A full day at Imara House

Kids in chairs

Kids in chairs

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Today is our first fully-scheduled day in the context of a normal routine at Imara House. Kristine spent the morning in the adult classroom with Teacher Stella. Sharon spent the day with the children and teacher Lydia. I assembled the manicure/pedicure chair for Ngina, a gift from Barb Kula. I don’t believe that Ngina has yet seen it, but it should be a memorable moment when she does.

Gipson, Imara day guard and gardener, needed to take the sheep out to the road up on the road for grazing. I took on the task of repairing the perimeter fence in a few spots near the ground so Oscar’s five puppies could enjoy some freedom outside their small confined area. You can be so proud of me that we turned off the power to the electric fence before I started!

Later I had a new experience: I separated the cream from the whole milk delivered this morning by the farmer down the road. Grace and I made a “Cream Separation Team” and then Sicily our social worker joined us. This wonderful cream separator device from Ukraine was a gift from Darrell Kula. Darrell, to the best of my knowledge, it was still in fine operating condition when I finished. I am hoping that I might be able to help convert the cream into butter on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on Carol’s daily assignments for me.

After lunch, Carol, Sandy and I went downtown to met with a young man who sent us an Imara Enterprise Model for teaching our moms about entrepreneurial skills to enable them to start and run small businesses. We spent about 90 minutes together and agreed on some next steps to determine if there is a mutual opportunity.

One of our babies, Meshach, had a tough day. Since birth on November 15, 2015, life has been challenging. In view of weight loss during the past week, little Meshach needed some medical attention today. By the grace of God, Kristine was here to assess, interpret, and advocate for one of our precious gifts from God. Mother Grace, who is young and on a steep learning curve as a mom, was greatly served today by Kristine and Sandy. We have an action plan with another pediatrician appointment next Monday. Keep Grace and Meshach in your thoughts and prayers through the nights and days to come.

The Lord’s day

Nanyuki Vineyard Church

Nanyuki Vineyard Church

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

This is the day the Lord hath made, and let us rejoice in it. We attended worship from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Nanyuki Vineyard Church, on the Liv Estate, Air Force Road, near BATUK Military Camp. This is the church that has warmly welcomed and embraced the Imara family. The Imara moms participated in the worship service, some singing songs in English and Swahili and others delivering messages for the week. The Imara children participated in part of the worship service from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. before going to their own Kid’s Church classes with teachers Rose and Triza.

This is the faith community that has, in many ways, opened the Christian pathway for our moms, including communion on the first Sunday of each month and baptism. The moms and kids spend most of the day on Sunday at the church, including Worship Practice held after the service up to 3:00 p.m. They love Sundays.

Pastor Robinson Njue is a great friend of Imara. He is a member of our new Board of Directors for Imara International, Kenya, the non-profit (NGO) that owns our land for the Village legally established on January 1, 2016. We are so grateful for Pastor Robinson’s friendship, as he has taken a personal interest in our family and regularly communicates with Carol and Sandy about his observations, suggestions and prayers. We look forward to growing closer and closer to Pastor Robinson in faith, in service and in friendship. Thank your dear God for bringing us together.

Vineyard is a biblical metaphor meaning God’s people or the community where God is at work. VINEYARD started in southern California as a bible study. Founder John Wimber led other Pastors to form the present Association of VINEYARD Churches Worldwide.

After worship and some social time with other church members, Carol received a text from Brian, another Board member, who was in town and available to receive the new tablet that we brought to him from the U.S. Brian was excited! Sandy noticed that one of the tires on our vehicle looked low, so we went to tire shop for a repair of a leaky valve stem. Thank goodness for Sandy, the observant one, who saved us a flat tire experience on the road.

At the suggestion of Kristine, the team, together with Carol and Sandy, enjoyed lunch at Trout Tree Restaurant, which is a tree house built over a trout stream. It is fully equipped with several varieties of monkeys that provide great entertainment for the diners and a constant challenge for the staff (the monkeys love people-food). The monkeys are very clever in finding access to food throughout the restaurant and quickly retreating to the tree limbs within a split second. Who said that monkeys can’t fly? Great fun for tourists and diners as long as the target food is on someone else’s table.

Back at Sophy’s we had a planning meeting to scope out the week, decide on roles and responsibilities, set daily activities and to help us all to be on the same page. Our Dressed to Serve devotion for the day was on kindness. We shared personal experiences and thoughts about kindness observed, experienced and about opportunities to exercise kindness. It was good.

Saturday at The Market

Market Mission Trippers-001

Market Mission Trippers-001

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara Intenational

So, what Saturday morning in Nanyuki, Kenya does not begin at The Market?

Carol Erickson is the supreme market host. The mission team didn’t need to shop for the Imara family, because the moms now do the food shopping each Saturday with the matrons. They are able to negotiate much better prices without the visible presence of “American” money and gives Carol and Sandy some freedom on Saturdays.

The Market is fascinating. Thousands of sellers and buyers carry out this important food distribution function of life. The displays of agricultural produce on the ground or on makeshift racks are simply beautiful. This year the extra rains are providing bountiful beauty and ample supplies.

