Monday, September 25, 2017

Many hands

Erica presenting at Glen Acres Baptist Church
Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario

Travelling through Southern Ontario, we have been blessed by our time with churches and friends that are committed to the good work that we share in together Canadian Baptists. From helping newly arrived refugee families in Canada to providing pastoral care and support to people in need, the Canadian churches that we have visited are passionate about living generously for the good of their communities. 

In Kitchener Waterloo, we had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from women's groups from the South Central Association of the Canadian Baptist of Ontario and Quebec. Along with their local initiatives, these groups are strongly involved in international ministry supporting and participating in projects that are making a difference in communities in Africa, India, and Latin America. We appreciated the opportunity to give updates, tell stories, and answer questions about our shared work.

Visiting with new friends at First Baptist Guelph 

On Sunday, we participated in worship at First Baptist Church, Guelph. We are very thankful for the welcome we received and for the evident desire of people to share in the ministry happening in Africa. 

People often ask us about how they can get involved in the global work of CBM. There are many ways that we see individuals and churches participating, including financial support through becoming a "partner in mission" with our family or engaging other important programs. Volunteering through a short term mission opportunity or an educational program like Praxis. Mobilizing others in your church or community to learn, advocate, and pray for international missions.

We are also excited to see the emergence of the 323 Collective, an opportunity for artisans in Canada and the Global South to share the creative passions to improve the lives of the vulnerable and marginalized.

323 Collective
Handmade. For Good.

The 323 Collective is a new program that Canadian Baptist Ministries will be launching this October. More than an online store, the 323 Collective comes out of Colossians 3:23 which encourages us to use our vocation as an expression of our love for God -- "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord."

There are a couple of really amazing things that are taking shape through this program. First, it provides a marketplace for groups involved in microenterprise development. Erica and our friend, Brenda Halk, have been working together to connect Canadian Churches with self-help group ministries in Kenya where women are improving their household income and access to education through beautiful handmade scarves. Scarved purchased through the 323 Collective directly benefit these women.

Brenda Halk sharing about the 323 Collective

Secondly, the 323 Collective provides a platform for Canadian artisans to donate their in-kind gifts to support the CBM program of their choice. When launches next month, people will be able to purchase handmade mittens made by Muriel Bent of Middleton, Nova Scotia. The proceeds  from Muriel's mittens are being used to support important work in India where CBM is helping girls attend school and rural farmers to improve food security.

We hope to share more about the 323 Collective as it comes online this October. We are excited to see how God might use the talents and giftedness of artists and craftspeople to bless and strengthen people around the world.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

On the road in Ontario

Toronto, Ontario

Our Canadian home assignment has gotten off to a big start. We are thankful for the wonderful times that we've shared with family and friends in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces. 

A big thank you to all of the churches that have welcomed us with such gracious hospitality. Over the last few weeks, we've appreciated times with many congregations in New Minas, Salisbury, O'Leary, North Burlington, Lakefield, Campbellford, and Smith Falls. 

This next week takes us to Waterloo, Guelph, Mississauga, Hamilton, and Scarborough. We will then be traveling to Lake Muskoka for a CBM Leadership Retreat, before returning to Charlottetown for Thanksgiving.

Erica modeling scarves for a new Canadian Baptist Ministries
program that will be launched later this fall.

Over the past two weeks, we've also had a few opportunities to connect with our colleagues at the CBM offices in Mississauga. Along with work, we've enjoyed some great laughter and times of catching up. 

Ava has been homeschooling every day with mommy. There have been lots of fun social studies to accompany math, reading, and language arts. Today she presented to us her research on Blue Jays.

Both Tristan and Emma are doing well. Thanks to Facetime, we have been talking to them both pretty much every day. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Up and Coming

On the Road in Ontario and Atlantic Canada!

We are excited to be visiting with churches and supporters of Canadian Baptist Ministries throughout the next four months. 

Here is a quick look at some of our up and coming speaking times for September and October 2017. You are very welcome to drop in for times of worship and sharing!

Sunday, September 10 at 9:15 am and 11:00 am

September 15-17

Sunday, September 17 at 10:00 am

Sunday, September 17 at 11:00 am

Sunday, September 17 at 6:00 pm

September 18, Evening potluck and service

Glen Acres Baptist Church, Waterloo, Ontario
September 23, South Central Women's Breakfast at 9 am

Sunday, September 24 at 10:00 am

MacNeill Baptist Church, Hamilton, Ontario
September 26 at 7:30 pm

Fallingbrook Heights Baptist, The Church at the Centre
Scarborough, Ontario 
Sunday, October 1 at 10:30 am

First Baptist Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Sunday, October 8 at 9:30 am 11:00 am

