July 23, 2014

I'll begin this lengthy update with my favorite 'photo of the week' which was captured on Monday as Jack taught at the School of Missions at the Nairobi Training Centre.

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long… I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone” (Psalm 71:14-16 NIV).

Viewing this yesterday in our yard definitely led to praise!
So much has happened in the last week that it is hard to choose how to share our stories and even though our week’s update is going to be long, I promise you will want to read all of it and join us in praising God for all He allowed us to experience! Beginning with how yet again, when I was unsure how to begin writing, taking time for devotions provided me with guidance via His words shared above.

Jack speaking on behalf
of KBTC at Weswah's service.
Two of last week’s stories of hope and praise were of the memorial services for two leaders of the Kenya Baptist Convention. Both the service at Parklands Baptist Church (Nairobi) for Enos Weswah and the one for Daniel Thiuru at Nyeri Baptist Church were truly times of “more and more” hope and praise.

There was sadness, but there was also much joy last Thursday morning as Jack and others shared their memories of Mwalimu Weswah. He was described as “A man God gifted to be a Mwalimu (teacher) and a man who blessed others through his God given gift! A humble man. A leader. A committed Believer. A trusted friend. A loving husband and father” (1).

Nyeri Baptist High School choir singing at Pastor Thiuri's memorial service.
Then on Saturday afternoon, Jack joined others in sharing stories of how Pastor Thiuri didn’t just tell of our Father’s righteousness; his servant attitude and roles as a peacemaker and friend to all were a living testimony of our Father’s mighty acts. Both services included memory after memory of how the speakers became Believers, were discipled or were challenged to proclaim their faith by these two men.

Spotted in the forest
on Sunday in Nyeri.
A favorite memory shared by Professor Douglas Waruta was from his youth when he joined Daniel Thiuri on one of the first mission trips by Kenyan Baptists. None of the early missionaries could make the trip, so Daniel was the assigned driver in his old Volkswagen which lacked a muffler. Travelling through a forest to get to their destination, they realized they were surrounded by elephants. To the surprise of his passengers, Daniel turned off the engine. His explanation was based on his extensive folk lore, “We don’t want them to hear us.” I did a bit of research (2) on the internet this morning and learned that elephants do hear or sense sound waves, such as those made by a VW without a muffler, via their feet! And YES, Daniel also had 'stories of old' about colobus monkeys!

Pastor Thiuri (right) on a coastal tour of the
leaders of the Baptist Convention of Kenya
(2007).  At the memorial service his son-in-law
said he died with his usual smile on his face!
Another very special joy at both of these services was the reunion of so many Baptist friends, pastors and leaders. It was also a time of hope for Jack and I as we heard so many speak of their appreciation for training at the Kenya Baptist Theological College and their hope for the future of the seminary!

There are so many more stories, such as our praise for new Kenyan missionaries being trained this week at the School of Missions for local Baptist churches. I promise to share more next week of the story of the blessings God provided for KBTC after Jack decided on Monday, “Today I am going to let GOD handle everything. I don’t have to ‘do’ anything but wait on Him.” God is handling things in ways that are way beyond any of Jack’s dreams! And I almost forgot another blessing story of the past week - the incredible violin workshop at the college where it was said that "students learned in one week what it usually takes years to learn!"

Jack teaching "Denominations, Sects and Cults" at the School of Missions.
This week’s stories of thanksgiving must be very brief unless I want to write a book rather than an update today. Stories such as when a meeting ran 30 minutes late, which meant we were delayed and avoided a dangerous situation which occurred along our route home at our scheduled time to return!

Students smiling after their concert - many enrolled in KBTC's music program.
Another personal story of thanksgiving this week has been the many opportunities I've had to take photos and a special time with a pro to learn how to take better photos! A story of joy was when I reviewed this week’s daily Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples (3) and realized that God had led me to stories/photos which included all of the top five ‘attention getters’ for these nudges: Baptisms, sunrises/ sunsets, Missionary Kids, African animals, and things that are not the norm in some parts of the world! I’ll let you view the Nudges to Action to figure out which is which!

My very shy pew-mate
during Saturday's memorial service.
I'm way over my usual update length, but God is at work and has allowed us to join in, which has filled us with hope and praise! “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20 NIV) BECAUSE you are the ones who enable us to serve in Kenya as you pray for us, give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program and as you serve as co-workers!
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(2) http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Elephants-can-hear-through-their-feet-2593114.php
(3) Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sub-Saharan-African-Peoples/100173880060607

Yet another story shared via three photos.

This little boy smiled brightly as I began to take his photo
on Saturday,. He then moved away, only to return with a
friend and asked for me to take a photo of the two of them...
... before moving out of the photo so I could also take
solo photos of  his friend - A perfect story to capture at the
the memorial service of a man who cared so much for others.

