Thursday, July 19, 2018

CBM Update Video July 2018

This month's update is from Kigali, Rwanda, where we had an opportunity to meet with our CBM colleagues and partners. 

We are happy to share a short part of our conversations with Rev. Gato Muyamasoko who has just returned to serve as national field staff with CBM. He will be focusing on strengthening our church partners in East and Central Africa, primarily in the areas of peace and reconciliation. 

Thank you for your support and prayers for our family, team, and the ministry of CBM in Africa.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Prayer Update: "God's varied grace"

CBM/AEBR Rwanda team members in Kigali

This past week, we traveled to Kigali and Kampala to meet with Canadian Baptist Ministries' partners and potential partner organizations. The highlight was being with our friends and colleagues, who are engaged in the many important ministries that CBM is providing support for in East Africa. 

During our time together, we were struck by a phrase that is used a few times in scripture, "God's varied grace." It is such a beautiful way of describing the diversity of giftedness and personality that God has shaped each one of us. Across our partners and team, we have been blessed with such an array of talents and abilities. Each person demonstrating the varied grace of God.

Rev. Emmanuel Ndagijimana, legal representative of the AEBR

Many of our partner churches are taking intentional steps to embrace the giftings of the whole Church. Denominations that have been historically clergy-focused and clergy-led, are beginning to change their structures to encourage their laity to participate more fully in decision making and leadership. 

In Kenya and Rwanda, we are seeing major changes that are drawing professionals and volunteers within congregations to use their unique talents and expertise to help the Church to strengthen its governance and mission. In Kenya, the ACC&S is mobilizing its membership to take ownership and give direction to its properties, educational institutions, and various ministries. Meanwhile in Rwanda, it is exciting to see the newly elected leader of the AEBR, Rev. Emmanuel, creating three lay-run commissions.

We realize that good leadership is about recognizing and fanning the flame of giftedness in others. God has given his people an amazing mosaic of abilities, artistry, innovation, intellect, and sensitivity.     The apostle Peter wrote, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace" (I Peter 4:10).

Aaron with Ken Derksen and Darrell Bustin 
at the CBM Kigali office

We are very grateful for the ministry of the Derksens and Bustins, who have been working together with the AEBR in Rwanda. As Ken and Wendy Derksen complete their assignment in Rwanda, they will be missed by our entire team.

Laura Lee and Darrell Bustin

The Bustins will continue to live and serve in Kigali with the AEBR. We know that it is not easy being so far from children. We pray for their Bronwyn and Caleb who are both studying in university in Canada.

Gato Munyamasoko and Andre Sibomana

Along with Canadian field staff, the CBM Africa team is blessed to have some incredible national field staff like Gato and Andre. Please pray for them as they shift to new areas of responsibility.

In Prayer

* We give thanks for our colleagues, Wendy and Ken Derksen, who have completed their assignment in Rwanda and will be returning to Canada tomorrow, July 17th. We are praying for a smooth transition back for them. They have made such a deep impact upon the AEBR and our team -- they will be dearly missed.

* We pray for the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches as they complete a round of reforms this month aimed at strengthening accountability and decision making within the denomination.

* Please join us in praying for the health and safety of our team. Several of our Kenyan friends and colleagues are battling illness right now. The temperature in Nairobi dipped to 9 degrees last night which is extremely cold for a population that does not live with heating in their homes.

* On July 30th, Zimbabwe will hold national elections. This will be their first time to the ballot box since the ousting of Robert Mugabe last November. We pray for open, fair, and peaceful elections. We also pray for friends that will be travelling to Harare to assist in the monitoring of the election.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July in Kenya

On the shore of the Indian Ocean in Nyali, Kenya.

The monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean have produced a regular ebb and flow for travelers sailing along the East African coast for thousands of years. The prolonged southernly wind of the Kusi tends to stretch for six months each year between April and mid-September. 

As the Kusi brings cooler air and waters currents to the Kenyan coast, the long grey clouds of winter blanket the highlands of the interior. Our home on the Northern edge of Nairobi will dip down to around 10 to 13 degrees Celcius in July. Without central heating, we will bundle up and light a fire in our fireplace to help with the morning chill. 

This time of year in Kenya reminds us of living in Canada. Along with our July 1st celebrations of Canada Day, we pull-out our sweaters from the back of our closets and spend more time indoors out of the mist and drizzle. 

Our friend Andrew Myers, visiting from New Brunswick.

This year for Canada Day, we traveled to the coastal community of Nyali just North of Mombasa with our friends the Myers family. It was a great couple of days enjoying the breezes and beauty of this tropical region.

