Dear Family and Friends,
This is a long overdue update! Sorry about that! I’d like it to be fairly ‘newsy’, so I’ll divide it up in to sections so you can skip to a particular section if you get bored reading the others! My (Jon) laptop decided to freeze up in mid-December, so we had email issues for a bit until we got Melissa’s computer set up for it. A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all, thank you all for the Christmas cards and presents we received, we’re especially thankful for JESUS, the greatest present.
To sum up briefly, after a wonderful two weeks in the US in October for my sister’s wedding (see our blog for some pictures), we settled back in to busy life and work in Magambua in November and December. Melissa was up at RVA in November for a ‘farewell celebration’ for her mom, Elaine Barnett, to celebrate 40+ years of missionary service at Rift Valley Academy. It was a fun and honoring night, and they were able to surprise ‘Shosho’ with her son Glenn flying up from South Africa for the celebration without her knowing it! Melissa’s mom has now settled in to a new ministry in Naivasha Kenya in discipleship, reaching out to white settlers, and working with Old Africa magazine as a regular contributor.
As a family we were in Kenya over the Christmas holidays, at Baringo with Melissa’s mom and then Eldama Ravine with Stovers and Aunt Pat. It was a great time and the holidays included fun things like crocodiles swimming right up to the veranda at Lake Baringo, beautiful birds, being chased by donkeys, flash light tag, dominos, sleeping in a treehouse, and swimming (not with the crocs).
FAMILY LIFE – On the homefront here in Magambua, it’s been a hard last week because our five year old German Shepherd, T-bo, died. He wasn’t eating great since we got back from Christmas and we thought it was just worms, but he didn’t turn around after the treatment. He continued to deterioate and stopped eating and drinking all together. My guess is he either had a twisted bowel or some form of a tick born disease. We all cried and had a graveside prayer, and planted two banana trees over the grave. Our Tanzanian friends were very comforting, but they don’t see their ‘pets’ in the same way we do, so it’s harder for them to understand our level of grief over a dog. It especially has been hard for Melissa, because losing T-bo re-awakened grief she has for her father. The kids are doing OK, they are so resilient, and it’s neat to see how their different personalities deal with missing T-bo.
Otherwise we are doing very well as a family. The kids are enjoying their new clubhouse built above the containers. Homeschooling continues to go well with Meredith teaching the boys, and Melissa teaching Rachel. Dad has been doing science lessons and also trumpet lessons with Josh. Meredith joined the church choir and is singing in Swahili. Melissa is also staying busy with hosting anyone working on the station at morning tea time/devotional time. The rains have come in earnest in December and January and everything is green and lush. Melissa has been planting trees and flowers around our place like franjipani, lillies, and bogenvillia. She also bought a cool little wood stove called JikoPoa (cool stove) which is brick insulated and much more fuel efficient than charcoal stoves or the common ‘three stone fire’ method that most rural villagers use. The stove is very affordable, and only burns two sticks to heat a medium size pot. Melissa wants to try to get some of our local ladies interested in it. Small efforts like these, if reproduced, can help slow deforestation here in Africa.
FAMINE RELIEF- Thank you so much for the overwhelming response to our famine relief efforts. In the end we had funds enough to purchase 307 sacks of maize! The official distribution started on the 17th of this month and has been going well. The villages around us that seem to have been hit the hardest by a poor harvest are Magambua, Ilasee, Ovada, Wairo, Dinae, Manantu, Gumbu and Motto. We have two distribution points, one here at the church house (Lorusso’s place) in Magambua, and the pastor’s house in Kwa Mtoro. Borrowing wisdom from some Christian transformational development ideas (see the book “When Helping Hurts”), we decided with this distribution to do a sliding scale approach, and sell small amounts of maize at about half the normal market price to those who can afford it. For those who are extremely poor, widows, or orphans, we are helping them with free food. We’re depending a lot on church leaders, local believers, and village leaders to identify those who are really hurting in the community, and we’ve been asking for references. This has helped decrease some of the massive lines in previous years where everyone shows up (rich and poor) to get their free handout. Money that comes in from the half-price sales will go back in to the fund to buy more food for relief or specially treated seed to distribute to people so that this coming year they can plant again and avoid dependency.
NEW WARD BUILDING PROJECT- Work is progressing slowly but surely on the mortuary, gates, and finishing out the new ward rooms, see pictures at https://jmeager.aimsites.org/tag/new-ward-project/. We’ve collected material for the 21 new beds and are working on repairing the generator so we can use the welding machine to weld the metal bed frames.
MEDICAL WORK- Work at the clinic continues with many routine cases punctuated by emergencies and more difficult situations. We had a six year old who nearly drowned but was pulled from the water in time to save him. He recovered completely. Two other children died from mushroom poisoning when they brought home mushrooms that they thought were safe to eat. There have been some patchy measles outbreaks in two different villages, thankfully that seems to be settling down. With the rains and cold nights I’ve seen an increase in pneumonia, especially among young children under five. Rabid dogs are still a concern in certain areas. We continue to vaccinate dogs in our area, as well has people who have been bitten. We’ve had people come from as far as 100km away for the vaccine series. One case was a child who met a rabid honey badger as he turned the corner by his homestead out in the forest.
LOOKING FORWARD TO – Jon will be going to a CMDA doctor conference in February in Kenya; a visit by Jon’s parents in April; Lydia Chew and her son Wai-Tim, from Cedar Crest Bible Fellowship Church, are coming for a visit in June. Lydia is a nurse and Wai-Tim is pre-med. Wai-Tim will shadow me for a month as part of a Lehigh University Experiential Learning in Health program.
We praise the Lord with you in this new year, another year to see the Lord work, another year to serve Him through thick and thin, another year to see how He ‘makes all things new’. I challenge you in this new year, what new thing does the Lord want to do in your life? If we are in Christ, we are a new creation, praise the Lord!
Serving with you,
Jon for all of us