From a distance…

Barbara

Barbara – on holiday in Norfolk

It was a beautiful summer here in the UK, but we are now well into the season of Autumn, and enjoying the rich reds, oranges, yellows and browns of the falling leaves. We continue to live in ‘the barn’ and are very grateful to God for His provision here (via some wonderful church friends!). And we did have a nice break in Norfolk for a week at the end of September – some pictures attached. However, life continues to be very difficult for members of our family, and they need ongoing support.

A lot has happened over the last few weeks, as you will see as you read on.

Mark - blackberrying

Mark – blackberrying

Barbara’s mother decided to go into a care home towards the end of August, and we helped her move into an excellent care home.  We had hoped that she might be happy to stay there, but unfortunately, she has consistently said that she wants to go back to her own home, even though all the family think that she has become rather too frail to live there safely, even with carers coming in. Her ability to live back at home with carers has been assessed by Social Services, and it looks as if she’ll be returning home once a care package is in place. We would value your prayers for the best outcome for her wellbeing. If she does indeed go home, it will involve us preparing the house for her to live there as safely as possible, and we worry that she will fall again and end up back in hospital, as happened three times before she moved to the care home.

Enjoying a walk with our grandchildren

Enjoying a walk with our grandchildren

The circumstances surrounding other members of our family continue to unfold and be difficult. However, we are still trusting in God to accomplish what cannot be done in human strength and to continue to bring good out of these troubles. By God’s grace, we continue to offer them our support.

Tumaini

Mark has been able to continue working part-time for Tumaini, and remains the Clinical Team Leader, albeit from a distance. There are certainly tasks that cannot be done from the UK, but some of the administration, budgeting and planning can be done from here. We have gone a long way to clarifying the roles that Mark can fulfil, and those that do need to be done in Nairobi and Kampala.

With reasonable internet connections, we are able to not just communicate frequently by email, but to regularly ‘meet’ and talk online.

As the circumstances surrounding our family have unfolded, we have become clear that we need to remain based in the UK for the future.  So, we are now in discussions with Africa Inland Mission about whether Mark can continue to work for Tumaini from a distance, and how this might work in practice.  We hope to be able to formalise this within the next couple of months.

We had originally intended to be in Kenya from May 2016 until August 2017, but as far as we are concerned, this new arrangement could continue as long as it is useful.

Please pray for the Tumaini team and ourselves as we adjust to these changed plans, and for clarity over my continued involvement.

New clinical staff!

The Tumaini team

The Tumaini team

Great news!  A new Swedish counsellor has just joined the team in Nairobi, and a recently licensed counsellor from the US has just flown to Kampala with his family to start work at Tumaini Kampala in the New Year. Please pray for both these new counsellors as they settle into living in Africa and begin to join the team.

Moreover, a therapist who currently works in a ‘creative access’ situation in Africa is interested in offering some time to Tumaini from her current location. This is exciting, but presents numerous logistical challenges to protect her security.  Please pray that a way forward can be found, if this is God’s will.

Please continue to pray for God to send new people to join the team – they are losing two other counsellors at the moment, in addition to myself, so even with these new-comers starting, they are still short staffed and the need is great!

The residential counselling programme run at Tumaini in August went very well, and we were blessed by two therapists from the US who joined us short-term to help with leading the programme. The feedback we received from the participants was good, and we hope to run this programme again in 2017.

 

In connection with our changed plans, it looks very likely that we will continue to live in ‘the barn’ until August 2017 when we were originally due to finally return from Kenya and can return to our own home. We are so grateful for God’s provision of a place to stay.

 

Please pray with us

For praise:

  • That Mark has been able to continue working part-time for Tumaini from the UK
  • For the two new counsellors joining the Tumaini team
  • That God has been faithful in providing us with a place to live

For prayer:

  • For the discussions with Africa Inland Mission over Mark’s future role with Tumaini
  • Further staff to be called to work at Tumaini, both in Nairobi and Kampala
  • For discussions with the therapist working in a creative access situation, to see if this is feasible – for her, for Tumaini, and for potential missionary clients.
  • For us as we continue to support family as they go through very difficult times.

