Saturday, August 30, 2008

Journey to Africa - leg #1 - London

Thursday Aug 28, 2008

Well it was quite a day, but in simple summary I left at 4:00 EST for Chicago O’Hare. The car trip went well and I found an offsite place to park that was not too bad.

The flight to London was 8 hours long and left at 9:00 pm CST and arrived 11:00 GMT. I was unable to sleep on the plane and this is quite a feat for me as I can sleep nearly anywhere. I was in the center section of 5 across in the plane, but did not have anyone on either side of me. The seat arm rests would not lift enough to get them out of the way, so it did not matter. The ride was rough as large planes go and I barely nodded off. I did get to see Prince Caspian and I have to admit that was nice.

I left the airport in London as I had an 8 hour layover and took the one hour train ride into town. I went downtown and say MANY statues, Buckingham Palace, the guards, LOTS and LOTS of people, double decker busses everywhere and small taxis. I had a great time. I was exhausted by the time I returned to the airport, but I was able to get a fair amount of pictures.

I am currently waiting in the airport for my connection to Nairobi Kenya tired enough to fall asleep at the table. Hopefully this will allow me to sleep on the plane as we will arrive in Nairobi at 8:00 am local time and I am sure we will need to be ready to go.

Please pray for strength and health on the trip that I will be able to hold up under pressure.

Please pray for wisdom and guidance as I try to determine what God is trying to tell me in regards to this opportunity. Also pray that the barriers that are hindering be removed.

The family is home and looking forward to school and the first soccer games this Saturday. If you have a chance to drop an encouraging note to my family while I am gone that would be greatly appreciated.

Friday August 30, 2008

After another long flight (9 hours) I arrived with Bruce from Living Water at about 9:00 am this morning. I have not slept in 30 hours or so and I am getting very tired. I took a very hot shower and I feel much better – a ½ nap will be good also.

I had a great seat neighbor, a young girl about Adrianne’s age on her way home. I really enjoyed talking with her.

We have arrived at our hotel, it’s the Fairview Inn ( if you want to check it out. It’s very, very nice.

The first impression I have of the place is much like Mexico. Block and cement, rich and poor living in close proximeity to each other with much disconnect, walls and gate, Lots of dirt and trash.

A team is arriving this evening and there will be lots to do as we make preparations for them.

Love you all and I will keep in touch as best I can,

Eric in London (the closest I have ever been to London Fogg)

Eric now in Nairobi, Kenya

Sunday, August 24, 2008

moving in

A home cooked meal sounded really good after restaurant food for a week! Take out the potatoes, cut up the fruit and get the streak marinated! Eric goes to light the grill - surprise!

7 baby chipmunks have moved in! So much for steak on the grill. Anyone for grilled chipmunk?
Just kidding!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Home sweet home

11:15 pm Thursday.

4,816 miles and we have returned. Quite a journey and it seems to have just begun.

Thank you for all of your prayers over and for our family. We know your prayers made the difference.

Good night family and friends. My OWN bed calls me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Eric and his new "Friend" at Mustang Island near Corpus Christi, Texas. Sunday, Aug. 17
Capitol building. Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Capital building, Nashville, Tennessee.


Good morning all-

We are just leaving Birmingham, AL. We are heading to Nashville for a couple of hours and then on to Bowling Green, KY to see a little of Mammoth Cave. Home from there.

After our discussion at LWI, the African director suggested we visit Kenya. He randomly threw out that he was leaving for Kenya on August 28 if we wanted to go with him. I am not able to go as all of our kids start school on September 2 but Eric will be leaving from Chicago next Thursday. He will spend 6 days in Nairobi and 3 days in Rwanda before returning home on the 10th of Sept.

Amazing how God works. Nothing like we had planned but He knows best as we remind ourself daily!

