Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed

I (Mark) am recently back from a trip to Nairobi, so apologies for being late in posting this update – most of this was written while there.

Tumaini

Tumaini team

Tumaini clinical team

I am writing this during a 3-week visit to Nairobi. So far I’ve spent a week with the Tumaini teams, a week attending the Africa Inland Mission (AIM) Health Forum for all members working in various areas of health ministry, and am just starting the AIM Leadership conference – 150 people who have any kind of leadership responsibilities in Africa Inland Mission.

During the first week the whole Tumaini clinical team – from Nairobi, Kampala and myself – met up to take stock, consider the future, to pray and to have fun together. They are a wonderful team – and two of our members who were currently in the US joined us via the internet for discussions in the middle of their night.  As we usually need to relate to each other via computer screens, it was special for me to have this time face-to-face!

However, we are also a team under real pressure: some others have had significant family pressures; a parent of one team member died recently while they were thousands of miles away; one has a significant health challenge which necessitates a trip back to their home country; the spouse of another has just had to cope with the death of their boss in a tragic accident. Is this just normal missionary life, or are we under sustained spiritual attack? I’m not sure, but either way, it is hard!

Our little centre in Kampala – a small ‘seedling’, which has not yet had time to put down deep roots – faces some uncertainties over future staffing. Should we ‘pull it up’, or beseech God to sustain and water it? We are doing the latter!

And from March until at least May, we will have just 3 clinical staff working in Nairobi; there used to be 10 in 2014-15.

Zebra

Zebra

Nonetheless, the team is full of faith, even if tired and stretched, and together we seek God’s will and direction for this work. It is easy for me to say that it is ‘obvious’ that this work needs to continue – for to me it certainly seems so! Yet we also know that God is always moving on, and so it is time for us to see what new things we need to be moving towards, or what old areas of work it is time to bring to a close, even if they have served well in the past. We trust that God has us in his hands and will show us the way forward.  So, please pray with us for clarity over God’s leading, and a willingness to follow with gladness.

Other things are developing very well: the psychologist who joined us short-term in October, is hoping to return to work with us for a longer period of time. She will be going back to the USA in March and intends to seek funding for her return longer-term. Please pray.

New staff housing units

New staff housing units

The new staff housing at the Tumaini Nairobi compound is in the finishing stages, and we expect to take possession of it by mid-March as promised – no small miracle in this place where ‘everything’ takes much longer than expected! (That is not to say that we have all the funding needed; far from it, for we have mainly done this with loans from within the mission that still need repaying.)

And it was wonderful to attend the church in Nairobi to which we had belonged, and to see friends who have not forgotten us. It also happened to be the day on which their new church centre was being opened, with a special service (8.45 to 1.00!) followed by ‘nyoma choma’ for everyone – a special meal of rice and roast goat meat – very tasty!

Mark, Gunilla and Judith - Tumaini leaders

Mark, Gunilla and Judith – Tumaini leaders

Well, the AIM Leadership conference has now ended. It was great to hear what God is doing across the organisation, and to catch up with many people. I also had an opportunity to talk about how Tumaini can best support leadership when members are going through difficult times.

Family news

By the end of November much of the work we wanted to do on our home had been completed, and we are pleased with the results. There is still some decorating and a few other things to do, but those can happen whenever there is time, energy and inclination.

When we last wrote, Barbara’s mother had just been admitted to hospital being short of breath. Initially this didn’t seem especially serious, but she was frail and declined very quickly over just a few days, dying in early December. We were blessed to be with her, and to be able to pray with her shortly beforehand. She was ready to let go of this world. The funeral was a week before Christmas, on a bright and very cold day.

It will be strange not to be travelling up and down to Reading to see her.

Please praise God with us for:

  • The wonderful team of clinical and support staff at the Tumaini centres in Nairobi and Kampala
  • That our short-term psychologist feels led to come back longer-term
  • The new staff housing being completed so well and in such a timely manner!

And please pray for:

  • The desperately needed new clinical staff for both Tumaini centres
  • For God’s clear leading as we plan for the future
  • The current team of clinicians, who are hard pressed
  • Funding to pay for the building work
  • Barbara as she grieves the loss of her mother.
Butterfly, Nairobi

Butterfly, Nairobi

And finally, here is a ‘bug of the month’ – a butterfly seen in Nairobi.  (It may be a common or garden something, for all I know, but I’m sure it spoke Swahili!)