28 December 2009


Hello - -

Some of you will remember my adventures in 2005 and 2006. My blog at that time was called "circle to circle" primarily because it involved activities south of the Antarctic Circle (66 1/2 degrees south) and north of the Arctic Circle (66 1/2 degrees north). So it was easy to come up with a name for this installment - the middle circle - because this time we are heading east about 10 time zones to the south end of Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The middle circle is the equator and we'll be working about 2 degrees south and 33 degrees east. If you picture the map of Africa as the face of a weeping woman, she faces east and her eye is Lake Victoria.

I say "we" because this trip I'm thrilled to be traveling with Rebecca (r2), my wife of 32 years and many other adventures. We leave for Tanzania tomorrow for a two week "scouting trip" (r2's description) to do some preliminary site analysis with the goal of helping develop and install a solar-electric system at a mission station. I hope to have opportunity to describe this project in some detail in future episodes, but for the moment I'd like to return to the concept of circles.

Life really does have an affinity for circles. If you drop a pebble into a pool of water, the waveform generated moves outward in ever widening circles. So it has been with this project. I first became aware of this project in April 2009, when my brother-in-law, Dave McLaughlin, MD, called to say that he wanted me to "design a photovoltaic system for an orphanage in Tanzania." But this project didn't really start in April - - it started at least 20 years before.

Dave has been involved in missionary medicine for decades. About 20 years ago, Dave took his family to Tenwick, a mission hospital in Bomet, Kenya for 3 months. At that time, the hospital could only afford to run their generator for 6 hours a day, so all surgeries, autoclaving, centrifuging, etc. - anything that needed electricity - was done during those 6 hours. Rounds were made at night by flashlight. Dave's next visit to Tenwick was 5 years later. In the interim, a construction contractor had visited and decided there was a better way to meet the needs there. This contractor dammed the river and put in a small hydroelectric plant, and the result was that Tenwick now had power 24/7! When I first heard about it, I thought, "Isn't it amazing what a difference one person can make." Ultimately, my decision to leave my prior career in medical research and pursue a career as an electrician has its genesis in this anecdote. My thoughts were to enter missions work as an electrician, probably "retiring" to this new role.

Jump ahead to April, 2009. When Dave told me about the orphanage project - it's called Mavuno Village - it took me about 2 months to really get on board. I was too "busy" to devote much time or thought to what a project like this would really require. But as time went on, I started getting excited about it - you see, after 8 years in the electrical trade I had forgotten why I went into the electrical business in the first place (to make a difference at places like Tenwick) - but Dave knew . . . and he kept me on the hook until I realized that the circle that started in Bomet was still affecting me 20 years later and 10,000 miles away.

Another amazing thing for me has been the realization that my part in this project is actually quite minor - that as I started to move in obedience in what I was designed for, God has been opening doors in many areas that have left me in awe. The pieces of this project are fitting together (in a circle?) in ways that could not be predicted. In future posts I hope to highlight the many God-incidences that have occurred. Please visit again.