Hillside Baptist Church Men's Retreat, Moncton, New Brunswick
October 13

October 14 missions brunch gathering

Hillside Baptist Church Women's Gathering
October 14 evening gathering

Hillside Baptist Church, New Brunswick
Sunday, October 15 at 9:00 and 11:00 am

Lancaster Baptist Church, Saint John, New Brunswick
October 17 at 1:30 pm for the Women's Missionary Society 

RiverCross Church, Saint John, New Brunswick
October 17 evening gathering

October 21 Colchester Pictou Association Gathering 9:30 am

Sunday, October 22 at 11:00 am

October 22 evening supper and service

October 23 at 7:00 pm

Canadian Baptist Ministries, Mississauga, Ontario
October 27 and 28 Board Meetings

Geary Baptist Church, New Brunswick
October 28 at 7:00 pm

Douglas Baptist Church, New Brunswick
Sunday, October 29 at 10:30 am

Brunswick Street Baptist Church, Fredericton, New Brunswick
October 29 York Association Meetings at 6:00 pm

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Freshman

Tristan settling in at Acadia University
Wolfville, Nova Scotia
Erica and Tristan in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

On Saturday, we moved Tristan into residence at Acadia University where he is beginning his undergraduate studies in theatre. Over the past week, we've appreciated wonderful times of celebration with our family and friends in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. From bonfires in Kentville, to barbecues in Moncton, and cake in Brackley Tristan has received a great welcome!

Hanging out with uncle Troy, Tyler and Colton in Riverview, New Brunswick

During our time in New Brunswick, Tristan worked with the Oasis Kids program during the annual assembly of Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada. During this week, we've also appreciated times with the Salusbury and O'Leary Baptist Churches. It has been a great start to our Canadian Home Assignment.

Aaron and Tristan in Brackley, Prince Edward Island
Auntie Autumn and TK
Ava's wildflower bouquet
Exploring Brackley
Hiking the beautiful trails of Brackley
Making our own bridge
Aaron with our niece, Arizona.
Visiting with our Island family
TK with Opal, Elliot, and Dublin
Hanging out with Grampy, uncle Justin, and aunties Amanda and Autumn.
Grampy and Grammy seeing Tristan off
Tristan saying goodbye on PEI

Over this week, we will be helping Tristan as he gets all of the little things checked off his re-entry list. From registering with Medicare and a mobile plan, to setting up bank accounts and a mail box, it is a long list. We will also be sharing at the New Minas Baptist Church on Sunday, before we travel back to Charlottetown to pick up Ava for our journey to Ontario where we will be on a speaking itnerary until Thanksgiving. 

All moved in!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Emma's Sweet Sixteen

Emma turns Sixteen today!

With the Kenyan elections behind us, it was back to school week at Rosslyn Academy. Emma is now a high school junior and is excited to begin her first year on the national honor society. More than that, she is thrilled to be back with her great group of friends.

Watching Emma grow up in Kenya has been such a joy. We are so proud of the kind, responsible, and daring young woman that she has become. 

Celebrating Emma's birthday after the first day of school

For her birthday, Emma wanted to have a little magical fun, and so she and some of her closest friends took on the challenge of completing our DIY Harry Potter Escape Rooms. It was a lot of fun solving puzzles and discovery mysterious hidden clues and passages.

In the end, everyone managed to escape from the dark wizard's sinister plot.

Erica's Peanut Butter Pie, Harry Potter Style

Ava and Tristan a part of the fun!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

An update from Kenya: The Things that Make for Peace

As Jesus drew near the city, he wept, saying, 
"If you, even you, had only recognized the things that make for peace!" 
Luke 19:41

Worshipping this morning at the International Christian Fellowship of Nairobi, we prayed for peace in Kenya and the many areas of unrest and conflict throughout the world. From cities like Charlottesville to Kisumu, Juba to Kasai, and Caracas to Pyongyang, turmoil and escalating violence grip the lives of so many.

On Saturday, in the Nairobi slum of Mathare a large group of youth began hurling stones at police. It is unclear whether they were motivated by election protests that have mainly erupted in Western Kenya or if they were simply expressing anger towards the authority of increased police presence. Regardless of their motives, violence erupted and as the police chased the group through the narrow streets and allies, officers began firing live rounds into the air to "scare the hoodlums". 

Tragically, an eight-year-old girl was killed. She was standing on a fourth-floor balcony over looking the spectacle taking place in the Mathare Market when she was hit by one of the stray police bullets. She died almost immediately.

Local human rights groups now report twenty-four deaths in Kenya from this past week's election unrest. The unrest has not been wide spread but has erupted mainly in strongholds of the opposition party, such as Kisumu, and in areas like Garissa where inter-clan fighting over the control of county government has resulted in a fire that destroyed the central market of the town.

