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!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

CBM Africa Team: Ken and Wendy Arrive!!!

CBM Africa Team Members meeting in Nairobi

Wayne & Maureen Morgan, Erica & Aaron Kenny, Pauline Kariuki, Stefan Cherry, Laura Muema, Ruth Munyao, and Wendy & Ken Derksen

It is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas here in Nairobi. Not only are we getting some very unseasonably cool evenings, there is a electricity in the air. Christmas vacation is soon approaching! With our children’s final Christmas concerts and final exams soon over, we are looking forward to great family time with our kids and team mates. 

On Tuesday evening, our new colleagues Ken and Wendy Derksen arrived from the great white North! The Derksens will be serving with CBM in Rwanda with our friends Darrell & Laura Lee Bustin, Jonathan & Janice Mills, and Andre Sibomana.

We are very blessed to have this week with the Derksens here in Nairobi where they have been connecting with our Kenyan team, along with getting some field orientation. 

Wendy, Ruth and Pauline

Wendy and Ken will be living in Kigali where they will be working with the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches (AEBR). It was wonderful to hear each of our colleagues sharing with the Derksens what they enjoy most about serving with CBM. Again and again, people shared about the importance of CBM’s commitment to Integral Mission through mutual partnerships, and the deep satisfaction of seeing God at work in the lives of the people we all work with.

Wayne, Stefan and Ken

Please keep the Derksens in your prayers as they make this transition to life and ministry in Rwanda. We pray that they have a joy-filled first Christmas in Africa!

Laura and Erica

Please also pray for the rest of our team, especially our colleagues in Garissa, North Eastern Province, that are making the difficult journey home this week amid great insecurity. We are specifically remembering our friends Geoffrey and William.

Aaron and Maureen

We are also praying for many of our CBM colleagues who have children travelling to Africa this Christmas to celebrate with their parents. Please keep the Bustin, Mills, and Morgan families in your prayers as they await the arrival of their kids!

Supporting Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Participants in CBM’s 2014 
Guardians of Hope Leadership Conference
Nairobi, Kenya

This past week, we had the joy of facilitating the Guardians of Hope Leadership Conference, commemorating ten years of HIV and AIDs work for Canadian Baptist Ministries and our International Church Partners. It was great to have Faith Holwyn and Brenda Halk join us in introducing the “Groups of Hope” ministry and training GOH leaders, as well as self help group leaders in this powerful approach to spiritual support and growth through times of turmoil, loss and depression.

As the Guardians of Hope, we believe that the best way to support children that are infected or affected by HIV and AIDS is through families. Rather than taking an institutional approach, the GOH encourages families to love and embrace orphans in their communities. The commitment and sacrifice of these caregivers is the backbone of the Guardians of Hope program.

Over the past decade, much of the work of CBM and our partner churches has been to equip and encourage these caregivers through home based care, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, household income strengthening, and food security initiatives. Through local churches, these households also receive pastoral care and support.


Esperance is the project officer for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) program serving child-headed households in three areas of Rwanda. In each of these communities, volunteer mentors provide emotional support and assistance to the elder siblings who are providing for their young brothers and sisters. 

Please pray for the OVC project which is helping hundreds of children receive education, and to strengthen their household incomes.

Pastor Anne and Pauline work with the Guardians of Hope program of the Africa Brotherhood Church (ABC). Under their leadership, the GOH project within the ABC has increased its care of orphans and children through regular visitation and day programs that bring child beneficiaries together for prayer, support, and fun. “The children share good meals together during our OVC days,” shared Pauline. “They learn about nutrition, hygiene, and many other things. It is an important time of learning, and for emotional support. We play games, laugh and build relationships. It is an important part of this ministry.”

Maureen and Erica are serving as directors for the 2015 Kamp Tumaini summer camp program for orphans and vulnerable children within the Kenyan Guardians of Hope projects. The camps will bring together Canadian and Kenyan youth volunteers as counsellors and mentors for children infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. Please pray for volunteers willing to commit two weeks of their summer to serve with our team in this important ministry.

Phyllis is the newest member of our team. She serves as the Guardians of Hope project officer with the African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S), in Kenya.

Please pray for Phyllis as she takes on these new responsibilities with the ACC&S. We are very thankful to have her joining the GOH project team with her background in voluntary testing and counselling. 

Ernestine is the project officer for the Guardians of Hope project of the Baptist Association of Rwanda’s (AEBR). Although the GOH program’s primary emphasis has been caring for the caregivers of orphans, her passion for providing emotional and social support has enhanced the ministry of the GOH in Rwanda. 

Please pray for Ernestine as she travels to remote villages in rural Rwanda where she is strengthening groups of guardians and children. We are excited to see Ernestine to begin to incorporate groups of hope training as part of her ministry.