 

Comma butterfly

Comma butterfly

And finally, our bug of the month, a beautiful comma butterfly, snapped in the local countryside a month or two ago.

Unfamiliar paths

We have been back in the UK for over two months now and it has become clear that we will be here for at least the rest of the year. Whether we can return to Nairobi in 2017 we do not currently know, but we hope and pray…

Wildflower meadow

A nearby wildflower meadow

We returned to the UK to support family who were, and still are, going through very difficult times. Barbara’s mother had fallen and found herself in hospital. After a few weeks back home, she fell again and is currently back in hospital, and is waiting for a ‘care package’ to be put in place. She is also now thinking about whether to move to a care home. This probably makes sense, though her views keep changing; there is a lot to find out and decide. So we are frequently in Reading spending time with her and researching the needed information.

Meanwhile, the situation engulfing other members of our family has become very difficult, and this takes a lot of our time, thought and prayer. This is a time of trusting in God to accomplish what cannot be done in human strength. In fact, we realise that nothing of good can be achieved when people stray from Biblical truth; we have to rely on God if anything good is going to come out of this.

In the middle of these difficulties, we have found God to be faithful. So very frequently what we have read in the Bible has spoken straight into our hearts, and Christians around us – often without knowing the details of what has been going on in the family – have been wonderfully supportive, kind in so many small and large ways, and amazingly generous.

Where is home?

Barbara hard at work preparing dinner

Barbara hard at work preparing dinner

After spending two months living with a couple of the saints from All Saints Church, Little Shelford, we have moved to a beautifully converted barn (we understand that it used to be a piggery) in the grounds of the home of a family from our own church. Moreover, this is in our own village. Such kindness! Isn’t God good?!

But this moving around leaves us feeling something like nomads wandering from place to place and looking for our home – and often looking for various possessions that must be somewhere: are they in the loft at our house, in a suitcase somewhere, or are they still in Nairobi?  We presume they will turn up sometime!

Living day by day and waiting patiently

…well, if we are honest, not always patiently!

During our two years in Nairobi we got somewhat used to planning loosely, for every day contained something unexpected, and we never knew for certain what was going to happen. Being back in the UK, we rather expected life to be more ordered and planned, but that is not how it is at present. We are rarely clear more than a day or so ahead of time whether we need to be in Cambridge or Reading. But we praise God that so far we have never needed to be in both places at once!

Meanwhile, we trust that at some point this season of uncertainty and travel will come to an end!

The prosperity gospel

I (Mark) have been doing some reading on this topic recently. I was doing this because it is very relevant in many churches in Africa, but as I read, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s also an issue for UK churches too.

The simplest version of the prosperity gospel in effect says, ‘Come to Jesus and he will make you rich’. In a continent where poverty is endemic this message is alluring, even though it is clearly not Biblical! In the UK, where life-and-death poverty is less of an issue, the message may be refined to become, ‘Come to Jesus and he will give you the desires of your heart’ – be that a partner, a different house, a better car, etc. This is not so very different from the blatant ‘riches’ version, for we live in a very materialistic culture.

Of course, this is not the gospel at all, and sets people’s eyes on such lowly goals, and overlooks the real riches on offer through Jesus: a new life set free from sin, healing for hurts, peace with God!

Tumaini

Africa Inland Mission has been incredibly supportive during this time. We are technically on ‘Leave of Absence’, but I retain some role at Tumaini, albeit at a distance. The team there has been wonderful, and we have together begun thinking through what is feasible for me to do from the UK, and what would be most useful.

Tumaini from the gardens

Tumaini from the gardens

Life at Tumaini continues very busy, and rather understaffed!

This week and next, the centre is running a two week intensive residential counselling programme for missionaries, giving focused teaching on spiritually healthy emotions and relationships, as well as a healing group time to process whatever difficulties those attending have experienced.

We have been planning this programme for 8 months, and have been very grateful for the help of the Alongside Counselling Centre in the US, who run such programmes regularly. However, this will be the first time that we have done this at Tumaini, and we believe the first on the African continent!

