Oaxaca - Day 3

Well, I’ve learned more about Chickens than I’d ever thought I know! Thanks to Kerry Johnson, our Communityfor missionary to Oaxaca! I meant to do a video blog while there to talk about it, but we were so busy I never got around to doing it.

Kerry & Mauri work with indigenous people in Oaxaca up in the mountains. There, a lot of people have no means for income and typically no running water or electricity…or so they think! Until they get a visit from Kerry Johnson!

Kerry & Mauri do several types of projects with the people. The projects aren’t the priority, the relationship is…but the project provides the avenue to build the relationship. Some of his projects include building greenhouses, providing light by using and installing solar panels, water projects (you can read about one in my earlier blog) and animal husbandry projects. I want to share about our 3rd day in Oaxaca and our animal husbandry project. Animal husbandry is the science of breeding, feeding, and tending to domestic animals, esp. farm animals. Our project was chickens!! (I was a little excited)

I have to start this by telling you that about a week or so before we left to come to Oaxaca, Kerry emailed to tell us he had a shipment coming by FedEx to Aaron’s house (one of our associate pastors). He asked for us to pick up and bring them with us to Oaxaca. He never said what it was, but mentioned that it would be life changing for the people up in the villages. I told Aaron that I’d come by to pick them up on the day we left. Little did I know it would be egg incubators and electronic egg turners…ha! I’m sure it was a funny site going through the scanners at the airport and through customs.

So on Day 3 they picked us up to head up the mountain for our project, but first we had to stop at the egg place to get some eggs. The guys went in and came out with like 40 something eggs for us to take up the mountain. Now, let me explain the road up this mountain. It’s very winding and about a 2 hour drive…and a very BUMPY drive at that! So we had to hold the eggs up in the air to keep them from getting broken, several different ones of us took turns being the mother “hen,” so to speak.

there was some discussion on who held the chicken eggs the longest!

Once we got to the village, we were greeted by the sweet, sweet people. We took the egg incubator, the eggs and a solar panel up the hill. While there, Kerry installed a solar panel and wired them a light bulb into their house and it also powered the egg incubator and the egg turners.

installing the solar panel on the roof

these children were watching them so intently!

Here’s where chicken education comes in. Now I might not have all this completely correct because it had to go through translation to get to me (and it’s been a few weeks) but here’s some information you might find handy if you ever want to raise your own chickens.

1. When loading the eggs into the egg turners you put the small portion of the egg in first and the larger rounded portion of the egg up. BECAUSE (this is cool) it’s better to have the bigger portion up because there is an air pocket in the top of the egg where the chicken breathes and as the egg turns, the bigger side of the egg gives the chicken more breathing room. (Isn’t that crazy! Who knew!)
2. Chicken egg shells are porous so air comes into and out of the egg so the chicken can breathe in the air pocket.
3. Chicken eggs have to be turned manually every 4-5 hours. Or you can use electronic egg turners (which we brought with us to put in the incubators).
4. Chickens hatch in about 21 days and with incubators and electronic turners, they typically yield about an 80% survival rate.
5. To know if an egg has fertilized, you will start to see lines sort of like veins in the egg shell.

here they are right side up in the incubator!
There’s probably more, but I forget. What’s cool is that in about 21 days these people will have close to 30 something chickens. They can use them to eat, to reproduce more eggs and more chickens, sell them for income, share with their village friends to continue building relationships, and much more! Kerry & Mauri are big on sharing. They will remove a project if a person is not sharing it. They tell them to give away to people who are really struggling.

This particular village was having some hard times with a neighboring village…for some reason there was some animosity between them in the past. So when Kerry began talking with the village about sharing, a lady brought this other village up and Kerry explained to them that they should take the first step in repairing that relationship by giving them some chickens from this bunch when they hatch. Kerry also shared this heart wrenching personal story with them about helping your fellow man. I will not share it here, because I know it’s very personal to Kerry; but I can say that it had a profound impact on the people of this village as he shared from his heart. I saw grown men crying and all the people in the room appear to be very touched by what he was sharing.

While the project installation was going on, the women of the village cooked us a big meal. It was an honor to allow them to serve us that way. I know it was a huge sacrifice to feed us and a very special time for us to share in a meal with them.

This village of people had a very sweet spirit about them. It was a lot of fun to interact with the children and the ladies of the village.

In particular it was really nice for me to see the men of the village show a lot of affection (hugs) to their children. I’ve traveled a lot all over the world and this was a rare site for me and it touched me to see it so prevalent in this village.

There was also a little baby in the village that had Down syndrome. We were told that she wouldn’t make it too much longer, but she was just precious and it was touching to see the entire village just love on this little one and how much “light” she brought to everyone as the loved her. When we asked her name, they told us that they all just called her Sweetheart.

On the way down the mountain we stopped by a village where Kerry had worked previously in building a greenhouse. This particular greenhouse housed tomatoes. The lady said they get tomatoes off these vines 8 months out of the year. I am sure this project is life changing in how it provides income for the entire village.

I am so thankful for people like Kerry & Mauri Johnson who not only give their lives loving on people who live differently from them, but also for the creativity and knowledge that God has given them to serve people. Say a prayer today for them, and it’s my hope that every time you have an egg or a tomato, that you’d be reminded of them and that you would say a prayer for them personally and for their work.

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