What we are getting up to in Nairobi

So, we’ve been back just over a week already and are just settling back into the swing of things.  On arrival last Monday, we went straight into the Kenyan Vineyard Release conference which lasted until Friday.  Mark was needed from the minute we arrived (didn’t even come home from the airport), whereas Zachari and I just went up to visit after having a day at home to recover from the flight.  People from Vineyard churches all over Kenya attended as did many representatives from overseas including UK, US, South Africa.  There was great teaching, worship, food, fellowship and dancing (in true African form), and a great time was had by all celebrating with us.

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We had a lovely time recharging our batteries whilst at home and it was great to catch up with so many of you (both friends and family) and also to attend the New Wine conference, but, it is now good to be back ‘home’ and getting back into the swing of things.  In general we have settled back in well, although we are very much missing a number of close friends who had left Kenya in the recent months.  The biggest adjustment I have found has surprisingly been in driving around.  During this home visit I was blessed to have had the loan of a car and had enjoyed driving around in a very orderly and organised system.  On our return I have been shocked, all over again, at the driving system here.  During Zachari and I’s first journey back I was reminded of the dangers that the roads hold. 

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Where on one hand you have the beauty of the scenery (I was driving out of Nairobi itself at the time),  and the wildlife around (we saw a herd of Zebra and a dead hyena on the side of the road) there is the crazy system, or lack of system.  Where there are no such rules as undertaking, flashing doesn’t mean ‘I’m letting you go’ but totally the opposite ‘I’m coming through no matter what’; people run out in front of the car to cross the road, if traffic is bad (which is nearly always is) three lanes quickly becomes six and a total free for all, and if it gets too bad (which it did last week) people decide to cross the central reservation and try on the other side of the highway going the opposite way to the traffic, where traffic lights are made to be ignored, and no one gives way at a roundabout, where drink driving is accepted and driving in the dark when your lights don’t work is the norm, and meanwhile police are scattered all along the roads totally ignoring crazy drivers but pulling over matatu’s (public transport in the form of mini vans), lorries and cars in order to get a bribe. Anyway, you get the picture, and basically the purpose of me going into this is to ask you to please pray for safety on the roads for us all as we travel around on a daily basis.  This last week I have heard about a girl that I went to school with who was working with a charity in Zambia and was killed in a road accident and it just reminded me again of the danger of the roads.  So please join with us in praying for travelling mercies as we go about our daily business.  Thanks all.x

So, we’ve been back just over a week already and are just settling back into the swing of things.  On arrival last Monday, we went straight into the Kenyan Vineyard Release conference which lasted until Friday.  Mark was needed from the minute we arrived (didn’t even come home from the airport), whereas Zachari and I just went up to visit after having a day at home to recover from the flight.  People from Vineyard churches all over Kenya attended as did many representatives from overseas including UK, US, South Africa.  There was great teaching, worship, food, fellowship and dancing (in true African form), and a great time was had by all celebrating with us.

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We had a lovely time recharging our batteries whilst at home and it was great to catch up with so many of you (both friends and family) and also to attend the New Wine conference, but, it is now good to be back ‘home’ and getting back into the swing of things.  In general we have settled back in well, although we are very much missing a number of close friends who had left Kenya in the recent months.  The biggest adjustment I have found has surprisingly been in driving around.  During this home visit I was blessed to have had the loan of a car and had enjoyed driving around in a very orderly and organised system.  On our return I have been shocked, all over again, at the driving system here.  During Zachari and I’s first journey back I was reminded of the dangers that the roads hold. 

Image

Where on one hand you have the beauty of the scenery (I was driving out of Nairobi itself at the time),  and the wildlife around (we saw a herd of Zebra and a dead hyena on the side of the road) there is the crazy system, or lack of system.  Where there are no such rules as undertaking, flashing doesn’t mean ‘I’m letting you go’ but totally the opposite ‘I’m coming through no matter what’; people run out in front of the car to cross the road, if traffic is bad (which is nearly always is) three lanes quickly becomes six and a total free for all, and if it gets too bad (which it did last week) people decide to cross the central reservation and try on the other side of the highway going the opposite way to the traffic, where traffic lights are made to be ignored, and no one gives way at a roundabout, where drink driving is accepted and driving in the dark when your lights don’t work is the norm, and meanwhile police are scattered all along the roads totally ignoring crazy drivers but pulling over matatu’s (public transport in the form of mini vans), lorries and cars in order to get a bribe. Anyway, you get the picture, and basically the purpose of me going into this is to ask you to please pray for safety on the roads for us all as we travel around on a daily basis.  This last week I have heard about a girl that I went to school with who was working with a charity in Zambia and was killed in a road accident and it just reminded me again of the danger of the roads.  So please join with us in praying for travelling mercies as we go about our daily business.  Thanks all.x

Update on Zachari

One healthy baby boy!

