Welcome to the “In Search of Water” blog site! Here you will see the chronicled events of the project leading up to the team’s departure from the United States and then daily while the team is in Africa. Feel free to comment on the posts as it is a great encouragement to the team and a great way to share in the experience together.

Monday, April 23, 2012

We are home!

Heading for Sioux Falls!

We are seconds from leaving Minneapolis and heading to Sioux Falls! 30 minutes in the air is awesome. Our bodies feel like it's 11:15 PM and we have been up for 24 hours on top of that, but we feel great to be coming home!

Landed in Minneapolis

We just landed in Minneapolis a bit early and are heading for customs. Everything looks good for an on-time arrival in Sioux Falls!

Flying from Amsterdam to Minneapolis

Here is our plane, flight 259 from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. Last year we got stuck on the tarmac for 4 hours due to a snow storm in December of 2010. It's rainy and cold outside but there is no threat of freezing weather.

We passed through security with out a problem and even had the full body scans (wonder if they can tell how much meat we ate last night). We are ready to fly over the pond and get home. I don't know why they call it a pond, I guess to make you feel better about using your seat cushion as a flotation device. I feel better about using my cushion in a pond but the Atlantic ocean seems a bit "under" equipped!

Our flight is 8 hours long but we are following the sun so on the clock this flight will only take 2 hours. Sweet! We are trying to stay as positive as possible here! Once we hit Minneapolis we have to collect our luggage and go through US Customs. Once through customs we will re-check our bags for a DOMESTIC flight...that word sounds great!

Well, here we go. You are all sleeping right now but soon we will see you all!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Landed in Amsterdam

We have landed in Amsterdam! Just five short hours of sitting in the airport and we will be back in the air for another eight hour flight to Minneapolis. We were able to sleep quite a bit on the flight and even though it's only 11:10 PM back home, we will try to not sleep any more so we can be back on schedule when we land in Sioux Falls in the late afternoon. Local time in Amsterdam is 6:10 AM.

Kenya Airport

We are in the longest passport line we have seen yet but we are here, luggage is checked and we still have 1 1/2 hours until our flight departs. We are so full of meat the I think I heard Darwin moo in line. Our spirits are high and we are ready to go to Amsterdam!

The final course!

If you thought we were done...ha! We still had dessert to eat. Chocolate Chip Blondies for Darwin and Jessi, Italian Chocolate Ice-cream for Shane and Cheese Cake for me. Seriously, stop bringing food! A little Kenya coffee and we are off to the airport. What a great day!

The Meat!

Ok, here's the breakdown of the meat in the order it came.

Beef Sausage - Jessi's favorite
Ox Ball (the real thing)
Chicken Liver
Beef Rump - Shane's favorite
Crocodile - Darwin and Doug's least favorite
Lamb Chops
Pork Spare Ribs
Leg of Lamb - Shane's least favorite
Ostrich - Jessi's least favorite
Leg of Pork
Ostrich Meat Balls - Darwin and Doug's favorite

One hour in and we dropped the flag and surrendered. We have had more protein just now than we had the last two weeks. We will sleep good on this flight!

The wheel of surrender

The lazy susan hold our sauces for the dozens of meats that will be brought to our table. When you are so full you will explode, you pull the flag and surrender. We will not go down easy!

Chilling at Carnivore

We are having an awesome supper at the famous Nairobi Carnivore. First course was corn on the cob, potatoes and cheese pizza. Second course is butternut squash soup! Yum!

Baboon and Nairobi National Park


Darwin taking a picture of a giraffe

Darwin likes his giraffes!

Jessi and Zebra

Jessi is checking out the Zebras at the Nairobi National Park.

