The Tour

This last month has flown by with hardly a chance to take a breath! My travels began when I left Kibidula with a few friends destined for Zanzibar. After spending Sabbath in Dar es Salaam at a local church and walking down to the fish warf in the afternoon we set off early Sunday morning to catch our 7 am fast ferry. The boat was surprisingly nice and didn’t leave the dock too late. We were happy to arrive in Stone Town after a short ride. As we walked out of the ferry terminal, we were met by the usual onslaught of people trying to sell us a taxi or other merchandise. We were blessed to get a cheap taxi to our destination at the northern tip if the island. By 11 am we were walking on the white sands of Zanzibar.

The next few days were absolutely perfect. We took a local dhow out to an island sanctuary to snorkel in the pristine waters on Monday. The next day Allison and I (the only two with scuba licenses) went on two dives. On the way to the dive spot we came across some dolphins swimming. I skipped into the clear water with visibility all the way to the sandy bottom about 25 ft. below and started swimming down to where the dolphins were. Just as I neared the bottom, a dolphin needed air so we swam at arms length to the surface. Probably the highlight of my whole trip. It was amazing to observe the beautiful animals in their natural habitat where they were not afraid. The dives were also great for seeing lots of beautiful coral and sea life.

On Wednesday afternoon we headed back to Stone Town. After catching dinner at a beautiful rooftop restaurant we headed down to the park where many people were cooking Zanzibar pizza and squeezing sugarcane. Those foods were amazing! On our way to the hotel, I observed some guys jumping off the sea wall into the bay. It was dark but at their encouragement I pealed off my shirt and took a flying dive into the bay to cheers from the spectators. The best part was one guy who convinced me thoroughly when he said “you can’t beat this cause it’s free!” That was the best part of Stone Town. The next day we took a spice tour in the interior before returning to the town for a quick tour before our boat left. The town has so much character in the buildings and especially the carved doors.

As soon as we arrived back in Dar it was off to the airport for the flight to Kilimanjaro. Allison and her brother visiting from the States were the only ones left for this portion of the trip. On Friday we traveled up on the mountain and took a hike to a waterfall and visited the gate of the National Park. Made me want to hike the summit… maybe some day. We spent Sabbath at the Moshi church where they placed us in front of an extremely loud speaker. They were closing out their week of stewardship and had many people meeting in the open air. I finally convinced the man translating for us that it would be far better sitting behind the speaker. Whew! Didn’t lose all of my hearing. In the afternoon we hopped on a bus to Arusha to prepare for an early departure for the Ngorongoro crater. The trip to the crater went great until we reached a decent hill on the road. The Land Rover we were in began having engine trouble. Eventually we made it to the crater where we saw many types of wildlife including several lions at close proximity. The weather was great for the morning and we enjoyed a great game drive. On the return journey out vehicle again started missing and we got to sit at one of the roadside shacks where a “mechanic” helped remedy the problem. The remainder of our time in Arusha was spent seeking out food… turned out to be a rather fruitless endeavor. By the time Tuesday evening rolled around we had finally completed the long journey back to Kibidula. It was wonderful to be free from the constant bartering and hounding by various people out to get money from tourists. But my rest was not for long.

The next morning before most people were awake, Philip and I departed for an epic bike tour. His dad drove us the first three hours on the main highway to our drop off point next to the mountains. We started riding around 8:30 am and finished the day at around 6 pm and 1700 meters of elevation gain later. After all the travel and biking was totally beat. But the second day was even more grueling. We again left around 8 am and very soon we entered Kitulo National Park. This park is absolutely stunning. It’s set in mountains covered with grass, sprinkled with wildflowers, and dotted with waterfalls. We took a few swims on our ride through them continued past grazing cows on winding dirt roads. I thought I was in Switzerland. The we began descending from the high point of the day at about 2900 meters to our destination in the Livingstone mountains. The clouds joined us as it got dark. We got lost a few times and traveled through many villages in the sense fog. Once one of the bikes lost it’s brakes we were forced to push the bikes to our lodging (a room at what once was a small guest house). We arrived at 11 pm and got to sleep at 12 am. Constant thoughts of rats running around kept me awake so I got up with little rest.

