Missions Day – M*sl*m Evangelism

We’re fast approaching graduation here at Moffat Bible College. It’s hard to believe term three is nearly complete. We pray that you are all well and thank you for your continued support. We are doing well. There was a round of sickness that ran through our home several weeks back which took Luke to the hospital for two nights but he is back to his normal self. I (Tim) also had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in my left knee just over a week ago but am recovering.

Each day we are reminded in numerous ways how blessed we are to serve our Lord and Savior here in Kijabe, Kenya.

As many of you know, we have a day every term at Moffat set aside for Missions. We invite a speaker to share about their ministry and to encourage our students as they seek opportunities to serve now and look toward the future.image009

image010This term we were truly blessed to have Mr. Jared Oginga share his ministry among M*sl*ms. He is a Kenyan who serves as a missionary within SIM. He can best be described as an apologist-evangelist. His ministry brings him into direct contact and often debate with M*sl*ms here in Kenya and the surrounding countries. There are numerous misconceptions which M*sl*ms have regarding Christianity that must be explained in the process of sharing the Gospel. He is sometimes faced with ridicule for his beliefs as they are contrary to M*sl*m teachings.

Jared shared with us very practical information regarding I*l*m as both a challenge and an opportunity. He spoke about the similarities between the two religions (monotheistic, missional, etc.) and also noted that I*l*m is Christianity’s greatest and oldest competitor. He broke down the theological, cultural, and social barriers so that our students could clearly see that the field is ripe for harvest. In response to fear, ignorance, and deceit . . . Christians should offer love, prayer, and understanding. In the end, we are assured of victory.

He told us that M*sl*ms are taught that Christians are people of mercy and compassion. If we are to reach these people with the truth of the Gospel, then we must show them mercy and compassion. If we respond in an unkind manner then an opportunity is lost. He encouraged us that we must earn the right to share the Gospel.

We were truly blessed to have the opportunity to learn from someone engaged in this type of ministry. I have received great feedback from students very interested in understanding how to engage this group of people. My hope and prayer is that God will call many students from Moffat to engage in outreach to M*sl*ms.

Love,

Tim, Maureen, Luke & Kate

Culture, Missions, Car Repairs and Volleyball

Well, mid-term break is upon us here in Kijabe. That means that Moffat is off until Wednesday and Luke (RVA) until Tuesday. It’s a momentary lapse in the hectic schedule that we seem to keep. It’s also a time to reflect on the past six weeks.

So much happens in such a short time that it is difficult to convey via a newsletter or blog posting. But, I’d like to pull together four somewhat random topics in this blog post – Culture, Missions, Car Repairs and Volleyball.

We’ve been in Kenya now for one year and six months. We are still learning the culture and I’ve been reminded recently how different we westerners think.

Each term at Moffat Bible College we set aside a day to focus on Missions. We generally invite a guest speaker for chapel who shares about their work – we do our best to have both Kenyans and westerners. This academic term I invited a former member of the Moffat family to speak. Rev. Moses Njenga served as our VP of Academics but decided last year to go back to fulltime church work. His church is in the middle of a seven year project to reach the Pokot, a semi-nomadic tribe in northwestern Kenya. He spoke about the biblical basis for missions – taking the students back to the Old Testament and God’s covenant with Abram and brought them full circle to the work that his church is doing among the Pokot. Their end goal is to plant a viable Evangelical movement among the Pokot and empower Christians among the Pokot to reach their own. Please pray with me that God will continue to bless their work. They are ahead of their expected schedule and are already planting the first church.

One interesting aspect to Moses’ presentation was that there are cultural barriers to cross – even for a Kenyan ministering in Kenya. We are still learning Kenyan culture and I recently “endured” the process of having our car repaired. Talk about feeling culturally inadequate! I knew that I would need help, so I asked a Kenyan friend for advice. He connected me with a mechanic in Nairobi who works on Nissans and he and I took several trips into town to work through the process of having the repairs done. There are traditional mechanic shops in Nairobi (much like what one would find in the US) but that’s not where we went. We spent time among the jua kali (literally – hot sun). This is a reference to people who make their living out in the hot sun. We went to an area of Nairobi which is not often visited by wazungu (westerners/white people). My friend helped me convey the need and eventually the car was repaired. Without his guidance, I would not have been able to find the right jua kali. I needed his cultural knowledge and guidance to reach my objective.

The Mechanic’s Shop

Taking a Test Drive in Nairobi

After the repairs had been completed, my friend and I proceeded to another area of town to purchase new tires. He led me to an area near downtown and we stopped in front of a little shop. In fact, the entire street was filled with shop after shop – selling tires or other car parts. I learned later that almost all the tire shops I saw were owned by the same person – it was a marketing strategy – if you didn’t like the looks of one shop or the people working there you would just go to the one next door . . . not knowing that you were buying from the same owner. We sat for some time while various selections were acquired for me to review (all coming from the different shops on the street). Eventually the guys working there got a little tired of this mzungu delaying the process and conveyed this to my friend. He politely explained to them that we wazungu don’t think like Africans – we often like to think through things carefully before making a decision. I had no idea I was getting on the nerves of the shop guys – I was just being myself. Thanks to my friend’s knowledge of Kenyan and western cultures, he was able to smooth out the situation.

The Tire Shop

Installation of Tires

Some Perspective

I am cognizant on a daily basis of the cultural differences that separate me from Africans but was reminded by Moses (our Missions Day speaker) that even among Kenyans there are cultural distinctives. Tribal traditions vary and even a Kenyan missionary serving in Kenya needs to learn and adapt to culture. Moses’ church has had to learn some distinctives of the Pokot so as not to cause tension and at the same time seek open doors to connect the Gospel.

