Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A New Year -- CBM Muslim Ministries Team, Kenya

Urban Outreach Team, Nairobi
Alamu, Aisha, Laura, Lucky, Erica, Patrick, and Andrew

This past week, the Canadian Baptist Ministries team for Muslim Ministries in Kenya gathered in our home for prayer and planning meetings. As we embark on this new year, it is a gift to have such an incredible group of young people committed to building peace and participating in God's transforming work among Muslim and Christian people in Kenya. 2015 is going to be a great year!

We believe that our faith leads us to serve and love our neighbours. God's solidarity with humanity, in the mystery of the Christmas celebration of the incarnation, is now lived out as God calls us to live in solidarity with others. God reaches into our lives, so that we might reach out to others: As the apostle Paul tells us, it is God "who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are afflicted." (2 Corinthians 1). The experiences of compassion, healing, hope, joy, and love that we have experienced in our lives are suppose to drive us forward into deeper relationship with others. We are meant to share these gifts, not hold them to ourselves.

Of course this is not always the case. There are many reasons that people of faith hold back. We fear. We worry. We doubt that we can even make a difference. We become wrapped up in our own experience of brokenness. We shut ourselves off. 

January is often a time when people make resolutions. That is certainly true in our family.  It is funny, but I seem to make the same resolutions each year, and in short time break them again and again. Committing yourself to doing something tomorrow is one thing, but maybe it is wiser to commit ourselves to what we are going to do today - Now. 

We invite you to join us in a daily commitment to be open to others. To be aware each day that real faith is lived out in relationship with people. That together as people of faith we might have the courage and compassion to enter into other people's lives: to be present, gracious, loving, forgiving, and hope-filled people. 

That is our prayer for this year.

North Eastern Province Team
Aaron, William, Geoffrey and Andai

The CBM Muslim Ministries program in Kenya is actually a group of three projects that are being led by our at the community level by our project officers Laura Muema, William Wako, and Geoffrey Mwita. 

In the Eastern estates of Nairobi (Eastleigh, Kariobangi, Haruma, Pangani, and Mathare), Laura  and our urban outreach team are leading literacy and self help group (SHG) initiatives among Muslim resident and refugee communities. Many of these SHGs are saving money and running micro enterprises that support their families and are improving the lives of their children. 

We are working with several different churches in these areas and are excited at the prospect of two more local churches joining this ministry in the coming months.

Ali and his family

In North Eastern Province, Will and Geoffrey are leading CBM's relief and community development projects within our target communities, as well as supporting church-based integral mission initiatives with the Garissa Church Fellowship, an inter-denominational body of 32 local churches. In November, we began a two year certificate program, to strengthen the practice of integral mission among the local churches serving in this Islamic majority region of Kenya. It has been an answer to prayer, seeing these churches working together.

In the area of relief, Geoffrey is working with village leadership in designing and managing food for work initiatives that are assisting vulnerable families with supplementary rations, tools and construction materials as they improve their communities with safe toilets, water, schools, and opening land for agriculture. In addition, the relief program is providing monthly medical clinics and daily feeding programs for young children in village schools that the communities have built themselves. 

Some of the goals set with the communities are already being reached. With Geoffrey's help, the government ministry of education has committed to take over the Bukuyu School school, meeting the teacher's salary and funding feeding program. We are now in discussions to see the same happen next year with the Bula Pamoja school, that will be using food for work projects this year in order to reach government standards with their school structure.

In the area of development, William is focused on increasing food security through the introduction and expansion of conservation agriculture practices in Garissa District. He is seeing great success among Christian and Muslim farmers who are working together to improve their farms and yields through sustainable practices.

Among the many beneficiaries in this program are Ali and his family. They live in the village of in Ziwani sub-location at the bank of Tana River. Ali, along with 17 other Muslim farmers in his community, joined the Farming God's Way (FGW) program a year ago and has already seen a dramatic change in his farm and on the dinner plate of his family. He is now growing amongst his garden green grams and lab beans that help improve the soil as well as add greater nutrition to his families diet.

Already Ali has been sharing his success with his neighbours and has brought ten new farmers to be trained in FGW. In 2015, Ali is hoping to mobilize other farmers to adopt the conservation agriculture methodologies  in their farms. This is his words, “I will make sure to practices the skills and knowledge in farming and meet my dream of producing enough food. I will fight the poverty that has enslaved me for many years”.  According to William, "Ali shares our great hope of changing Bakuyu and making the people food secured!"

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