Saturday, March 30, 2013


Sorry for not sharing more of my experience here. You can get a much broader picture of Sunshine Orchard by checking out the links that are already on this page, and a couple more that I recommend:

Student stories:

Christian illustrations, more stories about students, lots of pictures:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sunshine Orchard 2013

My time here at Sunshine Orchard this year has been a blessing so far – at busy enough to keep me from writing about it. I can but weekly grasp the velocity at which time is disappearing over the horizon. Anyway, here’s what I’ve managed to put in writing during the last month and a half:

• I’ve been able to enjoy a lot more time with the students – especially the older students.
• I’ve met neat people from various places
• I’ve learned a few things – one of which is that there are so many things to learn

There have been some improvements here since last year:

The stilt houses that I helped with last year have been finished, and staff families are living in them. Last year we did a careful job of burying the bases of the house posts – this year I’ve been helping dig out all the dirt around the posts to make more headroom beneath the house. Anyway, progress happens despite the make-work projects.

Digging a trench for kids to play in was one of my jobs.  Unfortunately, we ended up putting a water pipe in the bottom and filling it back in

This is the kind of backhoe we used.  You may be surprised at how little diesel it took to complete the project

It's always nice to have a buddy to pry with on the job

Sometimes we get bored when we're working, so...

Recently, I’ve been replacing the bamboo floor in Maria’s hut with a wood floor better suited for the care of the crippled girl who Maria cares for. I also created a new problem for her: dogs can climb the new stairs I put in.  Oops - at least you don't have to be half-monkey to get into her house anymore  In spite of several complications, we’ve been making much better progress than we did last year, since we’ve learned better methods.
It turns out that stomach medicine makes varnish puff out into play-slime.  Very little is required, just a residue in your mixing container.

Last year I was replacing termite-eaten beams in the Medical building – now the building has its walls up and floor tiled. It’s being used for Intensive Medical Missionary classes, music classes, storage and housing. The resulting bad news for me is that I don’t get to stay in a bamboo hut this year. The good news is that I get to stay where the IMM students often are, and hang out with them more.

Inside the IMM building - a year ago it was little more than a pole-barn

view from my porch

Students here now have the option of music classes for their vocational training. I’ve been helping some of the violin students a bit – trying to tell them the same things my violin teachers tried to tell me. Unlike me, they have an excuse for not listening – a language barrier.

When I would try to learn a Spanish, French, or Swahili word, I would usually forget the word moments after hearing it. The Karen language is different: it’s nice when I have the opportunity to forget Karen words. Many of their words don’t even register in my head, since my English ears aren’t tuned to pick up their sounds. That being said, I have been learning much more of the language this year than before; since the IMM students are scheduled to teach us Gulliwas on their school days, and I’ve been hanging out with students more.

I’ve been enjoying leading the IMM students’ exercises on school-day mornings (and the students have even been putting up with me). I especially enjoyed the morning when we played indoor soccer in the hallway. Unfortunately, a couple of guys were hobbling around for a while after that, so we decided not to have that much fun in any more workouts.

I was also asked to lead most of the IMM work periods. I decided that the most suitable make-work project would be a learning project. As mentioned before, we had been raising a house – digging out underneath it, that is. This produced a nice strip of land covered in rather infertile soil – no topsoil. So we divided the area into 8 plots, each with different soil treatment. Now we have an experimental garden. I really hope the students will learn better gardening methods that they can use back home in their villages, or wherever they end up.

Whether or not the students learn from the garden project, at least I’ve been learning: would anyone like to buy some 100% organic and recycled planters for their gardens? In case you’re wondering, the plastic is organic – that’s what chemistry class told me.

After work, we sometimes fit in a short volleyball game. When lots of students have time, soccer games are in order. The students don’t seem to mind that the soccer pitch is angled at a considerable pitch, is really rocky in places, and has a tree growing near the center of it. More than half of the players have shoes to wear for soccer now, but there are still some who play barefoot.