Meanwhile, in the UK, I will be speaking about the work of Tumaini at an AIM Fellowship Conference which is taking place not too far from us in September.

Please give thanks to God with us:
• for God’s goodness, and his faithfulness in times of difficulty
• for the many people who have come alongside us and our family in difficult times

and please pray:
• for the Tumaini team as they lead the residential counselling programme this week and next; and for the dozen people who are taking part
• that we and our family would rely just on God to resolve and restore the difficulties we face.

Bug of the month

Bug of the month

Keeping up traditions is important, perhaps all the more so in times of transition, so here is a British ‘bug of the month’.  Sorry, I don’t know what it is, but I particularly liked its waistcoat!

Back in the UK again!

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

Flying over the coast of North Africa

Flying over the coast of North Africa

Some steps along our way have required a leap of faith, others have been straightforward, but recently we have faced steps that have been very hard, and have involved – at least for now – a change of direction.

When we last wrote our blog we were preparing to return to Nairobi at the end of 4 months in the UK on ‘home assignment’ – a time to catch up with our home church, our wonderful supporters and our family.

However, after just a month in Nairobi, we find ourselves unexpectedly back in the UK due to two family crises.

Returning to Nairobi

We did return to Nairobi as planned at the end of April and were welcomed warmly by friends and colleagues. It was very good to be back in our apartment at Africa International University, and feel at home looking out on avocado trees.

On the road to Nakuru

On the road to Nakuru

Following a couple of days of unpacking and getting our apartment straight, we were both straight into work. Mark set out with a colleague from Tumaini to Nakuru, several hours drive north of Nairobi, to join the AIM Personnel Officers Forum, where we were reconnecting with AIM recruiters from around the globe and giving a presentation. There is always more that we want to do than there is time! (However, maybe this means that we were attempting to do more than God actually called us to do…)

Meanwhile Barbara set about 2 weeks of teaching English to African Bible translators working with Wycliffe Bible Translators from various countries around the continent.

Life intrudes

Before these things even started, after just a couple of days back in Africa, we heard that Barbara’s mother had fallen and fractured her pelvis. She was in hospital for a few days followed by a move to a rehabilitation unit. Wondering whether she would be able to return to independent living, we recognised that at least one of us would need to return to offer her support when she was ready to be discharged.

Then on 12th May we heard about another family crisis which quickly went from bad to worse, and we realised that we would both need to return to the UK, at least for 2 months and possibly for an extended period.

We flew back home at the start of June, once it became clear how we could best help, and after just one month back in Kenya.

Lessons in prayer

When life turns difficult we learn things: who are friends are, what really matters, and above all whether God is faithful. Actually, it’s not God that is put to the test; rather the test is how much we really trust Him; it is not a test of God’s faithfulness, but of our faithfulness!

We are not at the centre of this storm; we are merely family who love, and so hurt with those in the middle of the difficulties. Yet there are so many layers: the consequences of practical actions, the personal and emotional pain, the relationships involved and the spiritual battle which rages, seeking to divide and destroy.

Through many tears we can bear witness to the compassion of many brothers and sisters in Christ who have come round us and our family, to pray and to stand with us and to offer practical support in so many ways that have gone much deeper than simple kindness. Through them we have been reassured of God’s love, presence and faithfulness.

It is going to take weeks – or more likely months – for this situation to play out and come to some kind of resolution. Our prayer is that we would all remain holding fast to our heavenly Father, who is a Master at bringing redemption and healing to the broken, and whose whole nature is to bring new life into what feels like an impossible situation.

An aside on comfort

Of course, there are practical aspects to such difficulties, as well as relational aspects, but there is also a spiritual dimension. We know that being a Christian does not promise anyone a comfortable life! Despite our God being full of love and compassion, we repeatedly see Him using difficult times in order to bring His people – in the Bible, and those we know personally – to greater maturity.

In the Bible, Romans 5v3-5 remind us: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (We make no claim to ‘glory in our sufferings’, merely to clinging on by our fingertips.)

And 2 Chronicles 20v12 is a passage we can relate to at present: “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

What about Tumaini and Barbara’s teaching?

