Wednesday, February 22, 2006

VIM Team Leader's Suggested "TO DO" Check List

DO EARLY

Get VIM Approval for the Mission: Visit with VIM staff. Read the Team Leader’s Manual regarding the required forms to complete, etc.

Draw Up A Tentative Budget: Work up a preliminary mission budget. It will determine how much to charge each team member and how much you can spend directly on work project expenses. Decide if you need to do some fundraising to cover costs.

Recruit Team Members: Consider a brochure to mail to interested person, a weblog to advertise the trip, announcements in church, asking for VIM to help advertise the trip, contacting former Kenya VIM team members, press releases to papers.

Prepare A Brief, Tentative Itinerary: Select your work site and work with VIM on a schedule of events, travel arrangements. Contact people in Kenya to clear dates and solicit their help.

Hire Ground Transportation/Safari Drivers: Ask VIM to line up Daniel Kibe with Danvelo Tours or some other ground transportation firm. In addition to making arrangements for ground transportation, the safari and the final 24 hours in Nairobi, ask this firm to (1) purchase 3 bottles of drinking water for each member of your team plus 4 5-gallon bottles of drinking water for refilling the small bottles. (Buy in the US and bring the pump that goes with the 5-gallon bottles as these are hard to find in Kenya or, at a minimum, bring a funnel); (2) purchase 3 “Kenya” postcards (usually depicting wild animals) for each team member and enough postage stamps to mail all the postcards to the United States; (3) convert $500 into Kenyan shillings and have it for you at the airport – just in case the currency exchange is closed when you arrive at the Nairobi airport. Incorporate the cost of these tasks in the ground transportation fees.

Hire a Van for In-Town Transportation: You may want to arrange for a van to transport some or all of the team members between the hotel and the work site. In both Meru and Maua, it is possible to walk but it is a considerable distance.

Make Hotel Reservations: Ask VIM to make hotel reservations for the trip.

Reserve Airline Tickets: When VIM offers you your airline options, look to be sure none of the “legs” are unusually slow. Our return flight from Chicago to Oklahoma City was in a tiny plane that took 2 ½ hours when a regular jet would have had more leg room and gotten us home in 1 hour! You get what you pay for and the trip is long already. Pay extra for convenience.

Fundraise If Necessary: If you need to raise additional funds, put stories in church newsletters, make announcements in church, host an informational meeting for interested persons and solicit donations directly. Letters work but asking face to face is always your best bet.

Prepare Your Leader’s Notebook: Assemble a notebook to carry during the trip. It should have pockets for carrying handouts you are given along the way and a center section with three pronged fasteners.

In the inside front pocket, put stuff you bring from home that you’ll need on the trip but that you don’t need to bring back. Also here put the envelop containing any checks or “cash gifts” you will be presenting, multiple versions of the room assignment list, multiple versions of the room assignment list, fact sheets you will refer to along the way

In the center section, put this document, trip itinerary, team roster, Kenyan contacts roster, the “Report a Claim or Request Assistance” form from the Team Leader manual, budget, expenditure spreadsheet, map of Kenya, the Executive Assistance/worldwide assistance insurance policy card, and airline itineraries for all members.

In the inside back pocket put stuff you collect during the trip including letters, statements, proposals, you receive during the trip, articles you tear out of papers and magazines, business cards, blank forms the team completes for future reference, an envelop labeled “My personal receipts”, etc.


TWELVE WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE

Host 1st Team Meeting: Do introductions. Give everyone a Team Member Manual (handout) and review Sections I through V) itinerary; work project; fee amounts and deadlines; State Department warnings about travel to Kenya; the need to complete VIM forms to be considered for the team; mission purpose, task and goals; team member’s pledge; things to do before departing (have a current passport, get immunizations, etc.); and job assignments. Show PowerPoint presentation with pictures of where you will be in Kenya. Solicit team members’ questions and concerns.


EIGHT WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE

Host 2nd Team Meeting (forms night): Discuss airline tickets, travel insurance, luggage restrictions, tips on packing, logistics in Kenya (lodging, ground transportation, communications), money, shopping, tipping, and team member do’s and don’ts. (These are sections VI through X in the Team Member’s Manual.) Have everyone take a job assignment. Bring Safe Sanctuary Background Check forms and extra VIM forms and have everyone complete all form at this meeting. Have a notary present if at all possible.
Decide What Gifts You Will Bring: Decide whether you want to bring small gifts for the children. If so, ask the Kenyan contacts how many children you will be meeting during the mission. (We took 700 ziplock plastic bags; each contained a cotton bandana, a cross on a string, a postcard with the Lord’s Prayer of the 23rd Psalm, 2 stickers with a Christian message, a pencil, a chapstick, and a tiny toy dinosaur.) Determine how many gifts you want to bring and present to church leaders, special dignitaries, dinner hosts, etc. Try to keep these light weight and not too bulky! Checks are especially appreciated by institutions!

