Short takes from the road:
Okay, these are just some interesting little bits and pieces from the last couple of weeks. Stories within the story, if you will. Some of them the guys will find more interesting and some of them the ladies (mothers) will find more compelling. First, the technology things, ladies might just want to skip down a ways?
Surprisingly to me, no one here seems to carry tools. Three times, three different vehicles I’ve been riding in have experienced mechanical or physical problems. Once it was just the antennae falling off and needing a screwdriver, once it was bad diesel clogging a fuel filter and once it was a broken off lock pick inside a car door lock.
MultiTool to the rescue: I’m carrying small folding multitool with which most guys are familiar, so when Stakwell’s antennae came off and was flopping loose and he was examining it, I asked, “Do you need a Philips screwdriver?” which caused him to look at me curiously and ask, “Yes, do you have one?” And I whip out of my multitool. It is an understatement to say he was amazed as I showed him the rest of the tool after he fixed the antennae. Then on the rough drive out of the Samburu wildlands, our Cruiser experienced a fuel problem. The only tool the driver had was a single box end wrench which, of course, was the wrong size and wouldn’t have gotten some of the hose clamps off anyway. They were amazed when my multitool transformed into a very good set of pliers and an assortment of screwdrivers. And we were soon on the road again. Then when the broken off lock pick from the failed break-in was stuck in Naftaly’s door lock, needle nose to the rescue. These guys can’t believe the tool; they’ve never seen anything like it.
For the guys who want details, mine happens to be the Gerber Legend 800 pictured below:
When modern meets undeveloped:
The flashlights available here are straight out of the 1950s. They are large, awkward, use D-cell batteries, and don’t shed much light. So, at Stakwell’s one of the men on his crew was amazed when I lit up the night with one of my flashlights. (I carry multiple flashlights including my phone which actually has an assistive light app that uses the camera flash as a very bright light) My flashlights are all compact, heavy duty, the best one even armored, and all use AAA batteries. Fortunately, I brought a couple of the Coleman MAX flashlights which provide 70 lumens… I keep one in each bag so that I will have one available and then put one in my pocket anytime I’m leaving and might be out after dark. Though I see well in the dark, I’m not as coordinated as I once was and tripping could result in an injury to old bones that I don’t want to risk. My brightest flashlight is still quite compact but is a spotlight with 150 lumens, not particularly good for walking around but I use it for two things; lighting street signs from a distance (not any value here!) and for security. 150 lumens flashing in an intruder’s or assailant’s eyes at night will temporarily blind him and provide me options for escape or defense. I sleep with this light at hand. (I have been attacked in multiple countries throughout my missions life.)
I gave one of my Coleman MAX lights to the young man, Samson, from South Horr who was so helpful to me throughout my stay there… and who fell in love with my flashlight and borrowed it several nights. I know what I will bring for gifts to many people on my next trip! (I also gave him another set of batteries and promised to send some more)
BATTERIES: a necessity for our modern electronics from flashlights to cameras to cell phones and computers. I have tried to standardize everything that I can and while I think it is always feasible to have a change of batteries for everything (the one thing I don’t is likely to become a regret this week as we may be videoing with my camera) but it is also good if you can recharge.
But most of the time when we think recharging we are picturing walking over and plugging something into a wall socket. Guess what? Welcome to Africa and many places without electricity! (and it being undependable even where it exists) So, how do I make sure I have fresh batteries and can recharge?
I brought a very compact folding Goal Zero SOLAR charger and power pack. I can keep my AAA batteries charged and charge my computer or cell phone. I just lay it in the full sun and it will charge it’s little power pack which will also charge either my phone or computer. (this model only about half charges my computer, but better than nothing)
Zagg Sparq 6000: I have seldom been as pleased with any purchase as I am with this device. It is a compact little thing that you charge when you have electricity available and that will recharge my cell phone fully twice. Understand my phone is much more than just a phone for me, but is texting and email, GPS, Bible and research tools, compass, calculator, currency converter, Kindle and Audible books, alarm clock… I could go forever it seems. I have been in hotel rooms without electricity, on LONG bus rides without electricity, extended walks, etc. and this thing is a lifesaver. Stakwell uses a Samsung Galaxy Note II and because he uses it intensively is always running out of power. When we were sitting in a coffee shop the first day and his device started flashing him warnings he was scrambling through an email exchange with a company in Europe for which he consults; he was amazed when I pulled out my Sparq and plugged in his device and he was able to continue his work and his device charged up. Several times then over the next week he asked if I could charge him up. I was bemoaning that I had forgotten it is customary to take gifts to give your host and so I was brainstorming with Kellie what I could give Stakwell when the answer became obvious. That final morning at 5:00 AM before I boarded the truck to leave, I told him that I wanted to give him something and when he saw what it was he actually became quite moved. He knew I valued it and used it regularly and so he knew that it was a true gift given from my heart. I will admit if I could have found a way to wait until the last day of my trip to give it to him, I would have hung onto it a couple of more weeks! But perhaps that was a part of the sacrifice I needed to make.
