News Update: (April 17, 2016) Out of Africa
We have been in Kenya just two weeks and what an incredible 2 weeks it has been. Daryl, Rusty (my brother) and Mark McMillan (my cousin) arrived within 1 hour of each other from three different states and connected in Kenya without difficulty. Our trip as a trio started out eventfully with arriving at the Guest House just outside of Nairobi at 12 midnight. After an exhausting trip we found ourselves soaked from the rains as we were both entering the guest house and trying to free our taxi driver from the clutches of slick, thick and not movable mud. Mark walked in the rain to get our vehicle where it was being stored as I was sure we could pull out the taxi with our four-wheel drive Land Cruiser, affectionate called “the Beast”. I promptly got the Beast stuck almost up to the axles and there both vehicles would remain until the next morning when we were able to get a tractor to extradite the masses.
We connected with Kepha Pondi a Living Waters Board Member who was joining our team from the Philippines and we joyfully left Nairobi on Monday April 4th. We located and purchased a well-built 7 X 12 open utility trailer which we promptly loaded with a 2500 gallon water tank for transport across Kenya. I was not sure the trailer was the right thing to do, but I was impressed that we would use it in this project at some time in the future and I was able to make the purchase at a very good price. As a side note the trailer has been used every day on the project and I do not know how we would have done without it. In addition to the water tank that was carried across Kenya it has transported tons of foundation stones, loads of construction supplies including metals and wood, fencing and numerous trips from the Shamba (farm) with staff to and from the feeding center. God immediately put the trailer to good use.
Each of our team has played invaluable roles in which I on my own could not have accomplished in a months. Kepha has successfully negotiated the transportation of the purchase of a container to transport supplies from both the fence supplier and the water tower supplier via lorry from Nairobi to Rusinga. This was no easy task and required much of his time on the phone as we experienced multiple delays in the materials being pronounced ready for pick-up tomorrow. As most of you know tomorrow never comes, however in Kenya it finally arrived 8 days later. He also was in frequent contact with the lease agreement attorney to finalize the final draft of the 50 year lease agreement that has been worked on for the past 5 months. Kepha also spent hours auditing the financial records between Living Waters and our strategic partner in Kenya to assure all documentation was in order. Thank you to Kepha for his tireless pursuit of reconciling all concerns from supplies to transportation and more.
Mark has had a great experience as this was his first trip to Kenya. Last night he commented how much he was growing to love this area and the people. Mark has been our on-site foreman at the farm. On any given day we have 25 workers working to clear brush, did out trunks, dig foundation footers for the water tower and main gate, stack brush and so much more. Keeping 25 people accounted for and all of the tools they are using is no small task and Mark will be sorely missed when he departs in 2 weeks. I know he would love to return for Phase 2 later this summer, however, a sponsorship for his air transportation would have to be found. At 25 years old, Mark brings an incredible presence of harmony to difficult situations and a youthful energy that inspires all of us. I have been very blessed to have shared this experience with him.
My brother Rusty has been busy in multiple ways. It is always good to have another person to run thoughts and ideas past as two are better than one. I am in uncharted territory for this project, but with God in charge, I just follow His leading. Part of that blessing was having Rusty here. He has done most of the vehicle driving as I have found my foot is less than more, healed after the accident I had in January. I am doomed to have this clumsy walking boot on whenever I am at the farm or out of the house. It is very difficult to drive with it, so Rusty has become my chauffeur. I must use a walking stick and I gather a lot more attention than I desire as I hobble through the markets in Mbita gathering supplies. Mark and Rusty have been great in the kitchen and have not complained with the discovery that our solar refrigerator control panel malfunctioned and there are no spare parts in Kenya available. This means a trip to Kisumu on Tuesday to buy a new refrigerator. It is most difficult to adjust to no refrigeration in the kitchen where things will start to mold in 12 hours. Ongoing challenges with ongoing solutions never end in this environment.
