Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Canadian Girl!

Our little Canadian

Celebrating Ava's Canadian citizenship with our friends Kerry and Mel at our favourite restaurant, Peppers. Mmmmm.... pass the buttered chicken!

This week, we are preparing for a gathering of Guardians of Hope leaders meeting in Nairobi. We are also looking forward to a meeting of young leaders within the Stars of Peace group that are coming to our home to be introduced to our new youth intern and be a part of planning for the groups activities over the coming months. We are also excited to be celebrating Ava's fourth birthday on Friday. Thank you for keeping our family in prayer!

Hermione getting some alone time...

Hermione has been showing more and more character as our fearless little "Scrappy Doo". She is quick to let Henry and Reese know when she has had enough. It was very cute the other night when she came into our office to get away from the big dogs, jumped into Erica's lap and curled up into a ball: Henry was right behind her, seeing the puppy love Hermione was getting from Erica, Henry jumped up into Aaron's lap (almost knocking him out of his chair) and tried to curl up like Hermione, sticking his massive head under Aaron's arm. We almost past out with the laughter!

Members of the Iftin Self Help Group Leadership
Farhiya, Hani, Laura, Abdiya, and Gelgeli

On Monday, we met with leaders within the SHG project in Eastleigh as we reviewed its progress over the past year. The women have been struggling against several obstacles. The eight groups have suffered great losses in their numbers due to people leaving for refugee camps, persecution, and issues of distrust. Please continue to pray for the Iftin Women's Empowerment Program as they pull together to strengthen the groups.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Officially Canadian!

Our little Canadian!
At long last, Ava's Canadian citizenship certificate arrived this past Friday. This is a huge answer to prayer! We celebrated with Ava over strawberry ice cream in the afternoon and then with a taco party with a bunch of Tristan's buddies who were sleeping over.
Singing O Canada over celebration brownies, with Robert, Tristan, Ezra, Ava, Emma, Michael, Mommy & Daddy!

Michael with Hermione

We want to thank everyone who has been praying for us through the long adoption and citizenship process. We thank God for this wonderful gift!

Baby Gorilla

Henry and his baby gorilla

With the introduction of Hermione into our family, poor oh'Henry is feeling a little left out. Earlier in the week, Tristan thought he'd cheer him up with one of his stuffed animals -- baby gorilla. Well, Henry hasn't been the same since. He's now the "daddy" and keeps his gorilla safe and near him at all times.
You can ask me to fetch, you can toss me a ball, just don't mess with my baby gorilla!

GOH Kangema

Kangema, Kenya
Earlier this week, we travelled into the Aberdare Mountains to visit one of the more remote Guardians of Hope projects with the Africa Christian Church & Schools. It was a beautiful drive up the steep tea hills and through dramatic valleys.

Small hold tea farms are the main source of income in this region of Kenya. Most farms have one or two acres of tea bush that the family will pick and maintain. Tea cooperatives purchase the tea directly from the growers and will prepare it for auction where major tea buyers will purchase Kenyan black tea for some of the world's most popular blends.

Our colleague Henry Mwangi told us that as a child his mother would take him tea picking, but as the slopes were steep it was too dangerous to let a small child wander. So, Henry's mom would simply dig a hole and leave the baby and toddlers in it while she picked. According to Henry, it was the best way she had to keep him safe.

Jacinta Kuria
The purpose of our trip was to visit with the committee members of the ACC&S Guardians of Hope in Ichichi and to interview Jacinta Kuria, a Guardians beneficiary. After sharing part of Jacinta's story, in our September update letter, Canadian Baptist Ministries asked us if we would return to Kangema to film a video interview with Jacinta for World AIDS Day. Jacinta was very gracious with hosting us at her home and sharing how God has used the Guardians of Hope to help her and her children after the death of her husband from an AIDS related illness and the her subsequent diagnosis. Jacinta is now living positively and with the help of the GOH, she is staying faithful to her medications and providing for her family. Jacinta has also become a spokesperson for other people within her community and church. She believes that God has blessed her so that she can help others affected by this disease.

Erica interviewing Jacinta with Patrick Miana,
our GOH colleague working with ACC&S

Jacinta showing us her two acres of tea bush

Aaron with our ACC&S colleagues, Patrick and Henry, and members of the ACC&S Guardians of Hope committee in Kangema at Jacinta's home.

Looking across the neighbouring tea field with Jacinta's tea picking basket on the ground
Beth, Erica, D and Jacinta in her kitchen garden

Our friends daughter, D, joined us on this trip as she was interested in learning more about the Guardians of Hope for an HIV and AIDS project that she is doing for her eleventh grade English class. It was a pleasure to have D with us and for her to have a chance to interview other GOH participants.