We had to suddenly pull out of most of our commitments such as teaching English and leading a Ladies Bible Study, for Barbara, and working at Tumaini for Mark. Africa Inland Mission has graciously released us from our roles for the time being and we are on Compassionate Leave. But our absence clearly leaves gaps back in Nairobi, where there are real needs.

At the moment we don’t understand God’s purposes; we know that there is work there for us both to do with Africa Inland Mission and that the need is considerable. Yet we also know and believe that it is right to be with and support our family at this time. Although we don’t see or understand the bigger picture, we are trusting God our Father to meet the many needs in each sphere.

And things at home?

Barbara & her mother, Phyllis

Barbara & her mother, Phyllis

We have just spent time with Barbara’s mother, who is now back in her own home with carers coming in each day, and – so far – doing better than we expected. We wait, praying, to see whether her living independently, as she wishes, is sustainable.

However, the other family crisis is almost certainly going to take quite some while to reach a conclusion. The future looks very uncertain, and its implications for us are unclear. We would certainly like to return to Nairobi to the roles we have there, but this is in God’s hands.

At one level we are confused and hurting; at another, we still trust that God is at work even through these difficult circumstances. And we go on trusting that He will continue to make the way forward clear one step at a time.

For prayer

Please praise God with us for:

  • the many ways in which family and faithful friends have stood with us all in these difficult times, demonstrating Jesus’ love through their prayers and actions
  • the opportunity to serve and support our family by being with them in the UK
  • that Barbara’s mother is settling well back at home

And please pray for:

  • the team at Tumaini who have been so gracious in releasing us for now, but face a sudden increase in their workload through my absence
  • for our family who are distressed at this time, and that we will all look to Jesus, who is a firm foundation
  • that we will continue to rely on the Lord who is our refuge and strength.
God is not fickle

God is not fickle!

Finally, a picture in lieu of our ‘bug of the month’

This holder for ‘stick-its’ is on our table in Nairobi.  It says: “God is not fickle; He will not be fickle towards you“.  (Chameleons are often regarded with some distrust by Kenyans, because they change colour!)

Home assignment

After about a month back home, living in the UK just seemed fairly normal again, though Mark’s dreams have remained of life in Nairobi. This has led to a strange sense of dislocation and some surprise on waking up in the ‘wrong’ place.

I (Barbara) have had more of a sense akin to amnesia while back in the UK, wondering why on earth I have forgotten the last two years in the UK, while I was actually in Kenya!

Jonathan

Jonathan

We have been blessed by living in our home with family. I hadn’t really understood others’ excitement at having grandchildren until this time. They are a delight, though the younger – being a baby – certainly takes up more than his share of time and space! Here is a recent picture.

After two very busy months meeting with people and speaking, we spent much of March being unwell – just coughs, flu and bronchitis – but going on long enough to test our patience. Nonetheless, we have coughed and spluttered our way through a variety of talks and presentations, though fortunately our diaries were somewhat quieter.

We had put aside a week at the start of April to have a holiday, but had dithered over booking anything.

Mark

Mark

However, God surprised and blessed us when friends in our church said that we could house-sit at their home while they were away. This is within the same village where we live, so we ended up really enjoying a quiet week in another house less than a mile away. We were able to rest and enter into the spirit of ‘being on holiday’ albeit on very familiar territory!

Talks and presentations

We have continued to be surprised and blessed by the level of interest in and support for the work we are doing, so have continued to meet with people and speak to groups.

Mark was also asked to lead a number of sessions at the AIM European Based Orientation for new AIM missionaries about to go out to various parts of Africa. Two sessions were on ‘Transitions and Adjustment’ – a very familiar topic, but it was good to remind ourselves that God’s aim is to have us rely more on Him, and not simply to grow in self-confidence. The other sessions were on Suffering, and again, it was good to remember that in this world God uses suffering to mature his followers – which is very different to the common notion in the world that all suffering is bad and must be avoided if possible (…not that Christians seek out suffering!)