We arrived to a rainless rainy season where things were hot and dusty; however, about 3 days ago the rains have started which make new challenges. The rains are such a blessing to all for the crops that have been planted. Our challenge is driving to the farm on the new road we had to have put in which reaches ½ mile from the main road. The development of the road was required to get our container on-site and for future vehicle access, however, getting the work done was costly and not without multiple delays and frustrations. During the rainy season it will be a challenge to keep out of the ditches and keep from sinking in the mud.
All in all, the three of us (Kepha returned to the Philippines on Friday) are really stoked on how much the farm has changed from, much of a jungle environment to it all being cleared and almost ready for the perimeter fence installation. The fence contractors are to arrive this morning and start the layout of the fence and our objectives this next two weeks is as follows.
· Layout the fence and start manually digging 300 fence post holes,
· Pour the concrete slab for the water tower
· Start the erection of the water tower
· Install the entrance gate
· Dig a 2 foot deep ditch almost a half of mile for the water line from the lake to the water tank
· Trip to Kisumu (major energy day) to Kisumu for supplies via the ferry
· Purchase the water pump
· Avoid, snakes, hippos and mosquito
· Ongoing supply purchases for daily construction
When the container arrived late Friday afternoon it had to be completely unloaded from the contents so the container could be off-loaded from the truck and then the contents had to be replaced. This was a 5 hour project and left all of the men exhausted after they had already worked a 7 hour day in the heat. What a team I have been blessed with.
We had a most welcome Sabbath rest here yesterday and it started to rain heavily at 12:30 am. This is the only time of the day I can get internet service so I am writing this to you and sending it early (1:30 am) Sunday morning. On Sabbath morning we took a three hour motorized canoe trip out to Godthe Island where time seems to stand still. The only visible modern day items are motorized canoes and tin roofs. There are no roads, no electric and people live entirely off the local resources. The island is very rocky and has numerous birds and monitor lizards. On the way back across to Rusinga Island we jumped ship into the refreshing waters of Lake Victoria for a welcome and refreshing swim. We cannot swim near the lake shore due to hippos, and parasites in the water.
I ask that all of you keep all of us and this project in your prayer and thoughts. I am trying to make arrangements to either extend my time here or will have to return early June in order to complete the initial phase of this project. It is a huge thing to develop a farm in the middle of the jungle and I must have underestimated the time commitments to have things on schedule. I must have forgot that time slows in Kenya. I need an additional 6 weeks and I think the farm would be in order to start the planting of crops.
I am going to say good bye and good night as I hope to drift back to sleep listening to the gentle rain on the roof. All of us send all of our love to you, and thank you for the multiple ways that you have supported Living Waters and the projects. Oh yes, the kids are on the official April break from school and resume in May. They have been so happy to see us and to meet Rusty and Mark. Two weeks from today my dearest wife Mary Jo, my sister Krystal and her granddaughter Elise leave the US to join us. We will welcome them with open arms and gratitude to have so many family together working together for the good for those less fortunate. I am so blessed.
Daryl, Mark and Rusty
News Update: (Jan 26, 2015) Nepal Support
Living Waters Intl recently sponsored 190 blankets to the 2015 earthquake devastated area of Nepal. These were high quality blankets that helped to save lives. We received reports of people freezing to death in the area we previously worked due to the harsh elements with little or no shelter.
We lift these dear people of Nepal up to God as they continue to suffer immensely from this disaster. Thank you to the donors who responded to this need.
News Update: (Dec 8, 2015) Sustainable Garden Project
Imagine only being able to eat a fresh vegetable once or twice a week, and fresh fruit maybe a handful of times a year. This is a reality to many who live in conditions that don’t allow the growing of fresh food.
Luckily, that can change. Living Waters recently had an opportunity to make the Feeding Center more sustainable, and we need your help.
Here is the immediate need. The land must be fenced to keep the hippos from ravaging the farm (they are vegetarians). This will require a strong chain link fence that will have 3 inch metal pipe for poles and a heavy gauge chain link. It will also have the extended brackets and barb wire on top to keep potential poachers from taking the produce. In addition to the game fence, a complete irrigation system will need to be constructed. This will require a 30 foot tower that will have a 10,000 liter water tank on top along with a small diesel-operated water pump to bring water from the lake to the tank. There will be 2 1/2 inch water lines transferring the gravity feed water to the front of the land 1100 feet from the tower. Water manifolds and drip irrigation will also be need to be installed.
