. We would not have been able to work with joy and endurance if it weren’t for their consistent smiles, words of encouragement, and wonderful examples of eagerness to serve. My introverted self never found it difficult to strike up a conversation with the Kenyans, and for some reason I always had just enough energy to play games or have my hair braided with the kids. Saying goodbye that night was harder than I ever imagined.
Staring out a window for hours at a time gives one time to think and reflect on the two weeks of work and exploring we just completed. Each member on our team is at different places in his/her life, whether it be after a few different careers, beginning one, studying for one, or figuring out the one God is calling her to. During our commute to our guesthouse from the LLM property one night, we discussed the difficulty of finding meaning in monotonous summer intern work, especially after working with a visionary organization like LLM in the Collaboratory for a year. It brings up the elusive issue of our individual purpose, which drives our motivation to do our work well and with joy. I pray that each member of our team goes into their next steps for the summer with the same drive and lightheartedness that we entered Ol Kalou, Kenya with, whether he/she sees the ultimate meaning of their work or not. Our purpose is ultimately to serve God and shed a light in every community whether it be in a neighborhood of Kenyan buildings or in a neighborhood of cubicles. Cliché, but so relevant.
I believe that I speak for all of us when I say that Kenya has truly changed us for the better, whether it be our first or second time interacting with the people here. We all have varying levels of confidence that we will return to Ol Kalou sometime in the future. As of now, the Land Development team will return next year to build a recreational field for LLM, provided they raise enough funds, but the Solar PV team will be moving on to another project for the ‘19-’20 academic year. Many of us would love to return at some point if God presented the opportunity, though!
Thank you again for all of your support and following us on this journey.
-Meghan Sampson, on behalf of the Solar PV and Land Development Teams
A huge Thank You to the Messiah Team for all of your hard work and dedication to the Living Love Family!! We are truly blessed to have you partner with us to help the vulnerable children in Kenya! Below is the final update from this years Mission Trip.
Thursday-Friday, June 6-7
We tried to wrap things up as much as we could on Wednesday, but on Thursday there was still some work to be done. The new solar system needed to be tested, and as you can tell Steven was really excited for it. The sun decided to cooperate as well, so we had plenty of solar energy to use to see just how much water we can pump out of the well at LLM. Seeing water flowing through this system has been surreal from the very first time we saw water pumping to every single test we have done. As we wrapped up the tests towards the end of the day, it started to hit me that all of the hard work we put into this project since last September has paid off, and LLM is now able to pump water using solar energy. The months of planning and week and a half of hard work has all come together right in front of our eyes.
Since all of our work was finished, Lydia and Charles decided to take us to see the Thompson Falls and the equator on Friday, which was gorgeous! We had a nice hike down to the bottom and almost walked right into the falls. All of us were soaked because of the mist coming from the waterfall, but that didn’t bother us. When we hiked back to the top, some of us were even able to get our shopping on. This was just the day we needed to end our trip.
That night, LLM planned a beautiful program for us that involved singing, dancing, and a lot of cake shoved in Steven’s face! Our friends gave Steven a nice graduation ceremony of dancing and which ended with a lot of cake icing on Steven’s face. I’m pretty sure some of it was still there when we landed back in the US. After that ceremony, we ate our last dinner with the kids and then had to start the long process of goodbyes which included lots of hugs, tears, and then waves goodbye. It truly was a great way to finish the trip and we all feel so blessed to have been a part of it.
Coming Down to the Wire!
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
I think we are all starting to realize that we only have a few days left and that is scary, sad, and exciting!
Scary because although we have mostly completed our engineering projects, we wish we had more time and more sunshine to do more thorough testing. The solar water pump is working but not at full capacity with the lack of sunshine. Professor Heisey (or Grampa Scott as we now call him) and JJ have worked hard these last few days finishing up their drip irrigation system.
We are all starting to feel attached to certain children at Living Love, and so I think we are starting to feel sad that we will be leaving them. Tonight, after dinner the kids seemed to have more energy than usual. That is probably partly because they were able to sleep in a little because they didn’t have school today since it was a holiday. I spent most of the time playing and holding Bilhah and Stanley while most of the other kids were tackling or chasing everyone else.
Today I spent most of the day trying to help get some lights and outlets working for Charles and Rose. Charles and Rose came to Living Love a month ago and are house parents for the boys. It is clear they are both getting along very well with the LLM staff and the children very much enjoy them. They moved into part of the main house and the outlets in their rooms were not working. It took me a few hours to troubleshoot the wiring, but I was able to get their outlets and lights working again and they were very grateful. I was happy to be able to do this for them.
