So later this month I will be traveling to Kenya to install a phone system at a missionary boarding school. Since I despise Facebook and Twitter so much I decided to try and keep people up to date on my trip via my blog. While normally I try to keep my blog posts long enough to be valuable these posts will probably be on the shorter side as I imagine I will not have much time to sit around updating my blog. But for the moment here is some information about my trip.
Our team will consist of 4 guys. It was originally going to consist of 5 but our fifth man had to get knee surgery last week so he won’t be traveling with us this time. However, he is going to try to make himself available via phone and e-mail while we are over there.. Two of us are from churches, myself from HDC and Jeremy from Shepherd of the Hills Church down in Porter Ranch. The other two guys, Fady and Hany (I couldn’t make that up if I tried), work in IT as well but are not employed by churches, though they are both Christian men with a heart for God’s work.
We will be traveling to the Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, Africa. It is about an hour outside of Nairobi and about as far away as we could possibly get from being able to run down to “the local Best Buy” if we need something. RVA is a boarding school for children of missionaries who are currently serving throughout Africa. At present, they have nearly 500 students ranging from high-schoolers and probably college age all the way down to a few 3rd graders. There is also a hospital which is part of the same facility compound. The school was founded in 1906 and in 1909 had it’s first building’s cornerstone laid by President Teddy Roosevelt.
We will be installing a new phone system at the RVA campus, which consists of 173 phone extensions. In comparison the phone system we installed at HDC was about 90 extensions. Currently the school shares a phone system with the hospital who may or may not stick with the existing phone system, due to budget constraints. If the hospital decides to switch as well that will add over another 350 extensions to our install, bringing us well over 500 extensions to setup. We are hoping to get much of the configuration done ahead of time, but even still that is a lot of stuff to setup and configure in 7 days.
Jeremy and I will be flying out of LAX on February 24th and will have a strait shot flight to Amsterdam where we will get a very brief layover before jumping on another plane to make the final leg to Nairobi. Fady and Hany will be flying out of, I believe, Egypt and will meet us in Nairobi when we land late Saturday night. We will be leaving Africa in the early morning the following Sunday which will give us only 7 days on the ground to accomplish our task. Jeremy and I will be flying back together and will have a short overnight layover in the Netherlands which should give us a chance to unwind a bit and give me a chance to get an extra stamp in my passport.
Well this is really two questions. For the team the Why is simple. RVA’s current shared phone system is dying. It is an old system and one of its two “cards” has failed. To be honest I’m not sure what those cards did but while they can operate with a single functional card it is a critical component to the system and if it fails their entire phone system will go down. This puts them in the same position HDC was a few years ago. The old phone system is dying and may go at any time. The choices are either to just sit and wait for it to go and then be without phones until a new system is installed, or to be pro-active and plan out replacing the phone system. Because the hospital is larger they have a much higher cost associated with switching and thus are still trying to work through budget to determine if they can afford it.
That is where we come in and why we are going. Neither the hospital nor RVA would have the money to afford the equipment cost of a new phone system as well as paying 4 IT professionals to spend an entire week working 12 hours a day installing the equipment. Us volunteering our time makes this job a possibility for them. This is exactly what this group of people do. They take some of their own personal time and fly to other countries to help God’s church by providing free IT support where needed, and I’m proud to be joining them for this trip.
Personally, the Why is a little different. I am very happy to have been invited and am looking forward to the job itself and using the talent God has given me to help his Church in a new and exciting way. But up until a few months ago I had never had any desire whatsoever to go into the mission field, even for something like this. However, I began to think about my life and what I’m doing with it. That is to say, how I’m spending the time that God has given me. Giving thought to everything I have done, and haven’t done, over the past few years that I have been living on my own; I decided I didn’t really care for the way I was spending my time. In many ways it’s because I haven’t been spending my time at all. For me, that is the primary reason I decided to go on this trip. I want to try spending my time instead of letting it waste away. The rest of my thoughts on spending instead of wasting time that led me to the decision to go on this trip can be read in my post titled If you had 18 months to live, what would you do?