Well, we have come to the end of a very busy, full and fruitful ministry trip! Sharon and Daniel left for the airport at 2:00am this morning (Monday, August 30) and should be arriving to their door early Tuesday (August 31) morning. (Their flight arrives around 10:30 pm to Toronto) Please keep them in your prayers today for a good and safe journey, favour at all transfers and security checks (they have 3 flights today) and time to rest. They had about 3-4 hours sleep before they headed out… waking Daniel up was a real challenge… that boy can get into a deep sleep! But finally we did and 5 minutes later they were off in their taxi, and I headed back to bed for the rest of the night.
I realized this morning just how tired I am, and assuming they are too. Now that we’ve “stopped”… our minds and bodies are looking for rest! If it weren’t for breakfast being served, only till 9:00 at our guesthouse, and having to go out for coffee (none to be found where I’m staying… they believe in ‘no caffeine’) I’d probably still be in bed… or back in bed! I am exhausted!! … But in a good way! 🙂
Being in the city now though… I am already so much missing our “home” in Nyahururu… When I woke up this morning, I heard cars and trucks moving by, horns honking, a few people shouting. I miss hearing the rooster at 4:30am! Followed by the donkeys, the chickens, the sheep, the beautiful bird songs, the rain. I even miss the dogs whining and barking outside my window… (Mary!)…. ya, I can’t believe I am missing that sound… but I have so much enjoyed the country even with it’s extra challenges and inconviences… it feels more like real life.
Oh yes… did I mention the rain!?? God has certainly heard these people’s faithful prayers for rain. Since we got back from our mission with the children (actually even before that, we were told) the rains have been more than steady… and when it rains here… it POURS!! People are very happy though and the landscape is reflecting the amount of rain it is soaking up. It is so green… so beautiful… what a difference from last year when it was so dry! We thought it was beautiful then… but now it is lush, green and crops are growing and the animals look so healthy… and people are smiling… even as they are trudging through the mud… so thankful to God for his provision!
Thankfully since last time we experienced this kind of rain a couple of the folks at PACE have aquired 4 wheel drive SUV’s, so getting along the mud roads has not been nearly as challenging as in the past. There was only one incident of getting “stuck.” Early this week as Wachira and I were driving home from a long, long day of travel, we headed down PACE road. It was dark and having been out of town we weren’t aware of how much it had rained. As he drove along, the truck slipped off into a rut on the right… both right wheels firmly planted! I have to say, I was impressed by Wachira’s perseverence… as I prayed… he must have taken at least 7… 8… I lost count… attempts at backing up and trying to get us out back onto the road. Finally we made it, and as I shouted a (premature!) “woohoo!” … the truck turned and proceeded to slip front first into a big rut on the left side of the road! Oooooops! So… Wachira, got back in his “mode” and tried to back out, rock forward and back… we weren’t budging! He finally called for back up and not 5 minutes later about a dozen boarding students at PACE and a couple of the teachers arrived to rescue us! Within a few minutes they managed to push us back out onto the road! Ahhhh, teamwork! I think they all actually enjoyed the little outing… they were all laughing and smiling as they pushed… and as we thanked them profusely for their time and effort in coming to help us. After that Wachira slowly made his way up the rest of the road to the house… we were very thankful to be home safe and sound… and so was everyone else as they had graciously waited for us to return before they started dinner. They were pretty hungry though… and it was getting late… they were very patient!!
We really did have a non-stop week and are very thankful for God’s strength, energy and favour to sustain us in all that He had purposed for us. I could write all day (don’t worry, I won’t, I promise!!) about where and how we saw His moving and working in so many moments in everyday. Not an hour went by that we did not say out loud or to ourselves, “God is so good!”… look how He worked that out… or brought us right where He needed us to be… in so many unexpected ways! As we submitted each day into His hands, he truly guided and led us and showed us so many things about His sovereignty over all things, about His love and grace, about this place, the amazing friends He has blessed us to meet, and about ourselves. Some days this week, at different times, we were overwhelmed with a sense of His very real presence, peace and joy often as we opened ourselves to serving and sometimes just being where He willed us to be!
On Monday, Sharon and Daniel enjoyed a wonderful day out on safari! They were so excited, having travelled to a new area, seeing lots of new animals, including elephants and chimps… and got to drive by Mount Kenya… though they didn’t get to see the top… which IS rare as it is usually covered by clouds. Still a beautiful sight to see!
