Reproducibility

After a presentation last month, a friend who had traveled to  Africa told us about all the wasted money and effort he had seen, with projects that died as soon as the Americans were gone, or couldn’t survive without constant support from overseas. We hope our story is different.

Reproducibility is one of the main principles we’re working with. We want to empower local people to repeat what we’ve been doing without our aid. Our work can be duplicated and multiplied without outside assistance.

Solar Power system

Albert learned how to thread pipe (and other plumbing skills) while we were putting together Lewis & Tammy’s rainwater collection system.

This works at several different levels. At its simplest, it means we teach people. The key component of rainwater harvesting and biosand filters is that we are teaching, rather than doing. We show people what to do and we hand them the tools.

In order to be repeatable, we must use tools and materials that are available to local people. That’s been a bit of a learning curve for us, because sometimes the tools and materials we prefer aren’t available, or are terribly expensive. We spent a lot of time looking for a line level and chalk line before discovering that local carpenters use a water level (a hose full of water). I’d rather use a line level, but water levels are easy to make.  Water levels are reproducible, so that’s what we will be using. 670px-Use-a-Water-Level-Step-8-Version-3

This is especially true for our Bible teaching. We’ve been blessed with a whole lot of Bible study tools and skills that aren’t locally available. It’s nice to be able to read in the original language and look things up in your favorite commentary, but those tools just aren’t available to most people (even in North America). We were very impressed with Discovery Bible Study, which is a system of teaching that is repeatable even in an environment where many people cannot read in their own language. It doesn’t depend on people with outside resources or a lot of education.

This isn’t a new idea. I am reminded of my childhood among the Cree nation. Having been exposed to a lot of teaching that relied on some commentary or church father, the church on the reservation insisted that Bible teaching be done using only the Bible; no other sources were allowed. That wasn’t Dad’s rule, it was theirs, but it was a good rule. They could follow the lesson (and teach it again) using resources they already had. 

Our work for the Lord should live on after we are gone. The things we do must be reproducible, so the people we teach can teach others using their own resources.

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RISE: Trying to be effective in the Lord’s work

We keep reading about huge projects that cost amazing amounts of money, and fail to achieve their goal.
That’s not the story we want told about our part in the Lord’s work in Tanzania. We want people to “see our good works and give glory to God” long after we are finished.

Here’s our “filter” for choosing projects. The acronym is “RISE”.

  • Repeatable: Can local people repeat this without our aid?
  • Indigenous: Does it use only materials and skills available to local people?
  • Sustainable: Can this effort be sustained in the local environment, without resources from outside?
  • Evangelistic: Does this effort provide quality time with local people so we can share the gospel?
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We have found that Bottle Brick construction of a rainwater cistern gives us a lot of time to build relationships and talk about the Gospel!

Like any good filter, the most important element is the last. Our goal is evangelism; as God’s people we also seek to bless those around us. We are trying to follow Christ’s example of doing good, preaching and teaching.

 

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We don’t do handouts.

It was a bit shocking the other day, to hear another missionary telling a church, “We don’t do handouts!” Shocking, but absolutely spot-on.

Christ said, “The truth shall set you free.” Handouts, on the contrary, lead to dependency, not freedom. So we don’t do handouts.

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Building a bottle-brick cistern in Monduli Juu

We empower people. We teach them how to use the gifts God gave them, to improve their lives and free them and their children. If we help them learn to read, they can then learn to be free from AIDS, or a fear of AIDS. When they build their own water collection system, and their own water filter, it frees them from disease and from trudging miles to a dirty pond for water. They can raise healthier animals and better gardens, and make a better life for their family.We empower them by working with them to use the resources they already have.

If we gave them water filters, we might have a moment’s contact, from a benefactor to a supplicant. That’s not a good relationship for either person. The real need is not for filters or tanks, but for learning, and learning is a two-way street. When we work together to build a filter or a bottle-brick cistern, we all learn, we all have something to offer, and we all build relationships. When we have finished, the people who have built the filter or the tank or have learned to read can go back to their home and teach their neighbors to do the same.

