It doesn’t feel like it’s been so long since I’ve written, but probably because I’m also keeping up the MKMF blog. Please read our weekly updates at www.mkmf.org/blog
We took off a bit of time around Christmas as our project manager was out of town visiting family. It was a welcome relief after the exhausting surge to have memorable reading baraza/library events over the students’ holiday break. We were able to catch up on some needed projects around the house.
“Fix the Truck Month”
We had some disappointing efforts to travel – the vehicle we are using has suffered from a serious lack of maintenance, and as soon as we fix one thing, another goes out! We could probably summarize December to January as “fixing the truck month!” Even though we’ve been going through Mubichi to coordinate repairs, many of the mechanics working on it have not been very knowledgeable (no SAE certification to check!) – for example, one ran a battery cable across a very hot manifold, which melted through the insulation and shorted out a brand new battery just days after we bought it! The 4WD broke just a couple of weeks after we repaired it – it turns out the part we replaced it with was HOLLOW in the middle, and quickly sheared when stressed. We lost an entire rear differential from frictional shear because the gearbox was bone-dry – just a day after the fluid level was supposedly checked! These and other repairs have cost us about $2,000, which has been a huge hit to our savings account, not to mention frustrating. But vehicles here are extremely expensive, so we consider it a price for our freedom – it just has to end soon! Each repair can be quite the ordeal – there’s not an Auto Zone or O’Reilly’s to go to for parts. It can take all day, going to 10 or more different shops in Meru town to try to find one part. Often the search is unsuccessful, so an existing part has to be modified, or we have to wait for something to be sent from Nairobi (which may be defective like our hollow drive shaft!). Too many shortcuts! As many things have been modified on this vehicle, I’m beginning to wonder what is really stock??? But I guess on the positive side, we’ve learned about every major system of this diesel SUV. For any future repairs that aren’t that complicated, I’m thinking I’ll probably just do the repairs myself and know it’s done right!
We’re in a bit of a holding pattern on many of the MKMF projects. My major nutrition project has been put to a standstill for a couple of months now – a long-standing nurses’ strike has prevented any new admits at the district hospital. Many families are too poor to pay to go to a private hospital – I’m afraid many children have needlessly died because of this. Pray with me that this strike will end soon!
We hope to start several construction projects very soon – we were waiting for the dry season (now) and for funds to be raised. We have stateside partners actively raising money to pay for paving classrooms at Kathithi, water connection for Ribui, and toilets at Ngiine. Kathithi also has a problem with a borehole for ground water that needs to be repaired very soon…the nearest water source is rather far away.
Our book shipment has arrived at the port in Mombasa – we are just waiting for customs clearance so we can go pick them up, start sorting them out, and get them to the libraries that will put them to good use. I’m also looking forward to having some materials I need for a science club that are also in the shipment.
We are settling into life in Meru very well. Gradually we are learning where to buy things, and have become more comfortable navigating the chaotic markets in Meru town. We were so excited to finally find an electric guitar for Dale and a 5-string bass for me to play in our church! I’ve played two services now, and am really happy to serve in this way.
I also finally got to buy a circular saw as a Christmas present, which has revolutionized my ability to make our own furniture items, like shelves! Tools here are unbelievably expensive, and I really have missed my complete workshop I had in the States. For example, a simple $15 miter box like this – which was in fact the very first tool I bought 14 years ago to make shelves for our kitchen when Dale and I were first married– I saw in Nairobi for 15,000 Ksh, or $170!!! But now with a circular saw and the few hand tools I brought with me, I can do most things I need to. It feels so good to have this independence and self-sufficiency that I have missed so badly!
Finally, we added a new member to our family last week – a Labrador-retriever-like dog named “Loafie.” I have no idea how she got this silly name, but I’m really struggling for a better one…she really does like to loaf around all day. I’ve missed our animals terribly, so adopting this creature was a healing balm for my soul. She’s a sweet girl that needed love and a life outside a tiny kennel. She’s also been a wonderful friend and playmate for Riley. I’m so happy to have her.