Category: Uncategorized

A SEASON OF CHANGE

The seasons change and so do we.  It’s October, the Spring season in Kenya and so the Nairobi landscape is turning purple with the beautiful jacaranda trees in full bloom across the city. As this is now my second year in Kenya, I’m learning to understand the seasons, the routines and cultures but mostly I’m learning about change and transition. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus wrote ‘the only thing that is constant is change’.  I know it’s a cliché but I think it’s a good one!

CHANGE. I’m seeing it all around me.  Kenya is going through huge transition especially in this difficult election period.  Change is ever present in AIM as team members rotate on Home Assignments and the mission environment is of course dynamic. And personally, there’s change ahead too.   But change is a gift.  It’s a chance to let go, be refined and a reminder of our unchangeable God who is constant and outlasts change. Hebrews 13:8
It’s been a wonderful and changing three months since my last newsletter, so here’s the latest news from my mission field here in Nairobi.

Jacaranda tree in bloom viewed from the AIM AIR office 

Yesterday, today and forever plant in my back garden

KENYAN ELECTIONS

My role as Contingency Officer has taken priority since my return in July. Preparation for our members and staff meant everyone stocking up on supplies and being ready to remain safe in our own homes if necessary. During the election period our travel (international, national and around the city) was limited especially after the results were announced when most of the disturbances occurred. Sadly, many Kenyans lost their lives in this violence.  Shortly after the results were announced, there was a Supreme Court challenge and the election outcome was nullified.  The new election date is 26th October and again we are prepared and ready for the uncertainty ahead.  We pray for peace and a good resolution for this nation.

A NEW ROLE

I was recently approached by our AIM International Director asking me to consider the International Crisis Consultant role for the organisation.  Whilst a career in the British police seems a perfect background for accepting the role, I have spent the last month in careful ‘research’ and prayer to decide if this was a good role to move into.  I’m excited to tell you that following that period of discernment, I have accepted and will start in December.  I will remain in Nairobi and will retain some of my other roles. Life will be busy!  I will be working with a colleague Hiram, who comes from an American policing (law enforcement) background so we shall be an interesting team!

MOTHERS’ UNION LINKS

You may recall from my April newsletter, that I have been making connections with the Mothers’ Union (MU) here in Nairobi and became a member of the Kenyan MU in May.  Along with new friendships, it has been the start of some wonderful opportunities to link the MU branches from St Luke’s, my church here in Nairobi and St Peter’s, my home church in Bishop’s Waltham.  During Mum, Beryl and David’s visit we spent time with a group of children that St Peter’s MU branch are supporting.  It was lovely to meet the children, who are from nearby Kibera and attend St Luke’s school on the ground of the church. After introductions, we had chai (tea) and mandazi (doughnuts) in the school room, prayed together and got to know each other a little more.  I’ll be working with some of the St Luke’s MU ladies over the coming months, purchasing school uniforms and text books for the children.

St Luke’s Mothers’ Union ladies with Beryl, myself and Mum


Children from St Luke’s school in the classroom

HOSPITALITY

I have been blessed with a wonderful place to live and it seems incredible to think I have been in this house for a year now. It really does feel like home. I have been able to share this home and offer hospitality to not only family and friends but to visiting missionaries or those exploring their calling in the mission field. Over the last few months there have been some fabulous visitors.  Rachel and Steve (St Peter’s) ‘dropped by’ for supper during their Kenyan travels in August. Molly came at the beginning of September and we also spent five fun days on Zanzibar with Lindsey (AIM AIR pilot and great friend). What an amazing place Zanzibar is! Interesting history, beautiful beaches and crazy people – a great combination.  It was a relaxing time after the busy election period.  I felt refreshed and ready to go again with planning and preparing for the next one!

My dearest friends Jo and Mike came at the end of September and later in early October, Mum and friends, Beryl and David from our home church in Bishop’s Waltham arrived too.  It was great to show them the mission of AIM especially AIM AIR at the Wilson Airport hangar and our AIM guesthouse, Mayfield. We worshipped together at St Luke’s church on two Sundays during their stay.  We experienced both Kenyan and British preachers and had to smile at the differences!  We had a fun and busy schedule being tourists around Nairobi and Navaisha but mostly I just loved spending time together, chilling and catching up.   Jo and Mike spent five days, climbing Mount Kenya and even returned to tell the tale!  And there are more guests to come, my niece Christina and Hattie arrive on Saturday – YAY!


