Out of the Ashes // Kenya

Featured

When the fire started in the canteen on February 9th at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, Kenya there was little they could do to stop it from engulfing the entire upper floor and roof of the building. This building also contained the hospital kitchen, statistics offices, laundry, sterilization and (of most concern) a small portion of the orthopedic ward. Staff rushed to evacuate patients from the building only to discover they had not been waiting around to be rescued. Patients with limited mobility managed to get out and get moving. Hospital beds and wheel chairs were later located far away from the hospital.

Tenwek-Fire_Photo_6

Praise God that no one was injured or killed by this fire.  Fearing that it would spread from one building to another in the congested campus, they began to dismantle the timber roof of the nearest building and made desperate efforts to beat back the flames with small water hoses and any fire extinguishers they could get their hands on. As disastrous as it was for this building to be destroyed, the results could have been much more traumatic if other adjacent clinical patient buildings had been affected. The results were about as good as they could have been for an event like this and it was clear that God’s hand of protection was present.

The fire left everyone at Tenwek Hospital well aware of how much worse this could have been and thanking God for sparing so many lives. The question that came to everyone’s mind is how they could prevent such a disaster from ever happening again. The potential for over reaction could be great, but in everyone’s mind, something must be done.

DSC_1319

EMI has been a long time partner with Tenwek Hospital, helping them design several buildings and master plan the hospital campus. Shortly after the fire, Tenwek asked EMI to come help them plan for rehabilitation, consider impacts to the campus master plan and evaluate fire resiliency and preparedness. With plans already in place to come to Tenwek in the next few months to begin preparations for their new cardiothoracic center and water/wastewater system rehabilitation, we decided to move up our trip and help them make lemonade out of these lemons. So, myself and another EMI staff member left a few days later to assist them in whatever way possible.

Recovery from something like this is not fast, but the good news is that Tenwek hospital will recover and will be better off in the future. During our visit to Tenwek, we noticed that a couple simple construction techniques, like firewalls and replacing combustible materials, could be retrofitted into existing buildings to prevent fires from spreading and causing such a tremendous impact. They could also provide protection in high fire risk areas, such as kitchens that would stop fires from getting out of control.

DSC_1312

In developing world design, many times it is hard to find a balance between what is necessary and what is ideal. In the US, we design to codes that help make buildings safe and functional. To expect this level of design and construction in most developing world contexts is not practical and often too costly. Instead, we normally have to make compromises in design standards that we would consider to be ideal in order to be appropriate for the context. At EMI, we explain this in terms of a development ladder. Our goal is not to take them from step 2 to step 10, but to incrementally increase safety and functionality in our designs. Step 3, step 4…etc. We look to find the practical things that they can do to improve using local labor, materials, and equipment and without dramatic increases in cost. This is engineering at its core. It is challenging, it is outside the normal confines, and it can also be very frustrating.

As we evaluated fire resiliency and preparedness at Tenwek Hospital, it became clear that we (EMI) have not always done a great job prioritizing and stressing the potential hazards of fires in our designs. Fire hazards at facilities like hospitals are especially high considering the concentration of people, many with restricted mobility. This was a wake up call for Tenwek, but it was also a wake up call for EMI. The building that burned at Tenwek Hospital was not an EMI designed building, but in all our years working at Tenwek and other mission hospitals, we have not often recommended major changes to existing structures just for fire resiliency. Granted, prioritization for such things would likely not be very high where budgets are tight, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from making such recommendations.

DSC_1300

Now that news of this disaster at Tenwek Hospital has spread throughout mission hospitals in Kenya and sub Saharan Africa, awareness of fire hazards is likely increasing. EMI also recognizes this as an opportunity to share information with our many hospital clients so that they can be better prepared and more resilient for a similar disaster.

Advertisements

Beer Sheba // Senegal

This past month I had the privilege to be a part of a project team serving the Beer Sheba Project to design a primary school and teacher training center in Sandiara, Senegal. The name Beer Sheba means “well of the oath” or “well of seven” and comes from the location on the southern end of Israel on the edge of the Negev desert where Abraham dug a well and had it stolen by the Philistines. To secure his ownership of the well, Abraham gave Abimelek seven lambs (hence the meaning of the name).  Beer Sheba is a barren land where water is scarce and Abraham’s well helped provide life and sustenance to the people and the land.  Similarly, Senegal is on the edge of the Saharan desert and the Beer Sheba Project began on barren land where water was scarce. The property where Eric Toumieux began the Beer Sheba Project was given to him because the locals believed this land had been cursed.  Eric will tell you that the best land a follower of Christ can find in this part of Africa is cursed land. They will literally give it to you and at the same time you possess the cure for the curse.

