It’s nearly the end of 2014. A lot has happened for us this year! In January we packed up everything in our home, giving most of it away and storing a few basics and the personal things we treasured. Then came the very difficult time of saying goodbye to family and friends, and boarding a plane to Nairobi. We stepped out into hot sunshine and a different world.
After three weeks of orientation with Africa Inland Mission (AIM) we moved to our home – a one-bedroom apartment on the campus of Africa International University (AIU), where we have since made many friends. We spent 4 months learning the basics of Swahili, and have since continued with two lessons per week. For the most part we enjoy this very much, though recently, we have got somewhat behind with practising conversation and doing our homework
We joined an AIC Church and belong to one of its Adult Bible Study groups that meet before the Sunday morning service. It is a privilege to meet with such mature African Christians. Recently we have talked about the beliefs and practices of ordinary Muslims, how to build relationships and how to pray for them. Mark, plus one of the church pastors and another missionary, started a midweek cell group on the university campus back in July and here we have enjoyed learning about discipleship in an African context.
In May we received our residence and work permits, bought a car, and started work. For me, Mark, that has meant counselling at the Tumaini Counselling Centre in Nairobi, which primarily offers support to missionaries of any Christian mission. For Barbara this has meant teaching English informally to students of AIU and their wives. AIU is mainly a theological college, so most of the students are pastors-in-training.
Working at Tumaini has been great; the clinical team is all volunteer missionaries – counsellors and psychiatrists from the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and S Korea, and we are supported by a Kenyan office and compound staff. In August I took over the administration of the Centre as the Clinical Team Leader, but continue with some counselling. During the year we have been able to help several hundred missionaries, some of whom would have left the field had it not been for the professional and timely support available to them.
Barbara’s teaching began in May and from then until September, she very much enjoyed teaching two married couples, one from Ethiopia and the other from Madagascar. When the new academic year began in September, she started to teach some pastors’ wives English and has built good relationships with these women in both these English classes and in a Ladies’ Bible Study group that meets each week. The last week of November was end of term and classes resume in January. Although she will miss contact with these ladies, she very much needs a break.
We have recently returned from the main AIM Kenya conference for all those working with Africa Inland Mission in Kenya – about 250 adults plus a further 150 children. This was held just one and half hour’s drive north from Nairobi, at an AIM school high up on the edge of the Rift Valley with stunning views to match. We helped out with some of the registration and Mark led two workshops, which seemed to go well. But we returned tired from the year, and Barbara with a cold – the first since coming to Kenya!
A firm foundation
Looking back, we expected to be living life rather more slowly in Africa. Initially we were able to do this, but have gradually found ourselves living at just the same pace as in the West. That lifestyle felt wrong in the UK but at least we had modern appliances to help us! We value your prayers, as, over Christmas, we will be thinking and praying about how to slow down again here. This isn’t just about a pace of life, but also about living on a foundation of prayer.
There are many good things that it’s possible to be involved in. However, Barbara sees her main focus as continuing with language learning for building relationships with the people around us, and teaching English to equip pastors and their wives in their studies as they prepare for Christ-centred leadership in the African church.
We’re dreaming of a warm Christmas
We write this letter in the run up to Christmas – except that the weather is getting warmer, not colder, and the majority of Christmas cards here have traditional Christmas images such as hippopotami, porcupines and acacia trees! Now – we are ready for a break – but Christmas away from family and friends is missing a major ingredient and it feels very strange.
We think of all of you in the UK often, and pray that this Christmas will be a time of blessing! Although many parts of the world have been in turmoil, we have confidence that security lies in Christ alone.
And we are very grateful to everyone who has supported us by maintaining friendships, contributing financially and by praying. Thank you!
If you are the praying kind:
- Please join with us in giving thanks for God’s faithfulness through 2014.
- Our main request is for Godly wisdom as we seek to rebalance life around core priorities, and to stop rushing around!
By the way, we are shifting to writing this blog every two months, rather than monthly. Please feel free to email us in between times and let us know about your life in furthest UK, or US, or wherever you happen to be!