Monday, August 28, 2017

Family Update

After a very productive trip to Tanzania and Ethiopia, I want to take a brief pause at the end of the summer to give an update from our family.  I know that when I start getting email responses to my blog with "By the way, how are Hannah and Noah doing?" it's time for an update.

As many of you know, Hannah suffered a concussion at work early in the summer.  This past year she worked really hard at dealing with all of her health issues and we felt she had finally come on top of them, but then she was hit at work with a flying object and received a phase two concussion.  This has resulted in pronounced dizziness, nonstop headaches, and a strong aversion to sound and noise.  It has been over two months now and she is not able yet to work with her clients, but thankfully her job has found other things for her to do in the meantime.

What was very interesting to learn is that our instinct when we are injured is often wrong.  I had been advising Hannah to rest, to avoid noise, to avoid things that make her dizzy (and to be honest, her doctors had been advising her of the same).  But when she went to the concussion clinic, they told her that avoidance will delay her healing and prolong her brain's intolerance of things that bother her.  Rather than moving away from what makes her uncomfortable, dizzy, and headachy, she needs to slowly move toward it.  That was actually a huge relief for us to hear.  We had been hearing stories from people that it can take one-two years to recover from a concussion, but what we are learning is that a major factor in recovery is how the person "protects" themselves, and thereby prolongs their discomfort.  So Hannah is slowly trying to challenge herself and expose herself to noise by hanging out with clients, shopping at Meijer, going for walks and moving her head to look around.  While the symptoms are still uncomfortable, the fact that her healing is somewhat within her control brought a bit of comfort to her.

It was a good challenge for me to think through.  I had gone through the same thing with my back injury last year.  We want to protect and heal and avoid that which causes discomfort.  But sometimes we need to move toward those things that make us uncomfortable in order to grow in tolerance.  Seems like that lesson could be applied a few places, doesn't it?

Hannah is in grad school at Western Michigan University for her MSW (and of course she didn't let her concussion stop her from taking a summer class).

Noah and his girlfriend Hannah were able to fly home from Washing DC for a week of vacation and we had a chance to go camping with all of us:  Michael and his boys Jonathan and Benjamin, Noah and his Hannah, my Hannah, myself, and Michael's two dogs, Rosy and Pebbles.  It was only a few days of camping but the Reeds hadn't done it since we had moved to Africa in 2005, so it was good have that experience again.

Michael then had a conference in Washington DC and I took the opportunity to drive down with him, spend some time with Noah and his Hannah before flying out to Tanzania. I was thrilled to get into his car and see the cross that I had anointed his car with the year before (when he had just bought it) still on the dash, now outlined with dust.  Can you see it in the picture? I loved that he kept the visual reminder of the fact that he is the manager of the car and that it to has been committed to God.  We had a great few days together doing some touristy things and also just learning more about the work that they are both involved in.  Noah is still enjoying his work as a background investigator and his Hannah continues to work with International Justice Ministries.

My dear husband, Michael, continues to enjoy his work at Eerdmans, where he has now been for 22 years.  He takes me with him for some lunches or dinners and I have to admit that the authors he meets with speak a different language than me.  It's interesting to listen in to the very academic theological talk that he is engaged in day in and day out!  He also continues to be very patient as I travel here, there and everywhere, often without internet or ability to have contact.  Skype continues to be our friend when we can access wifi!

Jonathan avoiding some teeth.

Michael's boys are also doing well.  Jonathan turned 23 in July.  He is celebrated his first year anniversary of working at the Meijer gas station and continues to take computer classes at GRCC. 

Benjamin spent a second summer interning with Madison Square Church and had the opportunity to go on a service project to Pittsburgh, which he said was very moving for him spiritually.  He is hoping to be baptized in the fall.  He also has a part-time job with Firehouse Subs and is trying to save towards college as he is now entering his senior year of college.
Benjamin in Pittsburgh
Hannah enjoying the waves of Lake Michigan!
Noah trying to look serious.  Doesn't he look like Bob in this picture?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Theological Education in Africa, Tanzania

The Theological Education in Africa (TEA) conference, hosted in Tanzania by Resonate Global Missions (formerly Christian Reformed World and Home Missions) concluded last Friday.  Five hundred people from about fifteen countries in East and Southern Africa, worshipping together and networking.  It was exciting, invigorating, and productive, with many good speakers from many parts of the world.  Dr. Mwaya Kitavi and his team did an amazing job of coordinating and facilitating this conference.

