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Thursday, 2 June 2011

A Newsletter From Kenya

Jen and one of he little girls from
 the school i n the Mathare Slum.
Typical "housing" at the IDP Camp.
They have been abandoned by their
government.
Josh and a Maasai friend. He is 100 yrs old!

Aaron and his bike

On the Equator close to Mt. Kenya
Preaching to the good people
at the IDP Camp  

Its all about the kids!
Dear friends and supporters of Mission:180 Ministries,

Here, finally, is a long overdue report from our work here in Kenya.  As you know, Jennifer, Joshua and I left Saskatoon on December 13th, 2010 to relocate to Nairobi.  We are here in East Africa at God's leading.  I am excited to fill you in on some of the things that God is doing through Mission:180 in this newsletter.

We arrived safe and sound in Kenya on December 15th, 2010.  All of our bags arrived with us. When I say all, I mean all 18 50-60 pound bags.  When moving your life to another continent, by air, you have to be very selective in what you pack, what you put in storage, and what you give away.  We got things down to 18 bags!  They all arrived with us, and nothing was broken or damaged in any way! This is no small miracle!

Since arriving, we have been quite busy settling in, learning the ropes, and pursuing God's direction for the next steps!  God is faithful, and He continues to confirm His calling on the Sheppard family to be here doing His work.   

We are here for the express purpose of helping the people of Kenya, quite specifically the most vulnerable: the children, the widows, and the orphans.   There is no shortage of need.  We were recently invited by our good friend Lucy to minister at an IDP (Internally Displaced People) camp as a part of our ministry at a children’s home and school she runs just outside of Nairobi.  Lucy is a wonderful Kenyan lady with a passion to help her people.   We were sharing our vision and passion with her about developing a similar ministry.  She was so excited, and offered her assistance with some of the red tape we will be encountering along the way.  She was just so excited that we would be helping widows and orphans, as the need is so overwhelming.

I am reminded of some of the key passages of scripture that confirm our calling to be here doing this, and that help us stay focused and on task. 

James 1:27, " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Proverbs 19:17 "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done."

I want to take some time to fill you in on some of our activities since we arrived.  It’s been a whirlwind of learning and adjusting while getting on with life in a new culture! Here is an abbreviated list of some of our ministry activities:

·         We are currently hosting four students from Canada as they work alongside us learning about life in a foreign culture and the complexities of planting a new work on the mission field.

·         We hosted the student’s parents for the month of April and were able to introduce them to Kenya and our work in it.  From their reports, their lives are permanently impacted.

·         We have been instrumental in paying for life saving medical care for several precious little tiny Kenyans.

·         We have helped a growing family move out of Kibera (the worlds largest and most condensed slum), and into safe housing that fits their family.

·         We have helped a young man here start on the path to a new career. (see his story below)

·         We have started a tour/transportation business (Crossroads Travel Company) that employs several Kenyan people.  This is something that God laid on our hearts to do with our own personal funds.  The plan is to have the business grow and pour income from it into the development and long term costs of running the childrens homes. Eventually the business will get to that point.  For now it is employing Kenyan people and contributing to the economy of this developing country.

·         Jason taught the Evangelism course at Pan Africa Christian University, for the Youth Disciplship Program.

·         Numerous speaking engagements

·         Participating in feeding programs in slums here in Nairobi, both to be of help as well as to learn as we grow!

·         Jason has been able to continue providing pastoral care as we walk through some grief counseling with some of our Kenyan friends who have lost loved ones since we have been here.

·         Joshua is attending Rosslyn Academy, where he did very well.  He has passed grade 4 and is excited to head into grade 5 in August!


In this first 12-18 months, we expected to have to spend some time adjusting to the huge cultural differences from Canada to Kenya, and we were right!  The adjusting is constant.  The speed of things is slower. I have mentioned to some friends recently that I usually get more done in one morning before 10 in Canada than I can accomplish in one week in Kenya.  It’s tough on most days to get things off of the "to do" list!  There is a lot of hurry up and wait.  Below are some of the biggest adjustments and cultural differences: 

·         Government and bureaucracy, making everything confusing and slow. They love paper and meetings over here, and many of you know how much Jason loves this! NOT

·         Driving.....what rules? Challenging, draining, scary, etc, etc. (Jason fits right in)

·         Law enforcement? (the police subsidize their income with "gifts" from people they pull over). They deal with suspected criminals in a different fashion than at home in Canada.

·         Shopping for food and household items.  This is very different but a fun adventure as we learn the techniques for correct bartering, etc.  Lots of open air markets etc.

·         Communication with Kenyans: Most speak English.  It can be hard to process some accents, but for the most part we get by. We Canadians tend to be more direct in our communication, while here, arriving at your point requires a more round-a-bout approach.  This is tough for someone like Jason, as he doesn't really beat around the bush.

·         Communication with Canada.  This is the developing world, and things are not as "put together" as they are in Canada.  The internet regularly goes down.  The electricity in general goes out often, and sometimes for hours on end.  We have had to replace everything in the freezer and fridge at least once since arriving, as a result of the lost power. So the lack of power makes communication with home tough sometimes.

·         We miss people and some of the aspects of life in Canada.  We miss our friends and families, sharing in big events and holidays, missing milestones in people’s lives, etc.  Some days this is overwhelming!

We have been busy setting up our own home as of late, as we moved out of the home we were subletting, and have rented our own space.  It’s nice to have a place to call home. Somewhere we have made cozy for us at the end of a long and frustrating day.  We have plenty of those days.  It’s also nice to have a place to host and entertain guests, both fellow missionaries and our dear friends from Kenya.

We have always maintained that our focus is on "Impacting One Life At  A Time", and we have been seeking to do just that as we work on the big picture, long-term stuff.  We prayerfully seek for the ones that God would have us help and minister to.  While there are several, let me introduce you to one.

Aaron:

Aaron is a 24-year-old young man who is full of hopes and dreams of bettering himself, his family, and his country.  We first met Aaron when he was serving as the night watchman in the compound we used to live in.  This can be a dangerous job, and certainly one that does not pay fairly.  Workers are often exploited here, and Aaron sure was.  He was working 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for about a $1.25 CDN per day.  There was no opportunity for him to get an education. He came to Nairobi from his rural home in Western Kenya, hoping for more opportunity.   He hit a brick wall.  As we got to know him, it became clear that this young man is a hard worker, willing to learn and yearning to do more with his life.  He was already a believer in Christ, however he is in need of some teaching as he grows in his faith.  I asked Aaron one day what he always dreamed of being when he was a little boy.  He lit up as he explained that he always wanted to be a mechanic.  Now, we have been blessed with a wonderful, honest mechanic named Henry.  Henry is a fellow believer, and as far as mechanics go, he blows the competition out of the water with his customer service.  I decided to ask Henry if he would consider an apprentice. Turns out he needed one.  So, through the giving of our supporters back in Canada, we have been able to start Aaron on the road to having a career. He is now working full time as an apprentice with Henry.  We are subsidizing the training fees, we were able to get him his work boots, coveralls, learning materials etc.  We are able to sponsor his living expenses until he starts earning an income from his newfound career.  We purchased a mountain bike so Aaron could get back and forth to work.  He is so grateful, and he is working so hard to earn his way.  The reports from Henry about his progress are excellent.  On top of that, we have been able to get Aaron plugged into a discipleship group at the church we attend, and we have set up a mentoring relationship with a friend we know well from the church. 

As we continue to move forward with the ministry here in Kenya, can we ask you to pray for the following things:
·         Safety on the road - both as we travel within and out of Nairobi, driving is challenging and dangerous.

·         Safety from crime - this is a huge city, (4,000,000 ppl) and crime is a major issue.  Please pray that God keeps us safe from any theft or personal attack.

·         God's direction as we move towards finding and purchasing land.  It has to be God's direction and timing, and we want to be in step with His Spirit in this.

·         Wisdom as we minister God's word to the people of Kenya that He brings into our lives and the opportunities that He provides.

·         Wisdom as we consider the many many requests we get for help.

·         Funds.  We have not met our operating budget as of yet.  We are also approaching the season of ministry where we will need funds to purchase land and start building the children’s homes, etc.

·         Spiritual, emotional, physical health for us as we minister in a new and foreign culture. 

·         Joshua.  Pray for him as he tackles a much more difficult curriculum at school than he was used to at home.  It’s quite demanding.  Also pray for him as he continues to adjust to life in a foreign culture.

We miss you all, and we are so appreciative of your support.  Both financial and prayer support is essential for the continued success of Mission:180 as we strive to accomplish what God has for us to do in Kenya.

Please note that we have started a blog.  It can be found at www.m180.blogspot.com.  We will be putting regular updates and pictures there.  We will post this newsletter there as well as on our website at www.mission180.ca. Follow us on the blog for at least weekly tidbits of news and our reflections on life and ministry in Kenya.


Sincerely,
Jason, Jennifer, and Joshua Sheppard