In addition to the fence and the land, a greenhouse can be built to provide the needed covered space for new seedlings and sensitive crops. And finally, it would be most helpful to have a small tractor that tills the land, cultivates, carries the produce to both the feeding center (on a daily basis) and to the market.
News Update: (May 14, 2015) From Daryl Oft in Kathmandu, Nepal
Tuesday mid-day shower was a welcome relief. I had been up most of the night trying to coordinate a potential shipment of 25 more water purifiers. It was hot and as the cold water turned warm from the solar unit, I lathered my hair and sighed a sigh of relief. As I was thrown to the floor, I heard screams before I actually hit the hard tile. As I tried to get up I realized the floor kept sliding out from under me and I could not get a footing to get up. Once I did get up, I realized I was on the second floor of a four story house and that it was taking every thought I had to grab a towel and try to get down the stairs that were swaying like an aerial trapeze. I first realized I had cleared the house into the crowd of screaming neighbors and at first, I thought it was due to the continuing earthquake, but in hindsight it was probably the sight of an old foreigner emerging from the house with just a towel and a head full of shampoo with a toothbrush still in his mouth. Pretty scary sight I must admit.
I am not sure what the highlight of the week was as this was just one of many. For the next 20 minutes we stood clear of the house with the ground swaying underneath our feet, and it was like trying to run on a shifting sailboat with nothing to hang on to. I was the better off with only bruises and a stubbed big toe, I thought I had broken. Tonight I am writing from inside the house where I will sleep hopefully without interruption. We have been sleeping in tents since the quake that measured 7.3 and had six quakes ranging down to 5.8 within 20 minutes. Sleeping in tent city with many panicked people and hundreds of dogs barking in unison, military jets taking off at all times during the night and the rolling of the ground has left for sleepless nights.
I am to be at the airport at this moment, boarding my flight for home, but I am not. Both Mary Jo and I were compelled to extend my stay until Sunday night in an attempt to complete the 2 additional purifiers that New Life International gave us. The quake disrupted our schedule by three days, so here I am, tired, dirty, hungry and entirely happy that God is so good and has allowed me to complete my work here on this trip.
We now have 4 systems installed with one more to install tomorrow and then I will return to the last two installed to purify and train the locals in their operation.
My life here has been an emotional roller coaster that would not only be hard to imagine, but impossible to explain. I have seen what seemed like the worst the devil could dish out and then today. The area of Spindupunchwk which has been the hardest hit is where I have had the privilege to work. I returned for my third trip, and today I was shocked at what lay before me after Tuesday’s quake. Once at a junction where we turned off in a different direction than I had previously been it looked like heaven and hell met. I climbed up a steep one lane road through incredible beauty with pine and other trees and looked out over the massive valley and still higher mountains on the other side. Just then as we rounded the corner, there were signs of fresh landslides across the road. As we traveled for the next 15 miles I passed what I would estimate were the remains of 6000-8000 homes of which there were only approximately 30 standing. I could only count three that looked like they would be safe to enter and the rest was worst than a war zone. Village after village was in total ruin. Most people are so traumatized they just are existing but trying to function. In one village there was a group of multistory homes perched on the side of a 500 foot drop. The homes where strewn down the mountain with the concrete floors still intact but looking like dominos with 12 people still buried under an impossible recovery situation. For almost 2 hours we wound up and down to the village of Sirubari. Here one of the few structures that remain has the second floor slid across the first floor and hanging precariously across the road. It is extremely dangerous as the slightest aftershock will immediately bring it sliding down across the road with no regard to the villagers who must walk past it on this dirt trail.
I then had to hike down ½ mile of Grand Canyon style hiking (you know, the ones with vertical steps of stone and mud going straight up or down) and then we located the area to place the purifier. This has a slow but continuous stream of water and will soon be providing the first hope these people have had.