One of my roles at Moffat is serving as the faculty patron (sponsor) for the Antioch Mission Fellowship. We have students from a variety of tribes and seek to encourage their leadership development so that we can have pastors who lead their churches to be involved in local missions as well as Kenyans who seek to be missionaries in Kenya and beyond. The lesson that Moses gave us in cross-cultural missions was very timely and struck a chord with me as I reflected on my limitations as a missionary. My experience having my car repaired again highlighted my limitations. Please pray with me for our Moffat students – they are all gifted by God and it is my heartfelt desire that God will use them to strengthen the church and to spread truth throughout Kenya and beyond. They can only do this if they recognize their limitations and trust God to be their strength and guide.

As Christians, we are all called to share the Gospel. We do this through words and actions. We are all missionaries of one sort or another. Cultural barriers often get in the way but God is able to overcome those barriers even when we have no clue what we’re doing. Sometimes he puts the right person in our path to offer wise advice and sometimes we just stumble through while he sands off the rough edges. Praise God that He can use us here in Kenya to encourage and empower the church!

Lastly, I just had to include a story about volleyball here in Kenya. I’m not sure if this applies to Kenya in general but this is how we play at Moffat. We are in the middle of a tournament that involves students, teachers, and staff. I thought I knew the rules of the game but there are different rules here at Moffat. Hitting the ball three times is still the norm but one is not limited to the use of hands – feet and heads are also legal! For proof, I offer the following:

Yes, he is kicking the ball!

This particular shot went wide but on a number of occasions the ball stayed in play after a foot shot. One student playing in the second row center hit a winning head shot – caught the line!

Talk about cultural differences! :-)

Love,

Tim for Maureen, Luke and Kate

What have the McAlhaneys been up to?

Dear friends and family,

It has been a while since we’ve updated you on our daily happenings – since we returned from the US for Maureen’s brother’s wedding. It has been a very busy but good time. I will try to give you a summary of what our life has been like for the last three months.

First of all, our time in the US was great! We had a wonderful time reuniting with family and friends and making new ones. My brother’s wedding brought family and friends from all over allowing us to meet up with close friends and relatives we haven’t seen in a while. Being able to spend some time with grandparents was a blast and a blessing to the kids. We got to visit some of our favorite restaurants and had our share of our favorite foods. :-)

Luke and Kate with Aunt Lorraine, they swam as often as possible!

Kate tired out at the end of the wedding…

Saying goodbye to a new friend…

Kate finally met Kaidy!

Luke and Kate ready for the wedding…

Generoso & Vicky’s wedding…our family

Our trip back to Kenya was smooth sailing except for a missing luggage.

Still smiling after 20 hours of traveling…

Kate climbed up by herself!

So Luke had to do it too…

We made our 1 ½ hour drive to Kijabe after arriving around 10pm on a Friday night. It was a cold, drizzling night as we sat in a van with our luggage around us with the windows fogging up. We were tired but glad to be on our way home. However, remember we had moved before we left and had not unpacked anything, so we arrived at a house half painted and with everything we own in the middle of various rooms either in boxes or in bags. Thankfully, we had two beds set up and had asked our house helper to get it ready before we arrived. It was about 1am when we arrived home. We were so tired that all we had energy for was to change and get in bed. The house still smelled strongly of paint since our painter painted some while we were gone but had not finished.

The next morning, we woke up around noon (jetlag) and wandered around the house trying to find a cooking pan, a spatula and something to cook. We managed to fix lunch and did some more unpacking to survive the weekend. Tim and Luke were to start back in school on Monday, so we were trying to get ready for that. We were taking naps in the afternoon and waking up at 2am. This went on for the first two weeks before we finally got over jetlag. We were also having headaches and fatigue that was worse than we expected so we googled “effects of paint fumes.” Then we realized that not only were we battling jet lag, we were also feeling the effects of paint fumes! The painter came back to paint for another week, so we couldn’t really start setting up our new home until he was done. There were people in and out the first week or so, painters, repairmen, electrician, etc. that there was no privacy at all from 8-7pm. Our painter had left something unfinished in every room so it was so frustrating that we couldn’t even start cleaning up, let alone find a place without the smell of paint. So began our time back in Kenya. But by the grace of God, Tim started teaching and Luke started Kindergarten in spite of all that.

Luke pointing at his name…

Titchie Swot is the Elementary school.

“Titchie” is a British word for little or brat. “Swot” means study.

So Titchie Swot is the place where little brats go to study!

Rift Valley Academy…view of Mt. Longonot

Fast forward a month later, Tim had stepped into his new role as Spiritual Life Director at Moffat as well as teaching three classes. He had a busy schedule with meetings, classes, mentoring time with students, and preparing for class in the background. Maureen had started back to working 3 days a week in addition to unpacking and setting up our new home. Luke was loving school so much that he would ask on a Friday when he could go back to school! Thankfully, RVA is a boarding school and had scheduled activities for the students even through the weekends. This is great for Luke since it develops more of his social skills, but it does eat up our weekend and nights shuttling him back and forth to these activities. Kate is happy to be home with Mommy or Daddy and just loves to play, go out for walks, sing songs from Annie, Frozen and Jesus Loves the Little Children, and watch Annie, Frozen and Anastasia. We made a trip back to Nairobi to restock our supplies three weeks after we arrived (now that we had a place to store them). :-)

Luke’s last day of school

Our little Kate loves to sing, and one day just created her own stage…

In the last week of September, the Maternal and Newborn Community Health Project of Kijabe Hospital, of which Maureen is a part, was invited by Moffat to speak at their Missions Day conference. Five members of our team spoke to the students, faculty, and staff about how God is allowing us to use community health as a platform for missions. Moffat has started a diploma program in community development this term and community health is an important aspect of it so we were invited. We spoke about how God is a missions-minded God, how he has a plan for bringing the nations to Himself, and that we as believers should join Him in His work. Members of our team shared their own experiences of how God gave them a burden for a certain people group after seeing their oppression and how blinded they were to the truth. We also talked about the training courses available to teach a community worker to do their job effectively. It was an encouragement and an eye opener to the students, but it was also a good exercise for the Community Health team since they don’t usually think of themselves as missionaries. This encouraged them and it made them realized that they are actually working to expand God’s kingdom even as they try to improve health in the communities.

