Archive for the ‘Lake Victoria’ Category

Lake Victoria

On Lake Victoria

I was able to visit Lake Victoria last week, on a field trip with some of the EERC students. The lake borders Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and is a huge center of life and commerce in East Africa. In 1993, some mzungu from South America thought it would be pretty if some imported water hyacinths were planted in the lake. Since that time, the lake has been overrun with hyacinths, to the point that the entire ecosystem was endangered. The plants were so thick that Diane told me she once saw someone “walking on the water” right across the lake, stepping on the profuse and sturdy hyacinths.

Tour guide with some of the few remaining hyacinths

I was warned that I would not be able to see the lake at all, but only a green swamp of hyacinths as far as the eye could see. For years, the problem of the water hyacinths had stymied scientists, and no one had been able to figure out a way to remove the stubborn plants.

We were pleasantly surprised to discover the hyacinths all but eradicated! Some kind of beetle that feeds on the plant had been introduced a few months ago, and had chowed through virtually all of the hyacinths. They were optimistic but it is too soon to tell at this point if the problem is permanently solved.

During the course of the day, we visited Impala State Park; a wildlife refuge for Impala Antelope which is right on the shore of the lake.

Impala feeding on "sukuma wiki"

The park also holds several other animals in a zoo-like fashion, so we saw fenced-off leopards, cheetahs, ostriches, lions, monkeys, jackals and hyenas; while the Impala roam about freely. While at the park, we took a short boat ride on the lake. I loved it when the kids spontaneously started singing, “Sailing, Sailing Home;” one of the songs that we sing in our children’s fellowships.

Selling sugar cane; charcoal market in the background

After leaving the Park, we visited a place on the lake where fishermen bring in their catch, and boats from Uganda bring in charcoal. Apparently, Kenya has burned down much of its natural resources for charcoal, so now they import it from Uganda which still has more trees. I hope someone is thinking ahead for what they will do when Uganda is no longer able to supply charcoal.

Ladies selling fish

Kids were bathing in the lake while fishermen were coming in and out, hauling catches of Tilapia, Nile Perch, Catfish and Minnows. Native and migratory birds were everywhere. A crowd of ladies sat near the edge of the water, cleaning, frying, and selling the fresh fish.

Old, worn-out boats were abandoned along the lake shore, on which children and snowy egrets climbed and played.

At the Port Authority

After extensive time on the lake shore, we went to the port authority, where the big ships and boats from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania come to dock. The place had a deserted feeling, but we enjoyed looking at the various types of boats and ships and spending time on a docked ferry boat, while being led by a tour guide.

Fried Tilapia

Later, we all went to downtown Kisumu and ate fried fish and chips, African style. Kisumu is hot and dirty and filled with exhaust and pollution; not a place I would choose to live. By the end of the day, I was so hot and nauseous from something I ate, that I lost the will to even photograph the funky backside of the restaurant where I went to use the toilet. (If the backside of an American restaurant is funky, just up the funk factor about 100 times, and that gives you a good idea of the hot, smoky, greasy, filthy labrynth that I navigated through to use a choo that I will not describe to you, in case you happen to be eating something right now). After that side trip, I could only manage to poke at my fried fish, and gave the rest of it to a very hungry teacher.

Well…moving right along…

On Sunday, I overcame the residue of fish-nausea and who-knows-what-else, and managed to minister at a local church, Precious Faith Ministries, where Diane and I had ministered a few months ago. They have 2 services—one in English and one in English/Kiswahili, so the Sunday morning takes about 5 or 6 hours to complete! I just love the young pastor and his family, James and Terry Timbiti and their new little daughter, Tehillah. They are real worshippers and James is vibrant and good natured, attracting a lot of college students and young people.

The Timbiti family

I shared about intercession, our partnership in ministry with the Lord, and my time in Barwessa. I was so touched when people around the congregation began spontaneously coming to the front of the church to give money that they wanted to be distributed to the poor. At the end of the service, the congregation began to plan a mission trip to reach out to others in their own nation. I was SO happy, since this was one of the things on my heart and had even been prophesied to me–that I would play a role in motivating Kenyans to do more reaching out to their own people. It is possible that may go back to Barwessa together in August. In fact, the teachers and leaders at EERC are also interested doing some outreach down there, before I return to the States. I think this would be a great way to end my time here and I hope that we are able to make something happen.

Singing Students

Singing students

In closing, I am going to try to upload a snip of a file of some blind students that spent last weekend at the school and performed for us a few times. These students were amazing–ranging from totally blind to visually impaired. A few of the kids were albinos. Probably all some of them need is just a strong pair of glasses and they could function more or less as normal people. Coming from poor families, however, they were sent to the school for the visually impaired, where apparently some of them remain for a very long time (I saw a few students with some grey in their hair). The school is terribly underfunded, partially due to funds being filtered off through corruption, among other things. Sally, one of our dear friends and part of the SILA team, works at the school. I know she is an incredible blessing to them because she is so full of the joy and love of the Lord.

I can’t explain what happened when these kids sang, but I can tell you that they released a great measure of JOY in my life; a joy that I only was able to trace back to them at the end of the day. The Lord ministered through them powerfully, as powerfully as if they had been great Bible teachers, maybe even moreso–for they were teachers in their own way. In their simplicity–in simply giving what they had to give and doing with joy–they elevated me.


My friend Mary Hutton referred to them as “angels” and that is exactly what they were–angels in tattered school uniforms, with unfocused eyes, beating on a plastic milk jug for a drum, and singing from their heart with huge smiles on their faces. My God, I am humbled.

A Few More Photos

Visually Impaired students

EERC students on lakeshore

Impala Park Entrance

Looks like giant yams growing from this tree

Kids learning about fish

Dog on the lakeshore

Fish commerce

Dried minnows for sale

Lady cleaning fish


Abandoned Boat


Cutie Pie

Charcoal vendors fixing hair

Buying charcoal

Kids on lakeshore

Horsin' around on the ferry boat

Frying fish

Ship in water hyacinths

Port Authority


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