In some ways, it feels like I've been in Kenya for much longer than I have (I'm sure missing my man has something to do with that!), but in other ways, the time has flown by. I fly to Korr on Friday - finally! It has been almost exactly five years since I was last in Korr, and I am SO looking forward to being back.
As I look to the next few days, they will be busy busy as I prepare to head up. Monday, I will take part in a short term orientation. Tuesday, I will deliver whatever supplies can't go up in my colleagues truck to the AIM Air hangar to be flown to Korr. Wednesday my stuff will fly up, and (hopefully!) be met by someone on the desert airstrip to take it to my new home. Thursday I will pack up here at Mayfield, do some last minute shopping, and fly to Korr on Friday. It will be a quick turnaround to get settled and figure out what I'm teaching, as school starts on Monday! YEEKS!
But at the same time I'm looking forward, I thought I'd put down a few highlights from the last almost two months - mostly to answer the question of, "Uhhh... what have you been up to the last two months, Hillary?" :) There's a few photos here, but if you've got a hankering for more, check out Kevin's and my photo-a-day blog for everything from the exciting to the mundane! TwoHeartsAWorldApart.blogspot.com You can also check out my facebook photos - I have and will be posting lots of photos from the past two months before I head up to Korr, while I still have good internet!
Africa Based Orientation (ABO)
This is the three week intensive orientation that all full time AIM Missionaries take part in before starting (or very shortly after starting) their assignments. I want in part because it would be good for me to do it for my own time in Korr, but also so that when I return to Canada to continue working with AIM in helping send others to full time ministry (AIM calls this mobilizing), I can speak to this really intensive and unique experience. Some highlights from ABO
- Meeting over fifty adults and thirty children who are headed to and working in all parts of Africa. We started the three weeks with hearing everyone's story about how they came to be where they are. At first, I was worried it would get a little tedious, but this was definitely a highlight of the whole time. I loved hearing how God has been moving in different peoples lives and in different ways, all leading them to want to serve in Africa. I was so impressed how, over and over, people talked about God's perfect timing, and how God has been teaching people to give up control of this or that area of their life. Mostly, I kept looking around the room at people from Canada, the US, Brazil, England, Australia, Holland, Korea, and even those who had grown up in Africa - brothers and sisters from all around the globe, going to countries all over Africa - called to make Christ known. It was awesome in the traditional sense of the word, and humbling, and so, so exciting! I'm so grateful for these people, many who will be friends for a long time to come!
- Four and a half days on African cultures and worldview. We had many presenters, and many topics, but my favourite (surprise, surprise!) were our seminars, given by a Kenyan, on culture, religion, worldview, and the Bible. His insight into his own culture was impressive - it's really hard to see and understand one's own culture from an objective point of view, and he was so incredibly perceptive. I was humbled by his passion to see God's transformation in the broken parts of his culture, and challenged to look at my own culture with objective glasses, too. His workshops were also a challenge to my black and white thinking. Things are not always as right as we think they are, nor as wrong as we think they are. If anything, these seminars taught me to give pause before jumping to conclusions about certain cultural practices I see, while still looking to scripture as the ultimate measuring stick.
- I have had some amazing opportunities to see and experience some of Africa's amazing beauty. I have hiked down into an ancient crater in Nakuru, visited an archaeological site in the Rift Valley, taken in breathtaking views of lakes and hills and valleys, seen baboons, zebras, buffalo, monkeys, and antelopes on the side of the road, and been flipped out of a raft on the Nile's raging rapids in Uganda. Seriously? Is this my life? God has made a pretty stunning and exciting world, and I'm so grateful to get to see this corner of it.
- In addition to the people I've met at ABO, staying at Mayfield for several weeks has allowed me to get to know a whole host of different people. Some just come through for the night, while some - like me - are here for longer. We share meals together, and it is always so cool to hear where people are from, but also what they are doing all over Africa. Mayfield is really a hub for missionaries in East Africa and beyond, and it is always so interesting to hear people talk about their passion, whether that be working with kids with disabilities in Kampala, translating the Bible in Northern Kenya, teaching English in Dar Es Salam, training pastors in Nairobi, investigating IT or business opportunities in North Africa, doing accounting for the TIMO program in Arusha, visiting refugee camps and development projects to better connect with the refugees they work with in New York, or any other number of things that bring people to Africa.
- Some of the longer term people, like my friend Marlene who is on holiday from her work in South Sudan or my friend A. who was staying here for a holiday from her work in the Islands, or my colleague Steve who I will be working with in Korr, have been blessings to me as I'm here. They are friends to bounce ideas off of, share recipes and movies with, go supply shopping with, play cards with in the evenings... I am so grateful for people who make what could be a lonely, transitional time a time full of laughter and prayer and friendship.
Preparing for the Future
- The end of my time in Kenya is not the end of my ministry with AIM. My main 'job' before heading to Korr has been to prepare myself as best I can for my role as a mobilizer, working with AIM back in Canada to help people through the application process, to help with their transition to Africa, and to raise awareness and support for AIM in general throughout Alberta. ABO was one part of that. I have also been to visit the three of AIM's four regional offices in Africa. Two are in or around Nairobi, and one is in Kampala (I got to go to Uganda! Wheeee!) The South Region office is in South Africa... I'll have to get there one day, but not this time around. I've met with leadership there and learned about what they are dreaming about for the countries in their regions and a little bit about how each region operates. I've spent time at Tumaini, AIM's counselling center, and will be getting a tour of Africa Based Services next week. AIM Air, Financial services, the IT department, insurance services, and more are all a part of AIM's support network for missionaries serving throughout Africa. It has been a time of learning and observing, and more and more I am excited about mobilizing people to work towards AIM's defining mission:
With a priority to the unreached, Christ centered churches among all African peoples.