Update from Africa Nazarene University

April 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Hello from Kenya!

Here are some words of encouragement…from the Apostle Paul.

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, mail nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Romans 8:1-2).

Last Sunday the University Church of the Nazarene had its first Easter service. Pastor Gift Mtukwa shared the resurrection message and led us in a communion services and we had a good number of visitors join us for the first time. The church has now passed the six-month mark in age and our hopes are high for its future. Each new “first” is a special event and it is a privilege to be in on the ground floor as these events take place.

I am finally home from teaching for the last two weeks in Machakos. All I had to do is today was administer the final exam tomorrow and then collect the papers and head back to Nairobi and ANU via a three hour traffic mess. It is good to be home again and soon hope to see Mary Jane and the guys at my house. Most of the students are gone by this time because finals are now over for the trimester on campus. I’m sure there are a lot of them very happy to get those tests behind them and get a little break.

The people there were very friendly and the accommodations comfortable. I got three meals a day, privacy to study, and some creature comforts like a refrigerator and a TV. Well, the TV just got a couple of stations and usually the words were in Kiswahili, but I don’t watch that much anyway. One real blessing was a fan that blew from the doorway to cool my room off. The rooms are made of metal and when the afternoon equatorial sun starts bearing down it gets a little warm. When the sun set it cooled off nicely for the night. I shared my room with a few lizards (which is not at all unusual in this part of the world), but as long as they picked up after themselves we got along just fine. I had a gray cat join me in the dining area for my meals and found that he liked French Fries. Hopefully he won’t be any worse for wear because of the American influence.

The students I have been teaching are all teachers in their own right. They are taking their holiday time to improve their educational standing and hopefully eventually gain a university degree. Elementary teachers make about 15,000 Kenya Shilling per month (about $187) and many times they are taking care of orphans as well as their own family. I talked with one lady yesterday who is caring for five AIDS orphans as well as her own three children – and on top of this she is going to school so she can to try and advance her lot in life. She is not alone in her situation. They are a pretty amazing bunch.

One neat thing about this group was that each morning they spontaneously began singing to start our class. One would lead and then the others would echo the words. Most songs were in the Akamba language, but it was harmonious and beautiful. One thing about Kenya; it is a singing and dancing country. Take away their voices and their legs and I don’t know if they could survive. Since I don’t speak the language I couldn’t join the song and since I haven’t got a dancing bone in my body I just watched and smiled, but the class has been a joy to be around.

The city of Machakos is surrounded by huge hills and in the mornings the clouds settle down on them like the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. In that regard it felt a bit like home, but when I looked around and became aware that I was about the only white face anywhere in the area it sometime feels a bit awkward. Children love to stare and point and say, “How are you” (emphasis always on the YOU!). I just smile back and wave. It’s an interesting place.

The roads on this trip were pretty interesting. Sometimes they were as smooth as anyone could ask for and other times there were long stretches that resembled more of a dry river bed that a road. The dust was often so thick that one couldn’t even see the car ahead – or the one coming at me. Thank the Lord for His protection while traveling.

Though we have had a little rain things continue to be in serious condition. Agriculture and Tourism are the main industries in this country, but if the rains continue to fail and the government continues to struggle with leadership issues, then both of these lifelines will be greatly affected. We could use a lot a rain for a long time to make up for the lack we have experienced. I pray it will come soon. If it doesn’t, it is going to a long stretch until the next expected rains come in October. Less than 2% of Kenya is forested, so there is not much help from the trees in helping to form clouds in the sky.

I am returning home just in time for the Africa Leadership Conference, which will be held over the next week at ANU. Church of the Nazarene leadership from all over the continent and some from the US will be here and it will hopefully be a good time to be challenged, trained, inspired, and to catch up on the news from places we have not been to, or at least been to for a while. It will also be a time of getting all the exams graded since they have to all be turned in by next Friday. I guess I’ll be splitting my time between the two events.

Mary Jane has been as busy as a bee getting ready for our international guests. Yesteday she was off to the travel agent to make the first payment for our choir tour and then off to the airport to greet incoming visitors. With me being gone I haven’t been able to keep up on everything that has been happening, but we call once a day and try to keep in touch. I know we both will be happy for a little down time before we start gearing up for our next big trip. It will be here before we know it and Lord willing I will be arriving in my hometown one month from today. A lot still has to be done between now and then.

So, it’s time to get this letter on the “net” and soon after I’ll start getting the sound system in place for our guests and the upcoming meetings. And so it goes…I hope you all have a great day and a wonderful weekend!

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya


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Update from Africa Nazarene University Update from Africa Nazarene University

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