North Declare War with the South

Maybe you all knew this and did not want to worry us but in reading Nairobi paper this morning we discovered that on April 19, North Sudan stopped just shy of declaring war on the South. He said that he would liberate the Southerners from the "insect government". Bombing and killing has begun again on the boarder as they fight over oil fields. All drilling has stopped for many months now as the North and South are supposed to come to a resolution, one that may end up being resolved by war again. President Obama is calling for peaceful negotiations and the UN has asked the South to pull back but the President of South Sudan said, "We are not under the control of the UN". Tensions are high. Please pray for South Sudan.

Team in Nairobi at the Mayfield Guest House

We have made it to Nairobi and are looking forward to some R&R before catching our flight tonight at 10:30 PM to Amsterdam.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. Your blog comments have helped us stay connected at home and not feel so isolated and distant from those that we love. God has been very good to our team but even if our projects would not have been completed successfully, God would still be good. It's important to remember that God loves his people whether they are in plenty or in want, suffering or in peace, joy or in sadness.

South Sudan is testimony to God's love. Even though they have seen their children killed my machete, their mothers raped and burned and their fathers disembodied, God loves them. Though they have suffered things we could never understand, they praise God because God loves them and as a result, they love God.

Their suffering has reached you and you sent us and we did our best to be a visible expression and illustration of God's love. We are all that illustration where ever God sends us.

So, God is good, all the time, no matter what. As we love others we show that love and we bring healing to the hurt, lost and the suffering. God used you with us and he wants to use you still today. Our best response might be, "Here I am Lord, send me."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Map of Kenya

Saturday in Nairobi comes to a close. Tomorrow we will go to a baptist church next to the Mayfield Guest House. We will the go to the Nairobi National Park to see if we can see any wild animals, then a bit of shopping, supper and back to the airport for our 10:30 flight out. It's a full day but one of selfish fun while we wait for our flight. We are looking forward to it!

Boys room at Mayfield Guest House

Here is the boys room at Mayfield. It has no giant African spiders, 6" centipedes, 2" moths or toads. I think we will sleep just fine! This will be my first night with Shane and Darwin says he sounds like a buzz saw at full throttle. I've been know to make a few sounds at night myself but Shane sounds like he might be a professional!

Bad roads in Nairobi

Ugh! We left the airport on tarmac and soon we were off road again, driving through small lakes. Seriously! Can we get some asphalt!

Shane and Jessi at the Passport counter

Here is Shane and Jessi having their Passports examined and visas checked. We have to do this every time we come in and go out of the airport. There is a little card that you have to fill out with all your info, Passport number, DOB and a dozen other things. We have to fill one out every time. It gets really old and it seems like they don't really look at them or care about the form but we fill them out anyway.

Coming off the Juba flight to Nairobi

Here we are getting off the plane in Nairobi. The air is cool and we are looking forward to showers and non-mud floors...actually non-mud everything! It's good to be out of Juba!

Good bye South Sudan!

We are off! As the wheels leave the tarmac I can feel my heart already home. We will miss our new friends and the routines of village life but we are all motivated to get home to you.

As the stewards are getting ready to serve us our first ice, I'm reminded how lucky we are and the privileges we share in the developed world. The immersion back to plenty will feel strange but sadly we feel right at home in no time and the simple life of Kalalayi will once again be a world away.

My seat is comfortable, the air conditioning is blowing on my head, there is ice and Coke in my cup and my meal just arrived, "Chicken lamb or veggie, sir?"...chicken please.

Darwin's Foot

Darwin has official Africanized his feet. They even smell wearing flip flops! Thank goodness he cleaned them last night so they would be "presentable" for travel. Oh do we need to get home!

Rhonda, you might want to have some steel wool for those hooves when he gets home.

Airport Photo

I'm feeling a bit defiant as we sit in the Juba airport. I gave in to my urge to take one last "illegal" photo...it is so ridiculous! Jessi said her mom (Nancy) would kill me if I took the photo and that was all the motivation I needed to click this photo.