KENYAN ELECTIONS – due to take place on the 26th October but there is uncertainty and increased anxiety this time about violence across the country

AIM & AIM AIR – in particular the work in Central African Republic of the church and AIM missionaries.

NEW ROLE –  I’m excited to see where God takes AIM and I in this work. Wisdom, energy, inspiration and grace as I begin this new role.

MOTHERS’ UNION – developing our links and for the children from the church school

LOVELY VISITORS – give thanks for the time and fun we had together. Pray for safety while Christina and Hattie are here during the election period.

MY HOME – A Wonderful Home – a place to offer hospitality to friends, family and other visitors.

HOME ASSIGNMENT –  I can’t believe I’m preparing already…. !  March to July 2018.

ASANTE SANA

There are so many ways in which you support me and I love the variety and your creativity too! Asante Sana (thank you very much) for your continued prayers, kindness, gifts and surprises. Mostly, I appreciate and feel energised by your prayers. They sustain me through this changing landscape and the many transitions of the mission field.

A FEW PHOTOS

Mike, Carrie and Jo in Karura Forest, Nairobi
2nd birthday in Kenya!
Amazing Zanzibar
Carrie, Steve and Rachel

Journeys and Outreaches

Dear Prayer partners,

We just recently returned from Dar es Salaam where we had our annual AIM Tanzania missionary conference. The theme was journeying with Jesus. Together we shared testimonies about what it means to journey with Christ in this life. As you can imagine or perhaps know firsthand, journeys in Africa can be very different depending on the road. The paved road from Morogoro to Dodoma takes about 4 hours to drive and is about 260 km long. The unpaved road to our nearest AIM missionary neighbors also takes about 4 hours to travel, but is 100km long, filled with ruts, rocks and tsetse flies. Whether its a smooth road or not so smooth road, Jesus promised to journey it with us.
We were with our regional leaders, Colin and Becca when we left Dar early in the morning. Before leaving, Colin prayed for an opportunity to share the gospel with someone on the trip to Dodoma. Three hours in to the trip we stopped at a thatched roadside restaurant and settled in for a nice breakfast of eggs, chapati, coffee, and conversation among the four of us…….. only to have our own conversation interrupted, and our prayer answered as one of the waiters pulled up a chair to our table and started a conversation in which he admitted that he was reading the Bible and wanted to know if Jesus claimed to be God. We thought “Wow, OK Lord, I guess you want us to talk to this guy!” He peppered us with questions and statements, many he he had obviously learned from his religious teachers to try to refute or confound Christianity. So between bites of egg and chapati, we answered his questions, discussed some Bible verses, and Lord willing helped this gentlemen journey closer towards Jesus than he had been before.

Thank you for praying for us over the last month! We enjoyed some weddings in the local church, the Wairo outreach, a health committee meeting in Pahi, a great mid-term break with the kids and some friends, and then conference in Dar. Thanks for praying for the new car, we’re making progress, though slowly, one out of three documents has been sent to Dar, so only three more to go!

WAIRO OUTREACH – Thank you for praying for the outreach in Wairo September 22-24th. It went really well, one woman gave her life to Jesus in the middle of the outreach, and another re-dedicated herself. Two churches participated with lots of singing and dancing and preaching in the open air square of the village. That’s where we also shared the King of Glory film in Swahili. I gave the sermon on Sunday morning and was also encouraged to see so many turn up for the Msingi Bible study which Ndaki led before the service. They are working through the Bible study books we distributed earlier this year. Pray for continued fruit from the outreach. It was great to meet Musa, a new believer within the last few months, who used to be a slave to alcohol and a thorn in the church’s side!

PAHI TRIP – This last trip to Pahi to visit the clinic also brought with it a chance to catch up with Cloud and his family and also visit Patrick and his wife Mama Baraka who work among the R. people. We worked through some important items on the dispensary side of things, and also visited and prayed with Patrick and family in Busi.

THIS WEEK – Please pray this week, there are a number of different things going on which all begin on the 23rd. The eye surgery clinic will happen this week, with Dr. Kirumbi and his team from Mvumi coming to Magambua. Please pray for opportunities to minister to eye patients and successful surgeries. Also this week is an evangelistic outreach in Kwa Mtoro that Pastor Seseja is organizing. Friday and Saturday night we plan to show the King of Glory film in Kwa Mtoro, pray for the film to go well, and pray that many would come to know Christ through this outreach. Also pray for Cloud in Pahi, who is hosting a handful of people for an intensive Bible overview study which he is leading. One of those is a new Sandawe believer named Kristoffer from Tumbelo.