While we are sending the footage from our video interview to CBM, we will be posting an audio podcast of Erica's interview with Jacinta next week. It will be available on our podcast website and on iTunes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Self Help Groups -- Eastleigh

Aaron in conversation with Laura Muema
during the recording of our latest audio podcast

This week the Iftin Women's Empowerment Program is conducting three days of monitoring and evaluation on the state of the Women's Self Help Group project in Eastleigh. Our program officer and some of the community facilitators just completed a week of training with the Kenyan National Self Help Program in Kakamega in Kenya's Western province, near Uganda. We are interested in finding ways to strengthen the existing eight groups and to identify ways of building sustainable livelihoods for the members.

On Monday, we met with Laura and during our meeting Aaron interviewed her about the concept and role of the self help group approach with the women's empowerment program. It was interesting to hear Laura's perspective on the importance of this approach and on how we can be praying for it and the over all program.

Today, we are meeting with our team leader, Colin Godwin, as we think through the direction of urban muslim outreach in Nairobi. Please pray for us as we discern the best use of our resources in following God's leading. We would also appreciate your prayers as we take a long journey tomorrow to Kangema, in Kenya's Central highlands, to meet with the Guardians of Hope leadership there.

To listen to our latest fivekennys podcast subscribe on iTunes or go directly to our podcast site at www.fivekennys.podbean.com

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sundown on the Athi Plains

Sundown on the Athi Plains

This weekend we traveled out of Nairobi to meet with our friends, and team mates, Tim and Diane Bannister. They live in a thatched roof cottage on large farm set upon the Athi plains, about a hours drive outside of Nairobi.

Tim and Diane have coordinated short term missions in Kenya for Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) since we joined the mission together in 2006. For anyone who has come to volunteer in Kenya with CBM over the past four years, you have no doubt had the joy of spending time with the Bannisters and likely visiting their beautiful home and the nearby Acacia Camp. Prior to joining CBM, Tim and Diane served for 20 years with Africa Inland Mission where they worked with Rift Valley Academy, a international christian boarding school for missionary children in Kijabe, Kenya.

As we begin our new role with Guardians of Hope, the Bannisters help will be invaluable -- not only with facilitating short term volunteers, but in their cultural experience and development perspective. We are so thankful for the blessing of team and the joy of camaraderie as we journey forward.

Ava having a cuddle and a chat with our "uncle" Tim

Our children had a great time riding their bicycles as wildebeest and gazelles watched on from the distance. Of course, you can't cycle long in Kenya before the countless thorns puncture at least one tire -- Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!

Sunset over the Athi Plains

A lone male Masai Ostrich watching us as we headed back to Nairobi
When we arrived home, we were delighted to see that Henry and Reese have adjusted well to our new puppy, Hermione. Henry is very protective of her and Reese has without a doubt adopted her as her own.
Hermione hanging out with Reese and Henry

Rosslyn Swim Meet

A Nail Biting Competition
Emma competed this weekend at a Rosslyn Academy Invitational Swimming Tournament against schools from across the city. On Saturday morning, she swam the 50 m freestyle and 50 m backstroke races. She had a lot of fun cheering on her team mates and meeting fellow swimmers from other schools.

Emma finished a very close second in her freestyle race.

Way to Go Emma!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Welcoming home our new puppy, Hermione!

Our friend Andrea's dog, Daisy, had a huge litter of puppies and we were blessed to be able to make a home for one of her smaller female dogs. Hermione is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and South African Boerboel mix. Our children had a great evening wrestling with her and helping Henry and Reese get use to having a new puppy around.

This morning, Reese was very affectionate and spent nearly an hour grooming poor little Hermione. Henry is tolerating her, but still not sure what to make of this new addition. She is the small fry right now, but given her huge paws and breed it won't be long before she is the big dog in our yard.

We spent a long time thinking about names with our kids, and yes we were considering lots of candy bar names, but in the end we felt Hermione just fit the best!