Situations like these should be upsetting to the Church. But when we hear of the pain and suffering endured by others, how can we respond? I think that for many of us, the greatest temptation is to simply tune out and immerse ourselves in the diversion of our own personal interests and circles of friendship. Afterall, what can we do about sweeping issues like injustice, hunger, and poverty?

When Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem, he perceived the trajectory that the Zealot movement of redemptive violence was taking the city in. Jesus predicted how one day the Roman army would surround and destroy the city and its holy temple (this attack would happen in 70AD -- an attack sparked by a Jewish rebellion against Rome rule). "They will tear you to the ground," wept Jesus, "you and your children within you."

Prideful leadership only escalates violence. And sadly, it is the poor and marginalized that are most vulnerable in times of conflict and unrest. But simply ignoring the suffering of others is equally harmful.

As Christians, we are called to be light to the world. To speak and demonstrate the love and hope of God, even to our enemies and neighbours. The things that make for peace are often costly. They require us to take seriously the inequity and suffering of others. Humility, generosity, and courage to listen and seek justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation -- these things make for peace.

We know that many churches in Kenya and around the world are praying for peace this Sunday. May we also seek ways that we might actively participate in making peace through standing in solidarity with those who are pushed to the margins of our societies. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Praying for Kenya

"Keep Peace Fellow Kenyans."
Graffiti from the last Kenyan Election in 2012.

It was another cold grey August day here in Nairobi, everyone whom we've spoken with throughout the day shared a common feeling of unease, but remain hopeful. 

Although the local radio and media report five deaths from yesterday's public unrest in Nairobi slum areas and in the Western town of Kisumu, it is important to recognize that they were far from the norm. The Wednesday protests remain isolated. The majority of Kenyans seem to be wary of any repeat of the post-election violence of 2007/2008. 

"We just need to put this election behind us," shared our friend Francis. "What's done is done. People just want to get back to life and work."

Similiar sentiments have been shared with us from friends in Western Kenya. Although disappointed in the election results, they too are not interested in dwelling on accusations of vote rigging and hacking that have been raised by Riala Odinga. "No government will last forever," shared our friend living near Kisumu. "We must move forward."

Kenyans lining up to cast their ballots during Tuesday's national election

We join our Kenyan friends in their optimistic hope that Kenya will pull together after such a divisive election. With the country divided almost in half, it is a crucial time for  Kenyans to draw on their common future as one nation. 

Please join us in praying for Kenya and its leaders. We pray that the official results being released by the electoral commission, and the confirmation of third party observers, will be accepted and that peace will be kept.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Praying for Kenya

On Tuesday, August 8th, Kenyans will cast their ballots for the 2017 national elections. The race is very close for president, as well as over many county positions throughout the country. 

Tensions and suspicions have been building over the past months, and in the last week several incidents have people bracing for the potential of post-election disputes and violence. 

We are praying that the leaders of the two main parties will be voices of calm and humility, no matter the outcome of Tuesday's vote. Democracy will be put to the test as Kenyan's are called to put the national interest over tribal and regional loyalty.  

This Sunday, many pastors and church leaders will be calling their congregations to be forces of peace and civility over the coming weeks. May Christians of every denomination live up to that calling to be ambassadors of peace and reconciliation.

The BBC has created a brief summary video that gives an overview of the election and some of the background. It is well worth the 3 minutes it takes to watch -- Watch Here

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kenny's Summer 2017 Update: Stronger Together

Summer 2017 has been a wonderful time of ministry for CBM in Kenya. We are so grateful for the amazing team mates and partners that we are able to work with.

In our summer update letter, we talk about the impact of Kamp Tumaini on the Canadian volunteers that joined us from Springforth, a youth program of the Canadian Baptist Churches of the Atlantic.

To read our latest update letter, please click here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Let the Water Flow: Improved Irrigation Canals in Garissa

Construction of Enhanced Irrigation Canals 
Bukuyu, Garissa County, Kenya

Kenyan farmers have been using traditional irrigation methods for over 400 years. 

Earthen dams, rainwater harvesting, and bucket irrigation are just some of the common methods we see throughout the country. These small-scale, low-cost methods have been used to support subsistence farming that cannot rely on rainfall alone, but, with a little help, farmers are finding ways to improve their irrigation practices that allow them to increase their harvests. 

Over the past four decades, CBM has been helping farmers improve irrigation practices through the adoption of practices such as the use of water catchments, motorized and non-motorized water pumps, gravity-fed drip irrigation, and enhanced canal irrigation. 

Through improved irrigation and conservation agricultural practices, we are seeing a transformation from subsistence farmers into commercial agents that are increasing the health and wellness of their families and community. 