Tumaini

Judith and Kampala staff

Imelda, Judith and Faith

I am delighted that the new Tumaini Counselling Centre in Kampala opened in March. Here is a picture of Judith, the Lead Clinician, and our Ugandan staff, Faith and Imelda. There is a second counsellor preparing to come from the USA to Kampala to join this small team, starting in September, God willing. We look forward to his arrival.

Staffing remains a matter for urgent prayer for both Nairobi and Kampala – as we know of plans for some of the current staff to leave later this year or next, but no-one with firm plans to come, apart from the one mentioned above to Kampala. Please pray.

Preparing to return to Nairobi

It’s only two weeks until we fly back to Nairobi, so our minds are already full of returning and preparations are well in hand. Soon it will be time to say ‘goodbye again’ to family and friends, which we anticipate will be hard.

We fly on 28th April and start work again on 2nd May with a ‘bang’. On the 2nd I will be going to Nakuru (a 4-hour drive north of Nairobi) with a Tumaini colleague for us to lead a session with AIM Personnel Officers from every continent that sends missionaries to Africa. Also on that day Barbara starts 2 weeks of teaching with Bible translators from around Africa who work with Wycliffe. Please pray that we will be prepared for these important tasks.

Towards the end of May I will be going to Tanzania for a week to lead some sessions for leaders in the AIM ‘Training in Missionary Outreach’ (TIMO) programme.

It will be good to get back into the roles to which we have been called for this time.

We expect to remain in Nairobi until about July 2017 and then return to the UK.

If you are the praying kind…

Please give God praise:

  • For our time in the UK
  • That the new Kampala centre is now open and working

For prayer

  • For renewed health, strength and energy as we are still recovering from recent illness
  • Our goodbyes and return to Nairobi on 28th April
  • Preparations for the work we are involved in straight after arriving
  • The staffing needs at Tumaini in both Nairobi and Kampala

 

LadybirdAnd finally, here is our bug of the month – a ‘simple’ UK ladybird, but no less exotic despite its familiarity here.

Back in the UK

First impressions

We are back in the UK for our ‘home assignment’, so what were our first impressions on arriving back?

  • The sun is in the wrong place in the sky
  • There are lights and signs everywhere and everyone is rushing
  • People drink water straight out of the tap and go out in the evening without even thinking about their safety
  • People drive very fast, and generally keep the rules of the road but they don’t let you in at junctions. (In Nairobi it is the other way around.)
  • And England isn’t always grey and drizzling; it is more beautiful than we remember!
  • But simple living is not so easy here.
Bedtime stories

Bedtime stories

It has been great to see our families, of course, to meet our grandson for the first time, and to see our granddaughter, who was just 4 months old when we left. She was understandably slightly cautious to start with, but within 10 minutes asked for “a big hug”, which we were very happy to give! They are 3 months and 2½ now and change in some way every day.

We are living in our own home, where our son and his family are also currently living, so it took a while to learn how to live in our house with them, their furniture and belongings. We were initially disorientated trying to find things, when nothing is where it used to be.

Meeting supporters

Home assignment is not just a time to reconnect with family, but also with those who support us with prayer and finance.

It has been a surprise to us how many people want to meet with us, and we have been invited to 3 or 4 such get-togethers each week. We have also given talks at churches, prayer meetings and I have preached at our home church.

Recently, we went to the AIM-Europe headquarters in Nottingham to talk over our two years in Kenya and also to think ahead. We greatly appreciate all they do behind the scenes to support us and other AIM missionaries.

Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

We expect to return to Nairobi at the end of April, so we are already half-way through our home assignment. Despite warnings from missionary friends in Nairobi before coming back not to do too much at the start, we have, and now feel tired, sometimes overwhelmed and rather unsettled, living in a ‘no man’s land’. Where is our home?

It’s hard to find time for quiet reflection and to think, so we have just taken a short retreat – to have some space to relax, think and pray – and then a few days being tourists in London.

Support

We receive no salary for our time in Nairobi; it is funded by individuals and churches who support us, as well as by my work pension and income from renting our home. Our supporters pay for our flights to & from Africa, our housing costs (rent, water, security), and all the support we receive from AIM. We are able to pay for all our day-to-day living costs.

