Saturday, March 31, 2012

CBM Food Relief

Canadian Baptist Ministries
2012 Food for Work Projects, NEP, Kenya

In January of this year, our CBM NEP team initiated food for work projects in four vulnerable villages within Garissa District as part of CBM's drought response program in Kenya. These projects are apart of our strategic effort to help drought vulnerable and food insecure communities to recover from the impact of this past year's drought and famine that devastated the livelihoods of nearly 4 million people in the horn of Africa this past year.

We are using "food for work" projects to provide weekly rations to impoverished families and to help them establish fruit trees and effective farming along the Tana River. This effort is being carried out in cooperation with the local Government and the Kenyan Red Cross that is committed to helping families move from harmful open grazing of cattle, goats and camels to sustainable agriculture. We are excited to see food for work projects prepare the way for conservation agriculture training that we are already preparing for with the Garissa Pastor's Fellowship and the Farming God's Way approach to semi arid farming.

Clearing the stubborn mathenge thorn bush
from sections of the flood plain

Community members preparing new farm land
for crops and tree planting

Lunch Time in Bula Pamoja

Volunteers in the Bula Pamoja village preparing meals for 65 children in their daily feeding program. As part of the relief efforts, our team mates Yattani and William have been working with the District Officer in peace and reconciliation in the community of Bula Bhakari. This last month, they helped resolve a long standing land-dispute in the community between the local Somali clan and the Waliwana people. The result was the birth of Bula Pamoja (In Kiswahili it means "The Village Together"). Along with mobilizing the community members to build roads and open up farm land, the CBM project has come along side the village in building their first permanent structure - an early childhood education house for the 65 young children living in the village of traditional tents and shelters.

Each day, as the community works on strengthening their village, the children meet for lessons and healthy lunch of beans, rice, local fruits and vegetables. The project is helping these children have access to the local medical clinic, and improve their lives in simple but vital ways. We believe that the good news of our faith must be demonstrated, and it is exciting to see the Christian communions in this area sharing this same vision for living out our faith!

Waliwana and Somali children accessing early childhood education, medical attention, and daily meals in Bula Pamoja.

Please continue to pray for this ministry and for the community leaders and volunteers who are working hand in hand with our Christian brothers and sisters. We pray that through this ministry that dividing walls of mistrust and misunderstanding will come down.

lunch time at the early childhood school

Volunteers at CBM's Bula Iftin Food for Work Project weighing weekly supplementary food rations for the participants in their farm clearing project.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sisterhood is beautiful!

Garissa Pastor's Wives Fellowship

Erica had the joy of participating in the birth of the "Garissa Pastor's Wives Fellowship" during this past week's gathering in Limuru, Kenya. Many of the 15 women leaders had never met before, although they are living in the same town. At the close of the conference, Erica led a session on the importance of mutual support and care. The pastor's wives committed to a monthly fellowship gathering in Garrisa and working to build unity and cooperation amongst Christian women in Garissa. "We are now sisters!" shared one of the ladies.

The ladies exchanging solidarity necklaces created by
the Somali women of the Noor Self Help Group, Eastleigh

Sisterhood is beautiful!

The Story of Us All

2012 Garissa Pastors and Spouses Conference

Canadian Baptist Ministries had the pleasure of sponsoring the first Garissa Pastor's and Spouses Conference this past week in Limuru, Kenya. As part of CBM's NEP program, we have had the great joy of coming along side the many Christian Churches embedded within the North Eastern Provincial capital of Garissa. This second gathering grew to include 22 churches, as 42 pastors and Christian leaders traveled from Garissa to the peaceful setting of Brackenhurst, nestled in the cool forests of Limuru, Kenya.

Brackenhurst Conference Centre

Maureen, Erica and our gracious host, Anne

We are so thankful to the generous support of Canadian Baptist Churches that have enabled our CBM team to come alongside these courageous leaders. "We were wounded!" shared Pastor John, the chairman of the Garissa Pastor's Fellowship. "This has been such a hard year, but we thank the Lord for the Canadian Baptists who have encouraged us and who are helping us in ministry. We are stronger by the Grace of God!"

It has been amazing to see the church overcoming long standing division and estrangement as they have expanded the Garissa Pastors Fellowship. Over the past three months, the fellowship has grown from 6 to 14, and now to 22 churches. It has been a testimony to the grace of God, as the church leaders have come together for worship, support and prayer.

