[Note from Tim: Sorry for back-posting, this is a bit of a catch up for those that may not be keeping up to date on social media]
Hi again everybody,
Lots of love to you all. I can’t believe how quickly the last week has flown by or just how much has happened in it. I hope you are all well but please let us know if there’s anything we can be praying about for you. We think of you and miss you.
Thank you for your prayers that we would be able to absorb as much as possible from the training; our schedule seems quite intense and we found ourselves taking quite a few involuntary naps at the beginning of the week when we were getting used to the altitude and sensory overload of this beautiful place. A typical day here begins with breakfast at 8am, worship and devotion time (a different team member each day shares something God has been doing in their life, teaching them or an encouraging truth about God) from 9 until 10. This is followed (until 11) by a chance for people to share their testimony about how they came to know God and how they got to this point of wanting to serve God in mission. Following a cup of chai or two the real study begins at 11.30 and we have 3 hour and a half sessions throughout the rest of the day led by either long term / experienced missionaries or African nationals who are pastors, university lecturers or who have a particular ministry focus where they are.
These sessions have been incredible – we’ve learned so much, taken so many notes and had great opportunities to ask questions. So far we have spent a lot of time increasing our cross-cultural awareness and this has been closely knit with learning language skills. This is to equip us to be as effective as possible at building relationships, seeing people as individuals and not ‘projects’, and not assuming they represent an entire people group, culture or religion. It sounds simple but I can see how my western-ness is so ingrained and I need to try to see things from a different perspective. We’ve also covered the Biblical, theological and historical foundations of mission seeing how God has always had a plan to restore all his creation to himself – it is his mission and we’re invited to be part of it. As we’re also going on placements to many places where Islam is the main religion we also had some amazing sessions learning about Islam, the Qur’an, how Muslims think of Christianity and their beliefs about Jesus. This was not a time where we prepared arguments or tore down anyone’s beliefs. It was about how we can bridge gaps between Muslims and Christians, learning to understand them, seeing them as individual people and not just set of beliefs, learning to love them and also being ready to ‘give an answer for the hope that we have’ in Christ in a loving and respectful way. One of my favourite sessions took place today because it was about worship which I love. We looked at how we can participate even when we don’t know the language and how we can see beauty in another culture’s way of praising even if it’s very different to our norm.
Just in case you were thinking all this sounds a bit heavy I just wanted to reassure you of how much fun we’re having and how amazing the relationship between team members is. It’s hard to open yourself up and be vulnerable when you’re sharing your personal story but it’s incredible how it draws you together and shows you how you can enjoy, support and encourage each other. How often do we really do this in life? What are the benefits we miss out on?!
We spent our rest day (Saturday) visiting an elephant orphanage and the Nairobi giraffe centre. It was as brilliant as it sounds! It was also great to go to the local church on Sunday and be amongst the community.
James and I were also very privileged to spend several hours with Rachel from the family James stayed with for 3 months in Kenya in 2014. I loved meeting her, hearing about the work this family is doing, receiving great advice and laughing a lot / ‘setting the world to rights’.
Please can you pray for both me and James and our families too as we have both received sad news from back home this week. Sadly my Grandpa who was 94 passed away on Sunday morning and James’s great grandmother who was 95 passed away on Monday night/early this morning. Please pray for God to comfort us and give us peace as well as helping the families to draw together. We send all our love to our families and want you to know we’re with you in spirit and praying for you as well as sending tons of virtual hugs.
Sorry this has been such a long email but we just want to share as much as we can. Please pray for us as we’re now half way through our training and we’re turning our thoughts to our placement in Tanzania and wanting to be as prepared as possible for it and grow closer to Lauren, the other team member who is going with us. She is WONDERFUL and we’re so happy to be going with her.
Please also pray for healing for James as his back has been very painful which is causing suffering and frustration. Thank you!
Lots of love,
James and Esther xXx