Accumulate Items for Kenya: In addition to any gifts you elect to bring for children and dignitaries, begin accumulating other items you will need to bring including: (1) the pump that goes on the 5-gallon water bottles for refilling smaller water bottles (or a funnel), (2) envelopes for managing cash and receipts during mission, (3) work related tools (paint brushes, rags, etc.), (4) large plastic shopping bags into which team members will put their cast off clothes and other donated items. You can “give away” things at least twice – once in Meru or Maua and again when leaving the Sarova Shaba Lodge (to a Samburu village), (5) about 300 name tags (to be worn daily by team members and Kenyans, for “labeling” water bottles, etc.) Consider having laminated name tags made to be worn on lanyards, (6) A mini Sharpie (the kind that comes on a lanyard to be worn around the neck) for every member of the team and about 5 more for those who manage to loose theirs for name tags, writing names on water bottles, etc.


SIX WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE

Plan the Work Project: Confer about the work project with officials in Kenya and finalize the nature of the work project(s).Often, they don’t know what they will be asking you to do because they have other mission teams coming in the interim. Decide what equipment and supplies the team can bring to Kenya. Also decide how much money is required for the supplies and labor you will be acquiring once you are in Kenya. If necessary, work on fundraising.


FIVE WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE

Host 3rd Team Meeting: Do introductions for new members. Conduct Safe Sanctuary training. Talk about the three phases of a mission team (handout). Encourage members to distribute “Pray For The Team” fliers (handout) and schedule a “Sending Forth” ceremony during a worship service at their church.

Schedule a Team Party: Set the date (1 to 2 weeks before departure) for a team party and decide on a location (church, restaurant or team member’s home). Saturday brunch works well for busy schedules. Invite family members as well as team members.


FOUR WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE

Assign Roommates and Prepare Lists: If you haven’t already, ask all team members about their sleeping situation (early bird versus likes to stay up late and read, snores, prefers to room with someone else on the team, etc). Make team room assignments. Prepare a list of who is rooming with whom and leave room on the far left side to write in the assigned room numbers. You will present this list to the check-in clerk at each hotel upon arrival. If you make extra copies, after you have the assigned room numbers, you can give a copy to each team member so they know where everyone is staying.

Reconfirm All Reservations: Ask VIM to re-contact hotels and ground transportation company and reconfirm room reservations, meal plans, luggage storage needs, need for a room to hold team devotions, etc.

Collect Letters of Greeting: Consider bringing letters of greeting for the Kenyan church and institution administrators. Children in your church’s Sunday school classes might draw pictures. Adult classes might sign an over-sized greeting card. Ask your minister(s), Bishop or District Superintendent to write a letter extending greetings to your brothers and sisters in Christ in Kenya. If you are providing a cash gift to a church or institution, put the check in an envelope along with the letter and put these in the Leader’s Notebook.

Pick Up the Airline Tickets: Get the airline tickets from the VIM office. Determine if they are hard copies or electronic tickets. Photocopy two sets of team member airline itineraries. One set will be distributed to each team member; the second set goes in your Leader’s Notebook. In the event a ticket is lost or stolen, the airline itineraries list each person’s reservation confirmation numbers and ticket numbers. If you copy the set you are keeping front and back, it will weigh less!


THREE WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE

Mail Important Information to Team Members: Mail to each team member (1) the Team Roster, (2) the Kenyan Contacts Roster, (3) the final itinerary (4) the room assignment list, (5) and the airline itinerary for that individual team member. Don’t email these forms as some may not read their email! Have extra copies at the team party.

Get Expenditure Spreadsheet & Do Envelopes: Along with the team “Bill Payer,” meet with VIM staff and finalize your mission budget and get your mission‘s VIM generated expenditure spreadsheet. Prepare an envelop for every planned trip expenditure. Write the recipient’s name (“Methodist Guest House,” “tips for drivers who take us to Meru,” etc.) and how much you budgeted to spend (in US dollars and Kenyan shillings) on each envelop. Number the envelopes in chronological order in the order you expect to pay the bills.

Get Cash For Mission: With the team’s “Banker,” work from the final mission trip budget to determine how many US dollars to take to Kenya for paying bills, purchasing supplies on site, etc. (Remember that some places – like the Methodist Guest House and the Lodge - accept credit cards.) Then decide how many US dollars you will convert to Kenyan shillings at the Nairobi airport. (Remember that your ground transportation provider will provide you with the equivalent of $500 in Kenyan shillings. You can still change money in Nairobi and Meru but the best exchange rates are at the airport.

Now that you know how much money you will need, go to a bank and request clean, crisp US dollar bills. This isn’t easy; the bank teller may have to raid the vault for “clean bills” which is why you should start this exercise 3 weeks before departure. Do not accept any US $50’s and $100’s dated 1996; they have been counterfeited widely so Kenya won’t accent these bills.

Don’t bother putting money into the individual envelopes until you reach Kenya and have Kenyan shillings with the following exception: Make envelops and fill with US dollars for (1) baggage handler tips at the airport(s) (US one dollar bills); (2) baggage handler tips at the Methodist Guest House (US one dollar bills); (3) 1st night at the Methodist Guest House (or charge this to your VISA/Mastercard and avoid carrying so much cash on you); (4) tips for room cleaners at the Methodist Guest House (make an envelope for each hotel room and label it “For the person who cleans this room” and insert 100 Kenyan shillings); (5) your “cushion” envelop (unless this is a LOT of money, indicate you want this money converted into 100, 200 and 500 Kenyan shilling bills at the airport; avoid 1,000 KSH as this will be how you “make change” for team members)

Buy 2 Ankle Packs For Carrying Team Cash: You will have to carry all of this money on your body and it can be quite bulky. Purchase two ankle wallets – one for the Team Leader and one for the Team “Banker” – for carrying the team cash. (Carry your personal money in a waist pack!)


