Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekend at Amani Cottage

A beautiful morning at Amani Cottage
in the dense forest escartment of the great Rift Valley 

This past weekend, we enjoyed a getaway for a few days with our kids and two of their friends. This was our first time back to the Amani cottage since we stayed there with the Spring Forth STM last March. 

We had such a great time building campfires, cooking out, playing yard games, afternoon naps and losing to our kids in board games. We also saw lots of curious monkeys in the forrest. We were on the look out for the notorious cape buffalo, but fortunately we never crossed paths.

Michael, Tristan, Ava, Caroline, and Emma 

We are so thankful for our children and their friends. 
Times like this are some of our favourite moments of life in Kenya.

Caroline and Ava had a lot of fun practicing rhythmic gymnastics 

on the lawn, where we had some great shows!

This week, Ava is participating in Rosslyn Academy's Annual 
Elementary School Spiritual Emphasis Week. Emma is back to
swim team practice (after the close of the Middle School play 
last weekend), and Tristan is into full on rehearsals for
Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Update from South Sudan

Rev. Saphano Riak Chol, General Secretary of the
Faith Evangelical Baptist Churches of South Sudan 

Erica and I spent this morning with our dear friend Reverend Saphano Riak Chol, the leader of FEBAC, Canadian Baptist Ministries' partner church in South Sudan. Saphano travelled from Juba on the weekend and will be in Kenya over the next few days before returning for ministry in Narus, South Sudan.

Currently, CBM and FEBAC are preparing for a second relief distribution among vulnerable internally displaced people sheltering in the community of Narus. We wanted to share with you a part of our conversation, and are asking you to join us in prayer for the people of South Sudan.

Aaron: We along with our Canadian Baptist Churches and friends have been following the news updates about South Sudan. You and the FEBAC churches have been in our prayers. Is there any sign that the conflict will be resolved?

Saphano: No. Sadly, no. A "unification accord" was just signed in Tanzania, but fighting continued uninterrupted. Shelling continues in Renk, Upper Nile State, and in Unity State. Before that a "succession of hostility agreement" was signed, but broken the same day. Peace talks keep happening outside of South Sudan, but on the ground the fighting is only getting worse. Both sides of the conflict are distributing weapons among people. It is very disheartening. We faithfully pray for peace to come, but we do not know when... We have many indications that hostility will continue for some time, unless God changes the heart of all of our leaders.

Erica: So many people from South Sudan have become refugees over the past year. How is the situation now in the large refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya?

Saphano: Tensions were very high in December and January, but the situation is calm and normalcy has returned. Our FEBAC church was at the centre of the camp where the worst of the violence took place. The church was looted and there were many killed. Many of our people fled the camp during the December clashes and they have returned to Narus, crossing the border from Kenya back into South Sudan.

Still we have thousands more who remained in Kakuma. The camp authorities and the National Church Council of Kenya gave us new land to rebuild in a more secure area. We are now building a simple church with corrugated iron sheets. We still have two pastors and a unordained pastor serving three FEBAC churches in Kakuma... This is an international refugee camp with almost 180,000 people. It is a strategic place to build peace among our people who are divided by their Nuer and Dinka identities, but we need help in this.

Erica: I think it is wonderful how you are already working with other churches in these ministries of peace and reconciliation. It is a sign of your leadership that you are reaching out to other Christian leaders.

Saphano: Yes, our vision as a church is not so narrow that we would think only of ourselves. We see the much broader picture, and we are so glad that CBM shares this perspective. With your support we are helping many denominations come together. Next week in Narus, CBM is funding us as we host a training workshop among leaders of several of the churches in that community. We will be hosting a second training like this in Baliet, later in the year. There is a major need for this type of training. We know that God must be at work changing people's attitudes and transforming their hearts if South Sudan is to have a future.

Aaron: How can we be praying for you and for the Church in South Sudan?

Saphano: We need your prayers.

Prayers for safety as we travel. Prayers for the relief work in Narus. Prayers for the farming that is being started in Mareng, Galdara, Pigi, and in Jaach. Prayers for rain.

We are seeking a well digger to make a bore hole in Jaach. They need water now, but at this point we may not have an available well digger until June. 

We also need your prayers for peace. We hope the war will not persist, the South Sudanese people are very tired of war.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015

Tristan and Katie on the way to the Rosslyn High School
2015 Sadie Hawkins' banquet and dance 

A Great Friday Evening!

This Valentine's Day weekend was a lot of fun with 
High School Sadie Hawkins and the Middle School Play. 

On Saturday evening, we celebrated little Zuri's third birthday

Around the World in 8 Plays

The Rosslyn Academy Middle School Presents
Around the World in 8 Plays

Penelope and Maria (Emma) 
telling the Japanese story of
"My Lord Bag of Rice"

Hidesato walks over the Dragon King 

Each of the eight plays were funny adventures
from the cultures of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America

The three shows were all big hits with families 
and friends from the Rosslyn Community

This was the fourth Rosslyn Middle School production 
directed by Mark Statler. We are so thankful for this great school 
and community and the opportunity our children 
have had to be a part of such a great arts program.