In July Carrie Pither flew out to Nairobi to start her assignment with AIM Air. Before starting ministry, Carrie participated in our African Based Orientation training. Here, she gives us a flavour of what her first weeks have been like…
After church in Gatamaiyu we were invited to the home of a local family for lunch where we were thoroughly spoilt with an amazing African feast.
The three week orientation course in Nakuru was crammed with a huge range of training. This orientation is so essential in helping me establish a firm foundation in these early months, especially once I start the ‘real’ mission work at AIM Air and life becomes increasingly busy. This bedrock will be crucial (Matthew 7: 24-27). Every day, hour and minute in fact, I am learning new things and I haven’t even started on my language studies yet!
The course also included looking at transformational development, focussing on community work within a theological framework. This included a visit to a small community where we met a group of women who had formed a fellowship and entrepreneurial cooperative called Strong Mothers. Our group of six from AIM met with them in their home. It was a small, bare house but we all had a chair and were made very welcome. They shared with us how they had started the group as just two women meeting together to support each other, and how they had grown to twelve. Their projects included farming crops, keeping chickens, a cow, selling charcoal and they had future ideas for buying plates, cutlery and pots to rent out for weddings, funerals and local events. The success of their projects is down to ‘simple, small and slowly, slowly’. They were achieving so much, but most importantly they were caring for each other. Each week they make a personal donation to the group, which is used to support a another member or someone in the community who is in need. They are such a resourceful, inspiring group with great dignity and pride.
As he entered, he broke down crying saying he was ready to be ‘saved’.
I found the afternoon with these wonderful women such an encouragement and a blessing. While at the meeting one of the husbands unexpectedly turned up. At first it wasn’t clear why he was there. He lingered in the doorway for some time but finally seemed to pluck up courage to enter. As he entered, he broke down crying saying he was ready to be ‘saved’. The Strong Mothers had been praying for him for some time and their initial surprise soon turned to true African delight – crying, singing, praising and ululation! We joined them too. It was a powerful, spirit filled experience.
After the service at Gatamaiyu church.
It was hard saying farewell to new friends at the end of the orientation course as we all headed in different directions throughout Africa. There were tears and hugs, but we are all grateful for technology, allowing our friendships to continue.
The next stop for me after orientation was Navaisha for a five day course on how to learn a language (Language Acquisition Made Practical/LAMP). In the morning we had lessons on the LAMP method of learning, and later our local ‘language helpers’ (students from Gatamaiyu, a small local village) arrived for one to one training. Each day we spent time in their village practising our Swahili. They were very patient and gracious! On Sunday in Gatamaiyu church we introduced ourselves and gave our ‘testimony’ in Swahili. This time grace was replaced with cheers and clapping. Bwana Asifiwe (Praise the Lord)!
I’m now in Nairobi and it’s great to be here. AIM colleagues and their families have been so kind with visits, a welcome bag of goodies and necessities, and always being on standby for any of my silly newcomer questions (and there have been plenty). I’m feeling settled which is great. However, I know that life at the moment is simple and the pace is slow but this is not the life I will eventually be leading once I start ‘work’ at AIM Air. I’m under no illusion that life will be busier and increasingly difficult as the weeks and months progress and that’s all part of the learning curve I’m on. I’m trying to root myself in the wisdom of Matthew 6: 25-34 especially ‘do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself’. Please pray with me that I will keep the balance right.