TWO WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE

Host the Team Party: Have all team members (and their family members if they like) gather once more before the trip to get better acquainted and to review final matters including:

(1) Have anti-malaria medicine, other required immunizations, passport, a second photo ID, and yellow Health Department form.

(2) Get cash for the trip in “clean, crisp” bills and no $50’s or $100’s dated 1996. Since you are responsible for any purchases at airports (food, water, newspaper, Internet café, etc), bring some small denominations of US currency to avoid getting stuck with lots of British pounds.

(3) Remember the carry-on and checked luggage size and weight restrictions.

(4) Review “Packing for the Mission Trip” (in Team Member Manual)

(5) Be at the airport at ______ (time)

(6) Mark your suitcase _____________________ (say how; I recommend making yarn tassel “tags”)

(7) Place inside all luggage a form saying “If lost, I will be at ____ (list name, phone number and address in Meru)”

(8) Wear your VIM T-shirt to the airport. I suggest you wear it over a long sleeved top so it will be clean enough to wear again on the flight home.

Send the reminders by mail to any team member not able to attend the team party.

Organize handouts: You can place lots of informational material on your weblog for team members to read in advance. However, most members are terribly busy and never take the time to read much prior to the trip. So I recommend you bring informational handouts along on the trip and distribute these at the strategic time.

Some handouts are at the back of this list. Now would be a good time to prepare any others you think would be useful. Make enough copies of the handouts to distribute to all team members on the mission. Consider running some front and back to reduce weight. Put all handouts related to getting to Meru in your carry on luggage; put all other handouts in your checked luggage.


ONE WEEK BEFORE DEPARTURE

If you haven’t already, be sure all team members have the final, detailed itinerary and the contact information for how to reach us in Kenya.

Telephone Each Member: If you have time, call each member just to see if there is anything you need to know (like they can’t go after all). At least touch base with members with key jobs – banker, bill payer, first aid, equipment/supplies, devotions, music, luggage, snacks,

Organize 2nd Checked Suitcases: Get all the “second checked suitcases” packed with gifts, tools, work supplies, snacks, first aid kit, etc. Figure out how all these suitcases are going to get to the airport. (Ideally, they will be handed over to team members; everyone gets 1 “second checked bag” to check and keep track of during the flights.

Prepare Certificates of Appreciation: Consider taking some preprinted certificates of appreciation. You should already know the names of the major players in Meru you will be working with.

Pack Your Own Luggage: Get started packing your own luggage because you will think of other things you still need to purchase as you pack! If you need clothes to leave behind, go to the local Salvation Army store and buy lots of T-shirts. Remember, though, that Kenyans would prefer you leave behind dress shirts as they dress up much more than we do.


AT THE DEPARTURE AIRPORT

Tag the Luggage: If it hasn’t been done yet, have baggage coordinator put a colored yarn tassel on all bags. Have the baggage coordinator put a different colored yarn tassel on all suitcases that are to be stored at the Methodist Guest House the first night (versus taken to the rooms).

Handout Airline Tickets: Tell everyone that the airline tickets are not electronic so DO NOT throw them away!

Take Group Photos: Have a friend (not going) take a group photo and also shots of team members by church. Ask them to get the images to our churches for a story in the church newsletter.

Do Final Introductions: If there are any who haven’t met each other yet, do introductions.

Hold Brief Devotion/Prayer: Have someone do a very short devotion. End with a prayer and a blessing for safe travel.


AT THE IN-TRANSIT AIRPORTS

Watch Luggage: The first time we went to Kenya, we flew American from Oklahoma City to London and they made us claim our luggage in London and recheck it at the Kenyan Airlines counter. The second time we went, the luggage was checked straight through to Nairobi but we did have to stand a long time in line waiting for a bus to the second terminal. Moral to story: Keep carry on luggage light and limited in number and watch it.

Watch For Gate Change: Check the airport monitors to locate your departure gate and move as a group to a waiting area near that gate. Recheck monitors often as departure gates can change.

Relax But Stay Together: This will probably be the last place you will find Diet Coke or Starbuck’s coffee; enjoy! Find a comfortable spot to wait. Send an email home or post to the weblog. (For about $5 per 30 minutes, you can use a credit card to access the Internet at computer shops.)

Collect US Dollars From Team Members: Remind the Team Banker to give an envelop to each team member that has their name on it. Tell team members to place US dollars in the envelope that they want converted into Kenyan shillings when get to Kenya. Have the Banker collect all the envelopes.

Hand Out Name Tags and Sharpies: Give each team member an envelop containing 15 name tags with their name on it and a small sharpy pen for writing their name on the name tags and on their water bottles. They can stick their name tags on their water bottles to avoid confusion during the trip. Unless you have personalized name tags produced, they can also wear these name tags at the work site. (Bring lots more name tags and Sharpy pens because some will leave their name tags at the hotel and you’ll want to “tag” Kenyans.)


