Dear Family and Friends,
The snow is falling in Pennsylvania…… and we sure do miss it! Here in Magambua, the rains are falling, and everything is cooling off, and turning green. The villagers are streaming to their shamba’s (fields) to start plowing, the rain tanks are filling, trees are budding, termites are flying around, the scorpions and snakes are stirring, the frogs and cicadas are croaking and buzzing. In the midst of this we are listening to Christmas carols and have snowmen decorating the dining room table. (No wonder people say missionaries are ‘strange folk’.) Of course, we are reminded that in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is in the heat of summer, not winter. When we asked Margaret, who you may remember hails from Australia, about her Christmas traditions, she said they often have a lunch of cold meats and salads as it is often a hot day! We are realizing more and more how many of our “Christmas” songs are really just songs about winter.
We are loving having both boys home for their December vacation, we are five again around the table, five playing Uno and board games, five squeezing on to the couch to watch a movie. We enjoyed a special Christmas turkey dinner this past weekend with our missionary neighbors, the Hunzikers and Margaret. And lately Melissa’s been filling the house with smells of freshly baked whole grain bread!
The end of the boys’ school term in November/early December was eventful with a lot of neat memories. The boys hiked in Hell’s Gate with the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade dorms for their dorm field trip, and got to swim in the sulfur springs! They also had Pinewood Derby at RVA, Josh made it to the sixth place and also won special prize for design, and Drew made it to fourth place in his class. The boys loved working on their cars in the wood shop at school. Melissa and Rachel were able to be there for the Derby, and also some band concerts, and then I joined them later for the sixth grade band concert in which Josh played trumpet. He’s playing first trumpet, and really enjoying it! We stayed in Josh’s dorm with the Nielsen family, Josh’s dorm parents, and loved hanging out with them during the weekend and conference.
While in Kenya, Josh, Drew, and I climbed Mt. Longonot in the Rift Valley, an extinct volcano with rim trail around the crater, about a 3,000 ft ascent, with summit at 9,000 ft. We all made it to the summit and around the crater rim, I am so proud of how well they did, and it was a blast. The first week of December we also had a wonderful AIM Kenya/Tanzania mission conference with 500+ people. Pastor Eddie Larkman from the UK shared about the grace of God from 2 Corinthians and we were so refreshed and renewed spiritually! It was a huge treat seeing Eddie and his wife Kathy again.
On the medical side, one thing I really enjoy about being a GP (family doctor), is the variety of ways I can help people. A couple weeks ago in Magambua, there was a particular day at the health center where in the span of the morning I did the following (in this order): Had a breech delivery, reduced a shoulder dislocation from a motorcycle accident, saw a patient in follow up for Pellagra (niacin deficiency), did a first trimester ultrasound for a threatened miscarriage, counseled a patient who’s HIV test came back positive that morning , and then gave some rabies vaccine to a little child who had been bitten by a dog, (along with all the other ‘routine’ patients in between). Phew! That was quite a morning! It feels good to be able to meet people where they are.
Thank you for praying for our recent Health Committee meeting, it went very well, we heard updates about the villages of Msera, Birise, and Baaba. Pray for our efforts as we investigate driving to Birise in the dry season, and planting a church and possible dispensary there. I’m sure you’ll hear more about this in the future. The MCH clinic in Birise, it seems, has opened wide the door for a formal church plant, and the village leadership is ready to give land already for a building. People were asking for an evangelist to come and share the gospel more, and minister to believers there.
Pastor Ntalimbo is planning to go to the village leaders in Msera, a heavily M@slim village, and ask them what needs or issues they may need help with as a village.
Please pray for our family as the next few weeks will bring more travel, both in the car and on foot:
Dec. 22-27 Christmas at Eldama Ravine in Kenya
Dec. 29 – Jan. 1 Jon and Josh plan to climb Mt. Meru near Arusha, Tanzania
Jan. 2 and 3 Errands in Nairobi
Jan. 4th The boys return to RVA to get ready for Second Term.
Pray also for our Josh and also three of our neighborhood kids, who were bitten a few days ago by a possibly rabid kitten (Josh has had the pre-exposure rabies shots, and now I’m giving him the post-exposure shots; the others are getting post-exposure shots too.)
MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours, may the peace of Christ and wonder of His Incarnation fill you with hope and joy in Him, the One who loves you and gave His life for you.
Love in Jesus,
Jon for all of us
1- Josh and his Pine Wood Derby car and prize (cup and bread design from the book of John)
2- Drew and Melissa playing soccer at RVA
3- Rachel with a Thanksgiving turkey bone
4- Mt. Longonot summit
5- Rachel and Nyemo dressed up
6- Making Christmas cookies in Magambua
7 – Working on a model plane with Dad
8- A turkey Christmas dinner with fellow missionaries in Magambua