We need to raise about £200 per month in additional financial support for the coming 18 months or so. If you can help us in this way please either contact us direct, or go to: http://eu.aimint.org/thephippens/

Nairobi news

Tumaini Kampala

Tumaini Kampala (the bottom left apartment)

We expect to be back in Nairobi from May until about July 2017.

Meanwhile, others in the Tumaini team are working hard to prepare the new Kampala counselling centre for opening soon. The preparations are coming on well and an Open House event is planned for Saturday 5th March.

We will also need to do a fair amount of preparation before we return, as we both expect to bounce straight into long-standing work commitments from our first day back – teaching English to Bible translators, and talks representing Tumaini.

Please give thanks with us for:

  • Safe travels back to the UK and reconnections with family and friends
  • The opportunity to connect with so many supporters and others interested in mission

And please pray with us:

  • For energy to organise and use our time well while in the UK
  • To represent the work of AIM well to the people we meet
  • For the preparations and opening of Tumaini Kampala in March
  • The needed funding for the coming 18 months

We expect to post our next blog in mid-April, shortly before we return to Kenya.

 

Bug of the month

And finally, here is our bug of the month

As it’s cold and we have mostly been indoors, we haven’t seen any interesting UK bugs, but here is one we saw in Nairobi to remind us of what we are missing!

 

 

Christmas Greetings!!

Nativity play

Nativity play

We enjoy the fact that here in Kenya there is almost no ‘hype’ about Christmas – no big sales, no tinsel-town decorations. I think the most I have seen is a Christmas tree and a few tasteful lights at one of the shopping centres. However, at church last Sunday the children staged a Nativity play, with all the dressing up you would expect, and with a clear challenge to us all, “Do you believe the message of Christmas – that God sent his Son into the world to save us?”

But before Christmas Day we come to the end of our first ‘term’ – nearly two years – in Kenya, and in a week’s time we return to the UK for four months.

Tumaini & counselling

It has been a real blessing to lead the team at Tumaini, the AIM counselling centre in Nairobi; they are a fantastic and dedicated team of missionary counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Between us we have seen between 350 – 400 missionaries (or couples or families) each year and have also expanded our work in supporting missionaries based in other parts of Africa, doing an increasing number of sessions by video link (where the ‘net allows) , and running online support groups for missionaries working in ‘creative access’ countries.

We are also close to establishing a second counselling centre, this time in Kampala, Uganda, to better serve missionaries working in central Africa. We have now rented premises for the new Counselling Centre in Kampala, and have just been interviewing for a national member of staff to run the office. It is amazing what has been accomplished in just 2 months, and we praise God for his hand on this. We pray that this centre will be able to open its doors soon – we hope in February 2016.

English teaching at the university

Ladies do lunch!

Ladies do lunch!

Barbara continued to meet for Ladies Bible study until the end of November and I hope that one or two of them will agree to lead the study while I am away. It has been a joy to be with these women and to see them grow in faith. Recently we got together for an end of term Christmas lunch.

English students selfie

English students selfie

All is very quiet on campus at AIU now that the semester has ended. Some students had exams in the first week of December. So I have finished teaching until we return from Home Assignment. It has been a privilege to teach English here and to see how the students’ use of English has improved. Here is my informal English class together and an end of term ‘selfie’. They have agreed to let me go home to see my family – as long as I bring them a gift on my return. This particular group includes three ladies from DRC and one from Ethiopia. One of the Congolese students is returning home as she and her husband cannot afford to pay the fees to study here. This is a common occurrence, sadly.

Barbara outside the Language Centre

Barbara outside the Language Centre

During November and December, we have had periods of torrential rain and thunderstorms, though in between it is still hot and sunny. One night, there was torrential rain that lasted for 12 hours. Some of the student residences, the bookshop and the Language Centre where I teach, were flooded. I spoke with staff from the bookshop, who were thanking God that it was only a flood and not a fire which would have destroyed everything. Anyway, here I am outside the Language Centre in the blazing sun, after the water had subsided.