Now, MOTHERS, this will mean more to you:
When life meets the practical: After a little public thing in which I was involved that would have unsettled many people, a man who had been observing me approached and sat by me and began to discuss some serious things. Well, we got past the “group dynamics”, “mob mentality” and “political manipulation” items and he related to me that he is the head of the Counsel that oversees the branch of the Department of Education of Kenya that caters to the deaf. He explained how he has a ‘deaf’ son (most of us who are ‘deaf’ are actually just extremely hearing handicapped and not actually profoundly deaf), but that what really concerned him was that his son had some speech defects and didn’t seem to be learning how to speak clearly enough to function in life.
Did you ever feel like God put you in a specific place at a specific time for one very specific reason? This was one of those moments for me. My deafness stems partially from a congenital defect and partially from disease as a young child but when I started grade school my speech defects were significant; I could not pronounce either ‘L’, ‘S’ or ‘R’ in words which makes many words unintelligible. I was able to explain to this father that his son’s speech defects were likely a result of his hearing problem, that he couldn’t hear the letters so had no idea how to form them. A therapist, with a button on a string, taught me what my tongue was supposed to do to make certain sounds and with repeated drilling, I developed the muscle memory to pronounce sounds I cannot hear. So, here I sit explaining to this father that a nearly deaf young child with speech impediments grew up to become an acclaimed public speaker with just the help of a speech therapist when I started primary school. As I explained his son can remain in public school and have the therapy at home afterward, just an hour 3-4 times a week, can change his life. And I told him that his son needs to sit on the front row in school, he needs to discuss this with the school and the teachers, because whether he knows it or not he will be lip reading in order to hear and he will need to be able to see the teacher up close to excel in school.
Language Challenges: I perhaps have an advantage when I cannot understand others because of a different dialect (and because their mouths shape words differently than Americans do and I’m dependent upon my eyes to hear)… I plead my deafness. However, one time when I simply could not make out what a lady was saying, in frustration she burst out with an exclamation that I heard clearly, “I’m speaking plain English!” Well, yes, perhaps, but dialects can make the same language seem foreign to us. A real example was when I visited in Naftaly and Christian Wainaina’s home in Thika. Their 6 year old daughter and their 19 year old niece who lives with them are both named Griss. I know that because they told me very plainly several times; Griss. The next day I asked Christian how they spelled that and she looked at me peculiarly and said, “Griss. G-R-A-C-E, Griss.” Okay, do you understand now what I mean by dialects making comprehension a challenge?
Then there was Rosa, the language and religion teacher from the high school in Lake Turkana who rode in the middle on the trip out of the Samburu country, and with whom I visited extensively. I had recharged her phone with my Sparq that first day when they arrived as it was dead and there was no electricity and we had visited as I sat with the teachers and got acquainted with all of them. Later that evening a group of Kenyans of British descent rolled in to stay the night and I ended up at their table after dinner joining in their conversation. Now realize, Rosas first language was Swahili although she learned English from the time she started school. But these guys were native English speakers whose second language was Swahili. Rosa related to me the following day as we drove that she tried to listen to our conversation but couldn’t understand a word we were saying, even after having visited with me for nearly an hour with her group. And this brings up a major language comprehension issue: SPEED.
When we talk we get to rolling and the separation between our words disappears. Those who speak a different dialect will hear all the sounds but not be able to distinguish the breaks thus will not be able to comprehend words. It is necessary when speaking, even to English speakers, who speak a different dialect to have a distinct break between each word. This increases comprehension 10X or more. And it goes both ways. Tim Ouma, a pastor here, and I have visited about this—he hadn’t realized what the problem was—and once he saw it he agreed to monitor me as I teach. I gave him permission (he never would have done so otherwise) to use specific hand signals if I began speaking to quickly, running my words together or he was unable to hear me. When I speak with conscious thought, he understands me 95% of the time (vocabulary is always another problem) but when I speak quickly, focusing upon my thought rather than my speaking, he doesn’t understand hardly anything I say. Of course, using a translator for the 30% of the pastors in the assembly who don’t speak English helps me to focus upon my speaking.
Right now, I’m praying that the Spirit might intervene as He did on Pentecost and every man be able to hear me in his own tongue!
And, after the drive here to Kisumu, I think maybe the Kenyans should be looking to see if this man reported on NBC has a cousin here in Africa; someone has obviously stolen some of the roads that maps show come to Kisumu: http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/02/19839063-russian-man-accused-of-stealing-an-entire-road?lite&lite=obnetwork This guy in Russia actually STOLE a highway! It was built in reinforced concrete sections and he just went out there with heavy equipment and stole the whole thing! In other cases people have been stealing bridges in Russia for the salvaged steel… one man is going to prison for 2 years for going out with a cutting torch and disassembling and removing a bridge that connected one city with the rest of the country. They followed the tractor tire tracks to his shop where he was cutting up the steel.
Yes, I think someone in Kenya is stealing highways!
And with that note, I’ll close. J
Saw this NBC article this morning (I have good Internet service at this hotel) and though it is good news, it doesn’t tell the whole story about solar power. http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/out-darkness-solar-power-sheds-little-light-powerless-communities-6C10867721
Jack was raised in a Christian home where he spent his youth preparing to preach God’s word. First published at thirteen, writing and speaking became Jack’s passions. Whether through newspaper columns, magazine articles, radio broadcasts or public speaking engagements, Jack continues to share his heart with his readers. His life’s motto: To Know God, and To Show Him To Others.