Sunday, August 12, 2012

10 things we learned at A.B.O.

1.  Due to persecution and a bleak outlook for the future, Bills fans can be found fleeing to Africa!  I was looking for an excuse to get this picture on the blog.  There’s so much going on here.  First and foremost, you’ll notice the beautiful scarf my lovely wife is wearing.  Reason:  this was taken immediately before our mosque tour and all the ladies were required to cover their heads out of respect.  Secondly, you’ll notice one of our new friends, Jamie, looking over my shoulder.  What is notable about him is not so much his PhD in Old Testament, or the fact that we witnessed his daughter take her first steps while at ABO, or even the fun we had with he and his wife Kim as they introduced us to the game Dominion; he quickly climbed the charts on my favorite persons list simply because he is a fellow long-suffering Bills fan!!  As a math guy, I gotta ask, what are the odds!?

2.  Nate is a ladies man.  Meet Carla, his first crush.  She is a short-term missionary who came to help out with the children’s ministry while we’ve been at ABO.  One of his famous lines to her (unprovoked, by the way) was “If you’re far away, I will run to you.”  Since we are assuming there will be many more to come, we thought it important to document his very first!

3.  How the other half lives.  We’ve been, and will continue to be, extremely spoiled as Mazungu (white people) in Kenya.  Our living accomodations have been far and away better than how the majority of Kenyans live.  Our home visit Saturday night really opened our eyes to this.  We visited a family who runs a small home for children on a plot of land no bigger than the floor plan of many U.S. houses.  This was basically a chance to see how many of the local people live and share a light meal with them.  Our hostess was very gracious and hospitable, truly an example of someone giving out of their poverty – we were thankful that the couple that went with us spoke Swahili well so that they could translate for us.  Language barriers mean nothing for little kids – Ethan, Nate and Evelyn had a great time playing with the local children, feeding the chickens that were running everywhere, and exploring their garden.

4.  Hakuna Matata is more than just a song from The Lion King – it’s a way of life! Pictured to the right is a decent sized termite mound (about 2 feet tall) on the campus we stayed at – right in the middle of the front lawn.  To the immediate left and no more than 10 feet away, is the spot where the local laundry service felt is the best place to lay out our laundry to dry!  Keep in mind that termite mounds are built essentially from the feces of termites…No worries!

5.  There’s something about a little blond haired girl that all African kids are automatically drawn to :)  This was taken outside during our home visit.

6.  Public transportation in Kenya makes for great entertainment.  Whether you’re riding on the back of a Boda-boda (bicycle), cramming into a Tuk-tuk (3 seater that often fits 7 or 8!) or reading the bumper stickers on the nearest Matatu (a mini-van-sized taxi) – coincidentally, we found this one sitting in the parking lot immediately adjacent the mosque!

7. God is at work in Africa!!  Not that this was news to us, but we were encouraged to hear specifics about how and where our fellow missionaries are living and sharing the good news of Jesus.  We heard a report from each of the different regions that AIM is actively involved in fulfilling the great commission and their own mission tagline, “Christ-centered Churches among all African peoples.”  It was great to feel a part of such a huge effort – many of the students we’ll teach and get to know very soon have parents spread out in all these locations around the continent!  And to think that AIM is just one of many mission organizations, planting churches and partnering with indigenous groups to spread the Gospel.  TIMO (Training In Ministry Outreach) is doing hard things, going to hard places.  Some of the most unreached groups are in some of the hardest locations to access or to live in.  TIMO is going there.  Watch the TIMO video here!

8.  Prayer is Often, Foremost and Essential.  We spent time in prayer at ABO each morning after we had a time of Praise & Worship and a devotional.   We prayed specifically for people groups, regions, and AIM members.  We learned before coming to ABO that the US office spends time in prayer three days per week specifically praying for AIM missionaries and needs of the teams.  Prayer is taken very seriously and we are thankful for their commitment to it!

9.  God’s Word makes for really awesome breakfast!  Each morning the devotional (Spiritually Fit session) was based on a different chapter of the Book of Psalms and was so encouraging.  Some highlights included meditations on Psalm 131 and our dependence on God.  There is no need to “concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me” – God will take care of the big stuff as we rely on him!  Psalm 73 reminds us that God is more than big enough to hear out doubts, let us dwell on them and then lead us to reassurance in his Sovereignty.  Verse 26:  “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  And Psalm 3 – the question is not if, but when the troubles of this life come.  David’s answer in verse 8?  “From the Lord comes deliverance.”  Jesus’ answer?  “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

10.  We survived!  Sunday night we had a celebration dinner commemorating our completion of ABO.  A couple of the girls got really creative and went for a Survivor themed evening and we were treated to extremely well-received burgers and hot dogs (usually by this time of the summer we’re sick of grill food – not this year!) and even topped it off with ice cream and apple crisp – a real treat and very rare considering our African context. 

It is hard to believe we’ve already been at RVA for 5 days!  We’re settling into our house, unpacking our things slowly, attending orientation and language learning, as well as navigating buying groceries and basic household necessities in town.  We continue to be encouraged here by those we meet and we are looking forward to beginning this first term with the students in a few weeks.

Thanks for reading – more updates to come!

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