Furahia siku ya kuzaliwa, Bronwyn!

The kids were very excited when they realized that most of us (everyone except Saeryn, in fact) will celebrate a birthday in Africa.  We sometimes try to plan a special event or family outing to celebrate a birthday, so are thrilled and thankful to have some new and exciting opportunities to do that here in Kenya together!

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To celebrate Bronwyn’s birthday, we went to the elephant orphanage  near our home. There are currently 24 elephants being cared for here, and we were able to see 20 of them.  The other 4 are very new to the facility, and not ready for visitors.  Most of these babies lost their mothers, and therefore their entire herd & family, due to poaching. It is very important to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to have Kenyan keepers and managers, in order to promote ownership of the elephants, and spread understanding of the need for their protection.  Some of these keepers will care for one elephant for up to 10 years until they are successfully integrated into a new herd!  Each elephant is named, in correlation to where they were rescued, and we heard their different stories, and some about their unique personalities and traits, which we could even see as we watched them interact with keepers and each other.

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We loved watching the baby elephants (aged 5 months to 2 years) being fed by their keepers – and laughed at how some of the bigger ones could hold their own bottles!

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It was a lot of fun to get up close and personal with the elephants.

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It definitely was a birthday to remember. We’re told the elephants won’t forget either!

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Welcome to Bridgeworld College

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There’s nothing like jumping right in with both feet! We arrived safely in Kenya late on Friday night and the semester at Bridgeworld College started first thing Monday morning. Here’s a glimpse of my week.

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Monday – 8.30am – Weekly staff and faculty prayer meeting, followed by lots of learning about the college, its relationship with North West University in South Africa, and the courses I will be teaching this semester.

Tuesday – 10.30am – My first class! I’m teaching a 4-credit course (equivalent to 2 credit hours in US colleges) survey of church history to first year students. After introductions – I introduced myself, the students introduced themselves, and I introduced the course – I handed out an article for the students to read before our first “real” class next week.

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Wednesday – 11am – Weekly chapel service. Jody and the kids were warmly welcomed at the college for chapel and morning tea. The faculty, staff and students were very glad to meet them.

Wednesday – 2pm – Actual teaching! I’m teaching an 8-credit course (equivalent to a 4 credit course in US colleges) in systematic theology to second year students. The course covers a lot of ground – the doctrines of Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the church, and last things – so we jumped right in on Wednesday afternoon with two and a half hours of lectures.

Thursday – 9am – More actual teaching. I’m also teaching an 8-credit course in New Testament studies (the Synoptic Gospels) to first year students. As in systematic theology, we jumped right in with two and a half hours of lectures.

Friday – 2pm – Faculty meeting. I learned even more about the college, its relationship with North West University in South Africa, and the courses I will be teaching this semester, which left me with a lengthy to-do list for this week, including preparing syllabi for all of my courses, lecture notes for my students (from last week and this week), and the actual lectures for all three courses again this week.

P1000662Even though it was quite a full week, it was also very enjoyable for which I am thankful. Bridgeworld College is a wonderful place and I’m glad to be part of it.

Settling in…

After a couple of long travel days  – 300 miles by car from Pella to Chicago and 8000 miles by plane from Chicago to Nairobi via London – we arrived safely in Nairobi last night. We are thankful for very smooth travel and for the safe arrival of all 16 of our checked bags.

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Thumbs up! We found all 16 checked bags.

We were warmly welcomed to Kenya at the airport by Dr. Lee and staff from Bridgeworld College. They have secured exceptionally lovely housing for us, a well-furnished three-bedroom house inside an acre-sized compound. The boys were delighted to discover that their bedroom is on the second-floor, something they’ve long wanted. It was wonderful to see the property – so many exquisite flowers and birds – in the daylight today. Torin said that it’s like living in a park.

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Our backyard

Dr. Lee and his wife, Sue, came over today, and our landlord, Mr. Paul Mpungu, stopped by.  We also met John, our caretaker and gardener, who discovered that our water tanks were nearly empty. Since city water is only pumped to this part of Karen on Wednesdays, water was delivered this afternoon by lorry.

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Lorry delivering water

This evening Dr. Lee and Sue took us to the Galleria, a shopping center near our home. It was very helpful to have assistance with our first shopping expedition in Kenya. I successfully withdrew shillings from the ATM. We learned how the supermarket works here, bought some basic groceries, and got a tank of fuel for our kitchen stove.

All in all it was a wonderful first day in Kenya. It feels like our house will soon become home and that we will have a very good experience at Bridgeworld College and in Kenya. Tomorrow Dr. Lee and Sue plan to pick us up for church. My work at Bridgeworld College begins bright and early on Monday morning with an 8.30 prayer meeting. Classes start on Tuesday.

We are thankful for all those who have partnered and prayed with us to this point, and we look forward expectantly to what the next five months will bring.

Till We Gather Again…

June 26 was our final Sunday at Faith Church before my sabbatical started July 1. The fact that it was also Pastor Gary’s farewell Sunday made it especially emotional. Serving with Gary and Margo has been a big part of the blessing that ministry at Faith Church is for us. It’s hard to imagine that they won’t be at Faith Church when we come back in late November.

In our June 26 morning service I offered the words of this song as a blessing to Gary & Margo, Hayley and Skylar as they move to Des Moines and serve at Meredith Drive Reformed Church, and I offered them as  Jody’s and my prayer for Faith Church during our time in Africa. They are also our prayer for all of our family and friends in North America over the next five months.

I first learned this song at the Transforming Center when I participated in their Transforming Community program. The leaving service with which each of our quarterly retreats concluded always ended with the community singing this song to one another.

 

May God bless you and keep you, 

every step along the way, 

gently guiding and loving you, 

till we gather again.

 

 

Happening Now:

It feels pretty crazy that we’re actually at this stage of the trip!  Just a few more carry-on bags to fill, and we’ll be ready!  Praying for a good night’s sleep.

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Best part of these might be that our second son’s name didn’t fit on completely. But, he IS pretty FAB, so it works 🙂

 

Thank God with us for fun and uplifting times with friends in these past few days – just enough distraction to keep us from obsessing over all.the.things.