We had the opportunity to present the Discipling Marketplace Leaders ministry on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to pastors and church leaders.  As usual, our message is received with great enthusiasm.  We continue to be thrilled at the excitement and engagement of our participants.  Several came up to me during the course of the week and told me how our workshop has completely turned their thinking about the church, and that they can't stop thinking about what we presented.  But we know that no matter how excited someone is when they hear the message, the real challenge is when they go back to their normal environment and resume their regular duties.  The brain tends to compartmentalize and we don't easily transfer new information and knowledge into application.  Therein lies our challenge.  How do we help pastors and church leaders implement a ministry of discipling the marketplace members in their church?
We were blessed to have our Kenya team travel to Tanzania, despite the worrisome aftermath of the Kenyan election.  The pastor who seems to have done the best job of full integration of the DML ministry in his church, Pastor Moffat Weru, was with the team and gave a great testimony at our workshop, describing how this ministry has changed and grown his church.

Today I fly from Tanzania to Ethiopia where we will have a few days of meetings with the up and coming DML team in Addis Ababa.  We continue to covet your prayers for this ministry!

DML Kenya Team (L to R):  Rev. Kisala, me, Caroline Sudi, Betty Ndagwa, Pastor Moffat Weru, Dr. Walker

We worshipped at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Arusha, a very formal, High-Church.  After the service they auctioned off the non-cash tithe gifts.

Rev. Dr. Michelle Lloyd-Paige, a former colleague of Bob at Calvin College, led us in worship each day of the conference through her beautiful dance.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Praying for Kenya

On Tuesday, August 8, Kenya will have it's presidential elections.  I was in Kenya for the last presidential election in February of 2013, which was very tense because the previous election of 2007 erupted in much violence and many deaths.  Thankfully, the election of 2013 was mostly peaceful.  But I have been told by Kenyans that tensions are high for this election.  Commodities are scarce as people are stock-piling goods, and business has slowed down considerably as people are holding on to their money in case of emergency.  Many people are leaving the major cities and going to the countryside in hopes of being safe.

It didn't help that last week, a senior election monitoring official was tortured and murdered.  It's difficult to think of the courage that others who are responsible for monitoring this election for transparency will have to show, given this violence.

Tribalism plays a major role in Kenyan politics and this election is no different, with the race between current president, Uhuru Kenyatta who is Kikuyu, and the opposition leader Raila Odinga who is Luo. This is Odinga's fourth time running for president. The Kikuyu tribe is the largest in Kenya, with 6.6 million people; the Luo tribe is the fourth largest in Kenya, with 4 million people.

Please pray for Kenya this week, for free and transparent elections, free of violence, where every vote of every citizen will count.

While all of this goes on in political spheres, we continue to see small business men and women, who care about the Church and their families, continue to seek and strive to be who God has made them to be.  The story below was written by one of the co-directors of DML Kenya, Caroline Sudi.


By Caroline Sudi, Co-Director DML Kenya
Grace Mzee, in the front, standing with one of her drivers.

Meet Grace Mzee, the Manager of Salama Riders. The word ‘Salama’ is Swahili for ‘fine’. This is a business in the transport industry owned by a Marketplace minister and TOT (Trainer of Trainers) of the Discipling Marketplace Leaders ministry. Grace is one of those who were in the very first class of BAM and in fact taught both of the current Co-Directors for DML Kenya (Rev. Elly Kisala and Caroline Sudi), as we were in the second class. She is also a Medical Engineer at the Kitale Referral Hospital right here in Kitale town. She is also a Pastor’s wife serving in their ministry.  Talk of a busy marketplace minister!
In more rural areas of Kenya, many people get around by “boda-boda,” which are motorcycle taxis.  The customer demand for this form of public transportation has been significantly increasing over the last number of yearsSalama Riders was started in January 2016 with a capital of $1200.00 USD and begun with one new motor bike. Through a well-structured management, Grace was able to purchase two more second-hand motorbikes in quick succession, and a fourth one through a DML, loan growing her fleet to 4 motorbikes in less than two years. Her husband doubles up as the Supervisor of Salama Riders; and runs the day-to-day of the business including recruitment, repairs and servicing. She has employed four experienced riders and a mechanic who ensure that the bikes are in tip-top condition. Her husband is also Pastor to their local church.
Each motorbike earns her $3.50/day, six days a week giving her about $330.00 USD net profit per month. Through the business training offered by DML, Grace is able to manage the processes from recruitment of drivers, communication, record-keeping to salaries; and according to Grace, this is the reason for her success. “DML has been of great help to me and my business,” she stated during our conversation. 

Salama Riders business hopes to grow into motor vehicle public transport business and the purchase of a car –the probox model is in their plan. These are commonly used for public transport commuting between Kitale town and the outskirts which is their target area. They also plan to expand their church building with resources from the business – a need necessitated by their growing congregation. They also have a social bottom line which is to support needy children. These are found within their locality and what better way than to reach out to such as they are the hope for tomorrow’s church.