November 28, 2014

All in all, it was a good week. It wasn’t a productive week, but it was a good week none the less.

I wasn’t very productive because Jen was in Kijabe with the kids. This was a last-minute decision because one of our kids is struggling with a lot of things and since it’s so rare that they ask for help, we drop everything and go when they call. Besides, since they’re seniors in high school, we know we won’t be “needed” as parents for much longer.

So I’ve had to be Mom and Dad to Declan, and take care of all of Jen’s responsibilities while she’s away. This is no small feat. I spent most of this week overwhelmed, overloaded, frustrated and lonely. Any decent husband knows exactly what I’m talking about. Jen was really missed (and not just for all she does, but who she is).

But I did get a few things done.

First of all, I got the new Internet cafe system working at the Keep. Well, mostly. Jason helped with much of it last week, but I still had to get the ticketing system setup. We will be selling “data bundles” instead of “time”. In turn, we pay for data bundles which means we have to be very very careful about how it’s used. If even one of our old “unlimited” tickets got on our system, we’d lose $110 (our month’s 30gb) very quickly.

The tickets still aren’t working as expected (working with the vendor) but the cage for the BlueCoat and Cradlepoint is in place, the new data stick is working and we’re just about there.

I worked with Henry this week quite a bit, giving him a Raspberry Pi loaded with RACHEL/GCF. We have a team from Karamoja.org that’s installing RACHEL-pi’s, Chromebooks and BRCKs as a part of a (very) rural training program. A donor sent them the gear (FedEx, very expensive) and we are setting everything up with them.

I had to train Henry on disk images, use of dd, the caution of selecting the right disk id’s, the used or /dev/rdisk on Mac, block sizes, etc. It was cool little training session. Henry will be in charge of the training of the Karamoja guys this week. More on that soon.

I also gave him (well, the CTC) a Chromebook with a RACHEL/GCF build and a Village build and started his training on that device. He and Josh will be doing some training for a group in Gulu who is (at our leading) rolling out a Chromebook / BRCK training solution in some very rural areas in war-torn Gulu. More on that soon.

I also stepped in and ran Jen’s leather working class at Declan’s school. Johnson and I helped the kids make over 45 bracelets in two and a half hours!

Last but not least we had some car trouble which I reported last week. This was our second Land Cruiser, and when we got stuck in Kenya last month, we started thinking that we needed to go another direction. One of the big problems with trucks like these is the very hard ride. This has made it very hard for Jen to recover (she has disk degeneration, and osteophytes (bone spurs in the spine) which are pressing on nerves and also something with her rotator cuff, both causing a lot of pain. We’re working on getting her back in good form but one thing’s for sure: the hard ride and the Ugandan roads are taking their toll on her health.

A mechanic friend of ours, Josh, recommended we look at the Toyota Harrier, an all-wheel drive Toyota version of a Lexus RX series. It’s something along the size of a big RAV-4 but with a better suspension system. He found one for $10,000 and when Jen returned we drove it and it was a DREAM. Three years newer than our Land Cruiser, and in immaculate shape, we started praying that we could find a buyer for our as-is Land Cruiser. Josh stepped in again and found a buyer to take it for $7,000. Although it was a hard $3,000 to spend, our board agreed that we needed to make the change, not just for the ride but for the overall long-term value of a healthier car. So, we picked up our “new” 1997 Toyota Harrier Wednesday. And it was just in time.

We left for Kijabe Thursday morning at 6:30am to spend a few weeks with the kids on one of their last school breaks on this continent.

Normally, we break the trip up into two runs, stopping for an overnight in Nakuru after about a nine hour drive. After nine hours in the Land Cruiser, we feel like we’ve been in a war. Literally. Yesterday’s trip was abnormally rough, with lots of trucks on the road and many delays, taking us just under twelve hours. But we actually felt pretty great when we arrived. It was a dream trip.

I’m so thankful for those that contributed to making this vehicle possible for us. I feel bad spending money on things like this, but it’s so good to be in a mechanically solid vehicle, and the softer ride is a total blessing.

More soon as we trek to Nairobi then to Malindi with the kids.

The CAGE. Yes, security is ever an issue.

The CAGE. Yes, security is ever an issue.

Leather working at Declan's School.

Leather working at Declan’s School.

Leather working at Declan's School.

Leather working at Declan’s School.

Leather working at Declan's School.

Leather working at Declan’s School.

Leather working at Declan's School.

Leather working at Declan’s School.

Leather working at Declan's School.

Leather working at Declan’s School.

The spoils of leather working at Declan's school!

The spoils of leather working at Declan’s school!