Friday we had the challenge if pushing our bikes down the mountains on twisting, steep, and dangerous trails to the valley floor. The trail descends around 5000 feet in just 4 km. It took hours to get down. We thought it would never end. But finally at about 3 pm we reached the valley floor. The 11 km to the shores of lake Malawi only took about 40 minutes. Unfortunately I succumbed to riding my bike directly into an oncoming motorcycle. Still have American reflexes steering me right. Fortunately neither I nor the driver were seriously injured.

We met up with the Fourniers and clan at the beach and had a great few days relaxing and surfing in the waves with the wind surfboard or just bodysurfing. I got to putt around on a wind surfboard for the first time. Great sport.

On Wednesday we returned to Kibidula. The irrigation project is coming along. One section of avocados is completed with the others nearing completion. The new orchard (still to be planted) has the main water line and filter installed. By the time I leave in a few more weeks we should have sprinklers to every planted tree and valves on the main line for the larger, unplanted orchard. Working here has been one of the highlights of my life so far and I look forward to visiting this place and the people that make this place in the future.

Written from my iPhone (read tired fingers :p),

William

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Dead Computer and More Adventures

This message is brought to you from Dar es Salaam on my iPhone. My apple computer has chosen to be obstinant so I am forced to write here. Forgive me for the lack of posts and stories. These past few weeks have been filled with travel, building a one-day school in Iringa, flipping sailboats on the lake, building sheds, moving printing presses with the forklift/truck, driving tractors, installing irrigation filters, tramping in the swamp with the younger missionary girls (and presumably snakes), and getting to know Zoe the Australian Shepard sheep dog that has really made me miss the dog I great up with (Smitten).

As the next few weeks are taking me away from Kibidula temporarily I’m reminded how nice it is there. Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro will be nice but I can’t wait to get back the the place I’ve grown to call a home away from home. Praying God’s richest blessings on you this Sabbath day.

In His Service,

William

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Changing Times and New Horizons

It’s been a while since my last blog inspiration hit. Since then many things have transpired at the Kibidula Ranch. Seems more and more like a ranch each day. There are around 1800 sheep and 70 cows besides the pet dogs, cats, and donkey that wander around the campus (fortunately the donkey is of the quite variety). Hay season is approaching, avocado orchards are being prepared for planting, and the general feel is of a bustling farm.

This past week we (Daniel, Yona, Elison, and myself) finished laying the pipeline and began the process of leveling the pipe. The ditch follows a path out of a small valley where the stream has been dammed up. During the process of digging there were variations in the height of the ditch. The problem with this rising and falling of the pipe is that air can become trapped in the high points of the pipe and prevent water from passing in a phenomenon know as air lock. To remedy this situation I would sight through a transit level to insure that the pipeline was either remaining level or descending. I felt like a surveyor out there sighting through that level. Really enjoy learning new skills. Before burying the pipeline we will need to check for leaks so that’s on the agenda coming up this next week. On Wednesday, Esra Ross and I sat by the dam to insure the water was escaping through the spillway and not washing out the dam along the pipeline ditch. To pass the time I set up my hammock over the water and Esra and I enjoyed hanging out until the water had submerged the intake to the pipe and was flowing out the spillway. Then we set off for the bottom of the line – 2.5 km away – while Esra kept up a constant stream of conversation. He wanted to follow the pipe instead of the road so we did. About a quarter of the way down I heard him grunt and looked behind me to see that he was lying in the ditch with the pipe. He had tripped and all of the sudden he found himself in the ditch, but he was undaunted by this little disturbance and we struck off again on our mission the let the water out of the end of the pipe. We arrived at the end to discover that the water had beaten us there. As I removed the screws in the cap over the end of the pipe, geysers shot up into the air. This was the kind of excitement Esra had come to watch – William trying to keep a battery powered screwdriver dry while getting soaked by the mini geysers. Afterward he asked if the water could have really shot out for 10 feet around when I removed the cap; I said it was possible if the pressure was high. We raced back to the office (another 2 km) just in time to catch a ride up to lunch. After lunch the rain came with a vengeance, as it tends to do here in the rainy season. We stayed inside and played games around the kitchen table for most of the afternoon. It was a good day.

