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Panua Trip, Blog 4: Teamwork

Today was the end of the mission trip as tomorrow we start our journey home.  I’ll sum up this last day and hit some highlights from along the way.

We saw little kids joy, thoughtful record keeping, teamwork, a flashback from day 1, and witnessed the face to face meeting of two prayer partners.

Walking to take a water filter to Loise at her hair salon/residence, we came across two little boys working on knocking dead limbs from a tree to get wood to burn.  They had a water bottle tied to many lengths of string and would sling the bottle up into the tree and pull it down, hoping to remove whatever was dead and collect it on the ground.  It was just a spur of the moment thing when we came back past the tree on the way back to the van.  Ben looked up and saw a large dead limb and instinctively jumped up and grabbed the limb.  It came crashing down and the stunned look on the boys faces quickly turned into the happiest faces and squeals of joy as they rushed towards the hunk of firewood.  Seems like a lot of things happen on these trips that aren’t on the agenda, that don’t even relate to what we came to see or do, but are little moments that stick with you.  Ben the beast!

Another time while meeting Rose at her place of business where she does hairdressing, she brought out her record book where she writes down every transaction by day, service rendered and price.  Nothing fancy, but meticulous and neat and a great way for her to look back and see what days are the busiest, what services are the most popular without having to guess. She is in a good location in town and uses this information to help determine her marketing.

In meeting with the DCK working group, without really realizing it, we opened up a discussion on the importance of teamwork.  Matt pointed out how our group back home worked together as separate businesses and that we had been working this way a long time.  We won’t say how long but I was much younger when the core of this group started working together.  This sparked a flood of questions when the introductions were over.  He pointed out how the business we were all in needed the different components that we each had to make us successful both together and individually.  You could see in the looks they gave each other when we pointed out for example that a two of them were taking training in electrical wiring, one was learning plumbing and another, masonry.  I think they realized how the possibility of working together could bring/raise the level of success and that once again that maybe they weren’t alone.  You see the concept of the working groups is that each one of the youth in the program coming in can feel alone in the struggles they are facing.  Once they hear each other’s stories they can start to relate and the bonds of a family begin to take shape. We related that teamwork is needed not only in business but in family dynamics, social interaction, or a number of other things.

To further that example, we visited Elsie in her newly opened snack shop, where she has a small hotel (small eating establishment) where a person can stop in and get hot snack, like some Chai tea and a pillow doughnut.  Think a beignet without any sugar.  In opening the hotel, she had one of her group that is learning furniture making, to make the four small tables, and benches to sit on.  The tables have a nice cleanable colorful top and benches have a padded fabric covering.  She is getting some white paint for the walls to brighten up the space and had hired another of her group to paint her sign, along with his phone number so he can get more business.

Remember James and his pep talk the first day?  Well, we met Nixon at his place of training in welding almost two thirds around the lake from Naivasha.  There we presented him with a water filter to be used he starts his business.  While meeting with him and the man training him, we noticed the welding machine they were using and realized it was supplied by James.  That tied a lot of things together for our group.

Finally, one of the group got to meet his families prayer partner, Vivian with her son and grandmother.  The instant bond and joy was overwhelming.  The grandmother was so thankful for what Panua meant to her and Vivian.  The little guys happiness was contagious.  I wish each and every prayer partner could meet and have that connection.  It’s not possible, for sure, but powerful when it does happen.  This is why the letter writing is so important.  I hear it each time I visit.  They cling to those letters, share them with each other, display them in their homes and look forward to receiving each one.  The language on their end might be hard for us to read sometimes, but the heartfelt thankfulness is always there along with their desire to see each one of us.  English is not their best language for sure but they are fluent in their tribal tongue, the national language (Swahili) and English, depending on how much schooling they have had.

I think that wraps this trip up for me.  I was asked last night at dinner if I think the trip had been successful.  We didn’t really do anything, except show our commitment to the youth in the program, pass on some of our concepts of togetherness and teamwork, encouraged them to save for the future, and delivered water filters that will serve them in many ways.  I got to see guys on this trip gain a better understanding of the program which they can bring back home and share.  I think as always, these trips shore up the staff here and remind them of our support for their work.

So, yeah, I think it was a successful trip.

-Larry Brown