We have certain principles which we use as a measuring stick, a canon in the classical sense, for choosing the work we will do in the community. This is the first: Can local people do this with materials they have or can afford? Put another way, will they need something from elsewhere (America, for example) or money from elsewhere in order to do this again? The answer must be that they can do this with their own resources, or it is not a worthy offering to them. Each thing we do must free them from being dependent; must enable them to help themselves and their neighbors.

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Living on Solar Power: More About Our Future House in Tanzania

If you looked closely at the pictures of our rented house in Monduli Juu, you may have noticed that there’s a solar panel on the roof and a power line tied in on the front porch.

The house is on the electrical grid. However, with power available as little as 4 hours a day, that doesn’t help much. We expect that we will depend largely on solar power.

Our impromptu system: One panel, a car battery, a controller and an inverter.

Our impromptu system: One panel, a car battery, a controller and an inverter.

We experimented with this a bit while we were in Tanzania this year. Lewis Short had a working battery, and we purchased a solar panel and the associated parts. The panel provides 12 volt power any time the sun is shining. The controller manages the power loads so the panel can’t overcharge the battery and the inverter can’t completely drain the battery. The inverter converts the 12 volt DC power into 220 volt power. The extension cord runs through the bedroom window. It was enough to provide power for my CPAP and for charging our electronic devices.

This system costs about $150 (plus the cost of the battery). We will need a system about ten times as large as this, to run our appliances and electric lights. The good news is that we can purchase all the parts (except a 110 volt inverter, just in case) locally, supporting local businesses.

Just south of the equator, and at an altitude similar to Denver, we get lots of sun! In fact, we have to be careful to wear a hat when we’re outside, pretty much all the time.  Solar power is a smart way to go.

It’s especially smart when you consider this story from the BBC, explaining that Tanzania has just shut down all of its hydro-electric power plants, because of a shortage of water. The already tenuous power supply is now further reduced.

That water shortage has much more serious repercussions. If there isn’t enough water to run the turbines, there certainly isn’t enough water for people, or for their animals or their farms & gardens. So while we are installing a solar system for our own needs, we’re looking for ways to help our neighbors meet their need for clean water.

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Repost: From African Christian Ministries

This was posted by our friend Lori Covington. You can see why we are so committed to projects to provide clean water.

http://africanchristianministries.org/2015/09/saying-yes/

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Our Future House in Tanzania

Because our mission is an outreach to the Maasai people,we wanted to live among the Maasai. We had seen where a few people had built brick houses in the area dominated by the Maasai, and thought we might be able to rent one. Through a casual connection, we were introduced to the retired Head Teacher from Maasai Girls School, who owns a vacant house in the Monduli Juu area. This is exactly where we wanted to live! We have rented this house in advance, to move in on June 1, 2016.  I have included an album below; I believe you can click on the thumbnails to see a large image.

This is a lovely house, but this community has no water supply. In order to live here, we will need to build an extensive rainwater collection system. With our landlady’s permission, we hope to extend the roof to increase the area for rainwater collection, and to give us some additional covered living/visiting space. With the additional water, we will be able to use the flush toilet and shower that are already built in the house.

When we saw this house, we thought, “We could move in right away!” That’s almost true. It’s a very nice house, but without a water supply or electricity, it would be difficult to live here (that’s probably part of the reason our landlady lives elsewhere). Desert Water Agency estimates a need of 6000 gallons per month for two people.

  • We must enlarge this roof to provide more rainwater catchement capability.
  • We must be able to store at least 2 months supply on location (preferably 3 or more).
  • Estimated cost: $20,000
  • Solar Hot water system $500.00

We will also install solar panels for electricity, because the electrical system here is very undependable. It is often off for days at a time, and rarely on for more than 8 hours a day.We will have a generator as backup, so we will be living “off the grid.” However, because cell phone service (and internet capability) are almost universal in Tanzania, that’s one thing that actually works better than in Memphis.

  • 5 Kv Diesel generator: $1200.00
  • 10 Kv Solar System: $1200.00

Which brings us to the point: We need assistance with these costs. We’re raising money for our support, but we also need money to cover one-time costs like moving, language school and renovating our house. If you, or your church are interested in partnering with us in this work, please let us know.