Eric praying with the EMI team over one of his newly acquired "cursed properties"

Eric praying with the EMI team over one of his newly acquired “cursed properties”

When Eric acquired this land (unlike when Abraham moved into the region of the Negev) he started by praying over it and building a fence around the property (to invite the presence of God and to keep any Abimelek’s from coming in and causing a dispute). The spiritual and physical barrier served as his oath to the surrounding communities that this property was now set apart for God’s purposes. After this, a miraculous thing occurred.  The land inside the fence started to produce vegetation!  Eric also had well drillers come out to the property who told him there was no use trying because they wouldn’t be able to get water in this area.  Eric told them to drill anyways and sure enough, they hit a large aquifer.

Agricultural area at Beer Sheba

Agricultural area at Beer Sheba

They began to plant trees and crops and raise livestock and they are now using this site for biblically-based agricultural training and production.  In addition to the Kingdom building work they were doing and sending from this property, they didn’t realize the impact they were having on the surrounding environment until a group of bird watchers showed up with TV cameras from Europe. They claimed that not only was this property the home of hundreds of bird species, but it had actually affected the migratory patterns of the endangered turtledove!

The view from the Beer Sheba Project surrounded by desert

The view from the Beer Sheba Project surrounded by desert

The population of Senegal is over 90% Muslim, but unlike some of its neighboring countries in west Africa it is very tolerant of other faiths and is a very peaceful nation.  Peace is of tremendous value to the Senegalese.  In fact, the local greetings in Wolof and Serer can last for several minutes and greatly consist of ensuring that the other person has peace.  Still there are challenges for Christian ministries in Senegal and God has protected the Beer Sheba Project from assault on several occasions.  Protection has even come from the surrounding Muslim community who recognizes the good work they are doing for the people of Senegal.  As a testimony to the good work that they and other Christians are doing in Senegal, the government openly supports and encourages the development of Christian schools around the country.  They have a very high regard for the quality of Christian education.

EMI team meeting with the Mayor of Sandiara

EMI team meeting with the Mayor of Sandiara

This is no exception in Sandiara.  The Beer Sheba Project has built a great relationship with the local government and they are providing land for Beer Sheba to build another agricultural demonstration area in the main part of town as well as a piece of land for a primary school and teacher training center (that we are currently designing).  Beer Sheba has also acquired another piece of cursed land on the main highway coming into town where Eric envisions building a restaurant sourced by the Beer Sheba Project. God is doing and has plans to do even more incredible things through Beer Sheba in Senegal!

Volunteer Landscape Architect (Hutch) working with Eric on masterplan

Volunteer Landscape Architect (Hutch) working with Eric on masterplan

Another thing that struck me about the name Beer Sheba was its significance throughout the Bible. It is not often taught about or thought of, but many revelations from God occurred in Beer Sheba and many journeys of faith began or ended at Beer Sheba.  Those included Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, and Elijah.  For the nation of Israel it is the southern border and is mentioned many times as a boundary description or a place where the people of Israel settled after being in exile.  I began to wonder why God would choose to use such a barren place on the edge of the desert as a place of Biblical significance. What I didn’t expect was to have my own Beer Sheba moment while on this trip to the edge of the Sahara.

image

My participation in this design project was supplementary to my primary reason for being in Senegal. With the launch of EMI’s west Africa office in Senegal, I was interested to see how we could partner and participate in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects from this office.  This project provided a great opportunity for me to do this and spend some time visioning with some of the office launch team.  While I was hoping to make a few beneficial connections with ministries in Senegal and get a better understanding of what WASH would look like in Senegal, I did not have high expectations for projects or clear direction to come from this exploratory trip.  However, God had other things in mind. I left the desert with a clear picture of what God wants to do through EMI in WASH and specifically in Senegal.  I even left having identified a potential WASH project near where the office will be launched. I look forward to sharing more about this vision and future WASH projects in Senegal as things begin to take shape.  For now I know that I have heard from God and a new journey of faith is beginning.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22

