Habari zenu! We decided it was about time for a new update – and there’s so much to tell! Yesterday was Avery’s 6th birthday and we had 20 people here for cake and an awesome water balloon fight (which felt great in the current heat)! We’re in the dog days of summer here, the hottest we’ve been since we arrived in Kenya 8 months ago. Still, it’s nothing like the humid summers we had in the US, more like a hot day in May in Denver, where it is still cool at night and you might wake up chilly if you sleep with your window open. Oh, and speaking of heat, remember that vacation to Mombasa that we had to cancel in January? Well, we’re finally going to make that up, when Andy’s parents come to visit in 2 weeks!
Situation in Kenya
We’ve got some very uplifting news to share with you. Last Friday Kofi Annan successfully negotiated a peace agreement between Kibaki’s PNU party and Raila’s ODM party. Kenyans have been celebrating and things seem to have cooled off tremendously since January. Kibaki will remain President, and Raila will fill a new post of Prime Minister. There’s obviously a great deal of work to do to figure out how that is going to work exactly and they are continuing to meet to work on some other issues which Annan wants to address. Overall, it seems to be promising at this point. There are still many displaced people throughout the country, though, which is a crisis that many churches and organizations, including AIM, are trying to address.
Travels and Medical Updates
We had a joyful reunion 2 weeks ago when an exhausted Lesa & Sydney arrived back in Nairobi after 3 weeks in the US for Sydney’s surgery. They had an amazing time of visiting with friends and family, visiting our church in Virginia, and doing lots of shopping for supplies to bring back here. Lesa didn’t waste a single moment, trying to see, hug, and talk with everyone within a three hundred-mile radius, though she knows there are many whom she did not get to see as there simply wasn’t enough time to do it all. So, when we come back for a 4 month visit to the States in the summer of 2009, we will be able to visit everyone without being rushed.
Sydney’s surgery was successful. The dr. was pleased with the outcome. We have to have her wear an eye patch on one of her eyes everyday, to strengthen it and hopefully get them both centered all the time. There is a small chance that she will have to have another surgery some day, but it will be a while till we know if that will be necessary. Avery has gotten his cast off of his arm and we’re hoping he doesn’t break it again (like he did last time). Also, Lesa will be having surgery on her wrist in April. She has a badly inflamed tendon that extends from her thumb up the side of her wrist – she had surgery for the same thing on the other hand back in high school. Unfortunately, she isn’t hardly able to use the hand for many everyday tasks now, depending on how the hand must turn to perform the tasks (like turning a key in a lock). The praise is that there is a visiting hand surgeon in the area right now, who looked at it and offered to do the surgery. Isn’t God amazing?!
On-Field Media news
My (Andy’s) team has been busying capturing the stories across Kenya of the body of Christ at work during the crisis in the past few months, while more international projects for the team have been coming in. Next week, Ted and I will be heading to a creative-access nation, working with a TIMO team, some medical missions, and doing some videos about local people groups there.
Also on the horizon in the next few months are trips to Mozambique, Rwanda, and another creative-access nation. Please be in prayer for a very significant upcoming multi-organization project OFM has been asked to do. We can’t tell you any details, but let’s just say it’s very exciting that our team has been chosen to do this and we all need to be praying that the effects will be far reaching, as it is a country with great spiritual and physical need. Check our website every once in a while for more details, and for post-trip stories and media.
We are sad to see one of our OFM team members leaving the field this week. Mike DeLorenzo and his family will be returning to the States to be with his parents, as his dad has been recently diagnosed with advanced leukemia. Mike and Ted were the ones who first proposed the existance of the OFM Team, and Mike and his wife, Renee, were the ones we met (back in April ’06) and who told us about the possibility of Andy joining the team. Our family will truly miss their friendship.
Short-Term Missions Program
My (Lesa’s) responsibilities are increasing as my new role in the Short-Term program already expanded to also include Orientation for new Full-Term missionaries in our division (International Services). This means that after anyone who is new to I.S. (pilots, mechanics, counselors, computer people, media people, etc. and their families) attends the more general orientation school (ABO) they then will come to Nairobi to be taken through a more location-specific orientation process by me (and hopefully other people I can get to help me)! My first short-term folks came in January, and I have been having a great time getting to know them and helping them get settled in. We’ve started a “Short-Termers’ Fellowship” group that meets every other week at our house for worship, prayer, Bible study, and fun. It’s been a great way for the ministry to involve Andy – and of course he keeps things fun! Right now I’m enjoying working on updating and revising the Short-Term and Full-Term orientation programs. I feel so blessed to be able to have the chance to come alongside new missionaries in their struggles of starting a new life and to help them not only learn to survive here, but to thrive and to grow to love Kenya and the Kenyan people.
An update on the Land Rover.. we have committed to buy a 1970’s era Land Rover from friends, the DeLorenzo’s, whom we mentioned are leaving the field this week. We had been praying for a vehicle to be available that would allow us to transport more people than just our family for when we have visitors and for Lesa to drive around short-termers, (who typically don’t have cars). It will also enable us to drive out of the city (the roads are REALLY bad) instead of trashing our little station wagon. At this point, we have raised $2750 – thank you so much to all who have given towards this! We have $4250 more to go and our goal is to raise the rest quickly so we can pay them for their Land Rover and they can buy a car when they get to the States! If you are interested in giving to our vehicle fund, you can donate on-line. Just click here and type in our name, select “project” and enter “Vehicle” as the project name. Thank you!
As if life was in any danger of getting dull here, we received yet another shocking bit of news last week. Our landlord wants his house back and we have to be out in April. Honestly, we have really felt a bit under attack here in the past couple of months with health issues and financial issues (hospital bills, waiting on reimbursements) and the political tensions. So, getting kicked out of the house we just moved into at Christmas has been the icing on the cake.
According to a well known and respected missionary psychiatrist (who also happens to be a beloved uncle here in Nairobi), many 1st term missionaries have horror stories like this, as if all the cards stack up against new missionaries to make them not want to come back for a 2nd term. We are trying to recognize the spiritual battle going on here, and not be discouraged. We know that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. And we will not be blown off-course.
We’re currently assessing other housing options and timing issues with when to move. Please pray for all these details to be worked out without causing more stress.
One of the things that completely overwhelmed me (Lesa) when I was back in the States was how many people I saw whom I knew had been faithfully supporting us financially and/or through prayer. I got to speak briefly with one family who told me that their daughter prays for us faithfully every single night. I wanted to express to her, (but didn’t come near to being able to say it well) and to everyone how humbled we are by this kind of love and support. I so desperately wanted to spend hours with each person, showing you at least some of that love in return. Getting to see so many of the faces of our supporters just made it that more real to me, that you are the ones who are sacrificing continually for a ministry you may never get to see first-hand. That takes great faith, and we truly admire your faith and we rely on it – this is the Body of Christ in action! You are doing a work that will go unseen (except for by us) and that deeply pleases the heart of God. We know that the Lord, who knows your heart, will reward you for this great encouragement to us. Thank you, each one of you. We love you!
-the brown family