Although we are excited about going home no one is really talking about it. Usually, during trips like these, towards the end, everyone is starting to talk about things they miss about home or what they are looking forward to. No one seems to be doing that. I am thinking we are all enjoying being here and are not quite ready to go home.
– Dereck Plante
Another Day in Ol Kalou
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
The team is happy to report a fairly uneventful day here in Ol Kalou, Kenya. Because we worked so hard the first four days here, the team was blessed with an 8 o’clock pick up instead of 7:30 AM. That extra half hour really helped the day start off on the right foot, along with the promise of sun beginning to poke through the clouds as we headed out to the children’s home. Dereck, Steven, and Ruth took a trip down to Cure Hospital in Kijabe, Kenya to visit another Messiah Collab team doing work with 3D printed prosthetics. There, they observed a few monkeys on roofs, received a tour of the hospital, and enjoyed an intriguing lunch of PB, egg, and cucumber sandwiches (they can’t say they didn’t not like it) with the other Messiah students.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Solar PV and Irrigation teams were slaving away completing miscellaneous tasks on the systems. Professor Heisey and JJ barely had enough time to squeeze in a 30 minute nap after lunch. It was slow going for the Solar PV team in the morning, however, as the team hit a couple road blocks such as having difficulty setting up WiFi to put last year’s solar system online and then attempting to figure out why the irrigation team’s auxiliary pump had power yesterday but not today (turns out you can’t always trust the junction box). Though we had a few issues to tackle, we had a great time organizing the web of wires in the battery room to look a little prettier while jamming to Josh’s electric playlist. We even got around to fixing a light in Pamoja Hall that we may or may not have disrupted from its home on the ceiling last week.
The Land Development team continued to work hard at laying (and untangling) the drip irrigation system in the agriculture fields and began testing their system today! There seems to be a leak somewhere, but JJ knows where it is and is fixable, so all should continue (ahead) of schedule tomorrow!
Thank you for your prayers for sunshine! Please continue! Today did see more sunlight than yesterday (praise the Lord!) but still not quite enough to pump as much water into LLM’s water storage tanks as we would like to receive thorough results on the flow rate of the new pump and test the irrigation system. Please also pray that we can make the most of the last 3 full days here in Ol Kalou. While we have accomplished so much, there is still plenty to wrap up and many LLM kids and staff who deserve our appreciation. We want to put forth the same level of energy that we came with to finish serving well.
During our time here in Kenya, we have learned a lot about a culture that has both similarities and differences to the one we are comfortable with in America. After our work times, I have had the opportunity to play with and just sit down with some of the kids at LLM. I’ve been given a tour of LLM’s farm land, where they grow oranges, kale, cabbage, and lemons, among much more produce, sat with some girls as they do homework, and learned about their education system. The children have to wake up at 5 AM to get to school by foot, van, or bus, depending on what school they go to, by 8 AM and then the youngest are home around 4:30 while the oldest get back by 6. Around age 11 or 12, students are learning most of their courses in English. As a result many of the children at LLM, as well as the staff, speak English fairly well. It was nice to be able to learn more about them since us Americans over here can only really ask and answer the basic questions in Swahili. I have been truly blown away by everyone at LLM’s kindness and hospitality to us during our time here. We love Kenya!
Laying it on the Line
Monday, June 3, 2019:
Today the Solar PV team completed wiring runs, switches, and connections to power the auxiliary pump for the irrigation system, as well as connection of the three new solar panels to the old system. Chris was relieved that Steven did not encounter anything “shocking” when he checked out the system. Some of the work today required access by scaffolding in the 30-foot high Pamoja Hall ceiling, and we are happy to report safe completion of one of the scary tasks of the project.
The Irrigation team completed installation of the mainline, valves, and header lines in the 2-acre field earmarked for the first irrigated crops at Living Love. In total, the team has placed over 900 lineal feet of irrigation piping, with the help of some hardworking and productive Kenyan trench-diggers. The remaining work includes installation of the dripline emitters and testing the pressure and flow in the system. Pictured below is Professor Heisey explaining the irrigation system to the Living Love agricultural crew, as well as reviewing their methods of row spacing and plant spacing of their various crops.
We continue to enjoy the fellowship and hospitality of the Living Love staff, including an abundance of delicious food. As we wrap up this week, we hope to have more time to play soccer and basketball with the children when they return from school in the afternoon.