ON THE FLIGHT TO NAIROBI

Distribute “Arriving” handouts and $50: Give each team member the handouts on “Arriving in Nairobi” and “Arriving at the Methodist Guest House” and their $50 for purchasing their Kenyan visa. The forms include completed copies of the Immigration Form and the Kenyan Visa Request Form to help team members complete them.


LANDING AT NAIROBI AIRPORT

Disembark as a group and look for the currency exchange office. With the Team Banker, arrange to convert US dollars into Kenyan shillings. [Give the exchange agent the individual envelops for (1) each team member’s US dollars, (2) tips at the Methodist Guest House, (3) the next several major expenses (White Star Hotel, several group lunches, tips for drivers, the work project funds) and (4) the “cushion” – the envelope for which should be labeled “Please change into100 KSH, 200 KSE and 500 KSH only, please”. The Team Leader should carry half of the cushion for emergencies. The Banker should carry the other half of the cushion to use when making change for team members who want to break their 1,000 KSH into smaller bills.]

Move to Immigration and Customs. Have team complete the Kenya Visa Application Form and get in line to purchase a Kenyan Visa. Move to the cages/counters and get your passport stamped. If they ask what you are doing in Kenya, say “touring Methodist projects.” Once passport are stamped, take the hallways/stairs to the baggage claim area.

Find baggage carts and move to the carousel. Retrieve all checked luggage from the carousel and put them – along with all carry-on luggage - on the carts. Count the luggage.

If any bags didn’t arrive, file a claim; keep team in customs area while the claim is made.

As a group, begin walking through customs. Only once has a VIM team been stopped and asked who they were. Usually the customs agents realize you are a tour group and just wave us through. Assume that you have the go-ahead unless someone calls you over. Make sure everyone clears customs before moving off towards the vans.

Outside of customs, our drivers from the tour company will have a name card with the name of our team on it. Do not let anyone else walk us over to the vans. Do not let anyone besides the drivers help load our luggage. Watch closely; this is when baggage disappears!
Put all luggage in one van and all people in the other vans. Count the luggage as it is loaded onto the van.

You will be taken directly to the Methodist Guest House which is approximately 30 minutes away.

Do not pay or tip the van drivers. All van costs including tips will be taken care of in the company’s bill on our final day in Kenya.


ARRIVING AT METHODIST GUEST HOUSE

Ask Daniel’s drivers to hand out the postcards and stamps to team members on the ride to the hotel. (The postcards and stamps are to be purchased in advance of our arrival.)

Hand room assignment list to the check-in clerk.

Have everyone complete a Sign-In Form. One person in each room will be given a room key.

As the clerk assigns room numbers, write the room numbers on your room assignment list.

Ask where the luggage is to be stored (the clerk will give you a room key); determine whether Daniel’s drivers or hotel staff are to move the luggage into that room.

Ask the Team Bill Payer to give each luggage handler US $1 per every 2 suitcases. (Add up the suitcases, divide by 2, then divide by number of helpers and that is how many US dollars to give each handler.)


BREAKFAST- METHODIST GUEST HOUSE

Ask the Head Counter to try and keep track of who has eaten. (You can ask the clerk at the entrance to the dining room to let you see his list of who has eaten.) If anyone hasn’t appeared, check their room to be sure they haven’t over slept.

Ask the Meal Liaison to leave a tip (get from the Bill Payer) for the dining room staff.

Check out and leave a tip for the manager if you were well treated. Arrange to have all the luggage in storage moved to one van.

Remind team members to use the restrooms as it is a LONG ride to Meru!


ERRANDS IN NAIROBI (??)

In January of 2006, we went to a grocery store to purchase water and to a bank to exchange currency, and ate lunch at a Steers Restaurant (like McDonalds) at 11:30 before leaving Nairobi. If your driver has provided you with Kenyan shillings and purchased drinking water in advance, you can let your team sleep later or get started for Meru (or Maua) earlier in the day. Depending on what time you leave for Meru, decide if you need to purchase box lunches to eat along the way. If you take the route around the east side of Mount Kenya, you can stop at Isaac Walton Hotel in Embu to use their restrooms but don’t eat there. In January, 2006, the highway on the east side of Mt. Kenya is very rough (lots of pot holes).


RIDE TO MERU (OR MAUA)

Tell your team members to use the restroom before leaving as there are few rest stops along the way. Remind your Snack Coordinator and Bottled Water Coordinator to be sure there is bottled water and snacks in both vans. The van drivers will do a wonderful job of explaining want you are passing during the trip.


ARRIVING AT HOTEL IN MERU (OR MAUA)

Hand the list of room assignments to the hotel check-in clerk. If necessary, have every team member fill out a registration card.

Tell everyone to bring the “extra” checked luggage to your room, to not walk outside the hotel alone (always in groups of three or more and NEVER after dark) and to be in the dining room for dinner at ______ (time). (Try to give them a little time to rest before dinner!)

