“… the desires of your heart …”

     As a 6 year-old, I was thrilled to start school.  My grade one teacher, Mrs. Knox, made a profound impact on me.  Because of her,  I wanted to become  a teacher. Everyday, I would get home from school and with chalk in hand stand in front of the black board my dad had made and with younger siblings lined up facing the board, I would teach them what I had learned in school. While other children would change their career choice every time they were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, my heart was set on being a teacher and it never wavered.

As I was growing up, my path crossed with many missionaries – at church and at camps.  A missions trip to Haiti when I was in grade 13 reinforced what I understood to be a call on my life to be a missionary.

During my college and post graduate studies, I was encouraged by church leaders to serve and be ordained as a pastor.  God continued to use the ministries that I had embraced and the individuals with whom I worked to work toward ordination and pastoral service with an emphasis on Christian education.

Now jump ahead a few years — In 1984, I began my missionary career in DRC (formerly Zaire).  At that point in my life, while I had served as pastor and teacher, the call to missionary service was actualized.  I began to think of how God had met the desires of my heart, “delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4)  My understanding of this Scripture is that when our desire is God’s desire, he will grant that desire.  The key is knowing what is God’s desire for us.  Jesus said the same thing when he said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Preaching and teaching opportunities

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Above: South Rift District Free Methodist Youth Camp at Londiani (Campers, quizzing and District youth leader (a former student)

Kenya Highlands University

Among the former students that I work with are 3 lecturers, one administrator, and one chaplain.  (I could never get everyone together for a picture so I am starting with the 2 that were around for the picture).

I am so blessed -I have been given the desires of my heart!  How privileged and humbled I feel to teach alongside former students in the very institution where I began in 1994.

 

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Coming Out on the Other Side

I experienced a wonderful sense of peace and comfort as I worshipped this morning with my church family at Whitby Free Methodist Church.   I wrote down the first two lines of a chorus we were singing which seemed to sum up what has been happening in my life for the last year.

“All through the storm,
Your  love is the anchor.”

Let me explain.

I returned to Canada in May 2014, to attend FMCiC General Conference and to begin 6 months of connection with my supporting churches in ministry as a missionary in Kenya.  God enabled me to travel across Canada and in the fall I was within a month of returning to Kenya when my sister, Marilyn, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Thanksgiving (Canada) 2014

Thanksgiving (Canada) 2014

My suitcase was being packed to return to Kenya in November but plans were put on hold so that I could spend time with Marilyn.  Details were worked out for me to work remotely from Canada,  writing curriculum (Bible Studies, VBS materials and Membership material) with a couple of planned consultation trips to Kenya as the situation at home allowed.

The opportunity arose for me to go to Kenya in April 2015 for a month – to continue with the curriculum project, and to teach during a Bible School session.  A week before my intended return to Canada, I received a message that my sister, after a brief hospital stay, was receiving palliative care at home and that I should get home as quickly as possible.  The next evening, I was on a flight to Toronto where I was picked up by my sister, Cathy and her husband Rob, and I was taken to see Marilyn.  She knew I was there and seemed relieved that I had come.

The next days brought much pain.  Oh, I admit that we had our normal spats as sisters do when growing up.  She was always the “life of the party” and I was the shy girl who was “content” to sit in the corner and let the world spin around me, but inwardly, I was jealous of her.   If you ever see me, ask me how that manifested itself.  But as we grew older (and wiser) I realized what a gift God had given me and I treasured our times together, our visits, our secrets (which she had a hard time keeping) and shared experiences.

I learned so much about my beautiful sister from the tributes shared at the memorial service and personal messages from so many people.  I continue to hold her close in my heart and thank God for giving her to me.   The process of grieving was and continues to be painful except for the hope I have that we will meet again.

At the same time, it became increasingly obvious that my life was taking a new direction.  I had returned to Kenya in August to begin the process of leaving the country that I had called home for so long – 20 years.  There were opportunities to minister in several churches and I connected with individuals whose lives I had impacted (these will be highlighted in upcoming blogs). When I was at my lowest, God reminded me of people whom I had touched as I taught and preached and visited and developed relationships.  I realized that I had come out on the other side from discouragement and despair and anger at God (for letting all this happen) to encouragement and victory and  renewed faith in and relationship with God.

“All through the storm,
Your love is the anchor.”

God is faithful and his love endures forever.  I will be returning to Kenya to teach at Kenya Highlands Evangelical University (formerly Kenya Highlands Bible College).  That was my first assignment in Kenya in 1994 after being evacuated from Burundi.  It is exciting to be teaching alongside former students.  God is good.

KHEU2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Request for prayer from Bishop Dingili

Hi

“For such a time as this”, pray for your brothers and sisters in Kenya as they hurt and seek for divine intervention from God

It is a dark Monday morning in Kenya as the country mourns the death of more than 50 Kenyans who were gunned down by more than 50 armed militia men who attacked Mpeketoni town residents which is in Lamu County in the coastal region in Kenya.