A prayer request for the team is the sun will shine brightly for the next couple of days, as the team tests and tweaks the new systems. We are at the beginning of one of the rainy seasons, and the cloud cover has hampered check-out of the new solar panel system.
Day of Rest
Sunday June 2nd 2019
KENYAN WORSHIP- a different experience.
The team started their day worshipping at the home church of LLM “Deliverance”. The service started at 8:30 with the worship team leading in song as the congregation arrived for the next ½ hour or so ; the worship team included both adults and children. Worship continued for at least one hour and 15 min. The Kenyans freedom and joy in worship was contagious and uninhabited. Most of the songs were not familiar but were easy to join in because of the repetition and being sung both in English and Swahili. I was especially moved when we started singing one of my favorites “How Great thou Art”, although it started in Swahili the music was very familiar and we were able to join in immediately. I’m not sure when the service ended but we had to leave at 12:00 because our taxi had arrived and we were expected at Graceland children’s home an annex of Living Love. The children had been waiting on our visit all week and earlier in the week sent us a note asking if we forgot about them.
Graceland children’s Home is an annex of LLM started by Mumbi who has been our gracious host while here in Ol Kalou. The children were so excited to meet us, they have never met “Mzungus” in person. Some of the children and leaders from the Sunday School joined us for lunch which was around 2:30. They prepared a feast for us, which included the Kenyans favorite on special occasions and gatherings “Chapati”, as usual the food was delicious. The children had prepared a little service for us which lasted for about an hour. The children were so excited to share with us what they have been working on all week. They started by telling us their names, what grade they were in and what they would like to be when they grew up. Most of them wanted to be doctors and engineers as well as dancers, Sargents, and teachers. After introductions the children all left and returned dancing as they re-entered. They prepared 2 dancers for us, sung a couple of songs and recited a couple of memory verses. There are 11 children at Graceland ranging in ages from 2 ½ to 10 most being 4 to 6 years of age. When the children finished they asked if we would dance with them. Some of us were happy to oblige and enjoyed learning two of the dances. I hope they don’t get published as I noticed a couple of people taking pictures and videos. All in all it was fun regardless of how rhythmless we may have been.
Mumbi then took us around the home which was just opened this past fall and has the capability to house 200 children. Her prayer is to be able to have at least 30 children in the near future, praying for clearances from the county and sponsors. She also showed us around the farm where many animals are raised to feed the children as well as provide income for the home. We returned to Mumbi’s around 5:30 where we spent the rest of the evening relaxing, playing a card game called Mao which has become a favorite of the team and chatting.
Saturday, June 1 2019
Today was Madaraka Day, a Kenyan holiday where they celebrate their independence. Usually, the children go to school on Saturdays, but because of the holiday, many of the younger children had the day off. Since we were almost done setting up enough of the new solar system to test it and since the children were home, we decided to work just a partial day. In the morning, Steven, Meghan, Josh, Ruth, and myself worked on the scaffolding to secure the three wires coming from the solar panels to the beams on the roof. Meanwhile, Chris and Dereck worked on making the final connections between the pump motor and its controller. The Land Development team, JJ and Professor Heisey also made significant progress this morning, digging a trench and running the main irrigation pipe under the road and out to the fields which they will be used in.
After a short break to rest our legs and drink some of Lydia’s Chai, we finalized some of the connections in the battery room and on the roof. We then performed some final safety checks before the big moment. It was time for us to flip the two large switches in the combiner boxes to complete the circuit and start the pump for the first time. We flipped the switches then went down to the bore hole to watch as water started to come out. About two minutes later, we saw the first water flowing. We were all very excited to see our hard work paying off. There was a crack in the line leading back to the tank, but that was easily fixed by some of Living Love’s staff. The smile on Elijah’s face when water first started flowing into their tanks was priceless. We ate a late lunch, then finished up some minor tasks before heading out to play soccer with the kids.
Soccer lasted about three hours, and the team was exhausted by the end. We also got to talk to Solomon about his dreams for the future of LLM, which was nice to hear about. We ate dinner with the children around 7pm, then Steven and I decided to stay an extra half-hour to try again to get last year’s system connected to the internet. Although this attempt was not successful, we will try again on Monday. As for now, we are looking forward to the church service and tour of Mumbi’s orphanage tomorrow.
Reaching for the Sky (or at Least Pamoja Hall’s Roof)
Friday, May 31st, 2019
This morning the scaffolding finally arrived!…then we realized we didn’t have enough to reach the roof. Thankfully there was still plenty of work to be done on the roof and on the ground in Pamoja Hall. By the end of the day, more scaffolding had arrived and now we are ready to finish connecting the solar panels in the morning.