So many miracles, but they will have to be written when I am conscious. Please pray for those who are so affected; those who are risking their lives to help and to those who are able to support financially. It is easy to continue life as normal and think this only happens to the other country. It is so real, it is so devastating, there is so much pain, anxiety and terror and this is just the beginning. Cholera will hit as soon as the rains come and mudslides will take out hundreds, Malaria will follow with the rain, and this beautiful country with its welcoming people will continue to be hammered by the reality of what the devil would choose for all of us.
I cannot express enough how to take time to love, don’t sweat the small stuff, decide what is really important and follow your heart as God leads.
Signing out from Nepal.
News Update: (May 12, 2015) From Daryl Oft in Kathmandu, Nepal
Incredible loud boom and instantly the enormous mountains are shaking and making a very intense noise. I feel as if my legs have turned to jelly as the ground below me seems to turn to jello. I am on the phone to Mary Jo at this exact time and she hears the anxiety in my voice. I do not know if the ground stretching below me for almost 300 vertical feet will drop away and I will go with it or if the ground 3000 feet above will come down and over me as it did on so many human lives less than two weeks ago. This is the first and strongest of four quakes this day alone. I have come for 4 days deep into the hardest hit area of this earthquake. Over 4800 people lost their life in this district (county), over 90 percent of the homes have been left either completely turned to a heap of stone or are completely uninhabitable. I am living at the village of Kaping, and with the magnitude of what I just experienced, I may die in Kaping. My heart is racing and it takes no less than 30 minutes to feel like I am breathing normal. I look at the heap of rubble that two weeks ago had a vibrant family full of life, living in a peaceful, incredibly beautiful setting where life mostly revolves around the immediate vicinity, and I cannot get my mind around the sheer terror of what that day was like. I simply cannot comprehend it even with the picture the local pastor painted for me. When the initial quake stopped he looked out over where the village used to be and across the mountains and in the blink of an eye, homes were exploding in flames, others were simply mushrooms of dust rising into the air. Screams of terror and pain were everywhere. Everyone’s life instantly changed into a seeming hell. As each aftershock rumbles these majestic mountains this day, I experience the instant running into open spaces. This becomes an immediate reaction without thought. No longer is my life simple and calm. My three days (finished my installations a day early) were white knuckle experiences that I could not imagine and I will have to say that as my heart was breaking as I left the villages, there was a great since of relief that soon I would be in a much safer location.
My first day leaving Kathmandu was to install a purifier in Thumpakhar, a village of about 300. When I arrived in this village which was a 10 mile trip up switchbacks from the valley below, I found utter and complete destruction. The entire village was crushed. I could not imagine how anyone could survive much less how they would now survive. They had been receiving water up until 2 days ago from a system of above and below ground pipes from a tank 8 miles away. They sent someone to fix the problem but this left me with little hope they would get water in time for me to install a system. Against my better judgment of placing a system in this village I simply could not leave these desperate people without some hope. No government aid had reached this high into the hills however, the Adventist mission in Kathmandu has been ferrying rice into these areas since 2 days after the quake. They assured me they should have water by that night even though I had serious doubts. I felt impressed to install the system which we did and I took 2 young men from that village and traveled to Kaping, where they had been able to get half of a 500 gallon tank filled. I started earnestly praying for God to send water. I would train everyone at one location in anticipation that the men could return and operate the system whenever the water did come. This was on Thursday. As we were about to leave Kaping we were notified they had received enough water to fill half the tank. All water from above is distributed to different villages and this village gets their allotment in a 2 hour time frame. We drove down the mountain and back up another to Thumpakhar to find the tank full! The team that was trained had the system operational in 30 minutes and in 1 ½ hours had 500 gallons of pure water. Villagers came by the dozens with their water containers and in 1 hour the 500 gallons was depleted. This will be repeated every time the tank refills. God provided and through our efforts our faith was strengthened. You simply cannot be in this environment and have the miracles that are happening without knowing God is good, He is able and He will provide. I am so blessed to have been allowed to experience God working through me.
We were just allotted two more purification systems to install and within minutes received the required money to purchase the tanks, batteries and pay for the vehicle rental to transport to two more villages. Praise God.