This past Sabbath was a high Sabbath here at Kibidula. Kiel Ross, Livia Waber, and a student from the agricultural school were baptized. Steven Grabiner preached a pertinent sermon on the importance of Christ being the focus of our lives. Following the sermon the missionary girls (many) and the missionary guys (the two Ross boys, Philip Riederer, and myself) sang a hymn before we all headed down to the pond for the baptism. Two days before I had braved the rain with a chainsaw to ready the area around the pond for the baptism. But on Sabbath my job was to play violin as the people gathered at the pond. My hymn imagination was nearly spent when everyone finally arrived for the baptism. Before I stopped playing the violin there was some commotion near the edge of the pond about 10 feet from where I was standing. Some guys began beating the water vigorously with sticks. My natural reaction was to make my violin playing more vigorous as the activity reached fever pitch. Turns out there was a green water snake swimming in the pond. Maybe my playing attracted him? Not sure how those headed into the water dealt with the knowledge of a snake in their pond, but I was glad to be an observer for the day :). The weather held out for us until the end of the baptism but within 30 minutes of finishing the service there was a deluge of epic proportions. Thankfully, we were safely eating potluck in the Waber’s house and appreciating the blessing of good weather for the morning, God’s blessing of Christian fellowship, and no snake bites for those in the pond.

Sunday was the board meeting for Kibidula. My morning was spent harvesting carrots from the garden with Emily and Shiloh. They had fun telling me stories and talking to me while we dug and washed the carrots. The next step was to peel the carrots. We had two large basins filled with carrots and it took a long time to peel all of them. Finally the Champion Juicer saved me from the manual methods by shredding the carrots in five minutes :).

The last few days have been a bit slower because Jason and family have travelled to Iringa to help a mission group building a school. The group just arrived and is settling in to their new surroundings. Jason and family are returning tonight.

On another note my computer has threatened to bite the dust but is still working for now. It will have to wait to get back to America to be repaired. My diagnoses ranged from dirty solar power confusing the battery regulation to a problem on the Apple forums online that others have been dealing with. Seems likely that the latter is the culprit but time will tell. For now there is still means to write blogs :).

This week marked the departure of the Ross family from Kibidula. They are headed back to the States to pick up life there. They will be missed here and the party we had for them was filled with good memories but also sadness for their departure. They are a really neat family with many talents and I pray the Lord will bless them in their endeavors in their new environment.

Sabbath is coming. It is definitely the best day of the week. Look forward to it each day. Hope yours is filled with blessings from above. This evening I resonate with the apostle Paul when he says that even though he considered himself the highest-ranking sinner, Jesus still died for him. We are so unworthy to be called the children of God. Imagine that. God is our father. It’s true.

– William Guthrie

“Love that found me, wondrous thought, found me when I sought Him naught.” – William McComb

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Travel and So Much More

These past two weeks have been filled to overflowing with travel, work, play, or some mixture of the three. Here is a short (hopefully) synopsis of the happenings.