Continuing on our journey - The Fogg Family

Monday, August 18, 2008

Homeward bound

August 18

We are currently in a hotel in Lake Charles, LA tonight. After leaving Saltillo we drove 8 hours to Corpus Christi. We then went to the ocean and spent a few hours looking for shells and clams.

On Sunday we visited the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier turned museum in the bay. After 4 hours there we returned to the beach for a few more hours of swimming and shell finding. We actually stopped at a Sears on the way to the hotel and found some great back to school deals on shoes for the kids.

This morning we drove 3 hours to Houston where we met with the executive director and African continent director of Living Water International. Having met Gary in Holland prior to leaving for Mexico he informed Bruce (African continent director) of his perceptions of our family. They then offered us the position of East African director. Currently they have families in Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan and Ethiopia. The other countries in the east Africa group are Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia. Their desire is to have a couple live near Nairobi, Kenya to assist with the organization and management of these countries.

The offer caught us off guard but we are seriously going to pray about it. We will keep you informed!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

final pictures of Saltillo

Our family in front of the governor's palace (capitol building) in Saltillo.
View of Saltillo from Fort Mexico. The black spot unfortunately is from the camera being dropped.

heading to Holland

Hello All-

Today we are beginning the trek home. None of us are ready to leave although I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed! I also will not miss the roosters crowing at 3:00 am.

Thursday of this week Eric and I each took extensive quiet time to be with the Lord in order to discern if Saltillo is the place for us. We each walked away knowing that Saltillo is not to be our new home. It would be easy to live here with the connections we have made and the American base of support. Saltillo has Sam's club and Wal-mart, all the fast food chains, Home Depot, and 2 large malls. Essentially, except for the language and color/height of the people, you could be in any large American city.

With the bio-sand filter model it is evident that the villages surrounding the city would benefit, but only if the filters are given away. In our case the filters were given away with the idea that eventually a local Christian would be able to create a business building filters. At $25.00 (cost in Saltillo - other countries can make them cheaper)per filter the villages cannot afford the filters and the people who live in town do not need them.

We still know that the Lord has called us to be missionaries and are looking forward to meeting with Living Water International to see what is in store.

Yesterday we painted at a park with the group from Christ Memorial Church. In the evening we attended our third birthday party since arriving. We arrived at 6:00 and dinner was served at 9:00. We left at 10:00 as more people were arriving.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We would appreciate your prayers as we meet with LWI on Monday at 2:00 EST.

Looking forward to seeing ya' all when we return!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Filters, Filters and more Filters

I will start from where I left off last time.

Monday morning we completed 4 hours of rotten board removal and painting on the Pastors house. We ate a quick lunch and then headed back to El Higo for further filter building. Valentin, again was our translator and 6 more families came for training. This time we had 2 more men available to help with the loading and unloading of material so it went quickly. We ate at the Children's home with the 2 other groups from West Michigan.

Tuesday we had another filter build - but this time at the Pastor's home. 7 pastors from small villages came with their families to learn to build the filters for their communities. The company from Monterrey who provided the filter materials sent 4 people to help with translation and to see the recipients of their gift. Eric then took those 4 people to El Higo to see the 12 families that recieved the other filters. It was eye opening for them. The 4 employees are upper class Mexicans and therefore are a little out of touch with the poor - no different than ourselves really. Monterrey informed us then that they are not interested in the hygiene training (one of the main reasons we came down here) so we now have an extra free day. It was disappointing to hear them say it but after theye rescheduled 3 times it was not unexpected.

After the build we took a tour of Innotec's new factory and then drove back to El Higo to drop off a new friend of Adriannes. We ate there and watched the kids from the orphanage break open a pinata and climbed a mountain nearby. Going up wasn't too bad although the cactus were vicious! On the mountain top was a cross with a crown of thorns on it. Several times a year people crawl up the mountain to place their gifts at the foot of the cross. The way down was more brutal. The rocks were very loose so we slipped alot, Adrianne stepped on a thorn that penetrated her shoe and went into her foot. Kevin slipped and was poked by a cactus that caused him to bleed profusely and then turn black and blue. Eric was poked by the same type of cactus and it penetrated his blue jeans. Needless to say we were glad to get down.