Ask your Team Hotel Liaison ask the hotel manager the following: (1) Regarding the bottles of water in each room, does the hotel charge us for the water bottles they leave in our room each day? If so, what are they charging per bottle? (If you are getting billed anyway, tell the team members to go ahead and take the bottles! If you get charged only if you drink the water and if our water supply is much cheaper than what the hotel is charging us, advise the team to avoid using those bottles.) (2) The same applies for the water bottles that are available for consumption in the dining room. I assume if you take one, the team gets charged. Find out what the charge is. You can bring your own water to the table if you want and it is probably a lot cheaper. (3) How does the “safe” work? Is there a locked safe on site or is your money walked to a nearby bank (so it isn’t accessible 24 hours a day). (4) How does room cleaning work? I assume you must turn in your key to get your room cleaned. (5) How does laundry work? What is the charge? Do we bring our clothes to the front desk? How soon will it be ready? Do we come get it from the front desk or will the clean clothes be left in our room? (6) How does their service work for calling the USA? Do they sell scratch cards (calling cards) and hand a cell phone to us to make calls or do we have to go somewhere else to make cheap calls home?


FIRST DINNER AT YOUR HOTEL

Ask your Photographer to have a waiter take an official photo of your first meal at the hotel.

Ask your Meal Liaison to confer with the chef and select menus for dinner and (if White Star) breakfast. The team will tire of Kenyan food after a week so plan to phase in more familiar American cuisine during the final few days.

Also, warn people that there is free chilled passion fruit juice at every meal but fruit is a diuretic and if they eat too much fruit (or drink too much fruit juice) it could cause complications.


ANNOUNCEMENTS DURING DEVOTIONS

Once room numbers are assigned; write them on the “extra” room assignment lists and give a copy and the handout on Kaaga Methodist Church to each team member.

Have the Team Hotel Liaison report what he or she learned about how the hotel works.

Announce what time to meet for breakfast the next morning.

Remind team members:

(1) Use the mosquito net by arranging it around the head of your bed first, between the mattress and wall. Then hang the rest of the net over your bed. Tuck it in all around under the mattress to make a tent.

(2) You can walk to the work site each day but transportation will also be available for those who prefer to ride.

(3) ALWAYS walk in small groups. NEVER walk anywhere alone.

(4) You won’t be returning to the hotel until just before supper each day so carry to the work site your valuables, water, snacks, insecticide, sunscreen, hat, journal, etc.

(5) Don’t make a show about taking pictures. Don’t let your camera dangle.


GETTING AROUND IN MERU (OR MAUA)

The White Star is actually within walking distance of the church, the school for the deaf, etc for the heartier members of the mission team. Some team members may prefer walking for the exercise. In January 2006, Steven Mubichi rented a van and driver for the 10 days we were in Meru. Between the van (which held 10 people) and the Mubichi’s SUV, we could haul 16 people around. A larger team might need a second van. The van also drove us to Maua on Monday.

If you need a van in Maua, you’ll have to talk with Stanley Gitari. Budget for this expense as it is very nice.


ATTENDING WORSHIP SERVICE (KAAGA METHODIST CHURCH IN MERU)

See that everyone uses the bathroom before leaving the hotel for church. At the White Star, there is a bathroom in the dining room and also in the meeting room by the front desk. Upon reaching the church, tell team members where the bathroom is located. Tell everyone to sit on the outside isle in church and to feel free to get up and leave the worship service to use the bathroom if they must.

If you are making a presentation of cash during the worship service, remember to bring the check! Also, carry to church a little list of all team members and also all churches represented; you may want to read from it when asked to introduce the team. (I get rattled doing public speaking and forget to introduce people.) Be brief in your remarks; the church service is already 2 hours long so don’t take up a lot of time.

The church Chairperson is Judith Mbobua.


LUNCH IN FELLOWSHIP HALL AT KAAGA METHODIST CHURCH

If you attend the English language worship service, you will get out about 12:30 or 1 pm. You can make arrangements in advance with the church and they will serve you lunch in the Fellowship Hall. Before or after lunch, let the church leaders give you a tour of the grounds including the manse (parsonage) and classroom building.


KAAGA SCHOOL FOR DEAF CHILDREN

The Head Teacher is Rhoda Kabiti.

If you elect to do work at the School for the Deaf, you will make arrangements through Steven Mubichi. Give team members a copy of the handout about this facility to read.


TEA AND LUNCH

Kenyans break for tea around 10 am and 3 pm every day. In Meru, your team will be invited to have tea with the staff at the institution where you are working. In Maua, you may be given a room to meet for tea and a hospital worker will arrange for tea, coffee, hot water and snacks for tea each day.

Do not offer to pay for the tea; instead, bring a “gift” in the form of a check to present to the work site institution that covers the cost of tea.

The work site facility will also invite your team to eat lunch with the staff each day. We did this in January 2006 and lunch was served sometime between 1 and 3 pm. It took from 1 to 2 hours to get through lunch. I would recommend that – at least for some days -- you elect not to eat at the work site but rather to return to the hotel for lunch, to eat at Steven Mubichi’s restaurant or some other area restaurant, or to go on a “picnic” (perhaps to Steven Mubichi’s home) where you can eat ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, potato chips, soda pop and cookies. Break for lunch around 12:30, then let team members return to the hotel for a 45 - 60 minute quiet time.