Just thought I’d give you all an update from the medical appointments that Zachari had during our UK stay. The first was an allergy testing appointment, and to be honest was rather ‘alternative’, and although they claimed both he and I were allergic to sugar, we have basically discounted this after speaking to other medical professionals. The second, and most important appointment was with a Paediatric consultant and a specialist in allergies. He did a full medical check on Zachari and we were thrilled that he appears to be totally healthy. He advised to keep Zac off dairy for his first year and then gradually introduce it to his diet from then on, monitoring any negative effects and seeking further medical advise if necessary at that point. However, he felt that the lactose intolerance/allergy to milk (we’re not 100% certain which it is) should wear off with time and as Zachari’s digestive system matures! So good news all around. As many of you know, one of Zachari’s symptoms had been quite excessive constipation and ever since that appointment with the doctor he’s been a ‘at least one poo a day boy’! Thank you all so much for your prayers on his behalf.

With the birth of Baby boy Davies so imminent now, I thought I’d just share with you all a small part of the journey we have been on waiting for this very special baby to come.

Mark and I had decided that we wanted to start a family back over 3 and a half years ago, but God had other, better plans! We recognise that if we had fallen pregnant back when we were in the U.K. we may never have ended up following the calling to come to Kenya, which is definitely the place that God wants to use us for the present season of life. We also recognise that in His perfect timing, that if we had fallen pregnant too early on during our time here, we may also have been too nervous to remain here, and it may have caused us to come home prematurely.

Despite knowing that it was all in God’s hands and timing, didn’t make it any easier for us as we wondered whether there was something medically wrong and whether we were ever going to become parents naturally. We had just got to the point last year that we were going to follow it up with tests etc at the hospital and see where it would lead, and had an appointment booked in for the very beginning of July.

At the end of May last year, whilst good friends of ours were here visiting, we were in a Sunday morning service and the pastor ‘encouraged’ us, and the whole congregation, to enter our prayer requests to what is known as ‘Pray 10’. In our church here there are voluntary intercessors who commit to praying for 10 people in the congregation for a few months at a time – prayer requests can be entered at any time, and it ensures that the whole congregation is getting prayed for on a daily basis. It is such a fantastic idea, but up until that point, I had never entered a personal request. That day I wrote a short request briefly explaining the situation and asking for prayer.

At the end of June we found out that we were expecting Baby (boy) Davies, and our early July appointment turned into our first (6 week scan) where we got to see our ‘dot’ on the screen and hear his heartbeat! Without giving too much information, when working back our dates, we had conceived within two weeks of submitting that prayer request!

We were also blessed with some really faithful friends and family members who knew our hearts desire and had committed to praying for us during the few months before.

God is absolutely amazing, prayer really works and his timing is absolutely spot on!!!! He knows, He cares and He remembers!

When were first planning on coming to Kenya, nearly two years ago now God really spoke to me through the following bible passage… Psalm 37. At the time it was a real confirmation passage that we were doing the right thing by moving here, and kept reminding me to ‘Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for Him’.  Now it has a whole new meaning added to it as he has also given us the ‘desires of our heart’!

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;

Our son, (it sounds so unbelievable) is due in less than a week now, and we are obviously extremely excited about his arrival. Please join with us in praying for a safe delivery for him (ideally not c-section – both for recovery and health reasons, but also because the whole birth process is expensive enough without the added expense) and that God will continue to keep His hand on this child, and that we, as his parents will be given guidance and wisdom on how to bring him up.

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So… lots of exciting things going on at this end. Sorry for not updating you all sooner!

We are currently in the middle of running the ‘The Reason for God’ course, by Tim Keller, which is a fantastic course designed to equip the church in how to answer the ‘tricky questions’ in a sensitive, gentle, humble and respectful way. Last Saturday 34 of us met together and had a great time discussing some of the difficult topics that come up, e.g. ‘How can you say that there is only one way to God?’ And ‘Hasn’t science disproved Christianity? ‘. This coming Saturday (12th November) is the second half of the course and we will be tackling the tricky topics of ‘Why does God allow suffering?’, ‘Why are Christians such hypocrites?’ and ‘How can God be full of love and wrath at the same time?’ as well as the classic, ‘How can God allow good people to go to hell?’. Please pray for us all as we discuss ways to answer these questions with our friends and acquaintances. For those of you who haven’t come across this material I would very much recommend getting hold of and reading the book, ‘The Reason for God’ by Tim Keller.

‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect’ 1 Peter 3:15

We had a great ‘get together’ the other evening with a team of people who are keen on joining us in reaching out to the local community. We had an amazing time throwing around ideas, planning events and spending time in prayer. We now have a few events planned in the run up to Christmas and would really appreciate your prayers.

