Brown Family Update – Dec 2011

In this update:

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Robbie, Sydney, Avery on Christmas Eve

Holiday Greetings from Africa! We hope you all have had a joyful Christmas holiday and are able to spend this time slowing down, enjoying friends and family, and celebrating the incarnation of God into our world. We have certainly been using this past week to unwind and take a deep breath – our lives have literally slowed down to a halt the past few days, which has been quite lovely. Its been a full semester of activities and ministry for the whole family and we wanted to fill you in on what’s been going on with us and what is coming up. We thought we’d give more details than usual, just in case you’re interested/have some time to read! We really wanted to give you a picture of our everyday lives here in Kenya!

Andy and Lesa

Just when we think our ministry here in Kenya couldn’t be better, He refines it even further to fit who we are.

As you all well know, we tend live life at a high level of activity. Over time, we’ve begun to understand that this is how God has uniquely made us and called us to serve His people. So we don’t feel overwhelmed at all that God has us doing right now, in fact we see everything as opportunities to serve with the gifts, experience and passion that has all come from Him. Just when we think our ministry here in Kenya couldn’t be better, He refines it even further to fit who we are. Of course, it is always our challenge to balance ministry, family, and time to just BE. We see that challenge as part of His calling for our life and we look to Him for the grace and strength to fulfill our calling. So, here’s what He’s been doing in with us:

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Andy on location in Madagascar

OFM: It’s been a busy semester for Andy, with a production trip to Madagascar, a 2 week trip to the US for a film festival in DC, and our latest short film that gathered more than 25,000 views and international news coverage. It’s quite humbling and occasionally frightening to be breaking new ground in frontier mission work with our films. But we trust strongly in God’s plan, and are thrilled to be entrusted with such a role in His kingdom. If you haven’t seen or heard of this latest film, please email me and I’d be glad to share it with you.

Andy and Lesa leading worship at ICF

CHURCH: Lesa and I continue to lead worship and coordinate the other worship teams at our church, International Christian Fellowship, which continues to grow and has reached our seating capacity. Please pray for Andy as an elder, as we seek how to shepherd an increasing number of new people, and how to either add a service or a second campus to our entirely volunteer-led church.

LESA’S WORK: My job changed a bit this year: I now am the Director of Music (choral and worship) and Theatre for the high school and I am helping to lead all the Fine Arts at the school (we have 8 Fine Arts teachers total for K-12).

Lesa directs "I Go To The Rock" - click to watch!

This semester the high school Drama Department put on the play, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the Vocal Music Department had two concerts in which I directed Rosslyn Singers (our auditioned choral ensemble of 35 high school students). I taught two other classes this semester as well: Introduction to Theatre and Worship 2 class, and directed the chapel Worship Teams and a new Drama Ministry Team, which devises its own student-written material for chapel. Next semester we will produce The Sound of Music in April, will have 3 choir concerts, and I’ll be teaching an Acting class and Worship 1 class.

It would all mean nothing of course if it weren’t in the context of discipling teens in their faith and mentoring them as artists and leaders.

In two weeks I’ll be leading, along with two other sponsors, a group of 18 amazing seniors to Olepishet, the Maasai village where Andy and I do development work. This will be my third time taking a high school group there and I know it will be a great experience for them. Be watching for photos and an update on the trip, what work projects we’ll be doing there, and the changed lives of students as a result of the relationships they will build with this incredible community. This is my 4th year at the school, and so have built some strong relationships with the students, walking with them through hard times, and building lots of great memories together. This is an everyday privilege and I sometimes have to pinch myself – its a dream come true!

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Enjoying the view from our Land Cruiser roofrack

HOME: It’s important to both of us to leave work at work – so our work days are quite full and then we come home, switch hats, and keep going! Thankfully, so much of what Lesa does in drama and music actually includes Andy and the kids, so the productions and concerts are often a family affair! As you will read below, we have three great kids and being mom to them is a joy and an adventure! As you’ll see, we’re reaching the phase of life where our kids’ activities are increasing, so we’re finding out a bit about the whole taxi-ing thing from one activity to the next. Thankfully, most of their activities all take place on the school campus – as they attend the same school where Lesa teaches.  We are also learning about being the parents of a teenager now. Of course, we’re in denial about the fact that we’re even old enough to have a teenage child, though! As you probably know, we are in our 6th house in Kenya and have been working on making it a home (though somewhat tentatively, because we never know when we’ll have to move again). We do love our newest home, though. God has provided abundantly. We are within walking distance of the school and have neighbors who are great friends.

GRAD SCHOOL: Finally, I (Lesa) am two semesters away from finishing my Master’s degree in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado. I’ve learned so much about theatre AND teaching and I can’t imagine how I taught anything before I took these classes! I will be working on my thesis over the next year and hopefully will graduate in December 2012! My thesis will focus on drama programs in the international school context. Maybe, if its good enough I’ll post it on our website… just in case you were bored and wanted a little light reading! 🙂 We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us financially with the school bills. You have truly made a difference in my life and the lives of my students who I’m training for a lifetime of using their gifts and serving throughout the world.

Robbie

Robbie vs the Volcano - click to watch!