Two weeks ago was the beginning of a short week here at Kibidula. I signed up to travel with several members of the Riverside Farms Institute board to the meeting there. After the first half of the week being filled with assembling filtration/valve systems for the avocado irrigation, hunting down nuts and bolts in the dark recesses of a Mafinga hardware store, a great partial week of prayer, and towing a dead pickup back from town, we were ready to set off for Zambia early Thursday morning. Early was 3:30 am. Emily (8 years old) sat in the back seat of the pickup while Jason drove with Thomas riding in the passenger seat. Around 8 am we reached the boarder to begin our attempt to cross. Since we were taking a car the process was a bit more involved and thus would take more time. I stuck with Thomas as we wove our way through the mass of vehicles and people trying to “be our friend.” Many boarder towns here are havens of less than ideal behavior so I steered clear of striking up conversations with any strangers. But soon enough Thomas and I were rather forcibly required to enter an office and talk to the immunization official about Zambia’s required Yellow Fever vaccine. Thomas had not received the shot previously so his position was harder than mine. About 13 years ago I received an immunization for Yellow Fever and some quick action allowed my dad to send an email with my card. When I showed it to the man I just prayed he missed the date for the vaccine (supposed to be good for only 10 years). He did and I was dismissed. The irony of the situation is that we were only staying in Zambia for a few days and the vaccine is not effective for 10 days post injection. We tried to explain this to the man but he continued to repeat the record he had been taught. Finally Thomas was at his wits end and submitted to the injection process. Fortunately for him the procedure involved some unsanitary measures that he took advantage of to prevent puncture of his skin. The day was saved and he left the office with a yellow vaccine card. The next hurdle was buying the visa. When I went to the counter I handed the official my circa 1996 $100 bill for payment of the $50 visa fee. After examination the bill was rejected as to archaic for the Zambian system and I was directed down the street to an exchange shop only to meet with the same fate. My bill is still with me and I parted with another of my newer vintage bills.

A few hours down the road we came to one of the many police checkpoints during the 20-hour journey. Emily and I had our seatbelts off as we were reclining and Tanzania is not strict about backseat riders’ compliance with this law. But the officer took the occasion to check everything else in our car and about our driver. Here he found what he was looking for. Jason had forgotten his license, but for a fee of $50 he was able to purchase a new one good for 24 hours (actually the ticket for the offence but it doubled as a license). We were merrily on our way again. The next morning we rose at the same time to make it to RFI by breakfast.

Friday afternoon we hiked the bluff the forms the backdrop for the campus. The view over the river and surrounding hills was stunning and we enjoyed visiting with the Knowles atop the hill. The weekend was filled with great messages from Kim Busel and Steven Grabiner who were in residence for the board meeting. On Sunday I traveled to Lusaka with the two student missionaries. We picked up some insulation for a school project and enjoyed a great pizza lunch at one of the malls there. Good food and different than everything else I eat around Kibidula. The return trip started not so early on Monday morning and we arrived at Kibidula on Tuesday afternoon. The trip was quite long and Emily required that when it was daylight and she was not sleeping that I should be awake for her entertainment. Her chosen method of keeping me awake was to poke me in the abdomen. This was quite the adventure. Relief came only when she tired of seeking attention from me and gave it to the back of her eyelids J.

Upon returning the project at hand has been laying 2.5 km of 6” pipe for the new avocado orchards. I have been working with Yona, Elison, and David. They are great to work with and I’ve been picking up on some more Swahili as we have worked together. Today was somewhat eventful in that one of them fell off the back of the farm wagon as we were driving to get more pipes. He attempted to hang on to a strap and ski down the road. This ended when looked back to see waving arms. I slammed on the brakes and nearly created a tractor/wagon smashup but danger was averted as a veered off the road to follow the direction the wagon was pushing me. Later, we looked across the field to see a truck stuck in the ditch where it crossed the road. The guys suggested that I take the tractor to “help them out.” With a little pushing from behind the truck lurched forward out of the ditch, but this was only after the owner had attempted to start the vehicle from outside while it was in gear. This provided lots of excitement as the truck lurched sideways down the ditch as the front tires were securely held inside. We have completed over 1 km of the pipeline and the laying is going faster now that we are in the field. Hopefully after two more days we will have the pipeline finished.

This past weekend was really fun. I rode to a remote village church in the back of the Ross’s pickup with about 10 other people. We sang a song for special music, passed out some Light Bearers Bible studies, and enjoyed eating their corn and bean mash for lunch. Upon returning to Kibidula Mrs. Ross provided soup and chocolate pie to supplement the village meal. Later the missionary kids and a few of the SM’s took a walk to “the canyon,” a place in the road where water had created a gaping hole in the clay soil. We carved our names in the tradition of those who came before us then we scurried all the way back to avoid the impending rainstorm.

Sunday morning I biked to the Ross’s house for another meal; this one was a scrumptious pancake breakfast. My next order of business was to complete the tree house (platform) for Tim. We worked together as much as we could but I wound up hoisting most of the boards up 20 feet while standing on an outstretched branch. It was a good test of balance. After a while the Ross boys joined in the party and we were able to complete enough of the decking to have a picnic in the tree. The afternoon proceeded with games at the airstrip. My “day off” was more work than a normal work day but it was even more rewarding to see the smile on Tim’s face as we worked in the tree. His day was one in a hundred and I’d have to say that mine was too.

– William Guthrie

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Crash and Fun

This past week has been a blur. Meeting new people, learning some more Swahili words, working on irrigation projects, and hanging out with missionary kids has filled my weed with great experiences.

 

Last week I continued the irrigation surveying project for the main water line that will be installed. The line had been marked to the point where avocados were going to be planted. I charted the remainder with a GPS, 120 meters from the creek bed, marking every 120 meters along the path with some fertilizer sack flags I had made before beginning. The first time I started out from the creek bed up the slope 120 meters I ran into ferns that reached eye level. It was a tough slog through the dense fern forest. The thought of continuing this for 1.25 km was enough to make me feel tired already. My legs were also feeling their sunburn get ripped with fern stalks. Relief came soon enough as I was happy to find that the fern forest was only several hundred meters long. On Friday I finished up the main irrigation line by marking every 10 meters with a stake with my helper, Festo. He is a young guy and I enjoyed learning a bit of Swahili while working with him. My muck boots (galoshes) have turned out to be a good footwear choice. Rain is common and so are snakes – at least that’s what I have heard. Jason killed a small puff adder on the road the other day while I looked on. With the tall grass I am glad for the peace of mind that tall boots give.

 

Sabbath morning we headed off to the village church just past the primary school at the upper end of the Kibidula campus. The missionaries had an English Sabbath school where we discussed the lesson study on children. The mission field poses many challenges to raising children in the church and I learned a lot about the needs families have here. We had a meeting with the student missionaries to decide what we can do to help with the English service that happens every other Sabbath. This coming Sabbath the student missionaries will be helping teach the Sabbath School lesson for the children and I am preparing to teach the adult lesson and lead song service. While we were meeting at the Waber’s house (a Swiss missionary family here) several young boys came and demanded that I come outside. After putting them off long enough to get my assignments I followed them outside. Mathias, Esra, and Tim wanted me to help them carry a ladder to a tree with an old tree house. The plan is now to build a new platform in the tree (this is my mission to the boys here). I spent the rest of the afternoon near the Waber’s house while the boys showed me all the cool spots they knew about. In the evening the older kids hung around for making some snake bread (a Swiss tradition) on sticks over the fire.

 

On Sunday I rolled up to the Waber’s house and began work by measuring the tree for lumber we will need to make the tree fort. With the numbers in hand the three boys and I loaded up the land cruiser and headed for the lumberyard behind the shop. The boys helped me load up the needed wood on the top of the cruiser and we managed to deliver it safely to the base of the tree. Soon it was time to eat lunch and the Wabers kindly invited me to stay at their house for lunch. Mrs. Waber’s sister and family had also come over so I enjoyed a great meal of Swiss food while listening to some Swiss German conversation. All told it was a delightful day. We installed one board on the tree house and played several games with the missionary kids on the airstrip by the hanger.