Quitting time is around 5 to 5:30 pm. Collect all tools and put them in the designated storage place. Clean and put away any paint supplies. Carry the First Aid bag and the Safety, Water Supply and Snack satchels back to the hotel to be replenished. Let team members walk in groups or ride back to the hotel.


MERU CHILDREN’S HOME

The Administrator is Rev. David Riungu.

This home is a project of the Methodist Church of Kenya. It has a dual mission of providing a feeding program for street children plus offering shelter for about 40 children (see handout) who are enrolled in public schools.

In January 2006, we visited this school on a Sunday afternoon, were entertained by the children, had a brief walking tour and learned about the facility from the administrator.


MAUA METHODIST HOSPITAL

The VIM team coordinator is Stanley Gitari.

If your team is working in Meru, try to take them over to Maua to see the hospital. It is a one-hour drive and can be done in a half day. The administration may offer to serve lunch.

The night before this trip, hand out to team members half the large plastic shopping bags you brought and suggest they put cast off clothes in them and bring it to the hospital. Also give them the handout about this facility.


KAAGA METHODIST CHURCH’S CHILDREN
DEVELOPMENT CENTRE (CDC PROGRAM)

Contact is Judith Mbobua, Chairperson of Kaaga Methodist Church.

See the handout on this program for background information. This program is in operation of Saturdays. I recommend you tour the facility from 11:30 until 1 and then have lunch with the children at 1 pm.


KAAGA SCHOOL FOR MENTALLY HANDICAPPED

The contact is Head Teacher Jane Mwenda.

This is a very nice facility – worth a tour. We are trying to help them install a water line so they have a reliable source of water. (see handout)


FAREWELL DINNER

In January of 2006, we never really had a final going away, thank you session with Steven Mubichi. He had dinner with us the final night in Meru but we didn’t have speeches. He came to the hotel to see us off the day as we left for Isiolo. And he came to Nairobi to report on the container and present us with gifts. But we never did a special thank you-closure event with him. Think about how to praise and thank him – and others -- for all they do for the success of the mission.


RIDE TO SAROVA SHABA LODGE

Put team members in two vans and the luggage in the third van. Urge people who suffer from motion sickness to take Meclizine or other medication as the second half of this trip is on very, very, very bumpy roads (bone jarring). I think the trip takes about 2 hours and we didn't takee a rest stop although I think you could stop at Archers Post.


ARRIVING AT SAROVA SHABA LODGE

Provide the check-in clerk with the room assignment list. I think only the team leader will be asked to complete a registration form.

Ask the Hotel Liaison to find out about charges for water, access to Internet, etc and report to the group.

This is a wonderful facility. If anything doesn’t work, complain and make them fix it!


AT THE LODGE

Sarova Shaba Lodge is an 85-room, three-star hotel in the Shaba National Reserve at a natural oasis near where Joy Adamson ('Born Free') and her husband and senior game warden, George Adamson, lived. It is located in the semi arid region of Northern Kenya so it can be quite hot and dry during the day with warm nights.
On arrival, go to the front desk to your room key. The staff will ask team members to identify their luggage; they will write your room number on each piece with caulk and deliver it to the rooms. Have team members tip $1 per 2 suitcases.

Tell team members to freshen up and then come to the dining room for lunch. Sit together at lunch.

Tell the team to bring their camera and binoculars and be at the main entrance at 2:45 pm for the afternoon game drive. You will return to the Lodge around 7 pm, freshen up and enjoy dinner on the lawn. The hotel will have a table reserved for your team.

At 6 am, the vans will again depart on a game drive. Tell team members that, if they aren’t there, you will assume they elected to sleep in.

There is Internet service at the hotel but in January 2006 we had difficulty getting on line.


GAME DRIVES

The van drivers will raise the tops of the vans so that you can stand up and see out. You will rarely if ever be allowed to step out of the van so team members can wear sandals versus heavy work shoes. It can be quite chilly at 6 am so bring tell people to bring a light jacket as well as a wide brimmed hat, sun screen and sun glasses.

Remind Water and Snack coordinators to be sure to have satchels in all THREE vans on these days. Things you will see include baboons, gazelles, oryx, impalas, zebras, ostrich, warthogs, dick dicks, monkeys, water bucks, crocodile, grey heron, elephants, giraffe, waer buffalo, lions, leopard, mongoose, rabbits, cheetah and more. The drives can be quite bumpy and dusty. Be sure each van has sea sickness pills and eye drops.


VISIT TO SAMBURU VILLAGE

The contact is Rebecca Samaria Lolosoli with the Umoja Uaso Women’s Group, Archer’s Post, Samburu, Kenya. Her mailing address is P.O. Box 548-60300, Isiolo, Kenya. Her telephone number is +254 721 659 717/722 886597/ 735 395576.
Her email is Paranlolo@africaonline.co.ke/.

There should be no entrance fee but I strongly recommend offering to pay something ($10 per person) to support this remarkable place.

