Wheels-up in 8 Days!

Kenya News

On August 1st, Kenya’s borders opened to international travel as was previously announced by President Kenyatta. Friends and co-workers flew in that night with no problems at all and are quarantining in their home at RVA. Though COVID cases continue to rise, it appears that Kenya is moving forward as they begin to adjust to their “new normal”. All schools in Kenya will continue to remain closed until January 2021 and the Ministry of Education just released a 47-page document outlining the health and safety protocols that must be implemented by educational institutions if they want to re-open. A lot of wisdom and creativity is needed, along with a great deal of patience and unity of purpose.

Our first flight to London has been changed twice due to cancelled flights by the airline. We are now re-booked and scheduled to leave Philadelphia on Wed, Aug 12 with an hour lay-over in Boston before heading across the Atlantic to London. Once there, we have only a little over an hour to make our connection down to Nairobi. Any delay along the way will mean a missed flight.

PRAY specifically that these flights would not change and there would be no delays along the way. Once on the ground in Kenya the night of Aug 13th, we will travel directly to RVA and quarantine in our home for 14 days. Friends are currently getting our house set-up with our furnishings and stocked with food. PRAY for the remaining RVA staff as they prepare to welcome 4 families returning from Home Assignment and 4 NEW families this month!

Family News

There has been quite a bit of excitement in our family over the last few weeks! We celebrated Hannah’s 21st birthday on July 15th and two days later, she got engaged to her RVA high school sweetheart! What a gift to be here during this special time. Hannah and Jamie are planning to be married sometime next summer after they both finish college. PRAY that they will grow closer to the Lord and to each other as they look toward the future together. Jamie will return to Brown Univ. in Rhode Island later this month when Hannah returns to Messiah for her final semester.

Our growing family at Hannah’s engagement party

Rachel moved out of our house over the weekend and into Lancaster City with three other friends. We loved having her with us for the year and especially enjoyed learning about her work at the hospital with heart patients and their families. PRAY that she will feel settled quickly and get into a good routine at the house with her friends. PRAY also for wisdom in her work and opportunities to share HOPE with her patients and co-workers.

Now that Micah’s summer job at Lowe’s has ended, he is busy preparing to return to Messiah in a few days (Aug 10) for RA training. Strangely enough, he has been assigned to the same dorm and floor where Missy lived her first year of college! 😊 PRAY for Micah as he prepares to lead the 35 guys on his floor into a very different environment than they left back in March. PRAY for good health and safety as our college kids navigate many changes as they begin this new semester.

These days are just plain hard. They are both physically and emotionally draining as we make endless decisions, pack-up things and return them to storage, purchase the few remaining things on our list, visit extended family one last time, move Hannah and Micah out of the house, and pack our six 50-pound pieces of luggage all in the next few days before we say those final and most difficult good-byes to our big kids and head to the airport…just the two of us. It’s a new season. And this new season will take some getting used to. PRAY that the God of hope will fill us with all JOY and PEACE as we trust in him, so that we will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). He IS faithful and will carry us through.

Thank you for committing these things to prayer. We appreciate you so much.

Brian & Missy

Opening Doors

Less than 4 weeks away! It is hard to believe that our anticipated return to Kenya is so close…August 12! Provided that God opens the doors, we are heading towards RVA.

More Updates from Kenya

Several of our key questions were answered by President Kenyatta’s speech on July 6. We were really impressed with the speech and the leadership being provided as everyone continues to figure out how to navigate unprecedented times. One other big piece of information from the speech was that schools would remain closed until January 2021. This confirms RVA’s decision to function online for the new school term beginning at the end of August. Please PRAY for us as we figure out how to adjust to teaching online for the next term, especially for Missy as she will be back “in” the classroom for the first time in many years and it will be very different from any experience she has previously had.

Opening Doors

Before we could return to Kenya, there were three key thresholds to cross. First, international travel would need to reopen. In the speech, it was announced that international travel would resume on August 1st. Second, the quarantining process would need to change from being in government facilities to being in our own home. We are still waiting to see how this shakes out. It is clear tourists cannot be expected to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. We think it is likely that there will be a screening process on arrival with possible testing if there are concerns during the screening. Third, we need the international flights to restart. Our scheduled flight has already had one leg cancelled and we have been rebooked on two different legs to replace our direct flight out of Philly to London. Please PRAY for very clear information about testing and quarantine expectations on arrival in Kenya. Also PRAY that flights will resume and get us there in the most direct way possible.

Into Crunch Time!

With the great advice of some local friends, we were able to have a really successful yard sale that cleaned out an entire garage full of items left from the paring down and cleaning out process. Some others are using things we weren’t quite ready to part with. In the next two weeks, Rachel will be moving out and into a rental house with several friends. Then Micah heads back to college (now university) just 2 days before we are scheduled to leave. Hannah will move back to school just prior to the start of classes on Aug 25.

As each one moves out, we have a little less clutter and extra space. We can more easily see what remains. But there is still much to be done…storing items we are leaving behind, making sure each of our kids has what they need, shopping for things we need before leaving (normally we would have done this over the course of the last several months), and packing our bags (fitting everything into just 6 pieces of luggage)!

PRAY that we will have clarity of mind to figure out everything that remains to be done and be able to prioritize things and people well. We’d love to be able to complete these tasks with calm hearts and in good time.

Thank you for committing these things before the Father on our behalf,

Brian & Missy

Moving Forward

We have booked tickets to return to Kenya on August 12…less than 8 weeks away! Provided that God opens the doors, we are heading towards RVA. Below you will find some new information from RVA and Kenya…lessons we are learning…and ways you may be able to help.

News from RVA & Kenya

As expected, we have received some updated information from RVA about conditions in Kenya. COVID has arrived in Kijabe (the community where RVA is located, along with the Kijabe Hospital and Moffat Bible College) and continues to spread around Kenya. The anticipated announcement from President Kenyatta at the beginning of June was essentially a notice that restrictions would remain in place for another 30 days.

Without a clear timeline for Kenya to open and schools to resume, RVA has made the decision to go completely online through first term. While this means it is theoretically possible to teach from here in the U.S., we believe it is important for us to be physically on campus where we can help and encourage staff who are weary from the last several months in addition to having access to all the teaching resources needed to support our students well from afar. BOTH of us will be teaching this year (Brian back in high school math and Missy, co-teaching grade 2). We are also very excited to be moving back into a Titchie dorm, a ministry we loved being a part of from 1998-2009! Though we are disappointed to not have kids directly in our space this first term back, we are praying to be able to welcome them in January.

We are blessed to have valid work permits which should allow us entry into Kenya (likely ahead of new staff) and are eager to hear the next Presidential update in early July with regards to opening the Kenyan borders to international travel. We also wait for the government to allow those entering Kenya to self-quarantine in their own homes rather than in government facilities. And so, in faith and with excitement to see what God will do, we have booked our flights and plan to arrive on the ground in Kenya on August 13th. PRAY that God will clearly illuminate the path ahead of us and confirm HIS timing for moving forward.

Lessons we are Learning

God has been teaching us some hard lessons and has challenged our thinking as we’ve had extended times of studying the Word, praying for direction, and reading countless books on what it means to live the crucified life by dying to ourselves DAILY. As expected, the Enemy has tried to knock us off-balance by overwhelming us with fear and anxiety. Just last week, we learned that due to the limited number of ventilators available in Kenya, they will not be used on anyone over 50 years of age. Hard as it is to believe…that’s US!

What does this mean, God? How do we respond?

We are reminded of the Chronicles of Narnia when Lucy is about to meet Aslan. She is talking to the Beavers and asks, “Then he isn’t safe?” “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” The TRUTH we see is that God calls us to places that are not safe – but we can rest in knowing that GOD is in those places and that HE IS GOOD! Whether HERE surrounded by the bountiful farmland in Lancaster County or THERE on a hill at 7500 feet overlooking the Great Rift Valley of Africa, GOD IS GOOD! In our local Kijabe church, the pastor often proclaims: “God is Good!” with the congregation responding: “All the time!” It continues with the pastor: “All the time!” Followed by the congregation: “God is Good!” Easy to say. Challenging to live by.

“Take up thy cross and follow me,” I hear the blessed Savior call. How can I make a lesser sacrifice when Jesus gave His all?” Alfred Ackely. “Take Up Thy Cross and Follow Me.” 1922.

PRAY that the Holy Spirit would overwhelm us with PEACE to replace any fear-filled and anxious thoughts as we continue to learn and grow and follow HIM.

God’s Desires…or Mine?

In our last update, we shared how God closed the doors (literally!) on two different homes we had hoped to purchase. As we processed through this disappointment and continued to look for other options, it became apparent that perhaps our desire was simply that: our desire. It was our desire to provide a place of security and safety for our grown kids. It was our desire to provide a place for them to call home. It was our desire to have a place for ourselves to go home to. As I, Missy, have spent a significant amount of time the last few months scrapbooking years of our lives, I have been reminded of and completely blown away by God’s unending faithfulness and the countless ways He has blessed our family and provided for ALL our needs in His perfect time! We can rest in the security that comes from KNOWING that God is working all things out for our good and HIS GLORY. He will continue to provide for the needs of our family; and as we DELIGHT in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts – which by delighting in Him, will be more in line with HIS DESIRES for us.

PRAY that we would willingly surrender our desires and choose to DELIGHT in HIM.

Still Clearing Out – How you can help!

We have managed to find new homes for many things left from cleaning out Missy’s mom’s apartment. Now we need a really good yard sale…preferably nearby in Lancaster County. We are a still unfamiliar how to best advertise yard sales and would love to join in a community yard sale. We are also open to others joining us here in Millersville! We know the value of local knowledge – so please let us know if you have any information that might help us.

Thank you for committing these things before the Father on our behalf,

Brian & Missy

Live Stream Tomorrow

We are excited that one of our opportunities to share with churches is actually happening tomorrow …Sunday, May 31st. So many of our plans to share with churches and supporters were postponed or cancelled since the middle of March. Tomorrow, we will travel to St. John’s Church in Steelstown and share during their live-streamed service at 10:30 a.m. EST You can join us online at https://www.ilovestjohns.org/. Simply scroll down the home page to find the live stream.

A Question of Access

One of the key things we have been sharing about missions this year is Unreached People Groups (UPGs). We have been talking about HOPE and how people in these groups do not have ACCESS to the Gospel and therefore, do not have the HOPE that we have in Jesus. In this time of a worldwide pandemic, hope becomes even more important.

Here in America, people have access to the Gospel. Even with churches being shut down, there are lots of creative ideas and efforts to make sure people still have the opportunity to worship and hear the Word of God. There is a lot of access here. We are reminding people that missions is not simply an issue of lostness, for there are lost people everywhere in the world. Missions is an issue of access…getting the Gospel to those who don’t have access to the Gospel. Check out this video to learn more about UPGs. Or join us tomorrow morning!

Quick Family Update

Hannah has found a job and now has a pretty full schedule between her job, an internship and a summer course that starts next week (but she already started the reading this week). After many applications, Micah finally got a call for an interview and he is hoping to start work this coming week. Thank you for praying for jobs for our children!

More News Coming Soon

You may remember from our last update that this next week is critical in terms of direction for the next couple of months. We are expecting to hear about Messiah’s plans for the fall semester, Kenya’s plans for re-opening the country and RVA’s plans for next term. By the end of next week, we hope to have clear direction through the end of the year. Please continue to pray that God will provide very clear direction for us for the next several months!

Thanks for your prayers,

Brian & Missy

Direction and Decision

We started writing this update thinking that after a few weeks we would have a few things to share. In reality, we have A LOT to share. Bear with us through this long update. There are a few personal requests near the end, but we felt it was important to provide ministry and Kenya updates at the top of the news.

RVA Update

We were very excited to receive some news from RVA, especially regarding our roles for next year. While there are still a lot of unanswered questions, as are noted below, it is likely we will return to a dorm when we get back to RVA. Missy will also be involved in a teaching role at Titchie Swot (the elementary school). Brian will be teaching the AP Calculus classes and will be involved in other ways within the academic program…more details to follow once we get back on the ground in Kenya (hopefully in early August).

Speaking of getting back to Kenya, about a third of the staff left Kenya for a variety of reasons once the coronavirus shutdowns started. For school to start in August, it will be important to get staff members back into Kenya. We still have valid resident permits through 2021. Our permits should allow us back into Kenya when the borders open even when tourists and other travelers may not have access.

Of course, there are still a lot of questions to be answered at RVA. Will they be opening school with students on campus or still running school online? Will students be able to get into Kenya from all over Africa? What types of guidelines will the Kenyan government have for social distancing and schools? The answers to some of these questions may not even be available until August, yet scenario planning needs to begin sooner. The first week in June is key as that is when the Kenyan government is expected to provide some direction with a timeline for lifting current restrictions.

PRAY for clarity in the many decisions that need to be made at RVA and wisdom for those making the decisions.