We paid for our car ($1,940)...ouch! The remainder we owed for the bore hole ($6,975), had some amazing Indian (east) tea, said good bye to Right, our driver Joseph and Julius, who is staying two more weeks to visit his family in Yei.
The airport in Juba is the worst in the world. I realize I have not been everywhere in the world but after experiencing it for the 4th time, I'd put it up against any crummy airport. We are waiting to board our flight and sometimes the flights are very late or they never come. There is no one to tell you and no way to know if things are on time. So here we sit waiting. If things go perfectly, we should be flying in 30 minutes.

Pray for us as we leave Juba. We can't wait to get home to all of you!

Julius, sister Sara and children at Elisapa's house in Juba

We are in Juba and just dropped off Elisapa at his home. He lives with his daughter Sara and his grandkids. Sara's husband is a soldier and they do not see him often. We got dome exciting news from Elisapa, he is going to ask a woman to marry him. She is many years younger than him but he has already spoken to her family and has their blessing to pursue her. Cheri knows this woman very well. A flame started between Elisapa and this woman during our last trip in 2010. They have been communicating back and forth ever since. Elisapa's first wife died 7 years ago.

Bridge outside of Juba

Here is the surface of one of the bridges outside of Juba. The steel panels have broken loose and it is open to the river bed below. The river was dry when we came through the first time and now it is double the size of the Big Sioux on it's heavier days.

8 foot bull going to market in Juba

This photo does not show the true impressiveness of this bull. At the horns, this guy stands at 8 feet. He is being taken to the market in Juba where he will fetch 1000 SSP or $250.

Oh what I would do for a rib eye! Darwin Shane and I are all craving meat, and Jessi wants apples...seriously, apples!

Shane and Julius on the road to Mundri

We stopped for a "tire check" (pee break) and Shane and Julius posed for a picture on the road to Mundri. Where we have come is behind them and they are facing the direction to Juba. We are getting closer!

South Sudan team leaving Kalalayi

I realize that the photo is dark but that's because it is dark. We are loaded up and leaving. We have said our goodbyes and are on our way home!

Early morning in Kalalayi

We are up before the sun but the roosters have been crowing for at least 30 minutes. You never feel bad about eating one of those roosters, it's the only way to shut off the alarm clock! We took a wrong turn in the dark last night but figured it out after about a 1/2 mile. We also got out my spotlight and spotted many monkeys. There are 100s of the on the way to Kalalayi. Some are small, like about a pound but most are big at 30-40 pounds. We are told there are big baboons but I can't say we saw any of those. Jessi is glad to have not met any on her latrine outings as our latrine is about 500 yards from the compound. Kalalayi eats monkey when they catch them and we are glad that never happened while we were there. Our driver Joseph is from Kenya, he is very against eating monkey. He says they are little human beings...no comment.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Our movie power source

The electronics have been working great! The battery system has been flawless and the video projector, DVD player and speaker system has performed perfectly. Praise God!

Jesus Film in Buagyi Church

We just started the Jesus Film in Buagyi. It is about 6:00 PM and runs for 2 hours.

Most of the time we are blogging from Kalalayi and updating when we come into Buagyi which is the very early AM hours for you but today we have been in cell coverage all day.

We have loved your comments as they have kept is connected to home while in this desolate location. You have made us laugh as your humor has been like water to our thirst and you have brought tears as we love you all and look forward to returning to you all soon.

Once the movie is over, we will travel to Kalalayi for the last time. It will be dark so please pray for our safety. We will pack up and spend our last night with our friends. Tomorrow morning we will leave at 7:00 AM and take the long and rough road to Juba. None of us are looking forward to the trip or Juba but it gets us one step closer to all of you. We will take a 3:00 PM flight from Juba to Nairobi. PRAY FOR US IN JUBA!

We will stay night in Nairobi at the Mayfield Guest House again and have most of the day in Nairobi as we don't fly out until 10:30 PM. It is my hope to give the team some well deserved R&R by taking them shopping, seeing some wildlife and eating some good food. If all goes well, we will be rested and ready for our long flights home.