 

On Monday the real work began again. Jason and I tested out a pipe section in part of the newly dug ditch. We were slightly worried that the curves in the ditch might cause problems laying the pipe. To our relief the pipe fit in nicely. Later on in the day Jason set me up with the tractor and bush hog to mow the soccer field and lawn around the primary school. I finished up around lunchtime with a nicely mowed lawn and a not so nicely knocked over section of the meter-high decorative brick wall missing (going to do a bit a brick laying in the near future). In the afternoon Jason and I fixed a leak in the water line for the girls dorm and installed a valve for easy shutoff of the water in the future. The next project involved finding a water pipeline in the existing large avocado orchard. The plan is to tap into this line to irrigate the orchard. However, the line is not marked so the task of finding the line was somewhat difficult. But after using the GPS to track down the path of the line our first digging landed us directly on top of the pipe! Next we decided the tractor would speed up the digging and Jason stripped off the thick grass roots and some of the topsoil. Not wanting to damage the pipe, we continued on using hand tools. During our digging my thumb got in the way of Jason’s hoe, which he was swinging from above his head. The moment of contact was a thud. In the next few moments I checked my tendons and lay down to keep from passing out. Fortunately my thumb is intact and is only sore today. Glad for the Lord’s protection and for a thumb that is attached! Tuesday morning I continued digging up the pipe so we can install fittings needed for the filter system that will be put in the line.

 

Wednesday involved more mowing, this time in the avocado orchards. The grass is 8 feet tall in places so the mowing goes slowly but I enjoy the work. Before I started mowing in the orchard, Jason mentioned that there are numerous faucets laid throughout the orchard like land mines waiting to be blown up. I have tried my best to avoid them but one geyser has resulted from my mowing. The irrigation system is going to be updated so the faucets are not critical but leaking water is not the nicest thing either. Might be capping some pipes on Monday.

 

Thursday morning I continued mowing the orchard (might be seeing a trend here – you’re on the money). Mowed for the morning then went to the Riederer’s home for lunch to enjoy some scrumptious food. About 2:30 pm we (a bunch of kids and several student missionaries) piled in the pickup truck to drive to the Ross’s house for a surprise birthday party for their daughter Kiel. We waited in the back of the house while the younger kids hid presents they had brought to make the gift giving more exciting. Kiel was thoroughly surprised to see all of us when she came back from her piano lesson. We played kickball, sit ball, and capture the flag in the yard for several hours before enjoying the food and cake. Allison and Brit wrote a song for the occasion and sang while they played Ukuleles. The song garnered good laughs from everyone. As the afternoon wore on the light faded and it became dark outside. I had brought a bike to ride the mile plus back down the hill to my abode but forgot to bring my light. Thankfully Bill Ross had a headlamp to loan me and I set off. Everything was going splendidly until I decided to look at a bush that lay to the left side of the road. As my gaze drifted to the left, my bike took the opposite drift and in a split second I hit the berm of dirt on the side of the road and was thrown violently over the handlebars grinding my skin on the hard packed dirt. Coming to a stop from 18 mph using skin does not provide comfort to the unfortunate victim – I speak from experience. As I lay in the road with the bike on top of me I realized that I would not make it down the hill unless I got back up and rode down. So I collected my lost shoe and hat and continued carefully down the hill, quickly washed out my wounds with water and alcohol (ouch!) and applied bandages before hopping into bed. What a day!

 

Today had been filled with more mowing but I should finish the large avocado orchard this afternoon. Looking forward to Sabbath and resting from potentially injurious activates.