Our colleague, William Wako, shares the impact of this important work of Canadian Baptists in Garissa.

"Over the past month, CBM has been assisting more than sixty farmers in the community of Bukuyu. This project is helping them to improve their traditional earthen canals. Among these sixty farmers, twenty also participate in our conservation agriculture project, where they are receiving additional training and support to improve their farmers. 

With the support of the Canadian Baptist churches, we have had the resorces to complete a proper survey of the topography of the land, which was needed to improve the grade of the canals. We were then able to help improve over six hundred meters of the canal and provide much needed set boxes that act as the joints that direct the flow of the water to the sixty different farms. 
The six main set boxes were a huge improvement. The water now flows much more quickly, and there is far less waste. This reduces the shared fuel costs for the farmers and is allowing them to better provide water to their crops.  
The water flows from the Tana River into the large catchment and is released into the fields through a series of gates. Even in the arid lands of Garissa, the farmers are harvesting banana, tomatoes, mango, maize, green grams, peas, casava, kales, and onions. We are so happy to see them not only producing for their domestic use, but also the Garissa market. This is having a big impact on the lives of these families."
One of the improved catchment points in the Bukuyu irrigation canals

The Bukuyu farmers were very excited by the opportunity to work together with the local CBM food security project to improve their canals. In addition to increased productivity in their fields, the project constructed a 2,000-litre catchment that is helping the village to safely access water for domestic use and livestock, without damaging the fragile river bank or braving the crocodiles in the mud red river. 

But there is another side to this story that we are so glad to share. As our friend William explains, the project was an important way to bring people together.
"As Christians and Muslims working together, projects like this are building bridges. During the canal work [in Bukuyu], we were able to have good times of conversation and sharing. 
With the Kenyan national elections on August 8th, there are mixed feelings of fear and expectations in the community. We all hope for peace, but there are fears of division and conflict, especially between rival clans. 
Over the last month, as the people have been working together in the canals, there has been peace. I can say that we have seen improved relationships between the Somali and Waliwana people as they have worked together to improve each other's lives. God is overcoming the distrust and fear. This is one of the best aspects of this work."
In Prayer 

The need for improved food security is a major need throughout Sub Saharan Africa. Please join us in praying for the ongoing work of CBM's team and partners as we work together in assisting local churches in their efforts to bring hope and healing to their communities.
Please join us in praying for a peaceful Kenyan election. May God bring the nation together however the election goes. This will be our third national election since coming to Kenya in 2006, and we know how important it is for a peaceful transition of power for the well-being of all Kenyans.

We are also praying for our partner and colleagues serving in Rwanda, where people will head to the polls to vote in their national election on August 4th. Our colleague Andre Sibomana, recently back from Canada, is very thankful for the peaceful campaigning that he has witnessed throughout the country. Please join us in remembering the people of Rwanda during this time.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Summer Break 2017


Erica and our niece, Nicole Clark.
This past week, we enjoyed a wonderful summer break with our niece and her boy friend, Julien. Together, we shared a beautiful few days on the Kenyan coast and, after their return from the Masai Mara, some great days of fun in Nairobi. 
A cheeky monkey at our beach side hotel

Summer vacation in Kenya for our family has often included an escape to the Kenyan coast and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. We were very excited to share some of our favourite haunts with Nicole and Julien.

Emma and Nicole on her way to the Kisite Marine Park
Emma, Erica, and Ava at the Forty Thieves, Diani
Nicole and Julien at the Forty Thieves
Nicole and Julien tuk tuk riding in Ukunda
Coconut palms in Diani
Emma snorkeling off Wasini Island
Nicole with a star fish
Camel riding on Diani Beach

Fun at the Coast
Julien, Nicole, Ava, Emma, and Tristan
Hanging out at The Cave

Tristan feeding a friendly bush baby
Our new puppy, Bree

On returning to Nairobi, we surprised our children with a new family pet. Bree is a beautiful Weimaraner puppy. She has been such a joy. We are thankful for the gift of the memories we've already shared together. Our other dogs are very welcoming, and our cat, Hazel, well let's just say that she is warming up to the idea of another dog,... a little.

Ava, Emma, and Nicole walking Bree in Karura Forest

Ava and Nicole at the falls
Tristan and Emma

With August just around the corner, we are all very aware that Tristan's departure for Acadia University will be here before we know it. We are cherishing these days together of walks, games, and laughter. The changes ahead won't be easy, but we are so grateful for the family that God has blessed us with. 
In Karura Forest, Nairobi
Hanging out with Nicole and Julien

Julien and Nicole are on their way to Canada tonight. As we pray for their safe travels, we are so grateful for these past two weeks together. We know that they return with some pretty amazing experiences and stories to tell. We are have had such a great time together, it was just too short.