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Purification: Changing lives with water filters

After we received such positive feedback to our last post, Saving Souls… One Bottle at a Time. I thought it might be valuable to show you another piece of our evangelism strategy: building bio-sand water filters. Like building cisterns using bottle-brick construction, this method has the same clear advantages:

  • It meets a felt need: for clean water & good health.
  • It’s sustainable: anyone can do it with local materials.
  • And it provides a lot of relationship-building time between the local church and the non-believers who want to learn.

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In July, we attended a workshop in Anacortes, WA, on bio-sand water filters. One of the big lessons we learned is that this is a community effort! You can see how everyone was working together in each of these pictures.

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All the time we spent shovelling and sifting sand, mixing concrete, pounding the mold, we were building relationships with the people we were working with. We started our total strangers. After a week of sweating together and eating together, we had become close friends.

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As we worked on this, it became clear to us that this could be a great tool for evangelism. The Maasai understand that dirty water can make them sick; they are constantly looking for maji saafa–clean, safe water. When they come to help build their own water filter, or a filter for their child’s school, they will be building relationships with Christian men and women.

So how well do the filters work?

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As you can see from our graphic, they work very well. They work as well as most commercially available filters, but they can be built by local people, using locally available materials. With a simple modification, they will remove arsenic from water!

Consider the effectiveness of the filters in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since January 2015, there have been more than 100,000 documented cases of cholera, with over 2,000 deaths. Our friends at Friendly Water for the World (who trained us) trained two teams of BioSand Filter fabricators (one made up entirely of women rape survivors from the war.)  They installed BioSand Water Filters in 26 orphanages, and taught basic hygiene and community sanitation. Since installing these filters, they have completely eliminated cholera: As of September 2nd, there is not a single case of cholera in any orphanage in Goma.

This gives us an opportunity to be a blessing to the community, and a method to spread the gospel. Matthew repeatedly tells us that Christ went about healing people, teaching and proclaiming the news about the kingdom. We emulate His model in our work in Tanzania.

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Saving souls… one bottle at a time

empty soda bottles

What do empty soda bottles have to do with saving souls? 

We made a tremendous discovery while we were helping the church at Monduli Juu!

By the way, Monduli is the general region. Juu means “upper.” We have rented a house in this community, about a quarter mile from this church. Our co-workers, Lewis and Tammy Short, live in Lower Monduli, or Monduli Chini. 

This church–and the community they are located in–has no water supply. They carry water in from streams and ponds a couple of miles away; the same streams and ponds that are used to water animals. It’s not clean water, but it’s all they have. We proposed collecting rain water from the church building, and sharing it with the community.

Initially, we were going to buy large vinyl tanks. We told the church that we would partner with them: if they buy one tank, we will match it. But since they don’t have a lot of cash, that wasn’t working well.

We found a design for building tanks and houses out of discarded soda bottles, filled with dirt. You still have to buy cement, but nearly all your other materials are free. We proposed this to the members of the Monduli Juu church. So after collecting about 500 bottles, we set a day and started building a tank.

We drew a circle on the ground, and mixed concrete to pour a circular floor. While one group was preparing concrete, another group started filling plastic bottles with dirt. We mixed mortar, and started building a circular cistern. When one of the neighbors wanted to learn how to build this way, we all got together another weekend and worked together with her family.

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Mixing concrete on location. You can see the center stake and part of the inscribed circle.

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Filling bottles with dirt and ground pumice. In the background, the first few bottle bricks have already been laid.

That’s when we made our discovery. It took a long time to fill bottles and mix cement and lay bottle bricks, and all that time, people were chatting. They made fun of  each other, and they exchanged phone numbers. They tried to figure out which friends they had in common. In short, this time-consuming, tedious process was a perfect opportunity for evangelism!

It meets a felt need: for good water storage near home.

It’s sustainable: anyone can do it with local materials (and it cleans up the environment!).

And it provides a lot of relationship-building time between the local church and the non-believers who want to learn about this method.

This was exactly the sort of project we had been looking for. This method can help us become a valued part of the community, and can be part of an indigenous evangelism effort.