image

A New Thing is Coming… // Gemena, DRC

Imagine a town of almost 400,000 people (think incorporated city population of New Orleans) with no paved roads, no electricity, no running water and no sanitation.  The people migrating to this town from remote areas hoped to find greater opportunities but discovered there were few jobs and less farming land to go around.  Most families earn less than a dollar each day and live in simple mud and thatch huts that are stacked tightly along the heavily rutted peri-urban streetscape.  This is the image of the almost forgotten town of Gemena in the Sud-Ubangi District of the Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Gemena is situated in the northwest corner of the DRC, approximately 100 kilometers from the Ebola River, the origin of the first Ebola virus epidemic in 1976.

The DRC (formerly Zaire) has experienced a tumultuous history of corruption, disease, civil war as well as physical and spiritual oppression that has kept this nation under a yoke of extreme poverty. While the DRC possesses natural resource potential that exceeds the US and European GDP combined, it still remains one of the poorest countries in the world.  The current conditions in Gemena are prime evidence of this cruel reality.

People gathering water at a spring that World Vision developed near Gemena

People gathering water at a spring that World Vision developed near Gemena

Young woman collecting water at spring

Young woman collecting water at spring

Milam and sister Lubelle hauling water with a bike from the spring

Milam and sister Lubelle hauling water with a bike from the spring

World Vision has been involved with relief and development work in the DRC since1984.  They began operation in Gemena in 2012 with what they have named the Ledia program. Ledia is a word from the local language, which means “a new thing is coming to this village” and that is exactly what God is doing through World Vision in Gemena. Seeing the primary needs of clean water and infrastructure, World Vision began working immediately with undertaking several massive water projects in some of the most marginalized and vulnerable areas of the town as they also started to develop relationships in the community through local churches and leaders. These local church partnerships are crucial to the success  of the overall programming to bring about holistic community health change in water, sanitation and hygiene.  These partnerships are also the means by which long-term maintenance of the infrastructure currently being developed will be sustained.

Completing these water projects, however, has been met with great difficulty.  Access to materials, equipment and specialized services (such as well drilling) are almost non-existent in this part of the DRC.  There are no major highways connecting most parts of the DRC, so transit by road is long and difficult.  Most major resources arrive to Gemena by shipment from the capital Kinshasa up the Congo River, which can still take weeks to months. The most efficient but expensive means of transport in the DRC is by air.  The only strip of pavement in Gemena is an airport runway occupied by local military and also utilized for local aid services.  Such impeded access further increases the already high cost of material provision and specialized services in the DRC.

World Vision requested that EMI come assess the water systems they had started designing and constructing to provide recommendations for their completion.  When the EMI team arrived in February 2015, they had begun work on three well-sourced distribution systems as well as a spring-sourced distribution system from a spring they had developed on the edge of town.  These distribution systems would help minimize the walking distance required for the people to get access to a safe water source.  The first phase of water system development that World Vision has planned in Gemena is anticipated to provide water service for up to 20,000 people.

One of the two steel water tanks World Vision has constructed and solar panel structure that is currently being constructed

One of the two steel water tanks World Vision has constructed and solar panel structure that is currently being constructed

Despite the challenges with procuring materials and services, World Vision has managed to make significant progress in the development of these systems.  They have drilled two of the proposed high-yield wells and erected steel tanks that provide 100 cubic meters of water storage at both of those locations, but there is still much more work to be done in order to see water being delivered to the people.

The EMI team was able to provide several beneficial recommendations for the completion of the water systems, but the greatest impact of our services was in building the capacity of World Vision’s local design professionals to effectively evaluate and manage the project.  In March 2014, World Vision brought Franck Nungombe from Goma to manage the water projects in the Ledia program area. Franck is a recent engineering graduate who has great potential to be a very competent engineer and project manager.  Some of the engineering techniques and tools that the EMI team was able to leave with Franck included building a weir to estimate the water flow in potential new spring sources and developing a computer model simulation of the water flow in the current proposed piping system.