This little girl loves to dress up…in anything!

Kate loves to wear dresses and look pretty

In October, we were still sorting through things and unpacking, but getting to the point where we could sit down and relax. The term was busy as there were usually activities during the weekends and some week nights for Luke at RVA. We also had the opportunity to connect with other families in Lower Station (Hospital and Moffat) by having them over for dinner. This is always a great time for us, even the kids, they love guests! It is so good to get to know the story of each family and how God led them to Kijabe to serve Him in missions. Luke got to go to a friend’s birthday party. These don’t come by very often and he always has a great time. We also celebrated Maureen’s birthday by having lunch at a nearby retreat and conference center 45 minute drive away – and we played soccer and Frisbee with the kids then ended with a picnic of their favorite snacks. We drove home tired but relaxed and happy. :-)

Kate learning to ride a bike

Luke finally biking on two wheels!

Luke and Kate with home-made playdough

Luke trying out his skates for Titchie Skating Party…first time on skates!

Luke also was paired up with a Big Brother at RVA and they have had several “Coke dates” together on a school night either watching a movie, playing some games, or kicking a soccer ball. His Big Brother is a 9th grade Korean boy named David. It’s funny how they are both quiet and reserved but they love to have fun together. We are also secondary guardians to another missionary’s child who attends RVA and we had the privilege of meeting him and getting to know him better during the last few months.

Luke with Big Brother David on Multicultural Day at RVA

By November, we were pretty much settled in, and had started thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here in Kenya people don’t have the luxury of spending money on Christmas trees and lights, but they do celebrate it by taking their annual leaves. The country pretty much shuts down in December as most people take leave and go visit parents and grandparents and travel long distances. Prices of fuel and food also go up as the demand increases. Most missionaries make their home as Christmassy as possible putting up a tree and lights. It’s also a time to invite friends over to celebrate and fellowship together. We still get homesick, but there are activities for the kids and it is really what you want to make out of it. In Kijabe, the lower station families have organized a rotation Advent activity, where families sign up for a day in December to open their home to other families to do a Christmas activity, whether it be singing carols, craft making, decorating cookies, or enjoying Christmas goodies. This is the second year they are doing this, and we hope to participate more this year. Last year we were busy packing and unpacking and had just moved to another house. Most Christmas trees were up in homes even before Thanksgiving, us included, due to pleas from Luke and Kate. Tim said his birthday (Thanksgiving Day) should come first before Christmas, but he lost this round :-) . We were able to get a full sized tree from a missionary leaving the field, so our kids are happy.

Kids decorating the tree!

Luke by the fire on a cold night…

Luke made a Christmas tree from cookies at the Orners (Sunday school teachers)

The weekend before Thanksgiving, there is an annual event at RVA that brings kids, old and young together – Pinewood Derby! A month before race day, you can register to race a car you will build in the next month alongside you classmates. There is a woodworking shop at RVA that all high school students, yes, all, use as part of their class work. The students graduate from RVA knowing the basics of woodworking and sewing, whether you are male or female. Isn’t that neat? Well, everyone is welcome to work on their cars at the woodshop during the afternoon after school hours. There were strict rules and guidelines for the car and there are awards given in different categories. You are given a specific size of wood block, axles, and wheels and you design, cut, sand, paint, decorate, add weights and then turn in your car the day before the race. RVA has a track that is setup the day before the race and to qualify, your car has to be able to reach the finish line. Tim and Luke entered as a team in the adult men’s category. Students third grade and younger can’t enter the race by themselves, so they usually pair up with a parent. Tim and Luke started looking at designs online and finally settled on a sleek, thin car. It was Tim’s first time building a car so he had to learn how to use different equipments in the woodshop. It was a learning and interesting experience, especially when the car was dropped three days before the cars are to be turned in. The axle cracked right where the wheels were supposed to be attached. They were able to repair the car and still enter the race. They didn’t win but made it to the semi-finals!

Tim teaching Luke to paint their car…

Luke painting…

Luke with his first Pinewood Derby car!

View from the back

Tim and Luke lined up on race day

November came to a close with a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with friends. We ate, talked, and celebrated our Lord and Savior. We will miss being with family for Christmas but are so very thankful for the many blessings God has given us here in Kijabe!

We hope you enjoyed the long update and wish we could talk to you about it face to face. There are still a lot of things we could share, and we will try to do that in the next month. We hope you are all enjoying the preparation to celebrate the birth of the King we serve. You are in our thoughts and prayers and know that we are so thankful for having you as part of our lives. Your prayers and support is what makes all that we do possible in Kenya. May God continue to bless you as you invest in our lives and ministry. Keep in touch! We would love to get a letter, anything in the mail, from friends and family back home!

Love,

Maureen for Tim, Luke and Kate

Happy Thanksgiving from the McAlhaneys!

It is hard to believe Thanksgiving is already here!

We’re just now coming up for air – the last three months have been busy but good. We promise to send out a blog or two in the next month to get you up-to-date.