 

– William Guthrie

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The First Week

Many days and many miles later William arrived on the campus of Kibidula in Tanzania… We pick up the story here. Actually that skips some of the best story material. 🙂

The real backdrop for this trip comes in my hometown of Mount Shasta, CA. As I was packing I decided that it was time to wash my down sleeping bag and jacket before undertaking a journey around the world. So off I went to town to get the proper detergent and find a Laundromat (actually the only one in town as I discovered) with a front-loading washing machine. Soon I had the necessary items in hand and arrived at my destination. Upon entering the Laundromat I discovered that the desired washers were occupied, but I was prepared for such an event and pulled out my kindle to read. But soon enough I realized that the washer had just begin its cycle and I set off to find more exciting entertainment. First I went to one of the local outdoor shops where I found several kids going wild in the little climbing gym there and listened in on a conversation about how the snow was so bad (can’t ski at Christmas… this is a problem) and epic treks through the local mountains. When I got bored of this I embarked on another adventure across the street. We have a store in Mount Shasta called Berryvail Grocery. But don’t mistake this for your normal Kroger or Safeway – it’s much more exciting. On the way in your likely to meet several dogs with owners wearing clothes not washed since the Laundrmat opened, someone meeting their fellow hippie after years of being apart (judging from the vigorous greeting), and someone singing/playing some rather monotonous tunes on their instrument of choice. Inside the hippie health food haven I found some Aloe Vera juice and chocolate to keep me occupied.

Back across the street things had gotten better. The gangster guys that were there when I arrived were folding their laundry on the way out and the object of my mission was now finished washing clothes. With no owner for the clothes in sight I pulled them from the washer and stuffed my goods inside. After popping the better part of my life savings of quarters into the washer, it began to operate. By this time I had invested the better part of an hour in my washing adventure, but with nothing else left to do I settled into reading again. Forty minutes later my down items were flat as pancakes when I put them into the dryer along with 6 tennis balls to help regain their loft. Thus began the lengthy process of waiting for them to dry. Soon my mood was lifted when a lady dropped a pile of quarters beside my seat. Without any effort my life savings was reconstituted. Then another guy arrived and began rambling about his adventures living in the city selling questionable items and describing sleeping bags of his own with descriptions of their previous owners. This rather interesting conversation was punctuated with an occasional colorful roommate of his with long grey beard and hair coming to ask for some service only to be denied. At the 2.5 hour mark I decided to bid adieu to my new friends, but before I left the guy that had kept up the rambling conversation asked for some tennis balls so he could use his new wooden tennis racket – “I’ve been playing too much ping pong, time to break it up with some tennis.” I was happy to oblige while I don’t know if the year-old balls will bounce for him.

Back in Washington, D.C. the Ethiopian Airlines flight took off midmorning. While we were waiting to board another student missionary joined us. Now there were three girls flying with me. Brianna from central Washington with her friend Enjoli and Ashley from Maine all joined the journey. So we settled in for the 12.5-hour flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The weather was cool with sunny skies. From Addis we boarded the short flight down to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

We made the novice traveler mistake of waiting for most of our plane to queue for visas. This greatly hampered our exit from the airport, but finally we were able to reach our baggage. Brianna wound up receiving the most trouble over her baggage. First someone tried to say that since her baggage had a tag with a date from nearly a month ago (probably the airline using old paper) that she could not take it. Then when she was sending the bags through the scanner a charge manager for a solar system appeared. All she had been told was that it was a battery charger, but the lady had a hard time believing that that huge item on her screen was for charging batteries. Eventually all our hurrying and waiting paid off and we were outside the airport! Jason Fournier met us with one of Kibidula’s land cruisers and we were off! This was a misnomer however, because traffic stretched the 7-minute journey to the YMCA into two hours of sitting in traffic and intermittently dismissing a peddler trying to sell cashews or spraying windshield washer fluid to indicate that we were capable of washing our own windshield while the persistent window washer continued to scrub away. Eventually a horn honk ended the attempt. We dropped our bags at the YMCA, Jason set off back to the airport to pick up his wife and three young daughters, and I set out to buy a SIM card for my phone. Two hours later I returned with a painting, a SIM card that would not work (my money was released on faith that it would work in the future), and several guys that proclaimed to be both artists trying to make a living and my friend. It turns out friendship is code language for money gatherer J. My sense of traveler savvy returned rather hurt and my pocket book to a lesser extent. Finally one of the artists left happy while I partially redeemed myself by denying his friend a similar purchase of art (he was very disappointed in my lack of sympathy in not buying one of his paintings because his colleague had not given some of the profits of the former painting to him).