Today was a day of catch up. Laundry, emails, house cleaning, car cleaning (I think it drives faster now because we sucked so much dirt out of it!) and then Valentine took us on a tour of the historic downtown Saltillo. He is a history buff so we learned a lot. Another trip to H.E.B. (the grocery store) completed our day. Food prices are higher than in the U.S. Even rice and beans cost more plus they add a 15% tax to everything. I do not understand how people survive when the average wage is $1.50 an hour. Today we also completed a bacteria test on a water sample form El Higo. Bacteria count was high but we were glad to see that there was no fecal matter in it.

Until the next update!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

filter pictures

Valentin and the lady who received the 2nd filter.
The young lady in the pink shorts is only 18 and has a 2 year old and a 1 month old. Both children were conceived through rape. Alcoholism is a large problem in this community of 20 families and therefore causes many other problems.
This lovely lady, Maria, always wears white and she keeps it white! The ladies use wash boards for all of their laundry.


Hygiene training under the palapa in El Higo.
The first loaded truck, right before it ran out of gas. Nearest station is 18km away.
Yesterday was a busy day. We picked up our translator and headed to El Higo in order to build water filters. Valentin (the translator) and I (Renee) walked around the village and invited all of the families to come for training. When the time arrived 6 families came. No men, just children and the women. The men work until 1:00 on Saturdays and then, unfortunately, they buy alcohol on the way home and drink too much. We built a filter while explaining the process to the ladies. They were very attentive and asked alot of questions. The president of the children's home and mayor of a nearby city also came. He had a great time watching and helping. When we completed the training portion we determined to make the filters in their homes as they weigh 250# when complete. No one was at the children's home when we arrived so we had to locate keys for the truck. No easy task. Once located we loaded the truck and drove to the first home. The first filter took about 45 minutes and then we prayed over it and the house. When we got into the truck to go to the 2nd home the truck would not start. Out of gas! We ended up borrowing a sad looking wheelbarrow and completing the next 2 filters. We then towed the truck back to the home and loaded up a different truck to complete the last 3 filters. Our translator had recently had surgery and was not allowed to lift over 5# so Eric and I did all of the lifting. I always wanted defined muscles in my arms. I may get them yet! Of course as the first few houses received their filters other families wanted them. We told them they had to come to the training in order to receive one. We will be going back to offer another training tomorrow.

Today we attended Bible study and church then headed to Arteaga for their market. We wondered the market for an hour. It was a bit disappointing. Most of it was chinese plastic toys with a few food vendors thrown in.


A storm coming over the mountains. It rains here everyday from 3:30 -5:00 and cools the temp. by 10 degrees.
A pomengrate bush/tree in the Pastor's yard.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Today was hygiene training at El Higo. We arrived early to prepare for the 10:00 training. I was then told that the ladies would be coming at 3:00. We rectified that by inviting them to come at 10:30. No one was there at 10:30 so I waited until 10:45. One lady showed up and reported that the other ladies would not be coming because they were so busy.

She was correct except that the children, teenagers and one man showed up. It was quite fun to work with the kids and the senor was very funny. After 1.5 hours I gave them a 10 minute break except they did not leave so I continued on. We covered alot of ground in 2.5 hours.

The rest of the day was relaxing. We finished up cleaning the house in order to move out. We are now back in the first house we stayed in. We will stay here until we leave for Holland next week.
We also took a long walk. We were very winded when we finished. It is taking awhile to adjust to being a mile high. More storms rolled in off the mountains today. We have seen rainbows nearly everyday since we arrived.

We were also able to watch part of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on the Pastors TV.

Tomorrow is more training and building of bio-sand filters in El Higo. 2 groups from Holland arrived today. One from Christ Memorial and 1 from Lakeshore Vineyard. We will be working with these groups a little next week.