The mayhem was started at 8 pm when the militia attacked the town killing people aimlessly.  They started by attacking the police station but because of t e gangs’ big number, they out powered the policemen with their sophisticated weapons.  Key installations in the town were set ablaze including burning 2 banks, 2 petrol stations, many lorries, several public transport vans, police vehicles and they later walked from house to house killing people at will and burning down houses after their killings. The residents and the entire country are extremely terrified.

People are aching, a lot of insecurity and people losing hope of where our country is headed to.  Many are asking themselves, do we have a government? Distress call was made at 9pm and reinforcement came at 1am after the militia had disappeared.

This is an area where we have 4 Free Methodist churches, friends and relatives.  Our churches were not attacked but our people are affected. Join us in prayer for our country and for God to strengthen our members as we seek Gods’ counsel.

It is with a heavy heart as I write this, we will appreciate your prayers

Bishop Nixon Dingili

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Making History in the Uganda (Light and Life) Free Methodist Church

     There is nothing better to gladden the heart of a teacher than to see her students move forward in pursuit of their calling.  And what a privilege to witness this advancement.

Bishop Dingili began our time at the Jinja Light and Life (Free Methodist) Church with an all day prayer and fasting service.  He highlighted the theme “Taking off the Old, Putting on the New”.

The following day, the young men who were identified for ordination  were interviewed by the MEG-MAC committee.  What a thrill to listen to each share how God had called them into His service even as they had already experienced the challenges of ministry and the power of God to work through them.  Each shared their vision for the future of his personal ministry journey, trusting God to use them for the growth of God’s Kingdom in Uganda (Jinja and Busia).  Some would soon begin as church planters as the Uganda Free Methodist Church advances to other locations.

The crowning of our time was Sunday as five young men were ordained deacon, one man was ordained elder and two were received as ministerial candidates.  The deacons who were ordained ranged in age from 22 – 34 years!     The wives participated in the ordination ceremony alongside their husbands, signifying their importance as members of the pastoral team.  What a privilege to witness this historic occasion in the Free Methodist Church in Uganda as this was the first elder to be ordained and the first time for the ordinations to take place on Ugandan soil.  Praise God!

Bishop Dingili (Kenya) introduces the young men. The man on the far right is married with his wife standing beside him.

Take authority to read and to preach the Word of God

Take authority to read and to preach the Word of God

Where this collar as a symbol of being God's servant

Wear this collar as a symbol of being God’s servant

standing with my former student, Rev. David Mwebya
standing with my former student, Rev. David Mwebya and his wife
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Where will you lead them?

Question:  If your children followed in your steps, where would you lead them?

I will miss you

I will miss you

Dad wasn’t much of a church goer before I reached the age of 9.  Mom went sometimes and she took us to Sunday School in Westbrook village, sometimes.  What I remember most was being loaded into my uncle’s station wagon with as many cousins as it would hold to attend the Sunday School with my grandmother (Dad’s mother) at the Free Methodist Church in Odessa.  Grandma always rewarded us with gum she would buy in Florida and everyone was happy.

Dad would go to church when invited by his children to  special “events” like Father’s Day and the Christmas program.  Then, our lives were changed forever, when an evangelist came to our church.  God touched Dad’s heart when the evangelist asked,  “If your  children followed in your steps, where would you lead them?”  Raising his children was serious business to my Dad.

Dad loved Jesus with all his heart.  Tears would stream down his cheeks when he gave his testimony of what Christ had done in his life.  And again, he rejoiced with tears when someone else shared how God had changed him.

Bud Hogeboom family

Bud Hogeboom family

Staying home from church for us was not an option.    It was inspection time when we got to the car where Dad would already be waiting.  He would check to make sure we were “presentable” and we would be sent back to the house to clean behind our ears or wipe away the residue of breakfast before setting of for church..

Mom never knew how many or who would join us for Sunday dinner — she just prepared “enough” since Dad would invite people home after church.   Sundays were special family days as I was growing up and I remember when I went away to college, this was the only day of the week that I got homesick.

Dad always saw to it they we went to kid’s camp — Orland CYC Camp, Light and Life Camp, Echo Lake Youth Camp, Wesley Acres Camp.  Throughout the summer our family would make the rounds of Camp Meetings.   Later he sponsored church children whose parents couldn’t afford or didn’t sense the need to send their children to camp.

Dad loved sports and most of my siblings participated in soft ball in the summer and ice hockey in the winter and Dad would be in the crowd of spectators when his kids were playing.  He particularly enjoyed sitting behind the opposing team’s bench to rile the opposing team with some jabs from time to time.    Dad enjoyed watching Hockey Night in Canada.   After a while, he would doze off and Mom would switch the channel to Lawrence Welk.  My Dad would wake up and say to my mother, “Joan, I was watching the hockey game” and she would turn the channel back until he fell asleep again.