The next morning we awoke around 3 am to begin our 11-hour journey to Kibidula. But first Jason and I loaded the luggage rack on the land cruiser to the max with around 15 various suitcases and bags. The remainder was stuffed into the back with three girls to sit on top of the pile. Once all nine of us were in the car we set off across the savanna. Along the way we passed through many villages, drove through a game park (saw giraffe, zebra, wild boar, impala, wildebeest, and Cape buffalo), saw beautiful mountains, and stopped at 10:00 am for a late breakfast of beans and chapattis. I was ready for that! The three sisters remained mostly calm until about the 7-hour mark when Shiloh, the youngest at 5 yrs., began to be a lion and claw my shoulder and her sister Emily, 8 yrs., followed suit. The first 25 times I was a very good sport and gave the desired reaction to squeals of delight, then my tactics changed. I attempted to remain very calm hoping the lion would think I was dead and seek other prey but alas! Haha Eventually we made it to Kibidula in the late afternoon.

I am staying with the guys at the school of evangelism dorm at the lower part of campus, as I am the only male student missionary on campus. Everything necessary for life is close by and the guys are really friendly. They make sure I know when meals are being served at the cafeteria even though I have eaten a grand total of 2 meals there so far. Last night was my first night of good sleep since being here. Mr. Fournier (president of ASI) was here through the weekend and gave the message on Sabbath morning. In the afternoon we took a nice walk around the campus.

My job while here is to work on the avocado project (the plan is to add several orchards in over the next few years). On Friday I laid around recovering from jetlag and entertaining the kids. But on Sunday I ran a chainsaw all day to clear the pathway for an irrigation line that will stretch 2.5 km from the dam on the stream to the avocado field. This is the main project at the moment. I discovered that most of the plants and trees in Africa have thorns and that the sun is intense at 6,300 ft. close to the equator. Sunscreen is in order for all future outdoor adventures. Monday morning we (Jason and I) finished clearing the path for the irrigation line. In the afternoon we took a trip to town to pick up Steve. Steve is an avocado farmer from South Africa and has a wealth of knowledge about growing avocados. First we stopped in Mafinga (the nearest town) to pick up some supplies. My goal was to activate my SIM card. This would have been a simple task if the shop I had gone too did not have a constant stream of customers interrupting the process. While I was busy waiting Jason took off to pick up the farmer, leaving me behind. Once my SIM was activated, I figured I’d just sit in a central location in town since Jason would be coming back through once he picked up the guest. But my waiting did not last long. A teacher from the school of evangelism was also shopping in town so I used his cell phone to call Jason and let him know I had another ride. Then he asked me to get another SIM card for the girls to use for Internet. So off I went to begin another 1.5-hour ordeal. Finally I made it back to Kibidula with a working phone and second activated SIM card. We had dinner and worship with Steve and yesterday morning Jason took him on a tour of the land here. I tagged along and enjoyed learning a bit about the inner workings of growing avocados.

Today Jason left to take Steve back to town. My job, with Josiah, was to straighten out the stakes marking the irrigation line and to measure 10 meters between stakes so the ditch digging can be contracted out by distance. There were a few clouds so I figured my situation with the sun was okay, but at lunch I realized that between the top of my galoshes and the bottom of my shorts were two very red patches of skin. I’ll learn someday… After lunch I settled down for a nap, helped the guys pick new growth for grafting onto avocado saplings at the nursery (about 8,000 trees there).

Seeing new things each day, learning a bit of Swahili, enjoying the weather, and digging the work. That’s my life for now. Looking forward to more adventures and inspiring experiences. It’s nice to take a break from American time and enjoy the slower pace of African time. More time to read and pray.

-William Guthrie

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