There are few if any men present as this is a women’s shelter. The women will sing for you as you arrive and invite the team members to join in a dance with them. You will get an informative lecture about Samburu tribal customs and life style. You’ll get permission to take photographs and to go inside a hut to see how they live and to tour their wonderful pre-school. You’ll see a blacksmith making knives and other metal items. And you’ll have a chance to purchase their beadwork, metal work and some wood carvings. The prices are about the same as you will pay at Utamaduni Craft Centre in Nairobi on the last day and twice to three times as much as you will pay at The Village Market in Nairobi. But the money supports a very good cause, there is a wide variety of merchandise to select from and you never know what the future holds.

You can let the village know you are coming by sending an email in advance. Stop at the village on your way back from the morning game drive while it is still cool. Then return to the hotel for a quick lunch before the dining room closes.


RIDE TO NAIROBI

The drive to Nairobi is long. The first third is hideously bumpy and dusty. Nevertheless, urge the team members to try to nap on the ride so they have some energy when you go to dinner that night in Nairobi.

Hand out the balance of the large plastic shopping bags you brought. Have everyone fill them with their cast off clothes and other items (pencils, etc.). Drop these items off at the SECOND Samburu village located near the entrance to the Lodge. Ask for permission to get out and have your picture taken with members of the tribe (including the men).

We will stop at the Equator to take photos of people standing under the “Equator” sign. There is much shopping available at this site but the sales people are so aggressive that it tends to scare and turned off team members. If you get trapped, call for one of the drivers!

Remind people to use the bathrooms.


CHECKING IN AT METHODIST GUEST HOUSE

See earlier notes. Again, ask the hotel to lock up all excess luggage and leave it locked up until the following evening. If necessary, pay for a room.

Remind the check-in clerk that we want to come to dinner the following evening. In January 2006, they turned us away saying we didn’t have dinner reservations!

Don’t try to do devotions tonight as people will be exhausted after dinner.


DINNER AT THE CARNIVORE RESTAURANT

This is a fun restaurant. If possible, give team members time to change into fresh clothes before leaving for the restaurant. Your drivers will have a table reserved for you. They specialize in meat but actually have several vegetarian items that are quite good (avoid the vegetarian pizza though). Bottled water and soft drinks are extra but pay the money – this is a celebration dinner. Be prepared to leave a nice tip for the wait staff.

Remind team members that there are good stores open just outside (but on the fenced in, guarded grounds) so they should feel free to walk about and shop. Before you break for bed, remind everyone to NOT wear their VIM T-shirt tomorrow, but to have it available so they can slip it on at the airport. Looking like a mission team makes getting people through customs, etc. much, much easier!


DEPARTING THE METHODIST GUEST HOUSE

Eat self-service breakfast at The Methodist Guest House. Bottled water and soda cost extra.

Bring your luggage to the front desk, check out of your room, and turn in your room key.

Ask the front desk to store our luggage during the day and to tell the dining room we will be having dinner here tonight at 6 pm.

Tell team members to bring their camera, credit cards and Kenyan Shillings because you are going to have great opportunities to purchase things today.


TOURING THE HOME OF AUTHOR KAREN BLIXEN (ISAK DINESEN)

If you begin your day here, you can hold devotions on the beautiful grounds at this museum. Even if you haven't read her book or seen the movie Out Of Africa, this is a "must do."

The admission charge for a guided tour is expensive ($12.50 per person) but worth it.

The tour only takes about 30 minutes but leave time to walk the grounds and spend time in their nice gift shop.


UTAMADUNI CRAFTS CENTRE

This is a series of shops with high quality, interesting items. They are more expensive that at The Village Market and there is no bargaining but the choices are vast and the setting is clean and quiet and pleasant. Among the items you will find here are woodcarvings, carved soap stone, jewelry, clothing including safari outfits, designer T-shirts, leather crafts, basketwork, CDs stationery and desk items, toys and dolls, fabrics, purses and on and on.

In addition, on the grounds are examples of four African huts, beaders, wood carvers, basket makers, weavers, etc. There is a lovely garden area where you can enjoy a cup of Kenyan coffee or tea and a pastry.

Buy unusual items here and get ideas on prices for more common items but wait to buy those at The Village Market.


TOUR OF DOWNTOWN/VIEW OF SLUMS

Ask your drivers to take you up on a hill where you can get out and take pictures of the Nairobi skyline. You can also look down into the slums of Nairobi where they estimate 800,000 people live in shanties without running water or electricity.


LUNCH AND DOWNTOWN SHOPS

Your driver can select from several nice places to eat. I recommend you opt for a fast food place that has familiar food – like a Steer’s restaurant. You might consider eating lunch at the Nairobi Java House when you stop there to buy Kenyan coffee to take home.

Nearby are shops where you can buy a khanga (typical East Africa garment – a piece of colorful fabric mostly worn as skirt/dress), shawls, T-shirts, dresses, etc.


THE CATHOLIC BOOKSTORE

This is a fun store and an excellent place to find carvings and images that depict Christ as an African. Besides books, you can pick up note cards, batik renderings, stoles, paraments, crèches, crosses and more.


