This is the first time I've been part of a team that was comprised of just as many local design professionals as folks from outside the country. We aim for at least one national on each team, but in many cases they are hard to find. Not this time, thanks to Gerhard's connections. So that meant our little group from the US felt small as we traveled from Denver to Johannesburg.
Dirk is an architect in our office here in Colorado, and was our project leader. Since this was the first official project from the new SA office, he took on a co-leader role with Gerhard. Dirk had warned me that he is all business, very focused, while on a project trip, which I interpreted to mean "boring." Not so. He kept things lively, kept asking each of us how we were doing and if we needed anything, and kept us thoughtful and prayerful. And occasionally he acted like a goofball, which I appreciate because then I can be myself and do the same.
Justin is our agriculture engineer and as you can see from the above photo, took on the role of leading our music time. He recently taught himself to play guitar, a feat I find completely amazing. He is willing to be spontaneous and faithful in following God's lead, as evidenced by his joining our team very late in the game: three weeks prior to departure! We enjoyed his light-hearted approach to things and his wealth of knowledge about dairy farming, pigs, chickens, goats, grazing, sheep, geese, rabbits, cattle, and fruit bats. Okay, maybe not fruit bats, but it seemed like he really did know something about every creature God made. Back home in South Dakota he specializes in livestock waste so we had plenty of fun with that. Well, a couple of us did. Some people are more manure - I mean mature than others.
Alex is a civil engineering intern in the Colorado office. Kevin actually spoke with him while we were still in Cairo last year about potentially joining his team in the Philippines, but in the end he encouraged him to take the internship. This guy knows how to jump in with both feet and yelling, "Cowabunga!" too. He felt God leading him to commit to more than one trip and he quit a very good job in construction management to join EMI for a full term. He has such a servant's heart. He was always digging a hole in the rain or hauling my suitcase up or down stairs for me or clearing away dinner dishes. If he sticks around for another term I'm going to see if he'll move in with us.
Katey is an architect and former EMI intern in our Canada office. Kevin and I got to know her just a bit during our orientation week back in 2014, so I was pretty excited to get to serve on a team with her. She laughs easily and shares openly and works hard. I enjoyed sharing a table with her during work sessions as she would get to the finishing touches of a rendering and burst out, "Tree time!" (adding the trees is the last bit of work).
Gordon's story is amazing. Back home his vocation is horticulture and that's what he does for EMI teams, but that's a very small part of the picture of his sacrificial life. He and his wife have huge hearts for kids, particularly those with special needs, and adopted and fostered many in addition to their biological children. Spend twenty minutes with Gordon and you know he does this out of a simple overflow of love and gratitude to our Savior. You also get the impression that taking him to visit a children's home could be a bit dangerous, as he might go stuffing a couple in his duffle bag, and customs officials like that one even more than when you check the "yes, I've been on a farm" box.
So that's us.
From the Keiters:
Here is where we share our daily experiences of how God is using our life in the US and abroad with EMI to draw us closer and to make Himself known.