Friday 11th November – Go Karting Endurance event. We have 10 teams of 4 people who will race for two hours. It promises to be a great night, but please pray that it won’t rain (being rainy season and all), and that everyone will be keep safe as well as having a great time.
Thursday December 1st or 8th (tbc) – Outdoor Christmas Movie night. We will be watching ‘Elf’ at a great outdoor venue with hotdogs and popcorn etc. This will be a fundraising event for Heshima as well as great place to invite people to.

Wednesday 14th December – Outdoor ‘Carols by Candlelight’ at Karen Blixen grounds. This was a fabulous event last year but we’re going for bigger and better this time. We will have bouncy castles and face painters beforehand whilst families share picnics in the light. As the sun sets we will all light candles and sing traditional carols, as well as having a short ‘Christmas thought’ possibly delivered by Mark. If people want to hang around we will have a live band playing Christmas tunes.

Saturday 24th December – Christmas Eve service – tbc.
Please pray for all these events, that they will run smoothly, that people from the community will attend, and that they would see Jesus in us as we run them. We will also be plugging an Alpha course that will start mid/end January at each event, so please pray that people will be open to this.

A few exciting stories from the last few weeks…
A couple we recently met through an ‘expecting mums’ group in the community have come to church for the last two weeks, totally off their own backs.
Another couple that we have only met a few times enquired the other night whilst we were at dinner when Alpha was starting and could they please join.
And I am going for coffee tomorrow with a lady that has been asking lots of questions. Last time I saw her she mentioned that she didn’t have her own bible so tomorrow I have one for her. Please pray for this time.

Church life…

   Thanks to everyone who made our recent visit home so special. It was so good to get to see so many of you and catch up with what God has been doing in Cardiff and around the UK as well as sharing what He has been doing here in Nairobi, Kenya too. The trip was a particularly special one for us as we were able to share our exciting news with you all, that we are expecting a baby at the end of February next year. God’s timing in all this has been, as ever, amazing, and far from complicating things at this end, it has confirmed to us that our main focus of outreaching to the local community of white settlers and expats, is totally in God’s plan.
    So, what has been happening in the fortnight (has it only been that long??!) since we got back?
As many of you know, over the next year we are going to be mainly focussing on outreaching to the local community – something that God has really laid upon our hearts, and has confirmed over and over again in previous weeks/months.

   Since getting back, we have been starting to put together teams for all the different areas that will be involved in the coming months, making plans for events, courses etc that will be running. The outreach will have 3 separate strands as such. The first strand will be the large community events that we, as a church, put on, e.g. the pub quizzes, salsa nights etc. These provide a place for people within the church to invite their non Christian friends. We always advertise ourselves as being from Karen Vineyard church, and do a mini plug for upcoming events, e.g. alpha course, but there is no ‘secret preach’ and it is just a way of serving the community, letting them know who and where we are. At the moment we are trying to get a good team around us to catch the vision, and run with this alongside us. Last year, due to unavoidable circumstances in many ways, our ‘team’ disintegrated often leaving just Mark and I running events, this is obviously not sustainable apart from not being good in any way. Please pray that we will find the right people to serve alongside us in this.
   The second strand is centred around more relationship building with people on a smaller, more intimate level. I am hoping to start a parents and toddlers/babies group shortly, and we are also trying to ensure that we are getting alongside people within the community as we feel God is leading. It has been so exciting since coming back to see God really open the doors for opportunities in this way… On Tuesday morning of this week I had coffee with a lady that I have mentioned before, called Louise. She is very actively ‘searching’, the conversation easily came around to Christianity and we spent practically a full hour chatting things over. She also mentioned that she has never read the bible, so we will be ensuring that we get her a copy in the next week or so. She has also agreed to come along to the next alpha course being run. Please pray for her, and for wisdom for me as I continue to meet with her. The other day I was also invited along to a new or expecting mums group in the community (just meeting as a once off), and got to meet a few ladies from the community who are all very keen to develop friendships with others, one of whom is coming along to a baby sale with me on the weekend, her name is Suzanne. Many people we seem to be crossing paths with at the moment, seem very interested in why we are here and finding out more about church life and Christianity. A good friend of mine (who I met through a mutual friend), Hannah, is working at one of the local international schools, and she has shown a real interest too, as well as inviting us to some social events at the school where we have been able to get friendly with lots of the teaching staff.  Mark is continuing to go out mountain biking with a local group too, and one of the girls that goes, called Osa, was asking lots of questions last week, and despite claiming to be an atheist, she has also said she’d be interested in coming along to an Alpha course. It was great to be able to organise a social event for all the bikers and partners last week, so we could both get to know them all a little better too. Hopefully this will continue. Please pray that these opportunities will continue to be thrown in our path, that we will not miss any, and that we will be given wisdom as how to know what to say and when to say it!
   The third strand is running Alpha courses or the like. We are actually planning on firstly running a course called ‘The Reason for God’ written by Tim Keller, starting the week of 24th October. This course is actually to empower and hopefully really inspire people within the church on how to evangelise to others, and to equip them in answering those difficult questions, e.g. ‘How can you say there is only one way to God?, Why does God allow suffering? Why is the church responsible for so much injustice? How can a good God send good people to Hell? As Tim Keller puts it, the aim is ‘to become conversant with ways to sensitively, gently, humbly and respectfully talk about the objections – whether in the context of a friendship or a group setting’. There will then be a huge push within the church, and also at all the upcoming community events, over the next few months in preparation for an Alpha course to start in January. As you all know this will be running over the time that the baby is due, so we once again, are praying and looking for a strong team to support us in this.
   Whilst we were home, in our last service at Cardiff Vineyard Church (our home church), I was reminded through both the worship and sermon, that GOD must remain our top priority – something we all KNOW. I am someone who enjoys, and even thrives from, being very busy, and I find that I often need to be reminded that it is God’s will, and spending time with Him and seeking his will, that is the most important thing, and not what ‘ministries’ (for the sake of finding a better word) that we are busy doing.  Since coming back, I have already been reminded of this at several different times, including coming across the quote “The goal of the missionary (or any christian) is to do God’s will, not to be useful or to win the lost. A missionary (Christian) IS useful and he DOES win the lost, but that is not his goal. His goal is to do the will of his Lord.” Oswald Chambers. And then the verse that stuck out to me yesterday in my quiet time was ‘Look to the LORD and his strength. Seek his face ALWAYS.’ I Chron 16:11.