Today we will celebrate American Thanksgiving with a group of friends – Americans and Kenyans. We have an early dinner planned since most schedules here in Kijabe follow a normal day. Luke has school (kindergarten) until noon. Thankfully, Maureen and I both have Thursday scheduled as our off / work at home day. Maureen is making mashed potatoes and I’m making my grandfather’s “famous” macaroni pie.

We plan to spend the day remembering all that God has given us – the obvious blessings and the blessings that seem to come with struggles and hardships.

2 Corinthians 3:18 – And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (NIV).

James 1:2-3,12 – 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything . . . . 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (NIV).

We hope and pray that you take the time today to thank God for all that He has done and is doing in your lives.

Also, enjoy your time today wherever you are. We will miss spending time with family and the atmosphere of the season but are thankful for all that God has provided for us here.

Blessed to be serving Him,

Tim, Maureen, Luke & Kate

Please Keep Praying and Texas Bound!

Greetings from Kenya! We hope and pray that you are well. Thank you for continuing to bless our family with cards, letters, emails, gifts, and most importantly your prayers. You bring joy and encouragement to our life in Kijabe. It’s a humbling experience to be able to serve our Lord and Savior in this part of the world. :-)

We know Africa has been in the news recently regarding the Ebola outbreak. Thank you for those who have prayed for this crisis and please continue to do so. SIM ELWA hospital in Liberia is at the center of the news as well as two of our missionaries contracting the virus. Please continue to pray for the leadership involved in the decision making for the hospital, the patients in the hospital, the people in Liberia and other countries in West Africa. The families of the two missionaries need our prayers as well as they go through this difficult time. Pray specifically that healing will occur and that this catastrophe will end. We know we live in a fallen world and that sickness is a reality but as believers we know that God is able to intervene. Pray that He will be glorified as events continue to unfold.

As for our most recent news, we’re heading to Texas on August 14th for a three-week trip to attend the wedding of Maureen’s brother. We are so grateful to family members who have provided for our plane tickets and look forward to enjoying some time with family and friends. We know we will not be able to see and visit everyone during this short trip, so please understand if we don’t get to see you! Built into the trip will be appointments with doctors and dentists as well.

We are currently on school break until the end of August, meaning Luke and Tim are not in school. This break is shorter than in the US, starting about three weeks ago. Maureen still continues her work in Community Health 3 days a week. We have said many goodbyes to fellow missionaries in the past month as they left for home assignment or have moved permanently back to their home country. However, it has not been a quiet and relaxing break yet as we are getting ready to move again. We have been cleaning, organizing, having our new home painted, and trying to pack for our move. It is a move up the hill and will require more time and energy that the last move. Please pray that the painting will be done as quickly and properly as soon as possible. Pray for motivation as we pack again, unpack and organize, and quickly pack again for the US. We may only get everything moved and nothing else done before we leave for the US. :-)

This will be our third move since arriving last August and we are looking forward to getting settled (again). We hope to be in our house by this coming weekend . . . just in time to pack up and head to Texas. We will leave Arlington, TX on Sept. 4 and arrive late Sept. 5 in Nairobi and travel back to Kijabe. We will be jumping right into school as Tim starts teaching and Luke starts Kindergarten two days after we arrive. We will also be settling into our new home.

As you know, God had opened the door for us to stay another year in Kijabe. If God keeps the door open, we plan on staying as long as He allows. For us to stay another year or longer, we will need to bring our support to 100%. Currently we are at 80% support. Translated into plain words . . . we will need to raise another $1000 per month in support to bridge the gap. When we came to Kenya last year we knew we were lacking, but had sufficient funds to cover the monthly shortfall. With the additional year and plans to remain here long term, we are praying for additional supporters to pray for us and allow God to use them by investing in His kingdom. If God lays it on your heart, please consider joining us on this journey by investing in a monthly gift or a one-time gift. Click on the “send Support Gift” below or click here.

We have also come to realize the need for a vehicle to make us more efficient and productive. Maureen’s ministry with the Maternal & Newborn Community Health Project requires her to make trips into surrounding communities and Tim’s new role as Spiritual Life Director at Moffat will require some travel as well . . . not to mention having the freedom to drive into Nairobi to pick up supplies when needed. We currently have to pay at least $80 to make a day trip to Nairobi to get supplies, and we do so twice a month on average. With the rocky and potholey roads here in Kenya, we also realized that the two requirements of a vehicle we need are: 1) high ground clearance, and 2) four wheel drive. Now, to be quite frank, cars are expensive in Kenya – a ten year old Toyota Land Cruiser would cost between $35,000 and $40,000. Oddly, Toyota is the brand of choice and probably has around 90% of the market. This means that other brands often have better deals. We have prayed about what type and size of vehicle God would want us to own and have decided that a midsized 4×4 vehicle that fits our family is adequate. So we started looking for one, especially as missionaries were leaving at the end of their terms, and found one that fits our needs! It is a 2004 silver gray Nissan X-Trail for $11,000. This vehicle has been passed through 2 missionary families in Kijabe and we are excited that God had provided it at just the perfect time. If you feel led to help us purchase this vehicle, please specify “For Ministry Vehicle” in the comment/note field when you give your gift online or in the memo line on the check.

We are looking forward to moving to our own home soon with our own appliances, furniture, beds, oven/stove, etc., and to be with family during Maureen’s brother’s wedding. We hope to connect with as many of you as possible during our short time in the US. May God bless you for your faithfulness in lifting our family up in prayers and for showing God’s love by providing for our needs. Please continue to keep in touch with our family because we love to hear from you. It is always an encouragement to us. We may not always express it, but we treasure every time you connect with us whether it is through a phone call, email, text, or on Facebook. Please send us any prayer requests you have for your family.