Franck explaining the work being done to improve the local springs

Franck explaining the work being done to improve the local springs

Volunteer David Lee instructing how to build a weir to measure spring flow

Volunteer David Lee instructing how to build a weir to measure spring flow

Measuring flow at nearby spring

Measuring flow at nearby spring

The computer model gave immediate benefit in helping Franck determine that the proposed pipe sizes were too small and there were not enough looped connections to get the desired flow at the taps. Instead of us simply providing those recommendations, however, the EMI team was able to build Franck’s capacity to more effectively evaluate the designs himself after our visit. Franck was able to be trained to use the hydraulic model by John Agee (EMI staff and team member currently studying French for the start of EMI’s West Africa Office). John has also made himself available to Franck to provide additional support and training in order to further increase his capacity for future analysis.

Franck, me, John Agee, and volunteer John Rahe hiking to an undeveloped spring in the hills outside Gemena after getting caught in a rainstorm

Franck, me, John Agee, and volunteer John Rahe hiking to an undeveloped spring in the hills outside Gemena after getting caught in a rainstorm

When EMI served World Vision Malawi in 2014, one of the issues that we noticed that had plagued the water system development in Chikwina was the lack of consistent and competent technical oversight throughout the design and construction process.  This led to tremendous effort and expense of initially installing the wrong pipe size and material for proper function of the water system.  In Gemena, however, they will not be learning by trial and error. By having Franck there to manage these water projects and equipping him with the necessary engineering tools and counsel to do his job well, they will avoid learning things the hard way. As Proverbs 15:22 says,

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

As the EMI team departed, World Vision’s Regional Program Manager, Johnson Mawaba, said, “This is just the beginning” as he referred to the work to be done in the Ledia program and EMI’s partnership with World Vision to provide clean water.

a new thing is coming to the people in Gemena.

faithful in the small things // Malawi update

Update from World Vision Malawi: Water is flowing & Tank 1 is FULL! // What a privilege for @emidesignhope to be a part of this story. All glory to God! Check out the back-story at http://bit.do/pipe_dream and http://bit.do/Isaiah58-11

Update from World Vision Malawi: Water is flowing & Tank 1 is FULL! // What a privilege for @emidesignhope to be a part of this story. All glory to God! Check out the back-story at http://bit.do/pipe_dream and http://bit.do/Isaiah58-11

Recently, I posted this update on Instagram of water pouring into a full tank in Chikwina, Malawi.  EMI sent a team to help World Vision troubleshoot this water system in March of this year and if you read my post following the trip, you will understand what a HUGE deal this is for these people!  It was incredible to see the progress that was made on the water system after our visit and to know that the people living in the shadow of this tank are now able to draw water from it for the first time since this project began almost 10 years ago!

Seeing this made me think back to our last day in Malawi.  In my previous post I mentioned how impressed our team was with Robert, the new National Director for World Vision Malawi. The day before we left the country, we had the opportunity to meet with him for a second time when we spent the day in their headquarters office in Lilongwe discussing our findings with the executive team. When we arrived at the office we immediately went to their morning prayer and devotion meeting that had just begun. After the prayer time, Robert stood up and addressed his employees that were present in a way that I was not expecting.

Robert addressing World Vision staff at morning devotions

Robert addressing World Vision staff at morning devotions

He started by quoting Luke 16:10-12:

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?” 

From there he proceeded to openly address personnel issues that he was noticing within the organization. He did not call out people by name, but I am sure there were several warm seats in the audience. In fact, my seat felt a little warm as well as his words also began to challenge me. He said that on paper everyone is supposed to come into work at 7:30 am every morning, but in reality it is more like 8…8:30…9. They do this so they can knock off work early on Fridays, but in reality they still knock off earlier than they are supposed to (even when they didn’t come in on time all week). He said that he has a hard time trusting people that say they are coming, but in reality they are going, and their yes doesn’t mean yes. In addition to that, he addressed use of organizational resources by saying we should take care of others things as if they were our own, because how else can we expect to be trusted with things of our own.  If we can’t be trusted in small things like this; how can we be trusted with greater responsibility?

Now this is only a brief paraphrase of all that Robert challenged his employees (and us) with that morning, but keep in mind that Robert is a native African and he is talking to a room full of native Africans. Most African cultures do not typically put much importance on timeliness like we do in America. They are typically more event focused. They will arrive at the next event after the one they are currently in is over. It is considered rude to rush away from something because you have to be somewhere else at a certain time. Church services may say they start at 9, but in reality they start whenever most everyone shows up. With that in mind, Robert is confronting not only issues of appropriate work ethic, he is also confronting cultural norms.