Ruth Munyao, CBM's Food Security
Coordinator for Africa, speaking to the gathering
on faith-based relief and development

Along with strengthening the unity of the Church in Garissa, these gatherings are intended to help build the capacity of the local church to be more effective in Muslim/Christian ministry. This conference focused on effective leadership, self care, and an introduction to faith-based relief and development. We were blessed to have our colleague, Ruth Munyao, share her expertise in the area of relief and development, and her passion for food security.

Wayne, Yattani and Aaron on there way
to an evening session at the conference.

We are so grateful for incredible team that God has brought together to strengthen the ministry in NEP. Yattani and Salome Gollo, and William Wako, have been key leaders in mobilizing the Church and local community. Please keep them in your prayers as they continue to walk side by side with the churches in Garissa.

Enjoying the beauty of Limuru

We were especially glad to have 15 of the pastors travel with their wives and young children. Each of these women play a critical role in the ministry of the Church in Garissa. Erica and Salome appreciated the opportunity to gather with these women for a time of support and encouragement.

"You can get the churches to sing together,
but can they work together?"

In one of Aaron's last sessions, he challenged the gathering with a question from one of our colleagues who asked "You can get the churches to sing together, but can you get them to work together?" The resolve of the pastors was put to the test as they were given the opportunity to select 5 representatives from the 22 churches represented, to participate in an upcoming training of trainers workshop on the Farming God's Way conservation agriculture approach that we believe to be a highly effective approach to increasing food security in the semi arid lands of Kenya. We are excited to see the pastors working together in humility and cooperation to strengthen their common witness in their community.

Pastor Ibrahim of the Easter African Pentecostal Church,
Garissa, sharing our closing message

In the final gathering of the conference, the pastors and their wives came together for time of prayer and commitment to strengthening the Church in Garissa and loving their Muslim neighbours in the way of of Christ. Please continue to pray for these churches and their leaders as they they take the brave steps of building unity and peace in their community.

Conference Participants at the close of the Conference

March 28-30, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 GOH Leadership Conference ACC&S

Dr. Julius Karanja, Moderator of the African Christian Church & Schools, opening CBM's second ACC&S Guardians of Hope Leadership Conference at the Jumuia Centre in Kikambala, Kenya

This past week, we had the pleasure of leading our second ACC&S GOH leadership conference with our colleagues Wayne and Maureen Morgan. We travelled to the coast with our children for intentional time of reflection on the ministry of the Guardians of Hope with members of the ACC&S executive and leaders from each of their nine GOH projects.

Erica and Maureen facilitating a session on strengthening
the leadership role of women in the GOH

This year's conference focused on the effectiveness of HIV & AIDS awareness, strengthening the role of women, and sharing best practices in the self help group approach. Over the conference, the groups also worked on refining a self assessment tool that the groups will be using to set measurable targets and track their progress.

Wayne Morgan sharing during the closing panel discussion
responding to the group presentations on their successes
in HIV & AIDS Awareness and Prevention

It was encouraging to hear how many groups have begun partnering with the local government in voluntary counselling and testing projects. In the community of Embu, 23 people who tested positive through their VCT have joined their GOH support groups in the past few months. "We are working together so that everyone in our community knows their status!" shared pastor John, "Stigma is being reduced and those living positive are finding support and acceptance!"

Worshipping under the shade of the trees

The ACC&S leaders deeply appreciated the support of Canadian Baptist Ministries that made this gathering possible. "Please thank the Canadian Churches for us," shared ACC&S General Secretary Joseph Miana. "You do not know how great it is for us to have this gift to come away, and step back from our busy ministry and responsibilities in our home communities. This time away together greatly enriches our ministry and is such an encouragement for us!"

We also want to thank all of you for your prayers and generous support for our family and the ministries that we are providing leadership. God is using your help to strengthen the ministry of the Church in Africa as it seeks to bring about transformation in the lives of so many!

One of the great challenges that the ACC&S is facing is encouraging and empowering women in leadership. Within the GOH we are intentionally working to over come gender inequality and long standing patterns that have held women back from sharing their perspective and potential. Please pray for the courageous women leaders of the ACC&S GOH who are reaching out to their sisters and mentoring others in their church and communities.