Tomorrow, I travel a full day’s journey to the China boarder and assess an outlying village that has begged for help. I return on Wednesday afternoon (God willing) and catch a flight home Thursday night. Please pray for a safe journey and that I return in time to catch my flight. Please pray for Mary Jo as she has an incredible responsibility at home keeping the business and offices operating with minimal staff.
I am sorry that I cannot yet send pictures as the connections are too bad here. I will be doing a full presentation May 30th at 11 am in Payson. If you are in Arizona you may want to plan to come. You will not be disappointed.
I want to thank all who have donated to this humanitarian disaster. Your donations have made it possible to help thousands. There are hundreds of thousands more that need some type of help. Whether you support Living Waters or a charity of your choice, your sacrifice will be blessed. I can tell you that through Living Waters in partnership with New Life International (water purifier organization that donated the purifiers) the money is going directly to those who you intend it for. There is no delay, there is no overhead, there is only the rich blessing that the giver and the receiver gets. Thank you again.
Daryl reporting from Kathmandu.
News Update: (May 7, 2015) From Daryl Oft in Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu has suffered damage and it should not be minimized, however, it pales in comparison to the incredible crushing damage that has occurred in the rural villages. With stone homes being built on terraces that are not more than 20 feet wide and sit perched thousands of vertical feet above the rushing river below it is no wonder so many lost their lives and homes. The overwhelming damage typically is that entire family dwellings have imploded inward and the interior homes are fully engulfed in stone that is maybe 15 feet high. These villagers generally buy their food stocks once a year and now it is all buried. People have no food and no option for food unless it is brought in from someone.
Pastor Umesh (mission President) has a truck that departs every day from his home delivering rice and noodles. The financial strain it has placed on the local mission is unbelievable yet he keeps moving on faith. The transportation to get the supplies to the villages is white knuckle, massive adrenaline that I cannot describe. On the way out on Tuesday we saw 2 fatal accidents of relief trucks where they had plunged off the narrow road. We passed no less than 8 road blocks that were set up to keep everyone out except relief supplies due to the extreme danger. Roads are blocked by landslides with just a tread of tracks getting through with 300-500 feet of vertical drop into the valley below. At one point, we were trying to make a sharp turn going up a 20 percent grade and we could not make the turn. Once the driver went in reverse, I got out. Upon examination, the tire tracks were not less than 3 inches from going over the precipice. Needless to say, I started hobbling until we were well past that area.
I have installed two purifiers, one at the Adventist mission in Kathmandu and the other in an outlying village that took four hours to get to and should have taken 6. It was breathtaking, to wind through the valley with rushing rivers below and towering mountains above. Only in your wildest imagination could you visualize this area of intense vertical land masses. The Himalayan Mountains look like clouds in the distance, but are taller than anything I have ever seen. It is no wonder that there is a strong sense of spirituality attached to these mountains (even though highly misplaced).
Nothing, I mean nothing is written in English, so it is very difficult to grasp where, what or how here.
I have been very blessed to have a wonderful family to put me up and the mission (same as Union) president has dropped most duties to assist me in our objectives. I leave today (Thursday), to disappear into the far reaches of this destruction. We will install another purifier and then I will spend Sabbath with the mountain villagers. I will take two days to train them on the operation of the systems and return Sunday afternoon. On Monday I set out for a three day trek to the China border where there is a desperate cry for help from an Adventist pastor. We will take supplies and if able, a water system. Please keep me in your prayers during this perilous journey.
The main thing that is of immediate urgency is funding for rice and noodles. $1500 will buy 100-75lbs. sacks of rice and 100 boxes of noodles that will have 3000 individual servings in them. The pastor is getting these supplies to the villages and is using his garage as a warehouse that is full on one day is empty on the next. Please do what you can to continue your support for this humanitarian disaster. ALL funds collected from now on will go directly to food relief. Children, women and men’s lives are truly depending on the sacrifices others will make.
Thank you for your support.
Daryl reporting from Kathmandu.
News Update: We need your donations for Nepal earthquake relief
Our target goal is $5,000.
Here are the facts.