OUR KIDS – Please pray for our kids up at RVA, they are doing fine on the whole, but Rachel has had some tummy issues lately and also is getting checked out by student health, pray for healing for her. Josh is doing well, though navigating some of the friendship/relationship ‘drama’ in his class can weigh a bit on him. His friends come to him for advice and sometimes he feels caught in the middle. Drew must be doing OK, but emailing or calling Mom and Dad is not his strong suit!

MEDICAL WORK – Because of the poorer harvest this year, we’ve noticed some of the kids in our MCH clinics dipping in to the red zone on their weight charts. A few weeks ago, we made up some special porridge flour with maize, millet, and peanuts and are distributing 1 kg sacks during the MCH clinics. Also please pray for a little 2 year old from Kwa Mtoro who has burns over a third of her torso. She’s being treated and is responding well here at the Magambua Dispensary. The silvadene cream from Dr. Kim from West Lawn church is helping a lot!

The last journey I just took this past Saturday found me taking more sacks of maize to Gumbu and Motto for more hunger relief. On the journey back from Motto, I had the impulse to stop and pick up a woman who was walking to Kwa Mtoro for the market day. I don’t usually pick up everyone on the way (the car would get very full very quickly), but I greeted her in Kisandawe and we chatted in Swahili and turns out she was a Mus. woman from Motto who remembers Pastor Musa L. who used to live there. She mentioned him by his Sandawe name, asked me my Sandawe name, and then I was able to introduce her to Gidemahembu, the current evangelist in Motto who was in the back seat, whom she hadn’t met, but whose wife she knew. Gidemahembu didn’t have a Sandawe name yet, so she named him and promised to take some baobab seeds (my name means Baobab) to his house on my behalf.

You never know what twists and turns you might encounter on your journey, or who you might be introduced to along the way. Keep praying for opportunities for us to introduce Jesus to people, as we journey with them, whether it’s on smooth or bumpy roads.

Thanks for partnering and praying with us!

Blessings in Christ,

Jon for all of us

Who is in control?

I might as well confess what my family already knows well, I like my own way.  I like to feel in control.

As a child I even held my breath when I didn’t get my way.   Apparently there was a time when I wanted more gummy bears.  An adult who loved me and was attempting to watch out for the best interest of my tummy, which happened to already be full of sugary gummy bears, told me I had eaten enough.  I apparently didn’t like that answer.  I held my breath.  I mean turning blue, eyes rolling back in my head, scare your momma, aunt, and grandma kinda breath holding.  I liked to be in control.

Ask my sisters.  I made and kept the rules to the games.  Ask my husband and kids, I still do.

Fast forward a little.  As a young adult I went snow skiing with Justin.  It’s one of his favorite things.  Life lesson learned, I am able to snow ski, I can do the necessary physical movements, but I do not enjoy the activity.  I don’t like picking up speed while careening downhill and worrying I might be unable to stop.  I like to be in control.

One of the first things you realize as a new parent is how little control you really have.  The first time you hold a screaming and inconsolable baby, whose diaper is clean, who has been feed, who is being held, and is emitting loud, colicky, gut-wrenching screams from 6PM-12MIDNIGHT; you start to understand how little control over human life you have.

Fast forward to toddlerhood, when your child has enough abilities to be independent, but not enough words to express what they need.  You are beginning to learn how you have absolutely no control over anything.

Parents, I’d love to tell you it gets easier as your kids get older, and in truth, parts seem to, but then there are new uncontrollable components that cause ever present challenges.  Let’s be honest, as adults there are still lots of parts and pieces that are out of my control. And that leads me to PAUSE.  How often are we guilty of thinking we are in control? I mean really think we are in control.  After all, we go to work, pay our bills, cook our food, dress ourselves, drive our cars, speak our mind.  So, YES, we are in control! But wait a minute, are we really in control? You see that’s the point.  We do all of these things under our control and thus we are deceived into believing that we are in control.  That is one of Satan’s easiest deceptions; that we are in control because we did it.  I was trusting in myself, human.  After a vision from God, the prophet Isaiah reminds us in 2:22 “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils.  Of what account is he?” Did not God, put breath in me?

