Sunday, January 11, 2015

Family Time

Starting off 2015 with a great family road trip 
along the floor of the Great Rift Valley

This past week was the end of our Christmas break with our children. It is the beginning of summer in Kenya, so it is bright and sunny. We travelled with our friend Kerry and her daughter Zuri to visit the New Life Children’s Home in Nakuru, and then went on a family getaway to the beautiful Mbweha Camp south of Lake Nakuru. We were the only guests, so we had the camp to ourselves. It was a wonderful time to relax, play games with our kids and reflect on a great year.

Aaron and Tristan relaxing at our cottage
at Mbweha Camp, Lake Nakuru

Boardgames in the shade!

This was a Christmas filled with new board games for us. 
We learned how to play some fantastic new games including Love Letters, Stone Age, Flux, Bang and King of Tokyo. They are all fantastic games, but we would highly recommend Love Letters and King of Tokyo for any of our friends or family interested in a new board game.

Emma relaxing in the Rhino Cottage

Mbweha Camp had a great little swimming pool and big campfire area that we enjoyed during our two-night getaway. We also saw lots of wildlife including zebra, impala, warthogs, bat-eared foxes, and baboons.

Candle lit dinners at the camp

Little Zuri playing with Hermione over the Christmas break

Earlier in the holiday, we had great times connecting with friends and ringing in the New Year. On Christmas Day Kerry and Zuri celebrated with us and we shared a beautiful turkey dinner. 

Christmas Eve worship with the Morgan family

We also had some great times with Wayne and Maureen Morgan who had all three of their sons home for Christmas. We had a lot of fun playing "ghost in the graveyard" at night, campfires and family worship times together.

Christmas Eve at the Kenny’s

We are so thankful for all of the Christmas cards, messages, and calls from our Canadian family and friends. We are so thankful for the many blessings of this past year and are looking forward to many adventures ahead!

Mel, Erica and Kerry in the 2014 Rosslyn Christmas Project shirts

Monday, December 22, 2014

The long night is over!

Celebrating the fourth Sunday of Advent

This past weekend, we had a beautiful Advent Service at home and enjoyed a great afternoon with our friends Kerry and Zuri. 

The 21st of December is often the shortest day (and longest night) of the year in the Northern hemisphere, but here on the equator the twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night are pretty consistent throughout the year. 

Even though we do not have the long nights, so often associated with Canadian Advent, the beauty and significance of candles continue to be an important part of our Advent and Christmas traditions. Candles remind us of God’s presence which banishes darkness and calls us to hope.

On Sunday, we reflected on the story of the disciple Thomas. It is incredible the number of old traditions that use to be celebrated by Christians on December 21st, prior to 1969 this was the Feast Day of Saint Thomas (Now celebrated by Orthodox and Catholic Christians on July 3rd).

Baking wheat for the poor; ringing bells and cracking whips to scare off demons and evil spirits; and, our favourite old tradition, unmarried women jumping over a stool into their beds, throwing their shoes at their bedroom door, and sleeping with their head at the foot of their beds on the longest night of the year (supposedly this would ensure them a dream of their future husband).

Needless to say, we haven’t revised any such medieval or victorian traditions, but it is fun to think about what traditions have faded away and which ones we hold on to and pass on to our children. 

Singing and praying around our advent wreath, we talked about Thomas, his doubts and his great loyalty to Jesus. We especially looked at Thomas’ conversation with Jesus at the Last Supper as he became confused and anxious over Jesus telling the disciples that he was going ahead of them to prepare a place for them (in heaven). Thomas blurts out, "how can we follow you if we don’t know the way?!"

Jesus’ assurance and resurrection appearances are the answer to Thomas fears and doubts. As Jesus says to him: “Because you have seen, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

This is the message that is at the centre of the Christmas story, and of our faith. God has come near and provided a way for all of us to live in the new reality of God’s transforming presence. In the light of Jesus we are able to live a life bigger than ourselves. A life of faith, hope and love. A reality that overcomes and transforms the darkness and brokenness of this world --  Jesus is the way! 

Wishing you all a joy-filled Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Jamhuri Day

Jamhuri Day 2014

December 12th is an annual holiday for independence in Kenya -- Jamhuri Day.

Kenyan Airforce planes zoom over head, as public celebrations take place around the country. It is a special time as people people remember their independence from Britian in 1963 and their entrance into the commonwealth as a republic in 1964, both events having happened on the twelfth day of December.

For our family, it is a wonderful pre-Christmas celebration with friends who will not be around over actual days of Christmas. Most years, we share the day with others in backyard barbecues or festive dinners.

This year, we had fun with our friend Melanie McKee who will be visiting family over the break. Kerry Jividen and little Zuri also joined in the fun.

Ava playing Santa for Zuri

Ava and Zuri ready for some Christmas dancing!

Emma singing with the Imago Dei Choir
in the Rosslyn Academy Middle School 
Christmas Concert

Thursday night was our last choir concert for the year. It was a great evening of Christmas music preformed by the Middle School bands and choirs.

Our kids are ready to head into their last week of school for 2014. There will be exams, final assignments and of course classroom Christmas parties.

Thank you for praying for our family and ministry.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Festive Season!

Rosslyn High School Christmas Concert

The festive season has begun as our children are enjoying the Christmas traditions of Rosslyn Academy. 

On Friday evening, Tristan participated in the annual Rosslyn High School Christmas Concert. This was the first year for the High School Band to accompany the Rosslyn Singers and the new High School Concert choir. It was a fun evening with our friends Ken and Wendy Derksen, and Stefan Cherry and two agronomists visiting from Nova Scotia, Bill and Gordon.

Tristan and Katie on their way 
to the High School Banquet

Earlier this evening, we saw Tristan and Katie Gilmer off to the annual high school banquet. It will be a fun night as the high school dressed up for a "Renaissance Masquerade Party”.

Tristan tying on Katie’s corsage 

December is not only a time of banquets and concerts, but also time of giving at Rosslyn Academy. The students from each of Rosslyn’s  three schools raise money for worthwhile charities and ministry programs in Kenya. The students sell t-shirts, sell baked goods, and volunteer in several fundraisers for the community.

Mr. Muniz conducting the Rosslyn Singers 
and High School Orchestra

We are so thankful for the dedicated teacher’s and staff that make Rosslyn such a great school for our family. We are very fortunate to have such wonderful communities like Rosslyn, Rift Valley Academy and the Kigali International Christian School for our Canadian Baptist Ministries colleagues. 

It is a gift to have these communities of faith that journey through the years with our families. It is wonderful to have the privilege of connecting with so many people of such diverse faith and cultural backgrounds, but united in their love of Christ and his world.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”

Nairobi Christmas Fair at the Race Course

Earlier today, we had a great time at another Nairobi Christmas tradition -- the annual "Race Course Christmas Fair in Nairobi."  Emma, and her friend Raelyn Burr, joined Erica and I for the beautiful morning of Christmas shopping and yummy goodies. "Race Course" has become a tradition for our family, and over the years we have had the joy of bringing many friends and CBM team members to this great event.

We hope that what ever your traditions, that you and your family have a joyous season of Advent and celebration of Christmas!