- Daryl leaves April 30th for Kathmandu with three water purifiers that were donated by New Life International and will return May 15th
- Each system will provide 500 gallons/per hour of purified water and will serve thousands of people each day
- One system is designated for Sheer Hospital in a highly devastated area but still providing care
- Daryl will be taking a tent and dehydrated food for his accommodations
- Water tanks and solar batteries must be purchased in Kathmandu to complete the system installations (they are available)
- Immediate help for travel and supply needs expenses are urgently needed.
- Fundraising goal by April 30th is $5000
- One Hundred percent of all donations go directly to providing this relief
- No wages/salaries are paid, this is strictly volunteer
- All donations are tax deductible
This is a very devastated area and Daryl will arrive and be on-site one week after the earthquake. All of the conditions he will face will be of unimaginable magnitude. Daryl is urgently requesting your financial assistance to help in this relief effort and your prayers for safety and guidance in my deployment. He is totally relying on God to provide all resources to accomplish this effort and asks you to partner with God, Living Waters and himself.
Please donate now by hitting the Donate button above.
Three International Mission projects in Three months
CRAZY, BUSY does not adequately describe the planning, preparation and implementation that it took to complete three successful international mission trips in a period of just over three months. Coming right on the heels of Daryl and Mary Jo’s busiest time of year for their business, Daryl challenges everyone from the Living Waters Board, his family and yes, he believes even his God with his latest vision to reach out. With multiple opportunities presenting themselves with four separate projects, three having to do with water purification in the South Pacific and in the Philippines and the fourth with our orphan care project in Kenya, Daryl traveled approximately 35,000 miles from November 11, 2014 to February 27, 2015.One hundred and sixty plus children and a handful of elderly widows receive nutritional meals three hundred sixty five days a year thanks to our Creator and our dedicated donors. Medical care, education, school uniforms and blankets are a few of the benefits provided to the orphaned children of Kaswanga.
Kenya Kids @ Living Waters Feeding Center
January 15, 2015 found Daryl and his youngest son, Rusty (Daryl Jr.), headed for Rusinga, Kenya This was Daryl’s 40th trip since first arriving in 2005. This would be Rusty’s first trip to Kenya although he has helped on other humanitarian outreach trips including Hurricane Katrina and Typhoon Haiyan. Mary Jo and Living Waters Board member Sharon Judd joined them on February 5, 2015.
In 48 hours- 24 kids become total orphans-read on for understanding of God’s leading
Some of our kids screened for diabetes are still going hungry-read on for understanding in God’s direction
Our objectives were quite clear and simple:
•Build a veranda on the back of the guest house/medical clinic
•Pull the water well to determine why inadequate supply of water
•Perimeter Fencing assessment and repairs
•Window screening for the medical/clinic/guest house
•Three (3) Community seminars for Ebola Awareness and Diabetes Education
•Assess two (2) projects for strategic partnerships potential
•Ongoing Living Waters Feeding Center and Living Waters Kaswanga Academy
•Academy project assessment and management
•Annual Birthday celebration for Children
•Annual Staff appreciation dinner
•Expand Living Waters Industry (sewing project) building and capabilities
•Electrical installation to the feeding center, sewing center and back-up to medical clinic/guest house.
These may not seem like major projects, but look on to see how God provides and how His timeline directs changes in our outreach.
In a 48 hour time period 24 children became total orphans with absolutely no one to care for them or meet their needs. We were approached by our staff and asked if we could take them on. The budget constraints were explained and they were asked “how do you think we can take them on?”. Their reply was “we will all have a little less so we can take them in”. Hearing this, we knew we would step out in faith at that moment and that God was asking us to help His little children in Kaswanga.
When we did blood screening for diabetes on all of our 175 children we were shocked to see that many had blood sugar readings of half of what should have been expected. Most had not eaten since they were fed at the feeding center the day prior. Even though they were getting one good meal a day they were still undernourished. Most of us could not function with blood sugar levels ranging between 41 and 50. We knew right then we had to take another giant leap of faith and start a breakfast meal program. All of the children will now come by the feeding center and get porridge on their way to school and return at lunch time for a hot meal.