- Duncan Olumbe"
January 2013Jambo" from Kenya!
By the grace of God, we made it. What a privilege it is to write this update from the continent the Lord has brought us to serve! For nearly a month now, we have been in Machakos, Kenya going through our Africa Based Orientation (ABO) from AIM. It is a time devoted to training and adjustment to life in Africa. We have learned much and realized how much more we have to learn!
Our Time of Training
The past three weeks have been a challenge. Each day, we held a morning devotion session before spending about 6 hours in lecture and discussion on different aspects of African ministry and culture. This time was split up by lunch and tea breaks (thank God for chai!). Our topics of discussion included African culture and values, development work, security training, children's matters, HIV/AIDS and health, spiritual warfare, Islam, ethnomusicology, and cross-cultural communication. The food we were served seemed also designed to quickly adapt us to African meals - little variety, staple items (rice, noodles, or a cornmeal called "ugali"), simple meats, a few vegetables. Though hard for us all, the food was particularly unkind to Abby with her pregnancy tastes. The setting of our training was Scott Christian University, where we were able to interact with students from all across Africa and begin to observe church ministry in this context.
An African Worldview
Maybe the most fascinating and mind-boggling aspect of our training was a study of the African worldview. Our instructor was a Kenyan pastor who has studied in the UK and led orientation courses for missionaries of several different organizations. Every session raised more questions in our minds and provided answers we would have spent years trying to understand. The gap between our western mindset and theirs is truly immense, not to mention the Christian/pagan differential! The challenges presented in this training made us (and every other missionary we asked) feel very inadequate to the task. The work that must be done to produce true disciples will be something that only God could do through us. We are now more than ever reliant upon Him!Our Family...
...has been adjusting well to our new life here in Africa. There are certainly challenges we are facing in this culture. The length of church services and the lack of children's ministry or nursery makes it hard for Kyle to sit through Sundays. We try to bring coloring books, cars, toy animals, or the iPod to keep him occupied. But these things only keep him for a time, because the other children often take them away. Possessions here are seen largely as communal and meant to be shared. Personal space is not recognized at all and Kyle eventually gets tired of being crowded, carried, and touched. The food, as mentioned, is hard on Abby and has messed up Kyle's stomach a few times. I (Jonathan) had an especially hard time leaving the other missionaries at the end of ABO. But all in all, I feel we are adapting well. Our spirits are high and we were surprised at the ability we've had to keep in contact with our families back home during this time. The internet is unreliable here and very slow, but most days at Scott we've been able to post on Facebook and use Skype to contact home. We've been encouraged by all of you who have followed us on Facebook and kept up with our journey here. We are happy to be able to share it!
...have been changing quite often concerning our next few months, because our team leader, Chris, has had some significant health problems in the past weeks. Please pray for his strength and recovery and for his wife and six children as they hope to see him well again soon. Doctors are still unsure about exactly what has happened. Our plans, then are to move to Lesotho on February 11th, where we will immediately do a 3-week village stay with a Basuto family, a pastor who lives in Maphutseng, to immerse us in the language and culture we will be learning. After that time, we will live in Maseru, the capital city, until Baby Ellee is born. Abby plans to deliver at a hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa, possibly. Sometime around late June we would then move east to Mokhotlong and settle down to minister there for the next few years.
Thank You All...
...for the sacrifices you've made to get us here. We realize more and more what an amazing team of support the Lord has put together for us. You encourage us by your words and your prayers. We love you and pray for you individually. Now it's on to South Africa!
- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair