This blog is a little later than usual, as we will explain below.
Since we last wrote, members of the Tumaini team have returned from various travels and briefly the whole team has been together – but only briefly because several of us are or will be off travelling again to various conferences – in Chad, Tanzania and Madagascar this month.
We have just welcomed the return of a Canadian counsellor who has been back home for about a year, and a week ago we met with a new Chinese American psychologist who is going to join the Tumaini team after her orientation and language training. This will bring us to 10 people, from 6 nationalities. However two or maybe three will be retiring or leaving in 2015; comings and going seem to be the norm in missionary life!
The Tumaini Office Manager, Doreen, got married on the 11th October, so we were delighted to attend her wedding – here are some pictures (but the videos of us dancing are unavailable at this time!)
Since the last blog, we two English tutors have divided our students into two groups with Susie teaching those doing Masters’ courses and I have the privilege of teaching pastors’ wives at intermediate level. At the moment, my group comprises women from Kenya, Tanzania, DRC, Burundi and South Sudan. Their common language is English and they need to improve so they can support their husbands in their future work as church leaders in Africa. It is a pleasure to teach these women and to use English for discipleship too.
AIM Tanzania conference
We have just attended an AIM conference in Dar es Salaam – our first trip out of Kenya, and I was delighted that Barbara could come too. It has been great to meet many of the ~100 AIM missionaries working in various parts of Tanzania. The main conference speaker was Rev Nigel Styles (from the UK no less), teaching through 1 Thessalonians on ’standing firm as a Christian’. I presented a workshop on managing change & transitions, which looked at both psychological insights and at character of Jesus, our Good Shepherd who leads us through all changes and seasons in life. I also offered quite a few counselling sessions for those who cannot easily get to Tumaini. So all in all it proved a very busy time, but also a time of much blessing.
We were struck by the very remote and challenging environments where many of these missionaries live and work. I have been known to grumble that the internet is slow, but there are many for whom cooking a meal involves growing the food, killing the chicken (on special occasions), making your own charcoal fire, fetching the water and waiting for it to boil in order to purify it, and then beginning to cook… For them ‘just living’ is a full-time job.
As a representative from Tumaini goes to every AIM regional conference, our diaries are punctuated by these visits. At the end of November there is the main AIM Kenya conference, and all the AIM staff from Tumaini will be going; between us we will be giving three presentations and again offering counselling. In February there are two conferences for those working in creative access regions (i.e. where one cannot work openly as a missionary), and we will be leading more workshops and counselling.
We are praying about how to better support people at a distance from Nairobi. Attending conferences where missionaries meet is one way, but we are keen to do more. In a few areas using Skype may work, but usually the internet is not available or doesn’t have sufficient bandwidth. Counselling by email may be feasible in some situations, and I did do some training in this kind of work in 2012, so we are intending to give this a try.
Another strategy is to place Tumaini staff in different parts of Africa, and to this end we have plans to start a small counselling centre in Kampala, Uganda. Please pray that we find suitably qualified staff who are committed to this work. (Any experienced Christian counsellors out there who share our vision?)
Two days in paradise
I am writing this sitting on a white sandy beach, outside a ’banda’ (a grass-roofed bungalow, in this case a luxury one with every amenity!), overlooking the Indian Ocean, 30km South of Dar es Salaam, where we are having two days in paradise – courtesy of all of you who contributed at our leaving party a year ago. Thank you, we have looked forward to this with great anticipation and are now very much enjoying the moment!
Tomorrow we return to Nairobi and so back to work.
Two days later…
We returned home to Nairobi to great excitement – for a washing machine has been installed on the compound, which we can use. Actually it is a very old machine which has been repaired, but still, very exciting!
[A delicate issue carefully resolved: how does the ‘new’ washing machine not put the young woman, who does washing by hand, out of work? Answer: pay her to look after the machine and put our washing into it etc, hang it out afterwards, etc!]
Postscript: our washing gets stuck in the machine mid-cycle and we cannot retrieve it. Umm. Revert to having Divina wash it by hand, which is much more reliable!
If you are praying kind, please give thanks:
- That the Tumaini team is expanding, and pray for those who have returned or are about to join us.
- For Mark being able to speak and counsel at the AIM Tanzania conference.
- For a wonderful 2-day break at the beach.
And please pray:
- For us to have a more disciplined prayer-life together.
- For the ongoing work of Tumaini in ministering to missionaries.
- For the right staff to be found for the proposed Tumaini base in Kampala.
- That Barbara would teach well and that this will continue to encourage those she teaches.
- That we will continue to make progress in Kiswahili.