Adios mis amigos y familia

A True Mexico Day!

Well today Mexico got the better of us.

I got up early to go to the church and finish painting the ceiling by noon. I had a drop off scheduled at the orphanage in El Higo at 1:00 and a dinner appoinmtment at 5:00. This should have left a 2 hour time frame for the truck to arrive and be unloaded. ( it is Mexico you know).

Sooooo - I got up and finished installing the kitchen faucet in the missionaries home we are staying in. This took longer than I thought so we were running about an hour behind. Not bad so far. I arrived with Doren (the son of another missionary who is the pastor at the church) to work on the ceiling. We had just gotten started (1o minutes into it) when Derek (a man from a 1 week short term mission trip) came to repair the electrical at the church. He had to move our power source and that took 1/2 hour.

Then comes the fun part. 5 minutes more of painting with a sprayer on the new power source and Derek does something in the building. The power dies to most of the church and the rest of the power goes from 120 volts to 240 volts in the plugs. We shut everything down and for the next 3 hours tried to figure out what happened. I will save you the electical details, but the power in from the building was 5 wires off the meter, with several crossed. When certain combinations of things were on in the church, you sometimes had 120 and sometimes 240 volt power depending on which circuit breakers were turned on. To frustrate matter further Derek is not an electrician - just a nice guy who new more about electricity than the pastor. He ended up getting me to fix it and if you know me you know that electricity is not my strong point. There were more things wrong with the church - but I digress. Needless to say I never painted.

I left 15 minutes late for El Higo to meet my truck. I was low on gas and prayerfully the gas station I stopped at took credit card (most do not). Gas here is government owned and there is only one station, Pemex. I get to my corner to turn towards my destination and there is a semi-truck rolled over on the corner. Another delay. I get to El Higo without further incident and wait 3 hours for the truck. Nothing.

Now you have to see El Higo. Its 200 people who live in conditions you would not put your dog in. It is in the middle of nowwhere. There is nothing! Dirt, dirt and more dirt for 15 miles in all directions. I have no idea what ever possessed anyone to stop and make camp here, but there they are. Phones are out of range, the people at the childrens home were gone and all I could do was pick up trash (about 100 pounds) while waiting.

Finally I could wait no more and headed toward home. When I got within cell range, I recieved a message from the company that the truck might come at 4:00 now and then get loaded and drive the 1 1/2 hours to El Higo. After a long, nearly comical 1 hour of Mexican communication sytems troubles, I finally got to speak with Jose from Santrol who said the truck had still not arrived (it was 5:00 pm). We rescheduled for tomorrow.

We lost our dinner date in all this - had to cancel.

By the time I arrived back at the church, they ended up with the power back on, I never did find out what happened. I painted for 1 hour before coming home very frustated with all this.

There is more.

After dinner, Adrianne wanted to swim in the above ground pool outside our house. The pool had been shocked several days earlier and needed to be vacuumed very badly. I looked for 20 minutes for the parts to clean the pool when we found an outside shower area attached to the side of the house we are staying in full of pool stuff. I started to look in the closet and thought the smell would overwhelm me. The area was stacked full of plastic toys, the pool cover and who knows what else. It was a mice condo! After chasing mice out of it, we emptied the whole thing, threw away the ruined things and washed the area. While trying to throw things away we located the pool supplies to clean the pool. By the time we were done it was late, I still wanted to clean the pool for Adrianne, but the pool filter runs on an extension chord that is 15 feet to short to plug into the house. I gave up.

We learned patience today. The car ran fine, we were able to get gas, we ate and were safe, the church ceiling did get painted although by others and life went on.

Not the day we had in mind and I never even mentioned Sunshines day and her 45 minute project of cleaning the microwave and the 1.5 hours of time she took to attempt to reach me about the truck delivery. Her translator called at 9:30 last night and said he could not translate for the hygiene training. He called back 30 minutes later and said he now could.

