Thanks for praying! We have completed two weeks of Kiswahili lessons and we are amazed to discover that we can understand and retain (quite a lot of) what we have been taught so far! We have an excellent teacher who comes to our apartment each morning, and in the afternoons we practise what we have been learning by talking with the compound guards, others we meet on the university campus and in local shops and stalls. Please keep praying, as our initial lessons continue for another 4-6 weeks.
One of the students on the campus said to me (Mark), “As you are an old man, we call you ‘mzee'”. I was somewhat taken aback by the facts being stated so plainly, but fortunately had learnt that an ‘mzee’ is a ‘respected elder’! The attitude to age is very different in this culture, but I still couldn’t help thinking that he clearly didn’t know me well!
Life at home
We have been blessed by another missionary couple loaning us a car for a very modest cost, so are able to get about rather more freely – well, allowing for Nairobi traffic. At some point we will need to take a leap of faith and buy a second-hand car ourselves (the majority of cars here are old, have no warranties, and need to be approached with a strong “buyer beware” attitude, for the milage, history and even age is typically, lets say, ‘vague’).
We are also beginning to understand how to form friendships with our African neighbours, mostly Kenyans, but also from Nigeria, Ghana, Germany and the US – academics, lecturers, gardeners, guards, compound staff. Barbara has found one way of starting conversation – by planting herb and vegetable seedlings alongside our apartment. There are many opinions about what will grow, and whether the monkeys will eat everything before we have a chance!
Another conversation starter (or maybe not): we came home after church and lunch with a friend last Sunday, to find a gecko sleeping in the toilet bowl. He tried to hide under the rim, but I’m afraid I (Barbara) had to flush him away :-(( !
We are looking for a church home. Having been part of our home church near Cambridge for many years, and not yet having found a church to join here, we very much miss the fellowship, Bible studies, home group and prayer partners that we have been used to.
We have attended a different church each Sunday. We are struck by how much focus there is on the Old Testament (and how many people we have got to know have OT names: we are becoming friends with Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel and two Ezekiels – all lovely people! I tell you: heaven is going to be great!). Certainly Africans have a natural affinity with Old Testament Israel – tribes, clans, the importance of kinship relationships, of land, of God enabling people to survive in the face of adversity, etc. But we pray that the message of the New Testament is also clearly heard!
There are many churches to choose from, but we want to know where God would have us be.
Attending prayer meetings at Tumaini
I, Mark, am not counselling yet and won’t be until after our initial language learning – so sometime next month I expect. However, I am beginning to attend some of the team meetings at Tumaini. One of these is the weekly devotions / prayer meeting. It is so good to have prayer at the centre of the work, for without it we just operate with feeble human knowledge!
We were warned by a retired missionary before leaving the UK that many missionaries end up doing something quite different from what they originally expected. Well, an interesting day recently involved filming for a new short video about Tumaini. We were all dressed as garage mechanics (don’t ask!) and here is a picture from the ‘set’. I suspect that I won’t have a new career as a movie star, but that is OK, as fortunately I am happy just being a counsellor.
I look forward to getting more involved, but first we need our work visas to come through; our current visitors visas expire on 11th April.
Barbara’s work direction
Barbara has had preliminary meetings with two potential projects: one responding to the desire of some of the university students (mostly pastors in training) to improve their English, the other an outreach work to refugees who are in Nairobi from a neighbouring country. She is finding out more about both of these potential areas of work.
So, two months in, still happy and praising the Lord!
If you are the praying kind, please pray:
- for open and retentive minds as we continue language lessons
- for good and growing relationships with those amongst whom we live
- for our work visas to come through in the next month
- for guidance over which church we should join
- for guidance and Godly wisdom for Barbara’s work direction
- and that our vegetables would grow :-))