Honeymoons & all that…

OK, it’s time for a moan!  It’s been wet and cold and nowhere has any heating; Barbara’s dental pain dragged on for 3+ weeks, involving 4 trips to the dentist and the eventual removal of a tooth, and during this time her teaching lost momentum, and we got bitten by persistent bugs of some kind which have also disturbed our sleep.

The ‘honeymoon’ period is clearly over and some of the things that we found quirky and fun to start with, have become more of an irritation.  We were told that this would happen. End of moan!

Barbara & Mark

Spot the giraffe…

Now for a more balanced perspective: the temperature is still usually over 20C in the day and we’re wearing jumpers, Barbara’s dental pain is now resolved, and we’ve had our apartment treated against the bugs, which we hope will resolve the problem. Nonetheless, this month has been frustrating, especially for Barbara, and she looks forward to catching up on sleep and feeling her normal self again.

And today we were able to have a lovely afternoon out at the nearby Giraffe Centre.

Counselling at Tumaini

July and August are the quietest months of the year at the counselling centre, as many missionaries are either taking their home assignment or returning home at the end of their term.  This also applies to the Tumaini staff members, several of whom will be ‘back home’ for a while and one is on maternity leave.  But I am using this period to get to know more about the operation of Tumaini and to visit other counselling services in the Nairobi area.

Nonetheless, I am very much enjoying working with those in the front line of sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard.  Some of these are working in areas where it is potentially dangerous to do so, and who are continually balancing their safety with boldness in speaking the truth.  Please pray for those working is such situations!

I also went with two of the psychiatrists from Tumaini to a ‘2-day clinic’ at Rift Valley Academy, a mission school run by AIM on the edge of the Rift Valley.  Tumaini staff  sometimes have appointments with children from missionary families who are at RVA.  I think if I worked there I would be continually distracted by the stunning views over the Rift Valley – though the view of the gardens out of our rooms at Tumaini is also beautiful, and can definitely be distracting when monkeys peer in the windows at you…

It is planned that I will be taking over the Clinical Team Leader role in the coming couple of months, so I am also in the process of learning more of what is involved and gradually taking over responsibility for various areas one at a time.  Although I have a lot of experience of leading counselling services, I am very aware of how little experience I have in this context; however, I am confident of the support of the team here who have much more experience than I.

Barbara’s teaching

During the weeks that she had dental pain, Barbara was often unable to talk (it was certainly quieter!) and so couldn’t teach.  It was frustrating to lose the momentum that the classes had gained.  This is not the best time of year to get going again, as term has finished and students are coming and going over the ‘summer’ until the new term starts at the beginning of September.  However, she is looking forward to meeting up with the some of the students and planning lessons again.

New neighbours

Ruth & Barbara

Ruth & Barbara

One of the blessings this past difficult month has been getting to know two new neighbours, who both happen to be called Ruth.  The first to arrive here was a nurse from Devon.  She is working for a year with AIM and has had her own frustrations with accommodation and her assignment, but things are falling into place at last.  Sadly, this will mean her moving again at the end of July, but we are so pleased that she is with us for now.

The second Ruth is also an AIM missionary and lives in the apartment above ours.  She worked with AIM as a surgeon in the past, and has returned to Kenya after a period in the USA.  She is learning Som@li with a view to teaching English and working with that people group here in Kenya.

Language lessons & cultural differences

We continue to make some progress with Kiswahili.  Each lesson runs for two hours and we have a tea break after an hour.  Last Wednesday, Barbara filled Ezekiel’s cup of chai to the brim, and apologised to him that it was very full.  He laughed

The door!

The door!

and said that she had brought him Kenyan chai; he explained that we Brits didn’t fill up our cups to the top, since we have long noses and would burn them in our tea if the cup was too full!!  I tried to convince him that we don’t completely fill a cup so as not to spill any.  Ezekiel wasn’t having any of it – and remains convinced of his own explanation.

Another difference in ways of thinking: recently a doorway in the building opposite our apartment was bricked up.  We wondered why this was done.  One of our Kenyan friends suggested that the door might have been needed somewhere else on campus – and so that was probably why it was removed.  (In a culture where labour is cheap and everything is reused, this could just be true!)

Church & home-group

We continue to enjoy and value church.  Moreover we praise God for a new home group (or cell group) that has started on the campus where we live and has now met on three Thursday evenings.  We are getting to know the other members and are watching a video series on discipleship.  It is set in an African context and is excellent at provoking discussion.  Last time, we saw how a tribal chief who had just become a Christian had no peace until he made restitution for the wrongs he had previously done to people in his village.  How difficult we all find it to humbly apologise to those we have wronged – but how necessary it is!

For those of you who pray:

Give thanks with us that:

  • Barbara’s dental problem is resolved
  • The new church home-group has got off to a good start
  • We can keep in touch well with our families via the phone and FaceTime, and that Jasmine, our first grandchild, was dedicated at church in Cambridge this month
  • We are able to have a weekend away at the start of August
  • And that we have now been able to buy a car.

And please pray for:

  • Those missionaries working in dangerous situations, that they would have great wisdom in knowing how to speak out about Jesus’  love
  • The work of Tumaini, and for a smooth transition as I gradually take over the Clinical Team Leader role
  • Barbara as she prepares for the new term and that this would be of real benefit to those training for the ministry and for mission work.

PS The door is still leaning against the tree outside.