2013 Africa 1200

Changing Lives, One Skill At A Time

You Have To Choose What Language You Will Use


You have to choose which language you will use.”

This is what my Kenyan friend Denis Musyoka said to me as we discussed the problems of trying to make progress in a culture that is a lot more laid-back than what we are used to in North America. 

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A lot of my time here in Swaziland has been spent going to town with Denis to find the parts and materials we require to keep the training projects moving forward. Welding rods, tie rod ends, drill bits, tires – all these things are readily available off the shelf back home in Canada, but out here it can take you days to find them, provided they are even available in the country.

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For example, it’s hard to imagine how it can take a full hour just to walk into a tire store, select four tires right off the rack, pay for them and load them into the back of the car. Or how you have to ask four different building supply stores for a bag of leveling cement before a random stranger overhears you and says you can only buy it across the street and down the back alley. It’s easy to get frustrated and begin using your “angry voice” with the counterperson, but all that does is make them shut down and tell you they don’t know what you’re talking about, or that’s it’s suddenly “break time.”

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When Denis said “choose which language”, he wasn’t talking about Swahili vs. Siswati; he was referring to being demanding vs. being humble and polite. Patience and politeness, while frustratingly time-consuming to us North Americans, is actually the fastest route to success in Africa, and (I suspect) in many other parts of the world.

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Thankfully, our current roster of volunteer instructors are shining examples of patience and humbleness when it comes to the students they are working with. Justin Taylor from Ontario has been doing an amazing job of training young men in the art (yes, I said art) of welding. Anthony Ellendt has also been impressive as he tackled some major repair jobs on the backhoe and larger trucks. Craig Skinner, a repeat volunteer with Mercy Tech, has completed so many welding and fabricating projects with his guys that we’re having a hard time keeping him in supplies.

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Two major equipment purchases on this trip – a tire changer and balancer, and a two-post vehicle lift – have really ramped up the learning curve for our automotive students, but they’ve been up to the task. It’s so inspiring to watch their excitement grow as they learn new skills; they really take pride in their new-found trade.

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A special thanks to two BC donors (you know who you are!) who made it possible for us to purchase and install the vehicle lift in so short a time. It has already changed the level of professionalism in the Lusito repair shop here at Project Canaan, and things are only going to get better.

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It’s hard to believe that the team will disperse back home to Canada by the beginning of June. Already the guys are fretting about all the projects that remain to be done, and I have to remind them that there will always be more to do, no matter how long they stay. Which is why the door is always open for more volunteer instructors to join the Mercy Tech Mission team!

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Here at Project Canaan (Heart for Africa, Swaziland) there is a need for someone with experience in running a commercial kitchen or bakery to help the local staff plan meals for over 150 children on a daily basis. Aside from our ongoing mechanics and welding training here, there is also a need for an electrician who can train others in the installation and repair of building electrics.

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Our automotive and welding training at the One Life One Chance mission base in the Baja still has openings for later this year, and beginning in February 2018, we will need automotive technicians and a professional photographer for our upcoming new work in Cambodia. If you’re interested in finding out more, just email me (Rick Cogbill) at rick@mercytechmission.com.

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Thanks again to all who support us financially, either monthly or with one-time donations. We seriously could not do what we do without the help of generous people like yourselves. If you would like to make a one-time tax-deductible donation to our work, please click here to visit our donation.

If you would like to become a monthly donor, just email us at donate@mercytechmission.com and we’ll send you the details!

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At Mercy Tech Mission, we are choosing the language of giving instead of always receiving. We believe in changing lives, one skill at a time, and we are seeing it happen. Please choose to speak this language with us, and encourage others to do the same.

Blessings to you all!
Rick Cogbill, Mission Director
Mercy Tech Mission

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