We were at the AIM annual conference in Kenya at the end of November. Barbara attended a valuable series of workshops on integrating a Biblical worldview into your teaching – to show how to make connections between academic content (in my case, the English language) and the bigger picture of the Biblical worldview. Meanwhile Tumaini staff, including Mark, ran workshops and offered counselling sessions.

Preparing to come home

As I type that subtitle, the question pops into my mind “But where is ‘home’?” Cambridge is home – but so is Nairobi now! We long to see family and friends and to attend our ‘home church’, but are sad saying goodbye to friends and colleagues here and will miss our Nairobi church.

We have come to feel at home in Nairobi, to love the people and the country. It is full of contradictions, but is vibrant, the country is beautiful, and the people are welcoming and very open to spiritual discussions.

Have we changed over these two years? Yes and no! I look in the mirror and still look just like me, but our outlook and heart have changed; God’s love and grace feels greater, and things that used to bother us seem less important.

We are beginning to sort belongings into those that can remain here until we return, and those we will need in Cambridge during the winter (short-sleeved shirts and sandals? – no!).

Jonathan & Jasmine

Jonathan & Jasmine

A second grandchild!

We are delighted to tell you the wonderful news of the birth of a son on the 14th November to Andrew and Fiona and a sister for Jasmine. They have named him Jonathan and we are very much looking forward to seeing him for the first time when we arrive home.

Financial support from 2016

We have been extremely grateful for the faithful support in both prayer and finance which has enabled us to do this work in Kenya. As you probably realise, we receive no income for working here, and so depend on my work pension, and support from our home churches and generous individuals.

Due to a change of the way that AIM works out the necessary finances for its members to cover their living costs etc, we need to raise an additional ~£200 per month from 2016. Those who have supported us financially over the last two years have been 100% committed, and we do not feel led to ask them for any extra giving; rather, we would hope for additional people to join in supporting us. This support pays for our accommodation, travel and the considerable back-up support we receive from AIM (and we pay our day-to-day living costs from Mark’s pension and our house rental). If you can help us in this way, our experience has been that the blessing goes both ways; please either contact us direct, or (after Dec 21st, when the site goes live) go to: http://eu.aimint.org/thephippens/

Locking up our apartment

Locking up our apartment

Locking up – for now…

Next Saturday we will carry out the everyday routine of padlocking our door when we leave the apartment, but this time, we won’t be returning until the end of April.

Please join us in praying

  • Giving thanks and praise to God for all that He has done over these two years
  • Giving thanks for looking after our families while we have been in Kenya
  • For the continuing work of Tumaini
  • For the theme of Mission at AIC Ngong Road church for 2016
  • For safe travel and a joyful reunion with family and friends
  • For rest and relaxation during our Home Assignment as well as catching up with many of you.

 

Bug of the month

Bug of the month

And finally … our bug of the month

Here is a beetle that was walking along the path into Tumaini. I particularly liked his (her?) metallic green paint job with the ‘go faster stripes’!

(You can click on any of the pictures to get a bigger view.)

 

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The Messiah – and missions

The Messiah

Handel's Messiah choir

Handel’s Messiah choir

We recently went to hear Handel’s Messiah – a slightly surreal experience given the African setting. But it was wonderful, with a choir of around 300 drawn from many Nairobi choirs and an audience of about one thousand. The performance itself was very good, and what made it so special was the orchestra and choir being made up of people from every continent – a foretaste of heaven, we thought! The setting also made it special – a huge circular auditorium with a reed roof. The monkey I spotted sitting on a beam was paying close attention while grooming itself; though, when we all stood for the Hallelujah chorus it became unsettled and left, and so missed the best part!

Term in full swing

You may remember that Barbara had mentioned a new Language Centre at the university.  She has been busy teaching English to theology students there twice a week, and continuing to teach student wives once or twice a week. What the students’ find most useful is the opportunity for conversation in English. The Language Centre students recently did short presentations about themselves.  I was fascinated to find out more about them and their home countries and how they consider learning English as essential for their education and future work as pastors and evangelists. I have also recently started one-to-one English with a Korean missionary whose English is good but it will help her work to improve it further.

