I have only this one measly little photo today. I could give you all sorts of excuses about the weather and school and blah, blah, blah (*insert violin music*), but it's really just because we are busy getting ready to go have some spring fun.
Today we are headed down to Great Sand Dunes National Park, quite possibly our most favorite part of Colorado. We will be camping with some of the fun folks from EMI for two nights, dune sledding, hiking, eating stuff that tastes awful in the comfort of your own home but for some reason is ridiculously delicious when consumed in the great outdoors. I figured a weekend of this is sort is such great visual fodder I might come back with so many photos (and maybe a video!) that you'd forgive me for a lapse in creative productivity this week.
If you are wondering what could possibly be so great about a park dedicated to preserving 30 square miles of sand, I invite you to watch this video from our visit in 2013.
Some of you have heard all this before, but I know some of you have questions. We met with a lot of folks in person before we moved, but often felt like we did not get to cover everything. And of course, there were a few questions we did not yet even have answers for. Today I give you my attempt to fix that with a little FAQs post.
Is this a full-time job?
Yes, it is. Kevin is in the office 40 hours per week, just like any typical professional engineering job. We will spend a little time elaborating in a future post.
Why don't you get paid?
EMI is a non-profit that donates the services of architects, engineers, and surveyors to developing world ministries that cannot afford the thousands of dollars it would cost to hire a private professional firm in the US. Therefore, all EMI 100+ staff and interns worldwide (save for two administrative personnel) must raise their own financial support.
How often do you travel and where?
Project trips happen three times each year. EMI has done work with Christian ministries in over 90 countries in the developing world, so we could go just about anywhere a ministry has a need with no access to design professionals. A project trip usually involves about six or seven full (really full) days of work at the site, plus a rest day. Add in overseas travel time and we might be gone as long as two weeks.
Do the kids get to go on project trips?
Possibly, if we can jump through a few hurdles. The first is that the ministry we go to serve is responsible to feed and house us while we are in country. Obviously, that is a big financial commitment for them, given that most teams have at least eight people. If they even have room for "extras," we must consider whether or not it is wise to ask them to accommodate team members who are not actually contributing to the main body of work they need done. Beyond that, our family will then have to pay for the kids' airfare out of our own support so we have to wait upon the Lord's provision for that part. That said, we are all about taking them if we can. We firmly believe that foreign travel, especially that with service opportunities, is of great educational and spiritual value. When we find places where they can be of help to the team and the ministry we will always consider taking them.
How long do you plan to do this?
We made a standard three year commitment to EMI, but honestly, we would love for this deal to take us to the end of our useful working years. We intend to keep at it for as long as God makes it possible.
Have a question we still did not cover? Drop us a comment below.
Last weekend we did what we love to do on free days: we went exploring. We took Shelf Road from Cripple Creek up through a really excellent canyon that I can only describe as being something of a teaser for the Grand Canyon. The sky was overcast and made for lousy landscape photos, but I found some good subject matter in a pack (herd? gang? club?) of bighorn sheep. They were just feeding along the creek bank and did not care too much about us as long as we kept our distance, which we did because, well horns.
We also got a whole lot of snow today and I snuck out for a few minutes to see what I could do with snowflakes on little bitty white blossoms.
Here's wishing everyone a great weekend!
This Photo Phriday (last time I'm spelling it wrong) thing is just the kick in the pants I needed. Thursday it was sort of cold out and threatening to rain and I still did not have a batch of good photos for today's post because I was lazy the rest of the week - the very thing I am trying to avoid. So I seized the little bit of sunshine that I had and enjoyed shooting the thing out front that is probably to blame for my allergy issues. I'll forgive it because those little dainty white petals are dee-lish and also because I have Claritin.
Most of what I'm posting today is dead flowers. They are everywhere and I love them, always have, but have never had so many to choose from. Back in Florida nothing really dries up and turns brown. Green is certainly nice and soothing, but there is just something about the crunchy, golden, details in dead vegetation.
I could shoot nothing but flowers all day long, but they are not good practice for Kenya and the sort of themes we are looking to capture for EMI. However, they were a great subject for practicing some new editing techniques. That last one of the cactus is how it came straight out of the can (save for the removal of chromatic aberration).
In response to all the sweet expressions of concern we have received in the past week, we wanted to give you a bit more information on our Kenya trip. Gary McPhee, an EMI staff veteran of many years (and about 45 project trips) sent out a note to help, which we will summarize.
First, we would ask you to please join us in prayer for those affected by the recent violence. My heart breaks and the tears come when I think of students who were aiming to make a better life for themselves through education, now gone because of hatred. They may have been Kenya’s future leaders. Who has the country lost? Perhaps those who would have changed a nation from the inside out.
Second, while we still cannot give you a pin on a map to locate exactly where we will be in the country, we can tell you we will both be quite far away from the city of Garissa (location of the recent violence) and the Somalia border (where most security threats are centered). Jenni’s project trip is in a small town about 2 or 3 hours drive out of Nairobi. Kevin’s team will be headed even farther away — a solid 7 hours drive across the Rift Valley. At the close of our project work both teams will spend a night at a game park west of Nairobi, also pretty far away from any areas of concern. We may need to be more alert for baboons that want our breakfast or to take selfies with my camera than anything else.
We are aware of the alerts issued by the US State Department and we take them seriously, always monitoring their recommendations. However, EMI teams do not travel quite the same way as the typical tourist. For one, we are in a group, never alone and therefore much less of a target. We avoid traveling at night and are always transported either by our host ministry if they have the resources, or by a secure and reliable private company. We travel well below the radar and draw no unnecessary attention to ourselves. If you’ve been picturing us piled into a 60 year old bus, holding chickens and scraping along a mountainside, you can relax. That won’t happen (although it would make for a great blog post).
In light of all this, we are aware that we can still become victims of crime. Westerners stand out in Africa and can be targets, although most of the crime is more along the lines of theft or robbery. As Gary said in his note to us, “We do all that we can to act wisely, while at the same time living in a place of deeper faith and trust that God knows every one of our days before a single one of them came to be. One of our team devotion times will be from Psalm 139 – I’d encourage everyone to read that today and be reminded of the amazing God we serve.” Honestly, I (Jenni) am far more freaked out by the fact that there are a lot of mountain lions and rattlesnakes living near my own backyard.
So yes, we covet your prayers for the protection of both teams as we go forward, but mainly that all of us would move with a strong sense of peace in the knowledge that He who sends us goes with us as our shield, and that we would not let any spirit of fear creep in to hinder our ability to know God and make Him known. We cannot allow fear to alter our mission. If we do then the terrorists have already won.
And maybe pray that no baboons would steal our camera.
Kevin and Jenni
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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