In Christ,

Tim, Maureen, Luke & Kate

tim.mcalhaney@sim.org

maureen.mcalhaney@sim.org

TextMe Tim – 469-205-4907

TextMe Maureen – 469-423-7287 (new)

magicJack – 817-264-3852 (can leave voicemail)

Backhanding a Baboon and Moffat Graduation

Living in Africa has proven to be an interesting and wonderful experience. We’ve now been in Kijabe, Kenya for about 11 months and are thankful that God has allowed us to serve Him here. As many of you are aware, we’ve committed to another year here and are open to staying long term if that’s God’s will.

There are numerous stories I could convey that would give you a flavor of our life here but on a recent trip to Nakuru something happened that I would never have expected. Friends had loaned us their car while on home assignment, so we took Maureen’s parents and sister on a drive to see the Kenyan countryside and to visit a national park with the hope of seeing a rhino and other animals. The trip went more or less as expected (still getting used to driving on the left side of the road, though) and we arrived at the park safely, picked up a guide, paid our entrance fees and started our drive through the park. We saw a rhino within a few minutes and all was well. Our guide soon directed us to baboon cliff to stop and get a good look at the valley.

The guide did mention that the baboons there were aggressive. I thought to myself, we have baboons in Kijabe and they are aggressive . . . so no problem. Little did I know that these baboons were “aggressive.” We pulled into our parking spot, I opened my door, and looked to the left (remember the driver’s seat is on the front right), and then back to the right. I was stunned to see an 80-90 pound baboon heading in my direction. Before I could react, the baboon had hopped into the car and had his right hand (paw?) on the steering wheel. As we stared as each, I’m told that I let out a shocked “ahhhh” – like a frightened girl. I don’t recall making a sound, though. I do recall contemplating how to respond and wondered if he spoke Swahili or English. I also recall thinking – “I’m trapped behind the steering wheel and can’t really move.” As Maureen’s mom attempted to shoo the baboon away with her scarf, I made an executive decision and backhanded the baboon in the chest.

Now, to be honest, I don’t think the force of my blow caused him to move but perhaps the shock of a human hitting him had some impact. Also, the fact that our guide was then approaching him with a large stick no doubt caused him to jump out of the car. Needless to say, I was very relieved my encounter with the baboon ended well. Our trip from this point forward was relatively uneventful. The car overheated, we were towed/dragged/pulled 20 kilometers (eating dust the entire way), and were met by a friend’s father (pastor in the area) who brought a mechanic to the park gate who change the water pump on the spot for about $75 parts and labor. We were literally stuck in the middle of the national park with sketchy cell phone reception but God answered our prayers and made a way out.

Admittedly, the prior story has nothing to do with Moffat’s Graduation but think of it like a bad joke/story at the beginning of a sermon – one that has nothing to do with the sermon that follows! :-)

While many things happen here that are very out of the ordinary (like the baboon jumping in our car), some are quite ordinary. Graduation at Moffat was very much like that of any college in the states. Graduates were both excited and nervous and family and friends in attendance were beaming with pride. We also had the expected speeches filled with congratulatory comments, some singing (with a Kenyan flair), and the handing out of diplomas. My advice to the graduates during the last week of class was simple – enjoy the day and don’t trip! I think they followed it pretty well.

I should point out that while our graduation was “ordinary,” our graduates are extraordinary. They come from all walks of life. Some are married and some single. Some have large families and others grew up in an orphanage. Some have a desire to serve in the local church and others to reach unreached people groups in northern Kenya.

Please pray for our graduates as they pursue ministry in the local church and beyond. Over the past term, I was able to hear many of them preach in chapel and was really impressed with their ability to exposit the word of God. I also taught many of them the book of Acts during the prior term. As they come to mind, pray specifically for our fourth year graduates: John, Isaac, Kezziah, Dickson, Festus, Carolyne, Jonathan, Peter, Alex, Jackson, Benson, and David.

One last baboon story . . . so, Kate has this balloon that she likes to play with but has decided to call it a baboon (pronounced like balloon). It’s so funny to hear her walking around asking “where is my baboon?”

Lion King Swahili

Greetings from Kijabe!

Someone asked me the other day how long we had been in Kenya and it caught me off guard that it has been over six months. In fact, we’re coming up on seven months. In many ways it seems like we arrived just a few days ago and in other ways it seems like we’ve been here for years. I suppose that means things still seem new to us and also that we are comfortable.

Since last September we have been spending time each week with a language tutor . . . trying to learn Swahili. It’s a very phonetic language so it’s easy to pronounce – you just sound out every letter. Our language tutor told us early on that Swahili is about 80% Bantu and 20% Arabic. They just add a vowel to the end of Arabic words. I have come to realize that he is not entirely correct, though. I’d say that Swahili is about 75% Bantu, 20% Arabic, and 5% English. Yes, I said English. With words like socksi (socks), shirti (shirt), filamu (film/movie), kabeji (cabbage), and soda (soda) there are times when I think Swahili is easy. But then there are words like dada which translates as “sister” or mamba (I’m thinking snake) which translates as “crocodile.” The most humorous one we’ve come across is nyanya which can translate as “tomato” or “grandmother” – depending on context, of course.

This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but you probably know some Swhaili words already – beyond the ones borrowed from English. If you’ve ever had the song from the Lion King stuck in your head which begins . . . Hakuna Matata . . . then you’ve been thinking in Swahili. Hakuna Matata means “No Worries” but the more common expression is Hakuna Shida which translates as “No Problem.” There are also other Swahili words found in the movie:

Simba = Lion

Rafiki = Friend

Pumba = Short for Pumbavu which means stupid/foolish

There is also another song which repeats the phrase O wimbo wee. O has no translation. Wimbo means song. Wee is short for wewe which means you. So the phrase literally means “O you song.”