Please pray that for both of us, we won’t get lost in ‘doing the stuff’ that we are too busy to hear God’s guidance for exactly what his plan is, and then end up doing what we think is God’s will but trying to do it in our own strength.

So back to a running start with Heshima and Dignity Designs. As always there is never a quiet week, and so much has been going on since we arrived back (plus whilst we were back home).

Exciting news… Nelly, our head teacher is going back to college to do a diploma in Special Educational needs on a part time basis – this will really help her and the children. She is at present footing the majority of the cost of the course herself (approx £400 for the year), which is actually a large amount of money at this end. If anyone wanted to make a donation to Nelly in regard to this please let me know.

I have, as mentioned whilst we were back home, trying to reign in the amount of time spent at Heshima, as the idea was always to train and empower the existing staff rather than doing myself. I am now in a position where I can go in on a Monday afternoon for a staff meeting and then on a Wednesday afternoon in order to ensure trips off sight are still going ahead for the children. In addition to this I am ending up spending a fair few hours with both the children and helping out in Dignity Designs (jewellery microfinance), particularly with the number of craft fairs we will be selling at over the next few months. If anyone was interested in doing their own Christmas jewellery sale in the UK, there is jewellery at home, or I can get some to you… email or facebook me if you would like more information. All of the money raised goes straight back into the project, to provide wages for the mums, food, clothes and medical provision, specialist equipment and support therapy for the children. There are also greetings cards available in the UK, that have been designed by Kenyan children in an attempt to raise more funds for Heshima. If you are interested please let me know and I will put you in contact with the wonderful Linda Amos who is printing and distributing them.

As most of you know we are also in the process of building a new site for Heshima. The existing building is on the outskirts of the slum, and although has served its purpose well until now, we have outgrown the facitility by far. At present we are managing to support 16 children, but we are at total capacity and have another 4 on the waiting list. The need here for children with Special Educational Needs is huge, so with the new building, which is in a better location for people to come, we will (once it is completely finished) have space for 70 children!!! What a huge difference!!
We have also recently come up with a sponsorship programme of the children in our care, so please let me know if you are interested in finding out more. You can learn more about our individual children on our website at http://www.heshima.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71&Itemid=98
If you are on facebook and would like regular updates and prayer requests regarding Heshima, please ‘like’ the page https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.239155357306.147652.697712306&type=1#!/pages/Heshima-Childrens-Center/117201841656386

Prayer requests for Heshima:

- Felix, one of our little ones with severe autism, has been suffering from seizures over the last few weeks, and is scheduled in for an MRI in the next week or so.  Please pray for him, and the people who care for him.  He was beginning to show huge progress in the recent weeks, including making some eye contact and responding in simple play situations. 

- We have just applied for 3 grants at this end to help with the funding of the new building work.  They are all substantial amount of money (totalling to approx $20,000) so please pray that these will come through. 

- We have also been given a huge opportunity by WALMART in the U.S. who have offered to look take 6 of 20 of our best sellers from Dignity Designs, to look at, and hopefully begin to stock.  Please pray that they will be happy with the stock, that it will sell well and that they will be keen to continue to stock our produce.

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