And that’s how we use empty soda bottles to win souls for Christ!

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Rainwater collection at Andrew Connelly School of Preaching

The main purpose of our 2015 trip was building relationships with the other workers in the area. So we were delighted to work with the folks at the Andrew Connelly School of Preaching in Kisongo, near Arusha. We started building a rainwater collection system for the school. Because the school is buying water in tanker trucks during part of the year, this would save them a lot of money. It could also provide higher quality water than they currently have. It would also support the drip irrigation system that they use in their garden.

Andrew Connally School of PreachingAs you can see, this is a large complex, with a lot of roof. After discussion with Cy Stafford, we decided to build a small system to test our construction design.

We chose to work with the two small roofs on top of the dormitory complex. All the roofs have eavestroughs installed; we just converted them to a rainwater collection system.

I worked quite closely with Lairumbe while I was working on this system. I showed him how to build a “first flush” system, and then asked him to build the next one. When another of the students came to see what we were doing, I asked Lairumbe to explain to them what we were building, and why. At the end of one day, he asked me to come to meet his fiance. They hope to be married in December. Lairumbe is from Monduli Juu, where we will be living next year. His father is one of the elders in the community, and his half-brother Koimere preaches in Monduli Juu.

Building a first flush system

Building a first flush system

The happy couple

The happy couple

We connected the gutter systems on both dormitory roofs to the 5000 liter storage tanks already in place. We built a sand filter to capture any large particles that escaped the first flush system. And then we went to work on a large steel tank on the ground, to capture overflow from these rooftop tanks.

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One of the students helping me build trusses

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Welding a roof truss

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A basic sand filter for the collection system

Partially completed tank

Partially completed tank with trusses ready to lift

A local contractor was hired to construct a PVC liner for this tank, which will be 12 feet deep when completed. Unfortunately, I was injured, and was unable to complete the tank. I spoke with Ely Martin, a christian and local contractor (I had been using his welder), and I believe he can complete this project. If not, I expect to work on it again on our return to Tanzania in 2016.

Full disclosure: I was injured largely because I was working by myself at the time. I have been ordered not to repeat this error. I received treatment at the Tanzania Christian Clinic, and am fully recovered. 

The advantages of this system for the school are quite obvious: better water, more water, less expensive water. However, the huge advantage for me was the opportunity to work closely with both the faculty and students of this school, building relationships that we hope will last for many years.

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Rainwater collection at Tanzania Christian Academy

Evangelism is our primary mission in Tanzania. We are following the example of Christ, who went about teaching, proclaiming the good news, and healing (Matt 4:23, Matt. 9:25, etc.)  Meeting felt needs is a way of reaching people, so they will listen to our good news about Christ.

Building a rainwater harvesting system for Tanzania Christian Academy was one of our dreams for our most recent trip to Tanzania. We didn’t complete the system because of a lack of funds, but we were able to plan the system while we had “boots on the ground.” We hope to complete the system when we return to Tanzania in the spring of 2016.

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Tanzania Christian Clinic & Tanzania Christian Academy (click for a larger image)

The buildings on the left in this picture are the guest house for Tanzania Christian Clinic and the Headmaster’s house for the school, with the clinic in the background, lower on the hill. To the right are the school buildings which are under construction, and in the background, at the upper right, is Mount Monduli. The house we have rented for next year is on the other side of this  mountain. You can see how beautiful this area is!

Here’s the challenge: there is no consistent supply of clean water in this part of the world. There is a long rainy season roughly from March to May, and most years, there is a short rainy season in November. The least amount of rainfall occurs in July. The average in this month is 4 mm (about 0.15 inches). The greatest amount of precipitation occurs in April, with an average of 218 mm (about 8.6 inches). The total rainfall is generally above 29 inches… about as much as Iowa or Kansas. During the dry season, it is dryer than Utah.  There is a great need for clean water in this community.

A rainwater collection system could collect sufficient water during the rainy season to supply the school during the dry season. We would be happy to take donations to help with the cost of constructing this system, or you can make donations directly to Tanzania Christian Services.

 

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