Dereck and I (Chris) spent the day working at the other end of the system with the pump controller. With the help of Phillip and Robert, two of the Kenyan workers, we got the input and output wires both into the controller house. The last question we needed to answer was to verify which wire color coming from the generator house at the controller corresponded with which wire leaving the generator house, since the wire was spliced somewhere in the middle, With a 9-volt battery and a little creativity we were able to verify that the wire colors matched and we were good to go.
The Land Development team started working with the Kenyan workers at digging the main trench for the irrigation system. They’ve just gotten to the road; it’s a good start but there’s still a long way to go.
On a different note, this morning I went into Ol Kalou with Elijah to buy some of the components and hardware we needed. That was definitely an interesting experience. We checked three stores for some of the wire we needed to buy. The first was a supermarket similar to a store in the US. The next two were a bit different. They were small shops just off the street with as much merchandise crammed in as possible. Rather than looking for what you needed to buy, you would tell the person working at the counter and they would dig around in the dense array of products for what you needed. The man working at the third store was quite a character. He started by asking me where I was from and before long he was trying to marry me off to a Kenyan girl.
The kids got home from school early today since it’s Friday, so we had plenty of time to play with them. We had so many people playing basketball tonight we had to rotate people out to the bench to keep the court from being too crowded. Playing basketball the past few nights has been a lot of fun, but the plan for tomorrow has what I’ve been waiting for: football (soccer)!. Not only is playing soccer with the kids exciting, but we’ll also be able to get out some of the gifts we brought with us. Crammed into our luggage among drills, pipes, wire strippers, and disconnect switches, we brought soccer balls, jerseys, and socks. A useful tip for anyone traveling with checked bags and needing to meet a specific weight: one pair of soccer socks weighs 0.2 pounds. I’m sure you’ll thank me later (or not, haha).
Our big goal and hope for tomorrow morning is to finish the wiring in Pamoja Hall. There are a few other small things to finish, but that is the last main task to complete before we can flip the switch on the solar pumping system. If all goes well, there should be water flowing by tomorrow afternoon.
Sharing an update from the Messiah Team! Thank you for joining us in prayer!!
Day 2: Ahead of Schedule
Thurs, May 30th, 2019
Another productive day at LLM! We are even a little bit ahead of schedule! Here’s the rundown of tasks accomplished today:
JJ and Professor Heisey wasted no time this morning getting to work on the tank connections for irrigation system. They worked with the LLM workers to clean out the existing elevated tank, which supplies LLM’s domestic water. Then they glued several of their pipes together forming the connection between two important tanks (one elevated and one on the ground for irrigation water – see photos below).
In the afternoon, the LLM workers dug a trench. Dereck, Ruth, Meghan, Chris, Matt, Steven and Josh all had a hand in running solar wiring in this trench about 250 feet. It was an “all-hands-on-deck” couple of hours to accomplish this task! The path of the wire included an underground portion and a portion through an attic too (see photos below).
Lastly, another one of our major tasks today was connecting the solar electric system from last year to the internet. This was done so data from the system can be viewed by LLM and the Messiah Solar team more easily from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This is also useful for the Messiah Solar team to make remote setting modifications to the system (from the USA) to help LLM maximize the life of the system.
In the late afternoon/evening we again got to play with the kids today once they got back from school. I (Steven) played about 5 basketball games with the children and was just about to fall over from being so tired! It is so much fun to be with them, joke around and observe the joy the carry in their hearts. They are thriving in so many ways, thanks to the resources the Lord has provided them through LLM and their wonderful caretakers. What a joy it is to be a part of their story! 🙂
Not only has it been a joy to be with the children, but also with staff too. For example, Mimi has had a wonderful time with the women staff in the kitchen helping to cook meals for the adults and children each day so far. Others have had conversations with staff members during dinner times and sometimes throughout the work day too. We look forward to the next few days to continue to take advantage of these opportunities to get to know them better and appreciate their faithfulness to the kids and to the Lord through their work.
Please be praying with us that the scaffolding will arrive early on Friday May 31st – we need this equipment to finish connecting the solar panels to the pump for water to start flowing. So far there have been delays, so we are not sure when this equipment will arrive. Also, fun fact! We are learning/practicing a Swahili song to sing at church on Sunday (it’s called: O Sifuni Mungu)!! Preparing for the song may also require some prayer…haha, God is good!
– Steven Carpenter