I don’t ever remember as a child going to a restaurant as a family but after baseball games, Dad would often take us to get ice cream.  There was a regular ritual — Dad would ask each of us what kind of ice cream we wanted and probably as many flavours of ice cream were named as there were people in the car.  We all knew we would get butter pecan which was his favourite.  And sure enough — butter pecan.

He taught us the value of hard work and we all had chores to do, whether in the field or in the barn or in the house.  He taught me to drive the tractor when I was 5 years old.  He would set it in gear, release the clutch, jump back and away I would go — I could only steer since I could not reach the pedals and when it came time to shut it off, I would push the choke on the dash to bring the tractor to a stop.

Dad had a huge garden.  As Dad brought in the vegetables and berries  I would help Mum get it ready for canning or freezing.  I sliced beets and cucumbers for pickling, shelled peas, husked corn and snapped beans.  Dad’s favourite early harvest meal was pea potpie.

Dad’s cattle were prize winners and he encouraged my younger siblings to enter calves in the Kingston Fair and took them to the Ottawa Winder Fair.

Dad’s word was his bond.   He used to tell us, “Always tell the truth and you won’t have to remember what you said.”  We learned at an early age how important it was to tell the truth and we learned that Dad could be trusted — he never made promises he could not keep.

I learned the power  and release of forgiveness and reconciliation.  As I grew older, my brothers drove the tractor and most of my chores were in the house but one late summer, my brothers were at camp and Dad enlisted me to work in the field as the grain harvest was beginning — my job — to put the cut grain into windrows.  It was apparent that I had never done this before and Dad was having a hard time following the crooked line that I had set for him.  He started to yell at me for my poor job until finally, I shut off the tractor and walked home.  I had no idea what would happen but when he got home he didn’t say a word to me about it.  We went on like nothing had happened. until the day I was riding with him to the cemetery to bury my mother.   He said quietly, “I’m sorry.”  Puzzled, I asked why and he referred back about 15 years to that day.  He had been carrying this burden in his heart all that time.

we are following in your steps

we are following in your steps

Dad, you never forgot that question – “where will you lead them”  We are following right behind you.

family dedication pic

The Shekina Room — Eldoret, Kenya

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Visitors – A blessing

Any visitor to Kenya would describe their experience first by the wonderful welcome and hospitality shown to them.  Kenyans truly believe that “visitors are a blessing” which is demonstrated through their generosity and warm reception.

So, it is with excitement that we wait to welcome 2 visitors who will arrive in Eldoret one week from today.

Dr. Dan Sheffield

will teach at the Bible School December 9 – 13

Let me introduce  Rev. Dan Sheffield.  He serves  on the National Leadership Team of the Free Methodist Church in Canada as the Director of Global and Intercultural Ministries.  He gives oversight to Free Methodist ministries to an ethnically diverse population within the borders of Canada, as well to several countries in the world where the Canadian church is involved in ministry.  While in Kenya, he will be teaching Ephesians at the Springs of Hope Bible School.  The Bible School session operates 3 two-week sessions each year.  As the school property is developed, a diploma level will be added.   Welcome Dan!

carpenter for the week

Accompanying Dan is Lorne VanderDussen.  Lorne is being sent by his home church — Frankford Free Methodist Church.  Lorne has been married for 23 years to  Diane and together they have 3 children.  He serves on the Ministry team of his church and teaches Sunday School.  Lorne has a degree in Material engineering and enjoys carpentry as a hobby.  While here in Kenya, Lorne will be building furniture for the almost completed teachers’ quarters.  Welcome Lorne!

An added bonus will be the dedication of our first building on December 8.  Karibuni (Welcome) Dan and Lorne.  We hope you enjoy our Kenyan hospitality and we look forward to ministering together with you.

 

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Texture and Colour

IN PROCESS

Kenya is known throughout the world for its champion long-distance runners and particularly Eldoret,  is known as “the City

of Champions”  as most of these marathoners originate from here.  So … it is not hard for me to compare the building marathon or maybe more like a relay, to the building process at the Free Methodist Bible School otherwise known as Springs of Hope College located 13 kilometers from the town of Eldoret.

AFTER

There is excitement in the air as the first main building nears completion.

I am not an artist but I couldn’t help but be  struck yesterday by the textures and colours as everything started to come together — very striking to the eye.

The final picture will be brought into focus when the classroom furniture are put in place.

 The final push to complete the main building is on and the work is nearing completion to be ready in time for its dedication on December 8.   We are nearing the finishing line.

waffle ceiling ready for paint

flowers to add colour to the grounds

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