He continued to say that as a Christian organization and as Christian individuals; our lives and the work we produce should all be distinguished and set apart from the rest of the world. Our behavior and attitude should be reflective of our holy God and our Savior. We should be faithful in every task that God has given us, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem and we should be faithful even down to the menial details of that task.

This got me thinking about the small things that I need to be faithful in and challenged me to be distinguished as a follower of Christ. As a Christian engineer, is my work distinguished from that of any other engineer?  After all, when I offer a cup of water in Jesus’ name shouldn’t the result of my work be fitting of bearing His name?

I think of Daniel who was so distinguished that even the pagan king was able to see that something was special about him by the way he ordered his life and how he held honor for authority. Daniel worked for some pretty rotten pagan kings during Babylonian captivity, but he was unwavering in his faith and he loved and served them like he was doing it directly for God…and people noticed. The thing that truly set Daniel apart is that he was faithful in the small things. It also got me thinking of another verse that our surveyor had brought up several times throughout the week where Zechariah was prophesying about rebuilding the temple.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)

Our Surveyor, Nate Kohl, with community children

Our Surveyor, Nate Kohl, with community children

Of course a surveyor would get excited about plumb line references, but the beginning of this verse grabbed my attention and so I began to research the context of the passage. The NIV says, “Who dares despise the day of small things…” The small things/beginnings that Zechariah is referring to is the size of the temple that was being rebuilt. At the time of this prophesy, Zerubbabel had already laid out the foundation of the new temple. Some of the older Jews at the time who had seen the grandeur of Soloman’s temple were indignant that the temple that was being rebuilt was nothing compared to the size of the previous temple. What God is saying through Zechariah here is it is not the size of the task that matters, but that it is done well.  The Lord rejoices that Zerubbabel is holding the plumb line because He knows that it is going to be done right, with proper skill and care. The important thing is completing the task that we have been given to the absolute best of our ability, not wishing the task we had been given was greater. Being faithful in the small things.

I don’t know how many people left that particular morning devotion time at the World Vision headquarters with a sense of urgency to live a distinguished life as a follower of Christ, but I do know that Robert’s challenge had a deep impact on me that I won’t soon forget.  I also know that God has unquestionably placed the right people at World Vision Malawi to accomplish the task of getting clean water to the people of Chikwina & Mpamba.  Bringing water to the barren tank was an enormous and long-awaited success, but there is still more work to do to complete this system. It would have been easy to lose hope and give up on this project, but I believe that God is rejoicing in their continued faithfulness despite the difficulty of the task.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)

a spring whose waters never fail // Malawi

Thank you so much for your prayers and support while I was away in Malawi!  I am happy to report to you that the trip was indeed successful, but not necessarily in the way we had initially defined success for the work ahead of us.  The purpose of our trip was to help World Vision troubleshoot a water system in Chikwina, Malawi in hopes to get water flowing to the main tank in the system which had remained dry since it was constructed.  We were working alongside World Vision’s very talented and knowledgeable staff, including their Project Engineer (Panji) and their Infrastructure Engineer (Zifa) who have both done a great deal of work already to remediate this system.  Still, some within the community and even within World Vision had completely given up hope that this project could ever be successful due to the amount of money and time that had been invested with seemingly little progress towards serving water to the entire community.  It was truly heartbreaking to see and hear that hope had been lost by so many.  There are families with children who have literally lived their entire lives in the shadow of this desolate tank and have never been able to draw water from it.  It was our hope that God would lead us to discover why water was not able to flow to this tank and then be able to see the system commissioned while we were there.

Picture taken from the main tank. There is a village literally right next to it.

Picture taken from the main tank. There is a village literally right next to it.

The first day we visited the site we discovered that a leak had recently developed in part of the system and that it needed to be repaired before we could even hope to troubleshoot the pipeline.  We learned that the 9 km pipeline (which was installed from a spring in the mountains) was suffering from enormous pressures where it had to pass through a valley to get to the villages.  These pressures are higher than the pipe is rated to handle and is therefore experiencing major breakdowns like the one we were witnessing.  Compounding this pressure issue is a number of installation issues which present vulnerabilities in the line that are also prone to leak.

Leak on Day 1 at over 350 psi static pressure!

Leak on Day 1 at over 350 psi static pressure!

