Situation in Kenya
First of all, thank you for all of you who have been praying for us and for the country of Kenya during this time. Since our last email we have been so encouraged and blessed by your emails to us. It’s good to know when we click “Send” it doesn’t just go out into the vacuum of space, but that people are actively following what is going on and praying along with us. Thank you! Secondly, sorry for the long email, we’ve been trying to keep these things short but we have had so many things happen in the past 30 days we needed to tell you about.
Things were pretty tense at the beginning of January, and have fluctuated wildly since then. Threats of riots, sounds of gunfire, and constant visitors to our door from Kibera remind us that this situation is far from over. A lot of forgiveness will need to happen first, and that is a supernatural act that can only come from Christ and his power to transform minds and humble hearts. AIM is continuing to monitor the situation for the safety of all of its’ missionaries in Kenya and we still feel confident in their experience, judgment, and guidance for us during this time.
The Body of Christ in Action
Despite being in this difficult situation, we have been blessed and encouraged to see the body of Christ at work around us and through us. Many churches here have stepped up to the challenge to take care of the displaced and hungry and wounded.We had a unique opportunity to partner our sending church, Dulles Community, with a church in Kibera that was housing 300 refugees but had no way to feed them. At the time Kibera was (and still is, depending on the day and the violence) a very desperate place, because food vendors had been looted and chased out of town (or killed) and it became very expensive and dangerous even to possess food. Dulles Community was ready to give, willing to share (1 Tim 6:18) and provided 3 meals a day for those 300 people for 2 weeks during the most desperate time. We were just blessed to have been a part of connecting the body of Christ to each other.
We have also realized that the greatest way we can make an impact here is to help those whom God puts us in contact with. We have people at our door everyday who are hungry and in need. It has been our goal to give out food to anyone who needs it – as there have been people across the country without consistent food for the past month. Also, just today we were able to help out some Kenyan friends – he was in western Kenya and unable to get home to Nairobi, as there are no buses running right now. We were able to connect him with an AIM AIR plane that was landing nearby and he is home now safe and sound with his family. It’s things like that which help us to know we are here for a reason.
The On Field Media team has been busy as well, trying to cover the stories of God at work during this time. From the secular news media, people are left to wonder how a country with such a rich, lengthy Christian heritage could do this to itself. Our current mandate is to declare God’s glory, and get out the stories of how lives transformed by Christ cause people to go against the status quo and embrace fellow Kenyans across tribal lines. Recently we have been in Kibera and in Western Kenya with AIM AIR relief efforts. Click here for more photos from these trips.
Last weekend Lesa spent 3 days at the annual AIM Ladies’ retreat with 70 other women. Since we shipped a portable sound system with us to Africa, she volunteered to run sound for the event, as well as taught 2 workshops on “breathing new life into your daily quiet time.”
Lesa has been serving in a new role at AIM this month, also. She has been helping out with Short-Term missionaries (here for less than one year) who are here to serve within International Services (our division of AIM). Many of these are pilots, mechanics, counselors and their families. She had a group of four new people come two weeks ago and enjoyed organizing their orientation and getting them settled into life here. We have started a Short-Termers’ Fellowship at our house every other week for worship, training, and fun for all short-term missionaries in Interational Services.
Last Tuesday night we were having supper at a friend’s house, and joking about how Robbie had broken his arm once, Avery twice, and Andy three times. The very next day Avery tied his dad, and is well on his way to breaking the record at this pace! He and Robbie were jumping off the swings at the playground at Tumaini, and apparently Avery must have won the contest.
In Kenya, getting treated for a broken arm is very different than in the US. We had to pay for everything in cash ahead of time, and it involved Avery having to go by himself to the “operating theatre”, and spending the night in the hospital with Lesa by his side. All told it was about an 18 hour stay in the hospital, and I think it might have slowed Avery down for a day.
Sydney’s surgery and trip to US
For those of you who have kept up with our blog, it may not come as a surprise to hear Lesa and Sydney will be back in the US by this Friday night. And for the rest of you… surprise!
We knew before we came here that Sydney would need eye surgery at some point to correct her eye condition, strabismus. We had seen several doctors in the US before coming here, and had some recommendations. We were able to follow up here in Nairobi with another highly recommended expert in ophthamology who concurred that waiting till our next furlough (summer 2009) could cause permanent vision problems. We decided that Lesa would take Sydney, leaving Andy and the boys at home, so they could continue to work and to attend school.
They will be in the Dulles (VA) area the weekends of the 3rd and the 17th, and will be in Kansas with Lesa’s family in between for the surgery and recovery. They are looking forward to connecting with many of you in these places, visiting Dulles Community Church, and having some special time with Lesa’s family.
We have been praying for the right opportunity to purchase a vehicle that is a better fit for our family’s personal and ministry needs. Our current vehicle is a station wagon that seats 5 and we need to drive more people around than just our family when we have visitors and when Lesa is driving around new Short-Term missionaries. We also needed a vehicle to drive outside of Nairobi, where the roads are REALLY bad – an SUV that is made for the type of roads you find in Africa. A vehicle has become available for us to purchase – our friends are willing to sell us their old Land Rover (you can see us with it on our little safari in pictures on our website). It can seat almost double what our current car can seat! We would like to purchase it as a second vehicle, to only use when needed, as our station wagon gets great gas mileage and is much better suited for city driving. In order to get it, we need to raise $7,000 for the purchase and necessary repairs by the end of February. If you would like to give to our vehicle fund, click here. Type in our name, select “project” and enter “Vehicle” as the project name.
- Please pray for the still volatile situation here across Kenya, for our new Kenyan friends who are all affected by this, for the Kenyan church that it would be a light in this darkness, and for the leaders who need to come to a solution quickly. Thousands of Kenyans have lost possessions, homes, and loved ones in this senseless violence.
- Please pray for safe travel for Lesa and Sydney, for a successful surgery and recovery for Sydney, and for the guys and they stay in Nairobi for 20 days without Mom.
- Please pray for our family and other missionaries as this past month has been extremely stressful. All of the missionaries are feeling the strain of grieving the loss of this once peaceful country, concern for the Kenyan friends, and concern for their own family’s safety.
- Please pray for our ministries here – OFM, Short-Term missionaries, and our efforts to help our Kenyan friends and neighbors – that they would be able to continue, to bless others, and to bring glory to God.
Wow… sorry again for the long email. We just had so many things in the past month we had to talk about, and many more that didn’t fit on the page. We just wanted to close with saying despite the situation here, we are confident God has us (and other missionaries) here because we are needed. Maybe the things we are needed for are not part of our official assignment with the organization, but we feel confident that when times are tough, that is exactly when we are needed here the most. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be here and serve this country.
In Christ’s love,
Andy, Lesa, Robbie, Avery, Sydney