On that same day, I traveled in the complete opposite direction towards the west with a small group of the Caleb Pastors that we at Harbour have partnered with. The purpose of this trip was to see a church build that will be happening in early October of this year. Pastor Mugo, who now has established a church in Nyahururu, was forced out of his home and town during the tribal clashes of late 2007. I couldn’t possibly tell the whole story here, though I would be happy and honoured to share it with anyone who would want to hear more when I return home… but in a nutshell… this Pastor’s own congregation (predominantly made up of another tribe than he) got caught up in the “mob mentality,” and ran he and his family out of town, looted his wife’s shop, took over his sugar cane field, and burned down their own church. A year and a half later, he went back to this town (his wife and daughters will still not return as of yet) took part in a reconciliation service where he agreed to help his former congregation to rebuild their church. I am amazed at how Christ has worked in this man’s heart to be able to do this. As we prepared to go, he did make a comment about how it still hurt his heart to go back… but he knows God is calling him to reach out to these people who wronged him and show them what the the love of Christ is really about in a real, tangible way, that he is trusting will have impact beyond anything we can even imagine, but trust God completely in.
To see and meet these people had a lot of impact on us all. About 20 people gathered, first at the site of the church that was burned down… all that remains is the concrete foundation… then we all traveled to the site of the new build not far away. The men looked at the site and made final plans for where and how the building will be put up. Then we gathered in a big circle, hands clasped, under the temporary structure to pray for continued reconciliation, for the congregation, the new pastor and for the church build in October and all that will come to help… both from this community and the Caleb group of pastors from Nyahururu who are standing with their brother to support this very significant ministry. It was very moving. I am looking forward to hearing about the completion of this initial build and how the church community grows from there. I really sensed God’s moving and working and already sensed how He is honouring the efforts of all who are resurrecting this church for His purposes, honour and glory! What a great celebration I imagine there will be in October when it is compete!
One of the other highlights of the week for Sharon, Daniel and I was visiting the “Goshen Elderly Ministry.” This is a group of seniors that meets in a local, rural church, once a week and has a great time of fellowship, worship and a hot cup of porridge. Because of the muddy roads there weren’t as many in attendance this week as I remembered from last year. But there were still about 60 or so and they are all 70 years+. We are amazed at the spirit of these people and their love for God and how they support and care for one another. They all seem to walk, some an hour or more, to gather together to worship God. They sing and dance and worship with so much energy and life… then they walk home after a few hours. God is so good… you can just sense the Holy Spirit in this place as they gather together… filling them with joy, with strength and energy beyond their years, and the ability to smile and laugh and support one another even as many shared their own struggles… physical, emotional, and family situations. We are very thankful that Pastor Macharia and a handful of wonderful servants who started this ministry, come together to support this ministry week after week, so faithfully committed to these people. And you can see the genuine joy in their hearts as they serve and fellowship with this group. It was a joy for me to connect with friends that we made there last year… and to introduce them to Sharon and Daniel… who really enjoyed the fellowship as well.
Near the end of the worship and teaching time, before we served them their hot porriage, Daniel really wanted us to sing a couple of songs we had “prepared” (sang together once or twice… kind of… over the last week or so!). I have to admit… not being a singer, I would have preferred he’d forgotten about it!! But he persisted, so he and Sharon sang one song and I got up to sing a second one that I was familiar with. I have to tell you, Sharon and I were so glad we listened to Daniel and gave in to his promptings! It was a blast… and you could see how blessed the folks were as they clapped along and encouraged us by helping with the very simple chorus… big smiles on their faces. I was humbled to be sure. Daniel was so right!!
After that I asked if the “men’s choir” (which I remembered from last year… had only 2 members!) could sing us a song. One of the gentlemen from the “choir” stood up to say that the rest of the choir… the other guy… didn’t make it today! Well… that wasn’t going to stop these folks! 4 or 5 others stood up and these men and women conversed in Kikuyu deliberating on what song they would sing… then came up to help out the men’s choir one attending member in an impromtu offering of song! Not to be outdone… for the next 20 minutes or so, 4 or 5 more “groups” got up to offer songs! We think several more “choirs” were formed that day! I’m so looking forward to visiting them again when I return to Kenya, Lord willing!
The other highlight for the group was the “PACE staff development day” that Sharon and I held on Thursday. In true Kenyan style… it was to be originally held on the Friday and I had been trying to keep Thursday open to prepare for it… we had a whole day to fill! Well, on Monday night on the way home from our trip west, I was informed that the staff day had to be held on Thursday as Friday was to be a national holiday… the country officially signed and sealed their new constitution… it was a BIG deal and practically every Kenyan was glued to their TV’s (or someone’s TV) for the event that went on for the whole day. Thousands and thousands gathered in a park in downtown Nairobi… just down the street from where I sit now… to witness the event firsthand. Many heads of state and dignitaries from all over Africa came including Kofi Anannen… and the President of Sudan whose arrival has sparked a lot of outrage and controversy here… anyway… it’s been big news the WHOLE time we’ve been here.