Over the next few days, our team had the opportunity to fully appreciate the challenges that they had been dealing with since this line was installed as we saw the difficulties that they went through to make repairs.  Before installing this water line, most of these community members were farmers who had no experience in installing and operating a water system.  Before World Vision developed a Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Program in Malawi there was also no technical oversight on the project.  After understanding this and seeing the enormity of the system that had been installed, it became apparent to us that it was a miracle of God that they had come as far as they had.  They had taught themselves how to build and operate a water system with little to nothing in terms of equipment and materials.  What was even more impressive was that because of the challenging terrain, this system would have been difficult for even the most experienced pipeline contractors in the US with access to any equipment and materials necessary to do the job.

Panorama of some of the challenging terrain in Chikwina, Malawi

Panorama of some of the challenging terrain in Chikwina, Malawi

To give you an idea of some of the challenges they were facing with installation…the hike from the valley (where the leaks had been occurring) to the intake in the mountains is about 4.5 km and due to the terrain takes a full day to hike there and back.  When installing this pipeline, they hauled every bit of tools and materials up by hand.  To get one 6 meter section of 150 millimeter galvanized iron pipe to the intake it took 6 people to carry it over a period of 4 days!  Needless to say it has not been easy and understandable why it had taken them so long.  Talk about being motivated to get clean water!  I would have given up a long time ago!

Some of the tools they were working with including a hack saw made from rebar

Some of the tools they were working with including a hack saw made from rebar

Custom on-site scaffolding

Custom on-site scaffolding

After several repairs were made in the valley, we were finally able to start filling the pipeline that we came to troubleshoot.  A few improvements had also been made to this pipeline during this time which enabled us to witness water flowing a kilometer further in the pipeline than it had ever gone! However, we were concerned that trying to take water the final kilometer to the tank would increase pressures in the valley to an unsustainable point and numerous leaks would develop.  This is exactly what happened.  Minor leaks began to get worse and before long robbed enough flow and pressure from the line to make it impossible to get to the tank.  Having plenty of time to analyze the line before beginning to troubleshoot, this did not come as a surprise to us, but still felt a little disappointing given the initial purpose of our trip.  We had determined that we needed to give it a shot with the improvements that had been made, if nothing else but to prove that it wasn’t sustainable.

Water flowing further than it has ever gone in this pipeline

Water flowing further than it has ever gone in this pipeline

But, here is the good news…earlier in the week we had also discovered from Panji and Zifa that there was an alternate water source only 3 km from the location of the main tank that (if developed) had potential to serve the people in the area of the tank with some additional surplus capacity!  To us this seemed like a much more sustainable solution than using the original source, even if we were able to temporarily get this water flowing to it.  One of our team members put it this way…”we were building a fragile house of cards.”  It may have been possible to get water to the tank, but it was bound to collapse at some point.  It was actually good that it didn’t make it because it would have been unsustainable and might give them a false sense of hope that would reduce their motivation to develop this alternate source and keep them spinning their wheels to make this pipeline work. In addition to being more sustainable, the alternate source would also provide additional flow and source redundancy to the entire system as water from this tank would flow by gravity to all the other tanks which are below it.

In addition to this, the work they had already done developing the original source and pipeline would not be wasted.  We determined that with a small modification to the system they could reduce the pressures in the valley area and sustainably deliver water from the original source to the second tank in the system, effectively serving 95% of the people the system was intended to serve from this source.  The portion of the pipeline we were troubleshooting could even have flow reversed in it to bring water from the main tank to the villages along its path.

At the end of our time in-country, we had the opportunity to present our findings along with Panji and Zifa to the World Vision Malawi executive team.  They were excited to hear that there was still hope for this project to be successful.  Some of them were even moved to the point of tears as they regained hope for the project.  We had the distinct honor to have the National Director (Robert Kisyula) present as we gave our report.  I cannot begin to tell you how impressed we were with Robert as an influential leader and as a man of God.  He is the type of person who speaks with great conviction and authority (much the same way I envision that Jesus did during His ministry, being full of grace and truth).  From the moment we met I felt that I should be writing down everything he said and I cannot say that I have felt that way about many people in my life.  Just hearing his heart for ministry in Malawi was inspiring to me.  That being said, it meant a great deal to us to hear him say that our findings had refreshed them as an organization and brought a new energy to the project that despite troubles in the past, they could still finish well.

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:11)