Well, Jesus just got baptized so there is still a long way to go.

Doug's mit

This is in response to the debate over the inscription on the borehole. This is the mit that carved those letters...it's mine and I'll have all of you haters out there know that Jessi said, "Doug has very nice handwriting" so there! Actually I was shocked when the team elected me to write and Jessi said that because I have always been told my handwriting is atrocious! It was nice to hear but if you saw Jessi's handwriting you might have to consider the source. Well I did my best and it looks pretty good.

Wet road to Mundri

This photo does not do it justice. This road has potholes that would swallow most sedans and more water holes than Minnesota has lakes!

Cold Coke in Mundri

Good times in Mundri with cold Coke! $1 each...only for the rich!

Inside store in Mundri

I stopped inside a local store in Mundri to exchange some US Dollars into South Sudan Pounds. This is what it looks like inside this is the extent of the store, you are seeing it all. It is illegal to exchange money like this as you are only allowed to do it in a bank and only 4 banks are approved and they are in Juba. We got 4:1...very good.

Visit with MRDA

Yes, I know the picture has nothing to do with the Mundri Relief Development Association but I don't have one so just enjoy the beautiful Mundri scenery.

Darwin visited with the director of MRDA director, Light Wilson Aganwa about the Primary Health Care Unit in Buagyi and the work that Solomon and Rena are doing. It is very complicated as a developing country not yet a year old would be expected to be. With out going into the minutia of the details, we know who we need to email from the South Sudan Government. It was frustrating but one very bright spot is that we have a clear path to possibly double Rena's salary! She is currently making about $50 per month.

Principal Paul Issa of Bishop Ngalamu Theological College in Mundri

I had a great visit with Paul, the principal of the Bishop Ngalamu Theological College in Mundri. The cost is just under $800 per year including room and board! The course work is amazing. It is just like a seminary education. 80% of the course work is theology and the remainder is community development, health and agriculture. It is a 3 year program that just started. He invited Pastor Fashili to come and take the entrance examine now but without financial support guaranteed, he will need to wait two years until they take a new class of students.

Rainy on the way to Mundri

We are on our way to Mundri to drop off Chief Celement. It is raining hard and the roads are slick but as usual the scenery is gorgeous! We have full plate today. We are going to stop off at the Mundri Relief Development Association to talk to them about getting Solomon trained to move from being a Community Health Worker to becoming a Health Officer as well as what it would take to get a clinic with a CHW in Kalalayi. We will stop at Julius' brother in law, Abass, who is a wood worker. We stopped to see him on out last trip to Mundri. Buagyi has built a beautiful new church but it still has logs for seats. We are going to see what it would cost to have Abass make 38 10' benches (pews) for the church. Lastly we will stop at the theological college in Mundri to see what their 3 year degree would cost. We are planning on sending Pastor Fashili for schooling. He is the only pastor in the area and only has 6 months of training and that is basically for running a church service, funerals, weddings and pastoral care. His education is only through the 6th grade and I have asked Johnson Tombe to tutor him, especially in English so he could be ready for school next year.

Bumpity bumpity bump! Here we go to Mundri.

Jessi and Darwin hand out personal care kits to the women

The personal care kits that Hillcrest put together just before we left were handed out this morning. They included a bar of soap, a wash cloth, shampoo and a pack of sugar free chewing gum.

Jessi also handed out needles and thread. This was a huge need as they needed it to mend their clothes. These are hard to come by in South Sudan.

Showing the Jesus Film in Kalalayi

The weather has made the showing of the Jesus film very difficult. Tonight the air was still, the stars were out and the whole community was there for the film. It was a great event and the Gospel was made clear.

