We enjoy the fact that here in Kenya there is almost no ‘hype’ about Christmas – no big sales, no tinsel-town decorations. I think the most I have seen is a Christmas tree and a few tasteful lights at one of the shopping centres. However, at church last Sunday the children staged a Nativity play, with all the dressing up you would expect, and with a clear challenge to us all, “Do you believe the message of Christmas – that God sent his Son into the world to save us?”
But before Christmas Day we come to the end of our first ‘term’ – nearly two years – in Kenya, and in a week’s time we return to the UK for four months.
Tumaini & counselling
It has been a real blessing to lead the team at Tumaini, the AIM counselling centre in Nairobi; they are a fantastic and dedicated team of missionary counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Between us we have seen between 350 – 400 missionaries (or couples or families) each year and have also expanded our work in supporting missionaries based in other parts of Africa, doing an increasing number of sessions by video link (where the ‘net allows) , and running online support groups for missionaries working in ‘creative access’ countries.
We are also close to establishing a second counselling centre, this time in Kampala, Uganda, to better serve missionaries working in central Africa. We have now rented premises for the new Counselling Centre in Kampala, and have just been interviewing for a national member of staff to run the office. It is amazing what has been accomplished in just 2 months, and we praise God for his hand on this. We pray that this centre will be able to open its doors soon – we hope in February 2016.
English teaching at the university
Barbara continued to meet for Ladies Bible study until the end of November and I hope that one or two of them will agree to lead the study while I am away. It has been a joy to be with these women and to see them grow in faith. Recently we got together for an end of term Christmas lunch.
All is very quiet on campus at AIU now that the semester has ended. Some students had exams in the first week of December. So I have finished teaching until we return from Home Assignment. It has been a privilege to teach English here and to see how the students’ use of English has improved. Here is my informal English class together and an end of term ‘selfie’. They have agreed to let me go home to see my family – as long as I bring them a gift on my return. This particular group includes three ladies from DRC and one from Ethiopia. One of the Congolese students is returning home as she and her husband cannot afford to pay the fees to study here. This is a common occurrence, sadly.
During November and December, we have had periods of torrential rain and thunderstorms, though in between it is still hot and sunny. One night, there was torrential rain that lasted for 12 hours. Some of the student residences, the bookshop and the Language Centre where I teach, were flooded. I spoke with staff from the bookshop, who were thanking God that it was only a flood and not a fire which would have destroyed everything. Anyway, here I am outside the Language Centre in the blazing sun, after the water had subsided.
We were at the AIM annual conference in Kenya at the end of November. Barbara attended a valuable series of workshops on integrating a Biblical worldview into your teaching – to show how to make connections between academic content (in my case, the English language) and the bigger picture of the Biblical worldview. Meanwhile Tumaini staff, including Mark, ran workshops and offered counselling sessions.
Preparing to come home
As I type that subtitle, the question pops into my mind “But where is ‘home’?” Cambridge is home – but so is Nairobi now! We long to see family and friends and to attend our ‘home church’, but are sad saying goodbye to friends and colleagues here and will miss our Nairobi church.
We have come to feel at home in Nairobi, to love the people and the country. It is full of contradictions, but is vibrant, the country is beautiful, and the people are welcoming and very open to spiritual discussions.
Have we changed over these two years? Yes and no! I look in the mirror and still look just like me, but our outlook and heart have changed; God’s love and grace feels greater, and things that used to bother us seem less important.
We are beginning to sort belongings into those that can remain here until we return, and those we will need in Cambridge during the winter (short-sleeved shirts and sandals? – no!).
A second grandchild!
We are delighted to tell you the wonderful news of the birth of a son on the 14th November to Andrew and Fiona and a sister for Jasmine. They have named him Jonathan and we are very much looking forward to seeing him for the first time when we arrive home.
Financial support from 2016
We have been extremely grateful for the faithful support in both prayer and finance which has enabled us to do this work in Kenya. As you probably realise, we receive no income for working here, and so depend on my work pension, and support from our home churches and generous individuals.
Due to a change of the way that AIM works out the necessary finances for its members to cover their living costs etc, we need to raise an additional ~£200 per month from 2016. Those who have supported us financially over the last two years have been 100% committed, and we do not feel led to ask them for any extra giving; rather, we would hope for additional people to join in supporting us. This support pays for our accommodation, travel and the considerable back-up support we receive from AIM (and we pay our day-to-day living costs from Mark’s pension and our house rental). If you can help us in this way, our experience has been that the blessing goes both ways; please either contact us direct, or (after Dec 21st, when the site goes live) go to: http://eu.aimint.org/thephippens/
Locking up – for now…
Next Saturday we will carry out the everyday routine of padlocking our door when we leave the apartment, but this time, we won’t be returning until the end of April.
Please join us in praying
- Giving thanks and praise to God for all that He has done over these two years
- Giving thanks for looking after our families while we have been in Kenya
- For the continuing work of Tumaini
- For the theme of Mission at AIC Ngong Road church for 2016
- For safe travel and a joyful reunion with family and friends
- For rest and relaxation during our Home Assignment as well as catching up with many of you.
And finally … our bug of the month
Here is a beetle that was walking along the path into Tumaini. I particularly liked his (her?) metallic green paint job with the ‘go faster stripes’!
(You can click on any of the pictures to get a bigger view.)