Robbie is 13 years old now, in 7th grade and is really starting to shine in his gifts and interests, which are many. He is quite a talented trombone player. He’s first chair in the 7th/8th grade band and will play as one of two trombone players for the high school production of The Sound of Music in April! He is taking private trombone lessons from a man who has his master’s degree from Juliard and obviously we are thrilled for this opportunity out here in Kenya! He ran track this year for the first time and had a few track meets around Nairobi and one overnight meet out in Kenya somewhere! 🙂 He has been learning to do tech for various events in the theatre – running the spotlight for our last high school play and for the recent all-school talent show. He has six different roles in the upcoming middle school play, 30 Reasons Not to be in a Play.He is the Publicity Crew Manager for the play, as well, and has plans for some videos he’ll be making to advertise the play. He does very well in school and is very disciplined to do his homework and practice his trombone every day (we’re not exactly sure where he got this self-discipline – certainly not from us!). His biggest interest right now, though, is in writing. He is typically found in our household either with his nose in a book or on the computer, writing on one of a few novels he is currently working on. He’s quite serious about it and we’re excited to see how God will use all of these creative and technical talents in the future! Finally, he and Andy took an epic trip last week – climbing Mt. Kenya, a 16,500 foot peak. It was a few months late – a sort of “rite of passage” for his 13th birthday. Check out the video Robbie made about the climb!

Avery

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Avery and his first cast in 2 years

Avery is turning 10 soon, is in 4th grade, and, as you may have heard, has another broken arm. Yes, it’s his 4th broken arm! How did he do it this time, you are probably wondering?! Answer: doing a back-flip off a swing at recess, surrounded by the entire 5th grade class shouting, “Jump! Jump! Jump!”You never know when you wake up in the morning that you’ll end up at the hospital that day with another kid with a broken bone, that’s what Andy and I always say! This is the 8th break between the two boys! It was the worst break yet, so it has actually slowed him down a bit… but not too much. This boy is like his brother in that he is very creative, but in a different way. Avery is constantly building something. Often it’s Legos, but more often than that it is with junk that he has found around the house or outside. It is a normal sound to hear him hammering outside or dragging pieces of wood around the yard. He usually is making something with a function, so he is now the family engineer. When Robbie had a recent science project for which he was to build a catapult, we were talking about it at the dinner table. Avery was silent for a moment and then said, “I know how you can build it!” He proceeded to launch into a five-minute, detailed description of exactly how to make a  catapult out of found objects. We all sat there with our jaws on the floor… the kid is smart! He does very well with his studies and finds it quite easy. He has a fantastic teacher (who happens to be married to Sydney’s teacher!) and loves school. He is very observant and helpful: cooking with me in the kitchen, finding lost stuff, helping Sydney with whatever she is trying to do, helping a babysitter know what to do, etc. Avery takes piano lessons and also plays inter-mural sports every chance he gets. So far this year he has participated in soccer (football, as its called here!) and softball. His favorite sport, though, is running. The most important day of the year for him is Sports Day, which is coming up on January 21st. Last year he won every running event he was in! Watch for the video of this year’s event (and pray that his cast is off by then!!) He full of energy and is truly a joy!

Sydney

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Sydney, cute as ever

Sydney is 7 years old and in 1st grade. We can hardly believe how big she is getting – she was only 2 when we moved to Kenya! Her strongest characteristic is still her personality. I often hear, “Oh, you’re Sydney’s mom!” from people who have taught her in Sunday School or substituted in her class. She is friendly, active, enthusiastic, bubbly, and bright. She thinks she owns all of my students, and therefore pretty much knows every high school student on campus – and they, of course, know her. She’s starting to read more and more (took her a while, because socializing was always more important!) and loves her class and her teacher. She is also beginning to shine in her gifts and interests. Last year she took ballet from one of my students and really loved it. All summer she fervently prayed for a ballet teacher to come, since my student had graduated. Not surprisingly, in answer to her prayer, an official ballet studio (The Royal Ballet Academy!) was opened up in August near our house, and so she has begun “official” ballet classes. This is in the British system of dance, so at the end of each term they have to do an exam in order to move on to the next level. This next term will be the first time she will do an exam. We are amazed this opportunity has come up because we really wanted her to take dance but had figured it just wouldn’t happen here in Nairobi. It is a constant reminder that God is a big God and can do anything! She is also taking piano lessons and is really starting to take off with it. She has begun to do a lot of playing worship songs by ear, which thrills her parents, of course!

Year-End Giving and Support Status

Reminder:

Dec 31st postmark

for 2011 tax deduction

Give here:

It is always part of the challenge of living in Africa as missionaries that we have to trust God for our finances. Though sometimes we let ourselves get worried, He shows us over and over again that He will provide. We have no doubt that He will do so again. The world economy, as you know, has been crazy. The rising costs of fuel, food, and utilities affect us just like it does you. It is hard for us to have to ask our supporters to continue to give and to consider giving more, when we know that you are also tightening your belts. Nevertheless, we know that it is part of how God does His kingdom work and we trust that if He calls you to give to missions, He will also provide for you abundantly. We are currently very under-supported and our funds our dwindling. We need new monthly supporters and we need large gifts in order to continue our work here. We have a furlough next summer (see below) where we will hopefully gain new supporters and churches. For now, we are asking if you would prayerfully consider giving a year-end gift (post-marked by December 31st for your own tax purposes) and/or beginning to support us monthly in 2012, if you aren’t already. It is solely through friends and family like you that we are able to stay here and continue the work God has for us. It is a sacrifice for you, we know, and we are so humbled and grateful for all of you that give so faithfully. OH, in case you didn’t know, our mission has moved its head-quarters to Peachtree City, Georgia.

Next Summer

We are currently working on our schedule for next summer, when we’ll be in the States for furlough. We plan on visiting all of our churches and trying to see as many of our individual supporters as possible. We’ll let you know the specifics as soon as we know it, but at this point the rough plan is to start in Virginia, travel our way south, and then over to the mid-West. We’ll end up in Michigan at the end of July for a wedding. Then, back to Kenya for the start of the school year at the beginning of August!

In Christ,

Andy, Lesa, Robbie, Avery, and Sydney

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