The Moffat term is ending soon and we’ll have a short break before the third term begins in early May. SIM Kenya will hold its annual Spiritual Life Conference in April which we look forward to attending for the first time. We also hope to take some time to go on a safari during April. Safari is also a Swahili word meaning “trip.” The verb form Kusafari means “to travel.”

Maureen has been busy recently getting acclimated to the community health program at Kijabe Hospital. Luke really enjoys pre-school and looking out the window for monkeys or baboons. Kate seems to discover a new word each day and follows her brother around (or runs from him)!

Thank you for your love and support . . . we feel blessed to be serving our Lord and Savior here in Kenya!

In Christ,

Tim for Maureen, Luke & Kate

Pictures of Our Life in Kijabe

We hope and pray that you are well. It’s hard to believe Christmas is almost here. May you enjoy your time with family and friends as we all celebrate the birth of Christ.

In our last blog we promised to post some pictures, so here they are:

IMG_3870 The view from our house is nothing short of amazing. We had heard that Kijabe was beautiful but really had no idea.

The volcano off in the distance (second photo) is Mt. Longonot. Based on a little internet research, it last erupted in the 1860s so we’re probably safe!

We are currently staying in the house (first photo) of a missionary family who are on a short home assignment. It looks like we’ll be moving in the next week or so to the house next door (second photo). The move was always part of the plan, so it did not come as a surprise. Someone jokingly told us shortly after our arrival that SIM stands for Sure I’ll Move. How true! :-)

Playing with planes!

Luke and his friend Finn playing under our clothes dryer.

Kate bringing in the laundry.

Late afternoon play time.

We have a small but nice yard where the children can run and play.

There is a bit of a drop off but so far neither Luke nor

Kate has ventured to roll down the hill.

Luke having a good time at Pre-school.

We generally meet with our language tutor, Edward, on the back porch.

Currently Tim meets with Edward three hours a week and Maureen two.

It’s been fun but challenging.

Luke and Kate mimicking the African way of “backing” a child. Luke’s version is more accurate, while Kate’s is really dangerous. :-)

They are both lacking the key tool, a kanga, a piece of cloth tied to the woman and supporting the child’s bottom.

O-lo-Chu! (Chinese for “Praise the Lord!”)

We gave Kate her potty and this is what she did. Hmm!

Play cooking is a favorite past time.

Skype time with family.

Our little princess – she loves to wear dresses. All ready for church!

Tim’s Birthday. Think my two helpers ate most of my birthday cupcake!

Peace and quiet! :-)

The kids also enjoy the occasional trip (30-minute hike) up to RVA (Rift Valley Academy) to play on the playground.

These spiders are found at different places in our house, but usually we smash them as soon as we see them rather than grab a camera. :-) The red ants often visit Maureen during language sessions. Anyone with a fear of spiders or ants would have a serious issue here. One evening we were sitting on the couch, relaxing after having put the kids to sleep, and spiders started to come under the front door. Not just a few spiders but dozens! There are always spiders around but this was an invasion! Even Luke who used to be afraid of them now bravely kills them! :-)

In our last newsletter we posted pictures of the various monkeys – including our own two little ones. The “wild” monkeys typically show up twice a day – morning and evening – and often end up climbing all over our house. So, sometimes between 6:30am and 7am we will be awakened by the very loud sound of monkeys climbing and jumping all over the metal roof of our house. The little monkey in the photo was spying on Tim during his morning coffee time.

The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people group located in Kenya and Tanzania. Some Maasai took part in RVA’s Multi-cultural day.

Tim has had the opportunity to visit and preach at various churches. He recently visited a Kikuyu speaking area and had a great time hanging out with the kids.

The Moffat Administration Building.

The dirt road on the way to our house . . . this short stretch is the least bumpy road in Kijabe. Just imagine what the others look and feel like. :-)

Wish we had a small version of this to decorate for Christmas!

This is one of a few around Kijabe.

The sunset (unless it’s raining) is always breathtaking!

We hope you have enjoyed our brief photo blog. Please pray that we will have a safe move to the neighboring house. It’s been raining every day for the past week, which might interfere with our move. Having to stay inside is also beginning to drive the kids a little stir crazy. Pray for our sanity and that we can make this Christmas memorable . . . through keeping our hearts and minds on Christ.

We’d love to hear from you as well.

Email Us: tim.mcalhaney@sim.org or maureen.mcalhaney@sim.org

Text Us: 469-205-4907 – Tim or 214-814-7844 – Maureen

Tim for Maureen, Luke & Kate

Thankful in Kijabe!

I was just checking what we shared on our blog last and was surprised to see that two months have already passed! I knew it had been a while since we last wrote, but can’t believe it has actually been 2 months.

Well, we finally moved into a house on October 1. This had been such a blessing for our family as we had lived in one room for over a month. We are all so glad to be able to have a place to call our own and unpack more. We have been able to unpack more of our clothes and place them in dressers, store our kitchen items in cupboards instead of boxes, keep the kids toys out without needing to pack them up every night, and just have a place where we can have dinner with privacy, and the kids have a place to be kids!

God has blessed us with this wonderful home until December. It is a two-story house with two bedrooms, an office and a loft area. There is a 13 step staircase and it was a challenge in the beginning to keep the kids from going up and down constantly. We wish we brought a child gate, but we had to resort to using our plastic bins as our “gate”. It doesn’t keep them from going up, but it slows Kate down and gives us time to catch up with her. She is very active and can truly climb over the bins! Thankfully, she usually stays on the first step and plays or sits down.

