9.25.2010

Learning

Thinking back over the past week, the string tying up the bundle of
disparate experiences seems to be learning. This Sabbath finds me
more educated, in a very diverse group of fields, than the last one
(although I suppose that should be the case every week). May I share
some of my new knowledge with you?

After spending Monday and Tuesday finishing our leach field ditch and
measuring, labeling, and sorting several hundred panes of glass for
the windows in the orphanage, we packed all Jared's things from his
house along with our bags in to his old Land Rover truck (see the
previous post for a picture). While waiting for Jared to finish up a
few things, Eric Johnston, Luke, and I decided to try out Jared's
kite. At the orphanage site there is plenty of open land and it's
almost always windy; perfect for kite flying. Jared's kite is a 5.5
meter, two-handled kite, and is quite a bit bigger than any I've ever
flown before. Wow! It's a totally different experience than the
little kites you fly as a kid. It was kind of like trying to wrestle
a powerful flying horse with a devilish sense of humor all around the
field :P But it was lots of fun, and a good workout too!

Next Luke and I got another opportunity to practice an essential
skill--essential at least in Africa--riding in the back of a truck.
Africans have developed this into a fine art, perching atop mounds of
sundry luggage with apparent ease. I have yet to master it, but
thanks to Luke's advice and lots of practice (around town in Nairobi,
5 hours out to the orphanage on Sunday, seven hours back on Tuesday,
etc.) I've learned a few tips. First, it helps to come prepared: a
Thermarest is crucial to long-term comfort! Second, a tarp is also
critically important, both for protection from the rain and to deflect
the cold wind. With these two components and room to stretch out,
riding in the back is actually preferable to the cab. Unfortunately,
with all of Jared's furniture, and Moses and Thomas, two of Jared's
employees along for much of the ride, stretching-out space was a
little limited, but we managed :)

Back in Nairobi, the learning experience shifted into high gear.
Before we could leave, there was two vehicles that we needed to make
some minor repairs to; the orphanage's Land Cruiser Prado and
Frontline Builders' Land Cruiser truck. Both needed to have the front
ends rebuilt; the Prado also needed to have its 4WD hubs switched to
the more reliable manual version along with a few other things, and
the truck needed new front shocks and some work done on the rear
bushings. Because much of our days were spent running errands and
going through the process of getting travel permits for S. Sudan, we
got a little behind on all this work. We planned to start driving
north on Sunday, so things were starting to get tense when Thursday
evening rolled around and we were about halfway finished with the
Prado and hadn't yet started on the truck. So we decided to utilize
some of the free time between dusk and dawn :) Unfortunately, one set
of nuts and lock washers on the right axle inside the spindle on the
Prado didn't fit very well, and the snap ring wouldn't quite go on.
After putting all the pieces on, discovering the problem, stripping
everything back to the knuckle, including removing the studs from the
spindle, putting it all back together again, having it still not work
and disassembling and reassembling yet again, finding a prodigal
gasket and going back to put it on, I have learned quite a bit about
the inner workings of Land Cruiser axles! We ended up going to bed
about 3:00, because we were missing a bearing on the truck. Thank
goodness!

Friday was one of those days where, as Luke said, you probably would
have accomplished about as much--and been much cheerier--if you'd just
stayed home and had a party. Practically everything went wrong; parts
were the wrong size or missing altogether, shops were closed for lunch
or for the weekend, traffic was terrible, we were 15 minutes too late
to pick up our travel permits, the pump broke back at the orphanage
(Jared had to go back today to get the water working), and last but
not least, a swarm of bees from next door, upset about having their
honey stolen by the neighbor, made things very unpleasant for Luke as
he tightened the last few bolts before Sabbath! Guess what Friday's
lesson was?
Patience!

Fortunately we closed out the day with a delicious supper of
freshly-made salsa: tomatoes, onions, garlic, chiles, cilantro,
lemon, and salt. Mmmm! And then it was Sabbath. We sang some hymns
and fell asleep in the living room. God's day of rest is definitely a
blessing!

Jared and Eric left today to go fix the pump. Luke, Linda Shin (an RN
who works at the AMS clinic in the Mara), and I stayed here, listened
to lots of wonderful music and a good sermon, and then did a little
exploration of the area on Luke's new motorbike. We happened upon a
nice little surprise, the Langata Botanical Gardens, during our trip,
and stopped to walk around. We saw lots of different flowers and
birds, and even a little three-horned chameleon :)

Other highlights from the week: receiving a nifty rugged blanket with
water-resistant canvas on one side, complete with a little carrying
case, perfect for sleeping out in the bush, from Andy Aho, learning
how to ride a dirt bike, reading two excellent books --
'Cross-Cultural Servanthood' by Duane Elmer (thanks Mindi!), and
'The End of Poverty' by Jeffery Sachs. Really good reading; I
definitely recommend them for anybody interesting in working in the
third world!

So, that's the news. I'm blessed beyond belief; good friends, honest
work, lots of learning experiences. Even when things were going crazy
Friday, I couldn't think of any place I'd rather be, or anything else
I'd rather be doing. God is good.

Excelsior

5 comments:

  1. I have the book "Cross-cultural Servanthood". That's a good book, but have you read "Anthropological Insights for Missionaries" or "The Great Omission"? Those are some great books in the same genre. They have definitely shaped my philosophy of missions.

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  2. This last Tuesday I discovered that Eric's mom is in my Advanced Patho class... it's a small small Adventist world!
    Sounds like you are becoming an expert mechanic!

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  3. Thank you for keeping us all posted - I must say I am quite jealous of all you are getting to do and whenever I read you blogs I wish I could be there(I am enjoying grad school so far though). Keep up the good work and know that you are in my prayers.

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  4. That blanket sounds neat! I'm glad you have something to keep you warm.

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  5. I have enjoyed reading the updates. Those still in the "training-to-go" part of life are often hungry to hear from those who are in the "have gone" part of life.
    Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to write updates.

    You and everyone there with you are in our prayers.

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