Partners and Friends,
We hope that each of you are well. We are enjoying a hot and dry February here in Nairobi, which is quite the opposite of what many of you are experiencing. If you find yourself really craving the sun, we would love to host you in Nairobi.
You may have heard about the recent terrorist attack in Nairobi. A few weeks ago a group of Al-Shabaab militants attacked an upscale hotel. Al-Shabaab is the same group that attacked Westgate mall several years ago, and have committed several other atrocities over the years, however, recently they have been less active. The response of Kenyan security forces was effective and the threat was neutralized relatively quickly, however 21 people lost their lives. We were not directly affected by this attack, however, many people lost loved ones and the nation has been shaken. We are confident in the security measures that exist in our home and school communities, and security measures citywide are in place. Please pray for those affected by this tragedy, for security forces that are taking measures to protect citizens from senseless violence, and for the nation of Kenya.
We have had a great few months since our last update, and we have several exciting things on the horizon. One of those is that we will be coming to the U.S. from May-July for our 3-month furlough. We are looking forward to time at home with family and friends, and we are currently working through some ideas of how to maximize our time and connect with as many of you as possible during that time. Of course, being away from Kenya for furlough means that the next few of months are going to extremely full, as we work on getting updates on the People to People sponsored children and make visits to several projects around the country.
Next week, I (Jamie) will be traveling to Santiago, Chile, to present at the 6th Global Assembly. I have the opportunity to speak on the Power of Micro-Economic Investments in missions and community development. Of course, this is a topic I am very passionate about, so I am excited for the opportunity. My graduate studies are going well. I am currently in an Applied Research course (which is proving useful in developing evaluations on the impact of projects) and then will move into my final course (Financial Management for NGO Management) of the program. It’s been a great experience, but I am very excited that the end is on the horizon.
Jessica: A big part of my work at Rosslyn Academy is overseeing various events throughout the school year. In the month of December one of the things I am responsible for coordinating is the school’s annual Christmas Project, which is a four week long school wide fundraising project. This year as a school we raised 1.6 millions shillings (approximately $16,000). It is always amazing to see the Rosslyn community pull together to bless others during the Christmas season.
In the coming months I will be helping coordinate and run an International Schools Basketball tournament at Rosslyn, in which 6 different international schools will compete. This tournament includes schools from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Senegal. Another component of my job during this semester is working with our new staff members and helping them make the transition to Kenya. This is probably one of my favorite parts of my job at Rosslyn. Having made many transitions in our life, I understand the importance of doing that well. I truly enjoy helping people through this process and helping ensure that they have as smooth of a transition as possible.
Note from Sophie: I am still doing gymnastics, and we just started learning moves on the trampoline. Piano is going well. I am learning new songs with fourth intervals. A couple of weeks ago we started Basketball Intramurals at my school. My Dad is my coach and our team is the cheetahs, but since our color is orange we call ourselves the Cheetos! This semester I have four new students in my class, but two are just learning English. I am trying to be a good friend to them so they will be comfortable and I can become friends with them. Soon I will have the 3rd-5th grade concert. I am in the chimes group, in the choir, and I am playing a piano part. On Sports Day, I won the 400 meter for my heat, but not for my whole grade. I can’t wait to see my family this summer in America.
Note from Ethan: I am still in soccer classes on Friday and Saturdays. I really like it. Two weeks ago we had Sports Day at my school. I got a 2nd place ribbon in the sack race and I won my heat in the 400m race, but got 3rd place overall for my grade. At school we are learning about quarters, halves, and thirds in Math. I am having fun in school. We have something soon called Spring Break. I am excited to go to America this summer!
Projects and Ministry
Northern Kenya Visit
A few weeks ago, I traveled up to Northern Kenya to visit our feeding programs in Lokichoggio and Kakuma Refugee Camp. While there I was also able to celebrate Christmas (though late) with the community. One highlight of this was that Sophie traveled with me! This region of Kenya is very remote, and as far north as you can go before getting to S. Sudan. Sophie has been asking to visit with me for years, so we finally made it happen. During our trip, she made a “5 Clue Challenge” video for her classmates, so I will share that below for your enjoyment. The feeding programs there are going well, and it was wonderful to be with our friends and to celebrate together. However, the children and families in this region face tremendous challenges. I am currently prayerfully considering ways that we can partner together to see a bigger impact in meeting the needs of this community.
Bryan Nix Visit
In November, we were able to host the new People to People Ministries Director, Bryan Nix. It was great to get to know him, hear his vision for the ministry, and to allow him to visit some of the projects hear and learn more about our programs in Kenya.
Hosanna Dairy Project
The Dairy Project at Hosanna Children’s Home is running well. “Sheriff,” as she is lovingly called, is producing around 18 liters of milk per day, which is both sold and consumed. Around 10 liters per day is consumed, which is saving the home money. The remaining milk is sold and the profits sustain the project, as well generate a small amount of additional income. You may remember, Sheriff gave birth to a female calf in August, so we are awaiting the day (approx. 1.5 years from now) when she will be able to start producing milk as well.
The biggest expense of raising the cows is feeding, so we are currently looking for available land to grow fodder to supplement their diet.
Tana River Village Agriculture Projects
All three of the Irrigation and Farm projects in Tana River Delta are going well. The different projects (Peponi, Gardeni, and Odhole) have recently produced maize, watermelons, tomatoes, kales, and other vegetables. Because of the success of these projects and the empowerment they have given to communities, we are planning to do an additional project in Vumbwe village. Vumbwe is home to around 74 people and it is one of the villages that our partner, Bocha, works with regularly. The community longs to have access to a reliable water source so that they are able to farm and produce what they need to sustain themselves. The project will be led by Halima (pictured below), a determined woman that has an incredible faith and passion for her community. In addition to meeting critical needs and empowering communities, these projects are opening doors for Bocha to share Christ.
I will be traveling to this region in March to meet with the Vumbwe community, check on progress of other projects, and to conduct a Micro-Business training for a group of around 15 people.
Family Photos from the last few months:
In November, Sophie and Ethan were selected to be in the Rosslyn Academy Talent Show. Sophie and her friend sang a song and choreographed motions, while Ethan played the djembe.
Over Christmas Break, we spent a few days at a beautiful cabin in the Abedares with friends.
In December we also took a family camping trip at Hell’s Gate National Park for one night and hiked the gorge.
We had a great Advent and Christmas in Kenya, but we missed being with our families.
- That the next several months would be productive so that we will be prepared to be away on furlough from May-July.
- That we would love God and others as He loves us, and that we will be faithful in all the areas that we are being called.
- For continued direction and wisdom in our work.
- For our marriage to grow stronger every day.
- For Sophie and Ethan…that they will feel a meaningful connection to our ministry and that they both will grow to love and follow Jesus.
- For the Nation of Kenya, and the individuals, ministries, villages and churches that we have partnerships with.
- For our extended families as they live life without having us and the kids nearby.
- For good health, safety and protection.
We love and appreciate you all! Your support, prayers, and encouragement mean everything to us. Thank you for partnering with us.