Orientation and home-making

Africa Based Orientation

24 adults and 7 children together for three weeks at Scott Christian University, Machakos – about one and a half hours’ drive south-east of Nairobi, along with our teachers (or should that be ‘orienteers’?), who are all experienced AIM missionaries.

Mark on a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi)

Mark on a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi)

The course is carefully crafted, a mixture of individual work, classroom teaching (about African culture, security, and the various aspects of the work of AIM), and practical exercises (go and talk to the people in the market, visit some churches and get to know people there…).  We survive a ride together by ‘boda-boda’ – a small motorbike-taxi with us both squeezed behind the driver; our boda-boda has a big sign on the back saying “Real men love Jesus”.

We are a group of such different people – a soil scientist, a carpenter/builder, a policeman, a psychologist, a social worker, a children’s worker, etc – but with one shared passion: Christians called to Africa to make a difference in the Name of Christ. We grow to know each other well, to know what we each look like first thing in the morning, what we like and dislike, our backgrounds and our visions.

Attending church in Machakos

Attending church in Machakos

On the three Sundays we attended services at a local secondary boarding school, where we quickly got to know some of the young people and teachers.

We say our sad goodbyes at the end, as we prepare to scatter to every corner of Africa; some are going to very remote areas indeed, many to countries that we would find daunting – but we are collected and driven just a few miles to Karen, a suburb on the western edge of Nairobi.

Nairobi

We are taken to an apartment in a quiet corner of Africa International University, where we find everything cleaned for us, the bed made and a meal prepared. We feel very cared for and welcomed! Even the gecko high up on the wall smiled.

AIU apartment

AIU apartment

Our apartment is the last ground-floor window on the left wing in the picture.

We look out at mature trees and gardens, introduce ourselves to the guard on the gate and meet the two guard dogs that don’t look particularly fierce, and have a long talk with the person in charge of the compound.  His wife tries to make a living in a small room by crafting the most exquisite ‘flies’ from wire and feathers, for fly fishermen in the West, who no doubt pay a great deal more than she makes.

Our first few days here included unpacking and beginning to make the apartment our home, meeting the Clinical Director at Tumaini Counselling Centre where I will be working, and talking with others about what Barbara may do, and meeting with other local people

Today we learnt to ride the ‘matatus’ (minibuses with 14 seats and 20+ passengers); we were surprised to get an impromptu sermon from one passenger – it was a straightforward but good message!  We have also been surprised to notice that the local big foodstore plays Christian choruses over the loudspeaker system.

Next comes meetings with various AIM personnel and arranging language learning – we expect to spend the next 6-8 weeks beginning to learn Swahili.  We have very basic conversations with the guards, laughing together at our mistakes.

It begins to feel like home.

If you are the praying kind, please pray:

  • Giving thanks for the orientation course and pray for all those who attended who are now starting their work in various countries across Africa
  • Giving thanks for the welcome we have received in Nairobi, and that we would soon build good relationships with colleagues and neighbours
  • That we would have an aptitude for learning Swahili, so that we can build better relationships with Kenyans
  • For God’s clear leading at the right time over what work Barbara should be doing.