Eating the celebration meal

The celebration was well under way. We decided to set aside the MREs for tonight and dive into the celebration meal of Iza (roasted and stewed goats meat...hair present), Linya (cassava and sorghum flour mixed together into a play dough consistency) and Ici (pan seared goat intestine and stomach). The goat meat is served with a broth and you pull off a chunk of the cassava goo (linya) and dip it in the broth with a chunk of hairy meat. I know the goat was black and I never saw the goat! Only Shane and I were daring enough to try the ici and thought the stomach tasted like the smell you get when you open a deer carcas in the field to dress, the intestine was actually tasty. It was a bit rubbery like over done calamari and looked about the same...rings. We laughed hard and had a great time! God is good and we are happy to be here with these people on this special occasion.

Doug preaching at the celebration service

When we returned from the trip to Buagyi the celebration was well under way. The plan was to start the celebration service right away. I was told I was preaching so I had about 5 minutes to prepare. I guess I should have been ready for this but I had no idea they were having a full service with praise songs and all, just like church. I guess it was good because all I had to do is trust God for the words. Pastor Fashili asked me for my test and John 4 popped into my mind...John 4 it would be. I tried to connect their need for physical water with the living water Jesus would offer. The Samaritian woman at the well was a great text for sharing the Gospel. I asked them if they had drank from the Living Water and that this was the most important question of their life.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jessi with a gifted chicken

We are on our way to Kalalayi with a gifted chicken from Johnson Tombe, the headmaster. Jessi is so proud!

Place of Joseph's mother

We have reached Lui and brought Joseph to his mother. He wept for her in the traditional way with much loud sound and laying over her. There were about 75 people with her that started weeping loudly in their normal mourning fashion. It can seem disingenuous to us westerners because when the get up they just wipe their tears and act very normal but it is very sincere, it is their way.

I found an owner of a pick-up truck and hired him to drive the body back to Buagyi. Thus will ensure the body will arrive safe and intact. We have left Joseph with his mother to ride with her in the pick-up. We have taken on 6 family members and will drop them of at Buagyi on our way back to the celebration at Kalalayi.

The 400 South Sudan pounds ($100)for the pick-up truck were not in the budget but I think it was a great use of our funds.

Jessi with the Buagyi teachers

Here is Jessi with the teachers in Buagyi after the training. Joseph is the tall one on the left.

Joseph's sadness

My good friend Joseph was not at the teacher training because he was in Lui, about an hour farther up the road to Mundri. His mother is very sick and we are scheduled to take him to Lui tomorrow when we go to take Chief Celement back to the hospital in Mundri. We were surprised to see that his was not there for the training and that he already went to Lui. Just as the training was over, Joseph showed up. I asked him how his mother was and he said she just died!

I feel so bad for my friend. Joseph asked if we could take him to Lui and transport his mother back to Buagyi. Even though the team is expecting us back and we have the big celebration in Kalalayi, I said we would do whatever we could to help. He has no casket and our vehicle only has seats so the option is to put her in a seat or tie her to the luggage rack. This must sound so strange to all of you back home but this is real life in South Sudan.

Our driver does not like the idea of the body in a seat (Jessi and I agree) so the luggage rack is the only option. There us no casket so the best we can do is probably a mattress. There are no boards or other materials available and I can't stress how bad the roads are. If she is too lose she will work loose and fall off. If we tie her tight enough she will probably be broken. Joseph said her will tie her tight and that it is ok, it is only a body, not his mother.

We are on our way now.

Jessi teacher training

Another pic

Jessi teaching teachers in Buagyi

Jessi rocks! She is teaching the teachers the sounds of each letter with hand motions. The teachers are doing all the sounds and motions with her. It looks and sounds ridiculous but if they can get this it will help the students so much. The training has a book with pictures of the hand motions that they will keep to help them in teaching the children.

Doug chopping a stump from Elisapa's field

I was given "big man" work. Apparently God created me for chopping roots from stumps. A few swings from the ax and I made quick work of it.

Right hoeing Elisapa's field

Even our friend Right Taban got in on the action, tilling the soil. This is the only tilling they will ever need to do if they get it right.