Kenya Update

A severe lockdown due to coronavirus is only one of the many hardships currently plaguing Kenya. This means that many people who are out of work are unable to provide for their families. They don’t have access to stimulus payments or extra unemployment benefits even though the government is working hard to meet their needs. Many live from day to day without full pantries, refrigerators, or rainy-day funds in a bank account.

Rain has been another big concern. Flooding has reached levels never experienced in the memory of any current living person. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Water is flowing in places it has never flowed.

Then there are the locusts. Locusts invaded northern Kenya early in the year and have continued to eat everything green in sight. The ongoing heavy rains are bringing green to places that don’t usually have a lot of green and this may help to appease the voracious appetites of the locusts. Still the devastation left behind by the locusts will have a significant impact on the food supplies for the next year. Likely, there will be even more hunger and starvation.

PRAY that Kenyans, especially those without resources or jobs, will be able to find legitimate ways to provide for the basic needs of their families.

Visitation Update

One might wonder how we can even have a visitation update when everyone is supposed to “stay-at-home”! Early in May, we shared with a small country church during a worship service and also met with a missions’ group from a different church – both on Zoom. We greatly appreciated their interest, encouragement, and time of prayer together. We have another Zoom meeting scheduled for this week and will be part of a live-streamed service on Sunday, May 31. Perhaps by June or July, we will be able to meet facemask to facemask! In the waiting, let us know if we can “meet” with you in a different way!

Finance Update

We have reached out to a few individuals and churches where we had concerns about support. Much of the feedback that we have received has been positive! Support has continued to be fairly strong even through March and April. We do have a small shortage of about $150 per month…maybe more depending on answers from a few churches. PRAY that we would obtain the level of support needed to be “cleared” by AIM in order to return to RVA as planned in August.

Family Update

Hannah and Micah have successfully finished their semester through online courses at Messiah and are scheduled to return to school this week to clear out their rooms and officially “move home” for the summer. The college (soon to be Messiah University as of July 1, 2020) is hoping to share news in early June about the opening of the next school year in August. We are very happy that Hannah was able to secure a part-time virtual summer internship in her field, which starts this week! She will also be taking two online classes through Messiah which puts her in a good position to graduate early in December of this year. PRAY that Hannah and Micah would be able to find summer jobs – if you have any leads, please let us know.

Personal Update

We had been feeling pretty discouraged about the process of trying to find house to serve as a home base for our family with real estate completely shut down in PA. Sharing our frustrations with good friends and a missions’ group from church led us to a real estate agent who figured out that we fit a very narrow guideline allowing us to walk through houses and complete the process of purchasing a home. Needless to say…this was a HUGE encouragement!

We actively started looking at houses again early last week and found two good possibilities. However, the first one was sold just before we decided to make an offer; and the sellers of the second house received another offer on the same day as ours choosing, in the end, to sell to the other buyer. God very clearly shut the doors on both these houses, causing us to wonder what His plan might be. PRAY that as we continue to seek the Lord, we would set aside our own desires and carefully listen for His voice.

Over the next few weeks, we will begin the process of sorting through personal things we have been storing along with newly acquired things from Missy’s mom. There may be ways YOU CAN HELP! See below.

It is easy to become overwhelmed as our time in the States is rapidly getting shorter, the length of our “to do” list seems exceptionally long, and the number of unanswered questions rises daily. PRAY that we would trust the Lord and not depend on our own understanding. PRAY that we would seek Him in all we do. PRAY that our eyes would be open to see the path He shows us to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Thanks for your prayers,

Brian & Missy

Help (or Expertise) Wanted

There are several areas where we could use some help:

  1. Dispersion…we have several large bags of women’s clothing from Missy’s mom, lots of jewelry, antiques, household items, possibly even some furniture. We would normally have a yard sale, which is not an option at this time. We know there are probably online options out there, but we are not familiar with what they are or how they work.
    1. Some things have already gone to the dumpster and others will probably follow.
    1. Some things may be able to bless someone who has needs and we would love to know the best ways to get those things directly into the hands of those who might benefit the most without cost to them.
    1. Some things may have more value and we would like to get some of that value for those items. This leads to the second area we need help.
  2. Expertise…we don’t know where to go with things or whether some things have value or not. We really love to tap the knowledge of someone who knows about some of these things:
    1. Selling things virtually…we don’t know how to do this well or even correctly.
    1. Valuing antiques, collectibles and coins and recommending where we can get rid of them.

If you, or someone you know, could help us in any of these areas, please email us directly and we would be happy to provide more details.

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