A further challenge facing the ACC&S GOH is a generational gap between current leadership and the growing youth population of Kenya. Presently over 60% of the Kenyan population is under the age of 25. Please pray for the Church as they seek ways to reach out to the youth of their communities and involve this next generation in the leadership of ministries like the GOH. Having multiple generations represented in leadership is one key way of strengthening the ministry of the Guardians of Hope that has been caring for AIDS orphans for the past seven years.

Emma enjoying some quiet time at the conference

ACC&S GOH Leadership Participants

Thank you for remembering and praying for this ministry!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Who is that at our window?

An African Grey Parrot

Early this morning, we could hear a ruckus outside of our bedroom window: It sounded like monkeys in the Flame Tree. We have had monkeys in our yard before, but our three dogs usually encourage them to move along quickly. But not this morning -- we could hear the monkey for over an hour as we made coffee, breakfast and got everyone ready for the day. Heading out the door for school, we looked up into the trees and, to our surprise, discovered that the monkey noises weren't monkeys at all, but two wild African grey parrots having breakfast in our trees.

We locked up the dogs and spread out some fruit in our yard for them. We would love it if the parrots stuck around and nested in our trees, but sadly they are most likely just passing through. We'll let you all know if they are still there when we return home.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spiritual Emphasis Week

SonSurf Beach Bash
Rosslyn Academy's Elementary
Spiritual Emphasis Week

This week is Rosslyn's annual SEW for the students in elementary school. The kids are asking BIG questions and discovering BIG answers as they "Meet Up with Jesus" in this Gospel Light Vacation Bible School adventure.

Emma helping to lead songs with the kids worship team

Each afternoon, teachers, high school students and parent volunteers are taking part in skits, songs, stories, crafts and activities. Aaron is the theme speaker again this year at "Bonfire Beach". It has been a fun week!

Aaron and Claude Kranik
at Bonfire Beach!

Erica and Emma after the opening worship

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Amahoro Rwanda

Amahora means "peace"

This past week, we have been in Rwanda with our team mates Bruno and Kathleen Soucy for the first Kigali Guardians of Hope leadership conference. Along with a full week of ministry, we had the joy of spending time with the Soucy's eldest daughter Caroline who is visiting from Canada. Late one afternoon, we slipped over to Amahoro a women's sewing ministry.

Gorilla Quilted Wall Hanging at Amahoro

Grace giving us a tour of the Amahoro workshop and store

Amahoro was started in Kigali as part
of the ministry of Amani Ya Juu, Nairobi
The women in the program gain literacy
and sewing skills that enable them to earn
a sustainable income.

The Gorillas of Rwanda
It was great to see the creativity of these women at work

Erica and Caroline

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kigali 2012

Kigali, Rwanda

This past week, we traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, for the first Guardians of Hope Leader's Conference with the Baptist Associaton of Rwanda. 70 Guardians leaders and regional pastors gathered for the three-day conference at the Alarm Centre on the out-skirts of the city.

Erica and Kathleen Soucy

We are blessed to work with such a great team in Rwanda. Together, they have been supporting the ministry of the Guardians of Hope in 29 projects in every corner of this small Central African country.

Aaron and Reverend Gato

We were delighted to have such a strong turn out of women from the leadership of Guardians groups. Women play a key role in bringing about grassroots change.

The conference has been a great opportunity to share best practices from all of the Guardians of Hope projects in Africa. It was a fantastic time of mutual learning and sharing.

Aaron and Michel speaking to the gathering

Erica with Ernestine, who is serving as a development intern
with CBM's project in Rwanda with the AEBR.

Isaie training the Guardians of Hope leaders
on the principles of food security

Erica with one of the younger members of the group

(Several of the women GOH representatives brought their young children and nursing babies to the conference -- this little guy is a dancer!)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Arabian Nights

Rosslyn Academy Middle School Banquet
"Arabian Nights"

This evening is Rosslyn's annual Middle School Banquet for grades 6, 7 and 8. Tristan went with his friend Natalie, and their friends.

Tristan and Michael looking sharp!!

Several teachers and the student council did an amazing job transforming the Middle School area into a incredible banquet hall.

Tristan and Natalie looking pretty cute together

hanging out before the banquet

Have a great evening kids!