The Ladies Bible study is studying Mark’s gospel and we recently read the story of Jesus stilling the storm. Do we react with fear or with faith in the storms of life? Do we trust that Jesus is with us and that we can trust Him?

I was greatly encouraged that one of the Kenyan ladies led our study recently. At the moment, I co-lead this group with Susie, a fellow missionary; it is our ultimate aim to put ourselves out of a job.

Church

A man we respect very greatly who leads our Bible study each Sunday morning before church, Dr Samson Obwa, is retiring at the end of this month, after 49 years of teaching the Bible at a theological college in Nairobi.  He recently said that he felt the Lord was calling him to visit every home that he could reach from his home village during the 5 years after he retires, to take the news of Jesus.  He said “I have no money to give them, but I have something much more precious to pass on…”. He is a towering man of God, and we have been hugely blessed to spend time with him each week. We will miss him greatly, but we are sure he will be a very great blessing to the people in his home area.

AIC Ngong Rd church

AIC Ngong Rd church

We were very excited to hear recently that our church, AIC Ngong Rd, is going to spend 2016 teaching and preaching on the theme of missions. We have been praying for quite a while for the church to expand its mission work, so we are very pleased! Mark and others have been invited to attend a meeting with leaders of the church at the end of October to help plan for this.

Mark & Tumaini

At the start of October, Judith left her home in Germany and arrived in Kampala, Uganda, to take up her position as our leader for the new Counselling Centre there. Once she has begun to get settled, she will be looking for suitable premises for the Centre. There is much to do before it can open next year!

Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro

Mark visited Arusha in Tanzania at the start of October, with the other leaders in our section of Africa Inland Mission. We were visiting the people in AIM who plan and train teams of (mostly young) missionaries while they spend 2 or more years living alongside an African people group who have never heard the Gospel. The programme is called ‘Training in Ministry Outreach’ (TIMO) and you can read about the TIMO programme, and watch some of their videos at: http://aimstories.com/timo-embedded-video-series/

My role was to consider how Tumaini can best support the people on the TIMO teams. On the way, I got my first sight of Kilimanjaro above the clouds, higher than we were as we flew past in our small AIM plane.

Mark at AIM Tanzania conference

Mark at AIM Tanzania conference

Barbara and I have just returned from another visit to Tanzania, this time to a conference in Dar es Salaam for AIM missionaries working in Tanzania.  This is the second time we’ve been to this particular gathering, so it was good to reconnect with people we had got to know. Many are from the UK, and it was good to find out more about their ministry joys and challenges. Mark was giving some talks and seeing people for counselling.

We continue to need new clinical staff – counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists – to work in Nairobi and Kampala, so please continue to pray about this.

Now it is time to prepare for the upcoming ‘Kenya conference’ at the end of November, with further workshops and counselling.

Looking back and looking forward

Rift Valley

Rift Valley

On the weekend near our 42nd wedding anniversary, we drove down into the Rift Valley to visit a famous archaeological site. During the drive – just forty miles – the temperature went from 24C in Nairobi (which is high on a plateau) to 36C in the Valley. The scenery was stunning.

It is now only two months until we return to Cambridge for our ‘home assignment’. This is a time to reconnect with family and friends as well as with the many people who support us in prayer and with finance – without whom we could not accomplish anything useful, nor afford to live here. We will be home from just before Christmas until the end of April, returning to Kenya for the start of May 2016.

We are excited about this and our plans for this time are coming together well.

Please pray:

  • Give thanks for safe journeys locally and twice to Tanzania
  • Preparation for the Kampala Counselling Centre, and for as Judith she begins to settle there
  • For additional staff for Tumaini in Nairobi and Kampala
  • Encouragement for the students and their wives who Barbara teaches, who face many challenges
  • AIC Ngong Rd Church planning for 2016 on the theme of missions
  • For the AIM missionaries working across Africa, often in remote and challenging situation, that they may be faithful in all things
  • Preparations for our time in the UK

 

And finally…

Here is our ‘bug of the month’ – a small but bright yellow spider, who walked across my paperwork on our dining table while I was working.

Bug of the month

Bug of the month