Hermione and daddy vegging out

Nap time with mommy

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Putting our heads together

Teresia Mulandi, Ruth Munyao and Erica
at our home in Nairobi

September has been a very intense month of evaluation and planning meetings for the Guardians of Hope (GOH): Our partners and GOH colleagues have been putting their heads together around how we can improve our shared work in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and strengthen our work in improving the lives of orphans and caregivers affected by the virus. In October, many of our key GOH leaders will be gathering together with us in Nairobi. We will be meeting with The Sharing Way program officer for our region, Scott Lewis. This will be an important time of learning from each other as we establish a way forward. Please be in prayer for our partners in the Africa Brotherhood Church(ABC), African Christian Church & Schools(ACC&S), the Igreja Evangelica de Angola(IEA) and the Association of Baptist churches of Rwanda(AEBR) as they prepare for this gathering and continue to serve those struggling most acutely with HIV and AIDS within their communities.

James Odera, Laura Muema and members of one of three discussion groups during last weeks leadership meetings with the Eastleigh Community Centre

This has also been an busy time for our brothers and sisters at the Eastleigh Community Centre as we work together through an evaluation process of the centre's ministry and programs. This has been a valuable time for Iftin as we become better integrated into the community centre's strategy for sustainable community development and discuss how we will move forward together. Please pray for the community centre as we seek to draw upon all that we have learned and discern how we might improve the way that we use the resources which we have been entrusted.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New School Year

Ava on her way to class on her first day of school!

On Tuesday, Ava began her second year at Potterhouse, where she attends preschool. She was very excited to finally be back to school after a long month of watching her big brother and sister going off to school in the morning and having to stay back at home.

She had a fantastic first day of school and was very excited to be back once again this morning.

Potter House -- Pear Class

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

African Christian Church and Schools

Erica with Patrick Miana and Henry Mwangi
of the African Christian Church & Schools' development department

African Christian Church & Schools' headquarters, Thika, Kenya

On Monday, we travelled along beautifully green coffee fields and pineapple plantations on our way to Thika to visit with our colleagues serving with the African Christian Church & Schools. Since 2004, the ACC&S has founded nine Guardians of Hope projects throughout Kenya. Please pray for the leadership in each of these projects as they meet this week in Thika to help one another in planning for next year's ministry.

Aaron in conversation with Henry and Patrick during the recording for our latest podcast. Together we discussed the impact of the Guardians of Hope within the ACC&S. We hope to have this audio interview posted by the end of the week.

The Thika Community Library

We were also delighted to visit the newly opened Thika Community Library that has been built by the ACC&S in partnership with Canadian Baptist Ministries and American Friends of Kenya. The library will provide access to a growing collection of fiction and nonfiction for the community, as well as students studying within the Bible classes at ACC&S headquarters.

Erica speaking with Eunice Muthoni,
librarian of the Thika Community Library

Eunice is very busy as she sorts through thousands of volumes that have been donated to the library. "It will take us another six months to catalogue everything," shared Eunice. "I am so happy to have so many books for people to read!"

Patrick looking through the wonderful
Children's Reading Section of the library

Friday, September 3, 2010

What is a Podcast?

What's a Podcast?

During our time of visiting with churches and friends in Canada, many people asked us about providing more ways to connect with the stories and lives of people benefiting from the ministry that we are a part of in Africa. In addition to the photos and short posts here on our blog, we have been experimenting with a regular audio update, or podcast. Each podcast is a five to ten minute recording that you can download off the Internet or listen to directly online. Through the podcast, we are able to share audio interviews, updates and prayer requests that you can listen to and share with others. If you visit our blog regularly, no doubt you've noticed a few "podcast" related posts over the past month. We hope this will be something that people will enjoy and feel free to share with others.

iTunes -- The Easiest Way to Listen

If you use iTunes on your computer, you can find us in the free podcast section in the iTunes Store where you can click on “subscribe” for automatic updates for your iPod or mp3player. Along with our podcast, you'll find thousands of great podcasters worth listening to.

You can also go directly to our podcasting webpage at www.fivekennys.podbean.com where you can listen, download, or subscribe to them. From time to time, we'll also put this link within blog posts for other people to find the podcasts.

We have also begun to post a video podcast that you can watch online, or download and share with others. The size of video podcasts are too large for us to host on our podbean site, so for now we are simply uploading them to a public dropbox site that you can access through links provided here on the blog. Hopefully we'll find a simpler way for people to subscribe to the video podcasts in the near future.

Please let us know if you have any questions about the podcasts or suggestions on particular topics or aspects of our ministry that you would be interested in learning more about. By clicking on the "comment button" and leaving a message, your question, suggestion or comment will be emailed directly to us.

Erica in conversation with Judith Wambua
and the Guardians of Hope in Kalimani, Kenya

For anyone listening to the podcasts on an iPod or iPhone, we are posting our recordings as an AAC file with embedded photos. As you listen through the podcast, you will be able to view photographs that follow along with the audio.