A rainy Canada Day at Haller Park, in Bamburi, Kenya

A highlight of the trip was visiting Haller Park, the home of the famous Owen and Mzee. Owen was an orphaned hippopotamus calf that was separated from his family during the 2004 Tsunami. Local fisherman rescued the baby hippo and he was brought to Haller Park where he bonded with a 130-year-old giant tortoise named Mzee. 

If you haven't already read the children's book or seen footage of this remarkable friendship, you may enjoy this video of Owen and Mzee.

One of the many giant tortoises that roam freely throughout Haller Park.

Owen is now far too big and dangerous to share the park with Mzee and the other tortoises. He now lives in a large fenced-in-pond within the park. The heavy rain kept the hippos near the sheltered of a small island in the pond, so we only had glimpses of Owen and the other hippos peaking up through the water.

Despite the rain, we had lots of fun meeting curious monkeys, watching the menacing Nile crocodiles, and monitor lizards. Having grown up reading the story of Owen and Mzee, it was a special treat to bring Lauren and Leah to Haller Park.

A friendly waterbuck we met on our walk

The girls finding some shelter from the rain

Andrew getting out of the rain

Always up for an adventure!

The Myers Family

After a fun weekend, the Myers family returned with us to Nairobi on Sunday evening. We are so thankful for their family and for the opportunity to share with them a bit of life in Kenya. As they return to Canada, we are very mindful that this will be our last July here in Africa. We are savoring these experiences and the unique rhythms of life and ministry that have shaped us in so many ways.

We are truly privilleged to serve with Canadian Baptist Ministries in such an amazing part of God's good earth.
Andrew and Aaron enjoying our backyard

Lauren, Leah, Kelly, Erica, Aisha, and Emma

In Prayer

* Please keep us in prayer as we travel this coming week to Rwanda and Uganda to meet with our CBM team and partners. We are praying for a safe journey and for discernment as we meet with potential partners.

* We are thankful for our colleagues Wendy and Ken Derksen, who will be completing their ministry as global field staff in Rwanda this month. Please join us in praying for the Derksens return to Canada and for the Lord's direction as they transition back into Canadian life.

* We continue to pray for peace in South Sudan. The recently announced plan of President Salva Kiir to extend his term by another three years has been branded as "illegal" and "anti-peace" by the opposition leader, Riek Machar. We pray for humility and wisdom for these leaders.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Myers family visit

Exploring the wonders of Kenya with our friends, the Myers family.

This past weekend, we hosted our friends the Myers family who have travelled to be with us from New Brunswick, Canada. We had an amazing few days of sightseeing, shopping, and just being together.

This is Andrew's third trip to Kenya as he was a part of the CBM certificate of ministry team that first brought Erica to Kenya in 2004. He also joined Aaron on his first exploratory visit in the spring of 2006, when we were discerning where we would live and serve in Africa. He and Kelly have supported and encouraged us throughout the journey of these past twelve years. It is so good to have them here.

Over the years, Andrew and Kelly have anticipated one day coming with their two daughters, Lauren and Leah. We are so excited that this time has finally come. Along with joining us for work this week, they will be taking their girls on safari in the Masai Mara and travelling with us to the coast next weekend to experience the Indian ocean.

A family of hippo checking us out

Zebra wading along the shores of Lake Naivasha

A pelican keeping his eye on the nearby fisherman

The Myers near Cresent Island, Kenya

There are more than a few musts when you travel to Kenya. You must try Stoney, the fizzy ginger beer. You must experience an open-air market and try your hand at bartering. You can't miss out on the amazing tea and coffee -- yes, even Kelly our non-coffee drinker indulged! You have to enjoy the local fruit, including the creamy avocado growing in our backyard. You must get out of the city and crest the great rift valley and explore at least one of the dozens of national parks and wildlife reserves.

You must get stuck in traffic. You must be scared at least once by an oncoming bus or lorry. You must get startled by at least one curious monkey, ornery giraffe, charging hippo/elephant/buffalo, creeping safari ant or wayward bird. You must try the Kenyan edible playdough also known as ugali. You must be rattled by at least one of Kenyan's numerous and cleverly hidden speed bumps.

And of course, you will be struck by the beauty and grandeur of this place. You will be touched by the warmth and kindness of its people. You will be charmed by the adorable children. You will savour the stunning moments of sundown. And, if you are truly fortunate, you will experience the rains.

A determined warthog marching past us in Karen

Emma and Lauren at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Feeding time

Getting up close and personal with the giraffe in Karen

Fun at the giraffe centre

Andrew meeting Daisy
Kelly about to be kissed

It is a blessing to have friends that are like family and to be able to share with them such a special part of lives. We know that it is a great privilege to be able to live and serve in Africa. Thank you for walking with us and Canadian Baptist Ministries.

Andrew, Leah, Kelly, Lauren, Erica, Ava, Emma, and Aaron