Today (Friday) is the hygiene training at El Higo.

We will see what the day brings,

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


This is the house where we are currently staying.
The boys were very hot. This was taken at the church. The little girl, Cale, is the daughter of the missionaries whose house we are staying in.
Adrianne painted this mural on the wall of the childrens room in the church. Some one then outlined it in black.

Today plans changed again. I am learning to be fluid. I'm told we can't be flexible because eventually you will break over time. Our training in Monterrey has now been moved for the third time to next week due to a hurricane in Texas. Long story. We hope to build 20 filters and provide training to a small village near the childrens home on Friday and Saturday. In the mean time we are continuing to help paint and clean the church.

I (Renee) have decided I will conquer this Mexico driving! I bravely took the wheel yesterday and got in my defensive driving mode. One mile down the street there is a construction zone. It is down to one lane going my way only. No one cares if it is my way! 2 cars were headed straight toward me so I politely stopped to let them through. A car passed me on the left and motorcycle on the right and then laid on their horns as they narrowly avoided a collision with the wrong way vehicles. Eric definitely handles the driving better. I felt bad that he has done most of the driving until I found out that I need a copy of my marriage license to drive our vehicle. If I were to be pulled over I need proof that I am married to the registered owner of the car. I don't feel bad anymore! :)

Currently we are making fly traps. They have huge issues with flies here.

Next time we hope to post something about our actual mission of clean water. Pray that God would open the doors before we leave next Saturday for more opportunities to present the filters, hygiene and the gospel. We have alot of interest but scheduling seems to be a problem.
Mexico time vs. America time.



Monday, August 4, 2008

Childrens Home in the Mountains. About 1 hour northeast of Saltillo.
View from the Children's Home. The orphanage currently has 11 children. They will soon finish the 2nd home and have 11 more kids.


We have had a couple of busy days here so we have not taken the time to update our blog. Here is a quick update.

Saturday began slowly with cleaning and putting together equipment for Carl whose mission home we were staying in. At 2:00 we decided to head to the orphanage in the mountains for a couple of hours. Turns out it was a God appointment. The Pastor who was going to drive us there was ill so he gave us directions. It took us about an hour to get there. When we arrived the couple who heads up the mission teams was just about to leave to pick up several people from the Monterrey airport. She ( Rebekah) was completely stressed out and crying. The last thing she wanted to do was drive 1.5 hours to the airport. Eric offered to drive instead and the kids and I dug into cleaning out the pantry. We were there for 7 hours because the flight was late and then the van was leaking diesel fuel on the return trip. Not every gas station in Mexico sells diesel so it was a long journey back for Eric. The kids and I had a good time playing with the local kids but boy was it hot and the dust storms were nasty. On our way back to Saltillo we found out that we had to move from our current mission home to the home of another missionary couple because a team had arrived early. We were stripping beds and cleaning at 11:00 and then we moved into another house that was really lived in. The couple did not know we would be staying in their home so they did not have it prepared. Needless to say we were up late.

Sunday we went to the Saltillo International Church. It is an English church so we met several ex-pat couples who are here with Innotech and GM. They invited us to a BBQ where we spent the entire afternoon. One of the couples has their home 3 miles from our home in Holland and knows some of the same people we do.

Today we painted the bathrooms of the church and helped with VBS. The kids had a really good time with VBS. It is their 3rd one this summer. We were all tired so we ate at McDonalds and then took a short swim.

We still are unclear about whether or not this is where God wants us to be. There are definately needs here for clean water in the local villages but there are several organizations that could be trained to make the bio-sand filters and distribute them through the churches. We are continuing to pray that God would make it clear.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Recent pictures

Kids at the Texarkana Post Office and Federal Building. Half in Arkansas and half in Texas!
Eric , kids and the king. Wax museum in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Eric and Adrianne playing in the pool in Saltillo, Mexico. August 1.
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