We have a nice open layout where the kitchen opens up to the dining area which is connected to the living room, so it is easy to watch the kids while working in the kitchen. There are no screens on the windows or doors, so whenever you open the windows for fresh air, be prepared to get your house dusty and welcome bugs in. This does not keep us from opening the windows, but it sure makes us have to clean our house at least twice a week. Usually some cleaning is done everyday. Thank God we have a washing machine to use right in our home, but we line dry our clothes, which isn’t so bad as it dries in a few hours during this time of year. We just have to be careful as rain can come anytime and we need to act quickly. The best thing about the house is the view! We have a spectacular view of the Rift Valley. We are still amazed at the stunning beauty of God’s creation each moment of the day as we look out our windows. I have had Kate look out the window everyday when she wakes up each morning, and she has learned to say “wow” and “God” in answer to the question “who made all this?” She has learned it so well that one day after dinner I asked her “Who made all this mess?”, and she answered “God!” immediately. :-) Luke tells us to take a picture of the sunset everyday because “it is so beautiful!”. :-) You are all welcome to come and visit us sometime and enjoy it with us.

On the same note, we are still amazed at how God had led our family to Kenya. Through the deep waters, God had walked with us and had carried us through the most difficult times…like footprints in the sand. We are very thankful for each day we spend here being able to minister to the people we interact with daily, whether it be at Moffat, the hospital, or strangers we meet on the road and stores. It is also evident to us that we could not possibly be here without the prayers and support of people like you, and we are daily humbled at this realization. We are humbled that God chose us to be His hands and feet in Kenya. We do not take this responsibility lightly and continue to strive on how to use our time wisely and strategize our activities as what God wants us to do.

Life in Kijabe is busy but good. It is a very unique community made up of local Kenyans and a large number of missionaries. Kijabe station is made up of Rift Valley Academy (RVA), which makes up the upper station, and Kijabe Hospital and Moffat Bible College, which are referred to as the lower station. RVA is a K-12 American curriculum school attended mainly by boarding missionary kids and the children of missionaries living in Kijabe. It is like a little America in the midst of Africa. It is one of the top schools in Africa. We just attended their Pinewood Derby yesterday where students and adults raced their cars down a track. The Seniors also have a fund raising activity called Senior Store where they sell doughnuts, hamburgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, ice cream, and milkshakes a few times every term to raise money for their senior trip. Yesterday was the first day, we were able to head up to RVA as a family. We get to enjoy American food on occasion here. Since we don’t have a car, we have to walk everywhere. The roads here are not just bumpy, they’re mainly made up of rocks and dirt. It is also mountainous here, meaning wherever you are going, it is either walking uphill or downhill. A trek up to RVA is a good 30 minutes with the kids. We sometimes even bring the stroller along with us. It is also the same distance we walk to church on Sundays. Our walks to Moffat and the Hospital are not that far and much easier. To Moffat, we have to climb up a trail in the woods for five minutes, while the hospital is following the road out for about fifteen minutes. It’s actually a nice walk when it’s sunny and not raining, but it’s not that easy when it rains, as the roads get muddy and wet. There are also no street lights anywhere, so we always have to remember to bring our flashlights when walking. The view of the sky at night is also spectacular on a clear night. You can see so many stars and find all the constellations easily. We are told it is pretty safe to walk in the dark, although we have not had to walk much after dark. Usually it is the whole family walking together in the dark, so not that bad. Although I wonder if I am walking with monkeys and baboons on the road during the day, what kind of animals are lurking in the dark on the road?!!! :-). It is truly an adventure from day to day.

Kijabe is an hour and a half drive to Nairobi eastward and an hour to Naivasha westward. We haven’t explored Naivasha much yet, but we do our shopping for food and supplies at Nairobi. Our family usually makes a trip to Nairobi once a month. We hire a driver with a vehicle for the entire day and head into town to enjoy a good meal and shop. We try to leave before 5pmas traffic gets heavier and it gets dark at 6:30pm. There are also no street lights so the lights you see on the main highways are the headlights from the oncoming cars. There are also no lines on the road, so you have to know the road and the direction of the road as you can easily just drive off the road/cliff! Sometimes, we catch a ride with other missionaries going into town to do just shopping. There are some small stores and a vegetable market in Kijabe that’s a 20-30 minute walk from our house. The problem is you not only have to walk there, you have to carry everything you buy home! The stroller has also proven very useful especially when the whole family tags along. Vegetables are very affordable here, but meat and seafood are expensive (and also difficult to find fresh). So you can see, good walking shoes are a must here. :-)

Luke has been attending a mom taught preschool since September, and has a week left. We are grateful that another missionary family driving from the lower station gives Luke a ride up to school and down, as long as their vehicle is working. There are some days where Luke has to walk 30 minutes to school and back :-). That is a lot of walking for us, but most people here walk an hour to and from work and they don’t even blink as this is a part of life. The unemployment rate in Kenya is 50%, so many people would do anything just to have work.

We have really enjoyed having our own kitchen since there is only one Kenyan restaurant 30 minutes walk away. We cook three meals a day plus have ventured out to baking breads, cakes, pies, cookies and even cinnamon rolls the other day. I have cooked foods I’ve never cooked before because I am either asked to make it or we have missed eating it. We have gotten pretty creative here with food. :-) Tim’s birthday is coming up and he’s asking for red velvet cake. I am wondering what kind of cake it will turn out to be! :-) Going into Nairobi for a nice meal is doable, but so expensive! Sometimes I feel like I should just buy the ingredients no matter how expensive and just go home and cook and we have five times as much food for the same price :-).

