Partners and Friends,
We are currently scrambling to get everything in order before we depart tonight (Friday, May 3) for our 10-week furlough in the States. We are very excited to get home to see family, and to connect with as many of you as possible. On our way to the US we will be taking a long layover in Scotland to have a short family vacation so that we can pause between the busyness of the last several months and the different kind of busyness of the coming 10 weeks. We will be returning to the Isle of Iona, a place with special significance for our family (though, we hope to not repeat the tragedy of Jessica knocking her front teeth out! No bunkbeds for her this time!). We will also be visiting the Isle of Skye for the first time. Our plan is to do some hiking, sit by the ocean, and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We are really looking forward to this downtime to connect as a family, spend time in prayer and centering, and to enjoy the beauty of Scottish landscapes.
Things have been good for us in recent months, but we have seen challenges for many of our partner projects. Kenya has been facing a terrible drought, and the long-expected rains have been extremely delayed. The irony is this time last year we were seeing flooding all over the country from too much rain. Fortunately, rains have started the last week or so. The Meteorological Society is predicting that they will be short, and not nearly enough, but we are praying that the rains will stay around for a while. Regardless, many parts of the country missed the planting window because of the drought. Some are predicting major food shortages in the future because of this. Please keep the country in your prayers.
People to People, Projects and Ministry
People to People Updates
Over the last few months we have been traveling to all of the People to People Ministries partner projects to get updates on the sponsorship children. We have nearly 200 children in the sponsorship program that are located in every corner of the country, so it is quite a large job to get updates on each child. But it is also a joy to connect with each child one on one and to spend some time with them. We see many of these children consistently throughout the year, but the update process allows us to connect with each one in a unique way. We finished our last updates on Friday, so now they are ready to bring to the States and send out to supporters.
Tana River Community Agriculture Projects
We are grateful that we have partnered with Bocha Hussein to start another Village Agriculture Project in Tana River County. This one is in a village called Vumbwe. We have provided a well, irrigation tank/tower, and irrigation lines so that the community can produce crops and sustain themselves. This is the fourth community that we have done this in, and they have made a huge impact. One example is in the community of Gardeni. The group of women that oversee the project informed me that in the last harvest, they decided to sell all of the crops and then divide the profit among each family in the community. Each family received around $50 that they were able to use as they needed. Most either purchased food or paid for their children’s school fees. It is an incredible testament of a community led program, headed by a group of empowered women, that is benefiting the entire community. The new project in Vumbwe is being led by a woman named Halima and she envisions a similar approach for their project. The other programs in Peponi and Odhole are also moving along.
We are also excited that we are upgrading all of the projects to solar water pumps. This will save each program money, since they no longer have to set aside funds for fuel, but we are also excited to lower the environmental impact of the projects.
During my visit to Tana River, Jamie also had the opportunity to teach a micro-business seminar to a group of leaders from several communities. My hope is that when I return, I will receive some business plans from them and we can consider investing in these micro-enterprises.
In April, Jamie also had the opportunity to give a talk on sustainable approaches to ministry with a organization that is run by a close friend of ours called InnerChange. This particular program is an apprenticeship (Deep Coaching) that provides mentorship, spiritual direction, and training, to a of group young coaches in the Nairobi area to equip them to have a greater impact in their communities through sports programs. We are looking forward to building on this when we return and continuing to develop this partnership and relationship.
Other Speaking Opportunities
In February, Jamie was invited to travel to Santiago, Chile, to present at the 6th Global Assembly on the Power of Micro-Economic Investments in missions and community development. It was an wonderful opportunity to connect with others from around the globe and to speak on a topic that he is very passionate about. He was also able to take a day and do some hiking in the Chilean Andes at Cajon del Maipo.
In April, the church in Kenya celebrated their 40th year. Jamie was invited to speak on the history of People to People Ministries in Kenya. He also had the opportunity to speak to 150 leaders from around the country on what he believes is the call of the church: to practice, and be known for, the “Upside-Down” Kingdom values of Christ….love, compassion, radical generosity, servanthood, hospitality, self-sacrifice, peacemaking, humility, mercy, justice, and forgiveness.
End of Year Music Recitals/Concert
Since we are leaving a few weeks before the school year ends, so that we can maximize our time in the States this summer, Sophie and Ethan will miss their end-of-year music recitals. We planned a mini-recital for the two of them and invited many of our friends. We are so proud of how they are developing in their piano (Sophie) and drum (Ethan) skills.
Sophie had an Elementary Spring Music concert where she was chosen to play prelude music on the piano, sing a solo, and play in a specials chimes group. We are so proud of the way she is developing her musical gifts!
In the last week we have celebrated Ethan and Sophie’s birthdays with their friends. Ethan’s actual birthday was April 26. He is now 7 years old. Sophie’s birthday is not until June 11 (she will be 9), but she really wanted to celebrate with her friends before we depart for the US. We will celebrate both again with family when we get to the US, but it meant a lot for them to have parties with their friends.
Graduate School is finished!
After two years of balancing work, graduate school and family, Jamie has completed his Master’s Degree in International Development from Eastern University! He isn’t able to attend the commencement ceremony in PA next week, so our friends came together and held a surprise graduation for Jamie and Rachael….our friend that also just completed a Masters in Theological Studies. It was the perfect way to celebrate this huge accomplishment.
- That the next several months we are home on furlough would be a meaningful time of connecting with our families, friends and supporters.
- 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.