We’ve been in Africa 7 weeks.  I have no more control today than I did the day we landed.  In fact, I have probably come to realize even more that I never did have control, and that is an amazing release from worldly responsibilities.  You see, God is in control.  It’s my responsibility to rely and trust in Him.  Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act.” You see God never intended for me to have to carry the burden of control.  He’s willing to allow me to carry it if I insist, but he actually wants me to give it to him.  Jesus spoke these words from Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  We have no control over when our residency permits will be completed.  I am using Clorox effectively, but have no control over the stomach virus that made a visit to our home this week.  I can’t control the upcoming round of elections where we live, neither can any individual person for that matter.  So, instead of control, we’ll continue to petition in prayer and trust that God who sent His Son, so that we might have eternal life, will continue to bear our burdens for us.  In the meantime, I will take the yoke of Jesus upon me.  It is easy and his burden is light.  I will give everything to Jesus and trust Jesus.  That is all he really wants.

What a blessing to rejoice in the yoke of Jesus.  May we continue to sing God’s praise,

K

Welcome to our blog

Welcome to our first endeavor into the wonderful, and somewhat mysterious, world of blogging. Please join us as we take this journey into what God has in store for our lives overseas.

We will provide updates, praises, and prayer requests. So, please check back often to get the most up-to-date information. Of course other digital means of communicating with us are also welcome.

For the Lord of the Harvest,

Jeremy & Becky

Life Through the Lens

Greetings blog readers!  We thought, perhaps, you would enjoy a glimpse into some of the routines and sites we enjoy here at Rift Valley Academy (RVA), Kijabe.

Monkeys, oh the monkeys.  True story:

Monkeys and baboons are curious.  For the most part you observe them (perhaps even with interest) from a distance, but every now and again they become a big nuisance.  This past week we WATCHED monkeys climb a tree to the top branches, reach out, grasp and pull open a window that was slightly ajar, climb in AND… (YES, we ran up the steps and notified the people within that multiple monkeys were breaking bread in the upper room) trouble.  It just so happened to be the dorm for high school girls and (in their dorm dad’s words), “they trashed the place”.   Monkey droppings in the hall, trash cans dumped out, items missing etc.

Bongo dorm.  Home to the Unrau family and grade 9 boys.

Our view of the Great Rift Valley, it always gives us cause to stop and enjoy one of the wonders of God.

Meet Joseph.  We give him credit for caring for the creation around Bongo dorm.  The trees, bushes, flower beds and soil thrive under his tender loving care (Joseph also taught me how to make the perfect cup of Kenyan chai).

Chapel time.  Pictured here is Derek speaking to the student body (approximately 500 students).

Snack time.  Omelettes/Eggs are a dorm favourite.  We will usually crack a minimum of 3 dozen eggs.  Pizza is also a big hit.

Meet Joyce.  She runs one of the shops in Kijabe.  She is very creative and does excellent and intricate bead work. 

Making the trip back to campus after shopping at the market.

Enjoying Bongo boys at their soccer/football game.

This is our Caring Community Group.  It is similar to the idea of a Small Group.  Derek and I have the honour of hosting these 10th grade girls. 

No blog would be complete without a bit of Bongo Dorm craziness…

 

The Power of Stories

We may not always be aware but there are different ways to tell a story so that it has maximum impact or so the hearers of the story feel a connection to the story. Some story telling is more powerful at conveying its message than other story telling. Some people are better story tellers than others. Stories are a powerful way of communicating important information. A story has the ability to challenge hearers of it in ways that other forms of communication don’t and if they are great stories then they remain with those that hear them in ways statements of truth may not. Jesus utilised stories to convey many different messages. He conveyed messages that were confrontational or challenging and more difficult to receive if not ‘dressed’ in a story. He used stories of things that were familiar to his hearers and yet he re-framed them to give new understanding. Jesus was a master story teller.

When we are working in cultures that have a strong oral emphasis the manner in which we tell a story can have a major effect on how the story is received and how or even if it is retold. This week one of our language tasks was to ‘write the story’ of a wordless book. We had the images so that we could interpret the story as we chose, we just needed to write in Swahili what was happening. I found this a valuable exercise as it gave me some insight into how stories are told here in Kenya. I had deliberately used some story telling techniques that work well in English to see what would work or be acceptable here so that when we come to tell bible stories to people we can share them in ways that speak to the culture. Please pray with us that we will learn this storytelling art well as we believe it is an important tool for ministry.