Well, that’s all for now. We hope each of you has a great week. And to our friends and family in the US, have a great Thanksgiving!

We promise to post some pictures in our next blog . . .

Maureen for Tim, Luke & Kate

A Month In Kijabe

Habari za asubuhi (Good morning)!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Kijabe for over a month now. We pray that you are well and want you to know that we are safe here in Kijabe. You have probably heard the news about the events at Westgate mall in Nairobi and we ask that you continue to pray for resolution as well as for those who are grieving.

We arrived in Kijabe on August 21 – a very cold day! In fact, we arrived just as “winter” was ending. No, there is no snow, but it can get fairly cold here. Days were in the 60s and nights in the 40s. We’re told that July was even colder. Without a heat source it was difficult to make oneself get out of bed in the morning! It has warmed up some but we’re still looking at upper 70s during the day and 50s at night. The other factor to take into account is that the nights are very very windy! In fact, Kijabe means “place of wind.” If you didn’t know any better you’d think you were on the southeast coast with a tropical storm making landfall.

Our Moving Van

Luke safely in his car seat for the trip

Kate safely in her car seat for the trip

 

Tunnel just before Kijabe town (filled with mud twice this past spring from mudslides)

Our room shortly after arrival

At this point, I think we’d all agree that we are comfortable living here. In other words, we have a routine that is manageable. We know where to buy food, how to cook, how to do laundry, and have figured out where most everything is located. That said, we are still adjusting. We walk almost everywhere we go and the roads are dirt, dusty, rocky, and at times extremely bumpy (i.e. full of pot holes). We’re still staying in the Moffat Guesthouse but will move into a house around October 1. It has been a little frustrating at times not being able to unpack. Occasionally we will think of something we need and then go on a treasure hunt through our luggage. We have an inventory for each piece of luggage but it’s not that exhaustive of a list. We have a room on the second floor – the only room with a private bathroom attached. There’s a bunk bed, a queen bed, and Kate sleeps in her pack-n-play. Our luggage/bins are lined up along one wall and we use them as shelving. The kitchen and dining areas are downstairs. Not ideal, but it works! Please pray that we are able to wait patiently for the house to open up, that our move goes smoothly, and that we can settle in quickly. Pray also that we are able to find additional house help.

Luke’s bunk bed and pantry/storage (top bunk)

A Favorite Snack

The SupaDuka (local grocery store), Butcher, and Mama Chiku’s (our only restaurant)

Luke and Kate are adjusting well. Kate did have a fever a few days after our arrival and we’re pretty sure she was just teething. A few doses of Tylenol and she was fine. Luke has started pre-school (Mon/Wed/Fri from 9:30am-11:30am). At first we were a little hesitant (as was Luke) but he is enjoying the experience. The material is largely a review from what he covered during 3 year old pre-school but he’s making friends and learning to socialize. It is a thirty minute walk uphill but thankfully we have been able to catch a ride most days. Kate is constantly on the go, which can be a bit dangerous. The guesthouse is not what one would call child friendly. We have hired a Kenyan lady to help watch the kids a few afternoons each week and they both seem to like her a great deal. In fact, Luke has been known to block the door so that Rebecca could not leave. The kids have also enjoyed looking out for monkeys and baboons which like to look through the trash pits in the community. In fact, as I sit here writing in the dining area of the guesthouse, I can see a troop of monkeys making their way across a shed heading toward their evening meal! J Please pray that Luke and Kate stay healthy and safe, that Luke would make good friends, and that both would feel at home here in Kijabe.

First day of Pre-School

We’ve been into Nairobi a few times since arriving in Kijabe – to buy supplies, etc. One day we were asked if we wanted to take a ride down to Naivasha and we were glad we accepted. Not only was it a nice (although bumpy) ride, but it was also a fun day trip . . . and we got to see some zebras.

On the afternoons that we have childcare, we’ve scheduled language learning with an instructor. Even though one could easily get by with English here in Kijabe, leaning language will open doors to understanding culture. It will also help Maureen communicate in the hospital and help me connect with students. Please pray that we can focus on this important part of our ministry.

Small but busy community

There are two truisms about life in Africa which we’ve come to appreciate. First, things often don’t turn out as you expect. Second, tasks (even simple ones) take longer. We had hoped (expected) to have our work permits by this point but things changed. We knew that it would be a rush to have my work permit in hand before the fall term began. During late summer new government officials took office and the processing of work permits essentially halted. In fact, they stopped accepting new ones sometime in late July. We’ve been told that processing has begun again but don’t have a clear time on when we might receive our permits. So, at present we are not clear to work. In the past there was some flexibility but immigration officials have also begun to randomly check for work permits. To stay above reproach, SIM Kenya has instructed us to wait patiently. In the meantime, we are able to participate in Moffat and Hospital meetings/events. For me this means attending chapel, chai (tea) time and various student-led events (practical ministry reports and bible studies). For Maureen, this means sitting in on morning conferences and shadowing physicians. Pray that we will look for and expect meaningful opportunities to be used by God. Pray that our work permits would arrive in God’s timing. Pray also that we are able to adjust well to the reality of these two truisms – that we can establish a healthy routine so that our family will have an effective ministry.

Moffat Entrance

Moffat Chapel Service

We’ve been warmly accepted by the community here in Kijabe. This means that we’ve had meals with numerous families! We’ve also gotten to know many wonderful people.

There is so much to share and so little time to write, but we promise to write more later and ask that you keep us in your prayers as you are in ours.

In Christ,

Tim for Maureen, Luke & Kate