I’ve been able to play caneball with some students a couple times this year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with caneball, this should help you picture it:

Caneball is like volleyball where you can’t use your hands. Some of the students here are incredibly good at it, but I've been told that the guys at the refugee camps are the one who are really good.  I suppose that's what happens when they have nothing else to do.

It’s such blessing to be on a river-front property. Water plays a key role in keeping me sane in this hot country. Though I often only have time for a refreshing shower, I go swimming when I can. A couple of times, we’ve had water-polo or keep-away games in the river.
river panorama - I plan to do another post with lots of river pictures in it - when I have time

The river here is actually the kind of river that makes doctors encourage travellers to stay out of the water in this area, so don’t tell any doctors… If a doctor finds out, you’ll have to tell him that if I stay out of the water, I’ll soon need the expertise of a different kind of doctor. That being stated, there is really nice water around here.

Last Sabbath, a few of us hiked up the creek beyond where one of the school’s water system is. There were several nice waterfalls and small pools. The Erick and I found a little tributary to the creek that had a series of small waterfalls that we were able to climb up.

Note - I didn't get to post this blog until another week had gone by - I made it to the same place this last weekend, this time with Maria and Jabez.

We found a missing link - a cross between a cricket and a dinosaur

On the previous Sabbath, the Sharon family took me to the waterfalls in the nearby park – I think it’s a national park. Much of the stream here is a series of pools and waterfalls. Some of the pools are big enough to swim a few strokes in – and some of the waterfalls are big enough to qualify them to do massage therapy work.

On several other Sabbaths, I’ve been able to go on hikes with groups of the mountain goats – I mean – students. We’ve done two hikes to the rocks and caves that we discovered last year. It’s too bad the afternoons are so short: there’s so much more exploring to do there. On the way back from the caves, there are some steep places that some students like to go down as fast as they can. I was supposed to be leading the group, and I would stop them periodically so the rest of the group could catch up. As soon as the last of the group caught up, the students would take off - ahead of me, Did I ever have to go fast to get ahead of them – jumping fallen bamboo, etc. It was a lot of fun – I’m so thankful that my ankles still point my feet forward.

The second time we hiked here, students were racing down here - and I had to get ahead of them.  Lots of fun.

We back several weeks later, and got to explore the rocks and caves more - but there's still lots of exploring to do.

My most faithful hiking buddy.  One night a few weeks ago, I went for a walk along the road, and Dino came along for a favorite activity that I've been trying to discourage: playing tag with vehicles.  He got hit by a cab-over truck, then ran off into the bush.  I couldn't find him, though I spent a while searching and went back to the site later.  The next morning he was back at the school, hobbling around.  One foot was quite injured and got infected, so he usually would do the 3-legged run instead of walking on it.  This didn't stop him from coming on hikes with us.  His foot is looking far better now.

The students and staff here are awesome people. There are, and have been, short term volunteers here who I’ve also been privileged to meet and learn from. Last year, a guy from Quebec stopped here as he was traveling the area. This January, two brothers ended up spending a night here. They were bicycle-trekking, and the place where they had been planning to stay didn’t work out – I think it was full. It turns out that these brothers are from Quebec, and are familiar with my home area in BC. One had just been enjoying Revelstoke snow about a month before.

One person who I like to work with here is Damlawa. I briefly posted a prayer request for him on this blog, because the table saw bit his finger when he wasn’t paying full attention. He’s been back to work since last week, and it looks like his finger is healing pretty well – it’s at the stage where he has to stretch and work it faithfully. Damlawa got married shortly after I left here last year. His wife is now a teacher here, and is expecting a family addition in a couple of months.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Timothy, one of the children under the Adams' care, has spinal bifida and will need surgery.  Preston made a video about the need: it's at

By the way, I have been trying to get a blog post up about my time here.  After almost 2 months, it's almost ready to post.  I just have to find spare time in a part of the day when the internet is fast enough for me to upload pictures - no small challenge.  It's been going well here - it's also been going fast.