I have not witnessed the pre-dawn arrival of the tons and tons of tomatoes, peppers, onions, bananas, greens, potatoes, and more on motorcycles, donkey carts, hand carts, and heads, shoulders, arms of sellers, but maybe some Saturday I will rise early and indulge.

These people work hard. Most of the sellers are women and they know how to negotiate. While there are stores in town where price tags are evident, commerce here is largely person-to-person establishment of price through negotiation. I find it fascinating to observe Carol and Sandy exhibit their skills in spite of the supreme disadvantage of their American aura of means.

Back at the Imara House, we are warmly greeted by all. The kids take a bit of time to warm to the vaguely familiar visitors from prior years, but by the end of the day we are again all one happy family. It is a beautiful gift from God that we have this distant, but intimate, loving relationship with each other. This is the reason we are called to return here again.

We enjoyed a bit of Christmas after the moms officially welcomed us with song and dance.
It seems that British friend Kim, who returned to London with the military last spring, sent bags of gifts for each and every mom and child. Sent several weeks ago, the gifts somehow got hung up in Customs and just arrived this week. So the good Lord provided this Mission Team with the unique Nanyuki Christmas experience in late January. Remarkably, the kids, one-by-one watched and waited for their turn to open their treasure.

We met Gibson, our new Day Guard and gardener and all the new puppies that Oscar our promiscuous guard dog has provided. In the days to come, we will try to introduce more of the new staff that cares daily for the Imara family.

We had dinner back at Cape Chestnut on the porch with Carol and Sandy and enjoyed getting reacquainted and reconnected as we prepare for the days ahead. Please keep the staff and team in your thoughts and prayers as we work together on the present and future needs for God’s precious gifts here.

Dressed to serve

Photo by Kevin Walsh, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Photo by Kevin Walsh, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

It is Friday night and we are in Nanyuki. Today was another day of travel and transition. We had breakfast at the Amani Gardens Inn bed and breakfast (formerly the Mennonite House) where we stayed last night. We went to the bank, and exchanged our US Dollars for an amazing conversion rate of 101+ Kenya Shillings to the dollar. So, just to put the bulge in my pocket into some perspective, $1000 USD converts to over 100,000 Kenya Shillings, and a 1000 KS bill is the largest. It surely causes one to think differently, for example, when the transportation from Nairobi to Nanyuki, roughly a four-hour drive, costs 6000 Kenya Shillings, or about $60.00 USD.

Carol and Sandy met us in Nairobi last night after their meetings with Kenyan accountants regarding our new Imara International-Kenya company accounting systems. We are ready to file the new Imara Village building plans for government certification, which will allow groundbreaking on the new Main Building, the largest building in the Village, to start this spring. We need to give Carol and Sandy great credit for navigating this circuitous process, where customs, regulations, culture and timing are quite different from our American reality.

We had dinner at Sophy Grattan’s Cape Chestnut Restaurant, which is a great British/Kenyan experience. The Chinese Buffet was “over-the-top” excellent. One of the big take-aways for me is to witness the extreme network for Carol and Sandy here in this community. People know (and love) these two Imara emissaries. From my point of view, these fiends of Imara know and care about what is going on at Imara House here in Nanyuki, and I believe the good Lord is continuing to send good people our way. The great credit goes to these two fine women who are the face, the voice, the heartbeat and the daily soul of this mission here on the edge of Mount Kenya and the Rift River Valley. It is a beautiful thing — thank you, God!

Our daily devotion on this trip is based upon the study Dressed to Serve, developed and published by Reverend Dr. Frank Nelson in Stillwater, Minnesota. While we have packed our clothes and lugged our luggage, we are also dressing ourselves with the wardrobe of servant’s clothing that God wants us to wear in the days ahead. Today we studied Colossians 12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

While we focused on gentleness today and the other spiritual fruits in the days to come, we also throw in some love. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we seek to represent all of you in doing God’s work in this very special place.

Leaving for rainy Nanyuki

plane taxi

By Fred Hegele, Board of Directors
Imara International

Kristine Michael, Sharon, and I are on board our flight for Amsterdam. We are talking nine pieces of checked luggage, each weighing between 30 and 49 pounds, filled with supplies for the Imara House, ranging from hoodies, flip flops, towels, washcloths, yellow cake mix (Betty Crocker of course), lots of brown sugar, and cosmetics, to manicure chair complete with wheels.

In her phone call this morning, Carol said they harvested about 5000 pounds of potatoes on our new property. Carol says we were lucky to get them out of the ground and into a storage shed, where they will await a better market price in a month or so. Carol says that many people are losing their crop of potatoes to rot due to the El Niño rainy season in the Rift Valley.

In a season that is normally hot and dry, Carol says that it just keeps raining. She gave Sandy high praise for driving the Imara SUV pulling a trailer through incredibly powerful rains and mud, mud, mud, mud. It’s a good thing I brought my gum boots this year!