THE VILLAGE MARKET

Tell team members to leave plenty of room in their suitcases because – whatever they say otherwise – they will find lots to bring home at this location. This is the best of all shopping in Nairobi unless you are after highly exotic or expensive items. Over 300 “dealers” spread their wares on blankets in an open area at this very upscale shopping mall so it is clean and safe. The market is only open of Fridays. While sale people will approach you, they are not overly aggressive (or they will not be invited back) so it is a pleasant place to shop and there is no end to what is available or what you can bargain to pay. Leave LOTS of time for shopping at the Village Market. In an ideal world, you would begin here with a 30 minute walk through to see what they had, then shop else where and finally return at the end of the day for serious shopping! When designing your itinerary, remember this market only takes place on FRIDAYs.

Let team members find their way back to the vans as they tire. The initial van can take people back early so they can use a rest room, shop at the gift shop at the Methodist Guest House and just rest. Just be sure to count heads and have the final van leave the mall no later than 5:30 pm.


RECLAIMING LUGGAGE, LAST DINNER IN KENYA

Head directly for the restaurant and have a good meal before leaving for the airport. Be sure your drivers eat, also. At dinner, tell team members that you have given the drivers a tip but that - if they would like to also tip the drivers - that would be fine, too. If you use Danvelo, the drivers are fabulous and we can’t tip them enough. Things get crazy at the airport so this is your last chance to praise them, thank them and give them a nice round of applause!

Now would be a good time to ask everyone if they have their airline ticket. In January 2006, one team member had thrown away his ticket thinking it was an electronic ticket. It is easy to get another ticket (you go to a window right by the check-in counters) if you have the ticket confirmation numbers. Tell them you are a “group” and it goes fast. It cost us $100 to replace a lost ticket.


LEAVING FOR THE AIRPORT

Hopefully, the Methodist Guest House has your luggage locked up. After dinner, have your drivers move the suitcases to the parking lot. Tell everyone to put their purchases in the suitcases. Tip the front desk for watching the bags.

Remind people to dig out their VIM T-shirt if they are planning to wear it on the airplane.

Leave for the airport. The ride can take up to 60 minutes at this time of day if traffic is heavy.


AT THE NAIROBI AIRPORT

If your flight is around 10 to 11 pm, aim to reach the airport around 8:30 pm and hopefully you will get through security and to your gate by 9:30 pm.

You go through the first security check right as you enter the airport and you must have an airline ticket – so your drivers can’t come in with you. It can be a little chaotic unloading luggage at the airport which is why you want to have given tips to your drivers at the Methodist Guest House!

You will check your luggage right where you come into the airport. Team members may need to switch items from one suitcase to another in order to meet the weight limits. Stay together as a team until everyone is checked in.

Have your Team Banker find the currency exchange window and convert Kenyan Shillings back into UD dollars. Move everyone to near your departure gate. There are some gift shops and places to buy snacks (candy, chips) but almost no places to get a real meal at the airport.

Tell the Snack Coordinator to purchase snacks before going through the security gates for the wait at this and two more airports getting home

Tell everyone to use the restrooms before going through the second security area that lets you into your gate waiting area as there are no toilets (or concession stands) inside the gate waiting area.


AT INTERIM AIRPORTS AND CUSTOMS

At Heathrow, there is unbelievable opportunities to shop – plus purchase coffee, food, etc – but (because of the relationship of the US dollar to the British pound) everything is very expensive! Remind team members that the cost of food at the airports is not covered by VIM; they are on their own. Remind them not to purchase items with large denomination US dollar bills or they will get stuck with lots of pounds they can’t spend in the US.

If you can get everyone together for a moment, try to set a date for the VIM team reunion party. Give yourself several weeks for film to get developed, people to get rested and back into their grooves, etc.

As you are landing at your first American city, all team members will be asked to complete a short form listing what you purchased on the trip and how much each item cost. Your team members are very unlikely to have spent over the limit (subjecting them to import taxes).

You will go through Customs in Chicago or whichever American city you initially land at. Normally, this is just a walk through. They rarely even open the suitcases. Just smile and move on to your next departure gate!

Pay phones in Chicago are very expensive to use. If you have a cell phone or two in the group, you might let team members report in to their loved ones that they are fine and back in the USA. If there is time, a group prayer thanking God for the experience and safe trip home would be nice.


ARRIVING IN YOUR HOME CITY

Welcome home. If you can manage to get everyone together in the baggage claim area, your Team Photographer might capture one final photo of the whole group (maybe plus happy family members).


AFTER THE MISSION TRIP

Meet with VIM staff to account for expenditures during the mission.

Send followup thank you lettters to your Kenyan hosts.

Get your pictures developed.

Plan to speak at least once to your church about your mission experience.

Host the reunion party!

Congratulations on a job well done.


FINAL THOUGHT

In Kenya, people don't pay a monthly fee to have a cell ohone. Instead, they purchasean inexpensive cell phone and "chips" that can be switch out in the back of the phone for the different service providers (Safari.com, AllTel, etc) and then use scratch cards to pay for calling time. If someone in Kenya won't loan you a cell phone, spend the $50 to purchase a phone and another $50 worth of scratch cards so you caneasily stay touch with your Kenyan hosts. When the mission is over, bring it back with you and donate it to VIM or give the phone to a facility or individual in Kenya what you depart.

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