… meanwhile… I had no real time to prep for this staff day and thinking back, God just favoured me with time here and there between meetings and with one ‘late’ Wednesday night, to finalize plans and materials… I barely remember now! As it turns out, I prepared more than we needed (which was the plan… I didn’t want to be underprepared!) and the day from all accounts was a success… and now I have lots of material ready for another staff development day next year, praise God!! 🙂 We spent some time walking with them through their current state of staff unity at PACE, and encouraged them to put the past behind and press on… as God’s word tells us in Philippians 4… towards the goal of Christlikness… which will help them deal with any disunity and personality clashes, that are a common part of life here on this earth for us all! We also spent some time talking and working through different activities to help them realize the importance of and practice of good communication skills. We were encouraged by the participation of the staff and by their candidness with us as well. A few asked us for copies of the materials we were working from, as they wanted to keep remembering what we had shared so they could keep practising… that was a great! A great encouragement to Sharon and I and to Wachira as well… and we trust God was honoured by the efforts of all who participated and those who are genuinely seeking for their hearts to grow and be transformed in His image!
I think the highlight of the development day though, for the staff was an opportunity to swim… and to learn how to swim! No kids… just the “adults!” I say it that way, once they got into the pool… they were like a bunch of kids… I’m sure they’d agree… as they were having a ball! 😀 When we first arrived and I took a poll to see how many in attendance (out of 26) were going to swim about 9 put up their hands… that’s about what Wachira told us to expect… though the staff had said the day before they all wanted to swim! As we released them to change to swim and as they began slipping into the pool we realized after a while that in fact in the end 18 of the staff braved the water and 14 took a lesson with a local instructor whom Sharon assisted in the pool. When Wachira arrived (he’d followed us by a couple of hours) he was amazed and delighted to find so many of his staff in the pool! And what was even more encouraging to us was to see how the staff co-operated, laughed together, helped each other out… we almost felt like we should leave the formal training for another day as we sensed God’s Spirit bringing unity to this group as they were allowed this very rare opportunity to just enjoy a new activity together and support one another in it. At one point I heard one of the staff, sitting on the edge of the pool, legs dangling in the water, BIG smile on his face, turn to another and say “This is the BEST DAY!!!” The pure joy of enjoying a blessing from God, each other and the self confidence of trying something that …to all but one was at first a frightening ‘first’ experience… was so evident and we are praying that this day is just the beginning in a new chapter in the life of this group and the ministry that God has entrusted to them! We will be praying, following up, and continuing to work with them towards their desire for personal growth and a fruitful ministry together…. once again we said… “God is SOOOOO good!”
Those are just a few highlights that marked our week. It was difficult in transitioning to leave here …our time went so fast. We spent the last few days visiting many friends! On Saturday evening, our last “sleep” in Nyahururu, our hosts the Ngamaus’ hosted a lovely, very formal, sit down farewell dinner in their home for us. What a blessing that was. A wonderful, wonderful meal, and most of all we were surrounded by many friends the that Ngamau’s had also invited to “send us off.” It was a great chance for us to reflect and each share how God blessed our time here. It is an evening that (I’m sure I speak for Sharon and Daniel as well) we will never forget. As usual, we come away with a sense that we have received blessings from the Lord that far outweigh anything that we have left… but we trust it all to the Lord and realize that none of us really knows (or should know lest we start to rely on ourselves) the impact our time here has had. And the fruit of it… in the lives of those God allowed us to interact with… and in us, through those very interactions and opportunities God purposed us to encounter.
So with that, I say “kwa heri”… ‘good bye’ for now. I am flying out early Tuesday (August 31) morning and will arrive in Toronto if all goes by 8:00 pm tomorrow evening. It really is bittersweet for me… though I am very much looking forward to being back at home with my husband and to connect with family and friends again. Yet, my heart still has a desire to look for the closest matatu (taxi van) and head back to Nyahururu! … Then of course call Blair and ask him to get on the next plane here!! 🙂 OK… so those are MY plans!!
Lord willing I will be back soon and I know Sharon and Daniel are already making plans too! In this we will put our trust in God for when His plans and purposes call us back… we’ll be here!!
We would all (Sharon, Daniel and I… AND all of our friends and family here!) like to first thank God for this opportunity to be here again and to thank all of those who have supported this time of ministry in prayer, through financial support, written messages and letters of encouragement (which divinely arrived many times JUST when we needed encouragement most!) and other practical ways of support. We could not do this alone… well, with Jesus nothing is impossible …but what a privilege to serve alongside hearts drawn to Him and willing to answer the call to help our brothers and sisters here reach their potential for His purposes too! We have been asked by so many people, groups, and churches here, to pass our greetings to Harbour Fellowship Church and to our friends and family at home. To thank you for sending us and supporting so many here! Thank you, thank you, thank you… every prayer, long or short, every dollar and shilling given we trust has honoured God and has been received with much thankfulness. We trust this fruit so generously given will continue to grow!
May you continue to seek and grow and be blessed in Jesus peace, joy & love!
Sheryl, Sharon and Daniel