July 16, 2014

Possibly the first hymn I learned word for word was “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations,” the theme song for GA’s, the WMU missions program for girls. I can still remember singing and dreaming of going to share God’s story to the nations. As I mentally prepared for today’s newsletter, I realized that I likely never thought that one way missionaries tell the story is by reporting stories back to the States of how “the world's… peoples” are turning “their hearts to the right.” But, that is now my job and I love it!

Thanks for your prayers for me as I learn to use my new camera!
I'm thankful that God gifted people to create
camera manuals for people like me!
I get to re-share the stories shared by co-workers among Sub-Saharan African Peoples. This week’s stories included an IMB worker’s belief “that things can, and will, get better… through changed hearts and minds” in South Sudan, a nation of “war, poverty and famine… hopelessness” (July 10) and the story of a missionary’s double blessing of a fish head stew lunch and watching as “20 new Believers responded as his national partners shared the truth of Jesus" among an Unreached People (July 14).

Not the photo used in today's Nudge to
Action for SSAPeoples, but it does
illustrate our need for prayers while travelling!
I also was blessed as I read and shared a co-worker’s story of the results of the ministry of “International World Changers team” and their ongoing story and need for prayers as they “follow up on over 50 people who either repented (Praise God) or want a visit" (July 15). To view today’s shared story, a story of thanksgiving for answered prayer, and others,visit Sub-Saharan African Peoples.  If you’re not a FB member, simply scroll past the SIGN UP/LOG IN bit!

Commissioning of volunteers going on leave by KBTC staff.
Another part of my job is sharing Jack’s stories and those of the Kenya Baptist Theological College. Yesterday I had the joy of taking photos to help share KBTC’s story in Kenya and in the USA. To view more of this story of the KBTC staff commissioning volunteers to share their story while on a short leave in the States and other stories from KBTC, visit KBTC’s Facebook page.

While having devotions one morning, I looked out
the window and thought how things have changed
in Kenya since the attack on the Westgate Mall -
the mall is the cream bit above the peaked roof .
This past weekend I helped Jack share a story on KBTC’s Facebook page which was not one of joy, but the story Hope over fear found in Kenya after attacks which was shared by Baptist Press and by the IMB definitely nudged people to prayer. These stories also shared of the news we shared with you last week of the death of Enos Weswah, a former principal of KBTC.

Pastor  Thiuru, a "great friend of KBTC" and a past
moderator of the BCOK, would have loved this photo
 taken yesterday of KBTC's library and office buildings. 
On Sunday we shared more sad news, the death of another Baptist Convention of Kenya leader, Daniel Thiuri. What we will remember and continue sharing Rev. Thiuri’s stories of how God worked in his life (he caught the attention of one of our early workers in East Africa who not only told him of God’s love, but discipled him and allowed him to become a co-worker) and his traditional tales of old Kenya (his People once placed tobacco leaves on top of graves to keep hyenas from attacking the grave – he always ended this story by sharing that hyenas were smarter than people – they avoided tobacco).

Pastor Thiuri would have been able to identify this
bird (and known I didn't have a clue) which I spotted
 in the poinsettia beside the buildings yesterday!
Pray for us as our story this next week will include times of thanking God for the lives of Pastors Weswah and Thiuri. Join us in praying for comfort and peace for their wives and children, both their physical and spiritual children.

We worshipped at Parklands Baptist Church last
Sunday and had the joy of joining Believers from
around the world in praying for the nations.
Don't overlook the added photos after the links!
Our praise includes another bit I overlooked when singing “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations” as a child. We are thankful for those in Africa who have lifted “their hearts to the Lord,” our African brothers and sisters who are telling our Father’s “story of truth and mercy… story of peace and light” to their own people and the peoples of other nations. We also thank God for you and for allowing us to share our stories with you, stories which are also your stories as you pray, give and serve with us. Bert Yates
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We've a story to tell to the nations – http://lyrics.bandwidthbeta.com/johnpattison/weve-a-story-to-tell-to-the-nations
Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sub-Saharan-African-Peoples/100173880060607
KBTC on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/KenyaBaptistTheologicalCollege
BAPTIST PRESS: Hope over fear found in Kenya after attacks – http://www.bpnews.net/42951/hope-over-fear-found-in-kenya-after-attacks
IMB: Work continues in Kenya despite terrorist attacks – http://www.commissionstories.com/africa/stories/view/work-continues-in-kenya-despite-terrorist-attacks

Spotted along the way to KBTC yesterday for the
commissioning service/ meal with the staff., where... 
...we were served AND ATE GOAT, LAMB, chicken, rice,
ugali (cooked corn meal) potatoes, rice, cabbage,
irio (like green hot potato salad) and chapati.
Fruits were served for dessert!
And, NO, we were not tempted to stop along the way home for a snack!

July 9, 2014

Today I'm working at my usual in my closet-
office in Nairobi.  This is a photo of me finding an
out-of-the-sun position, but within internet
connection while at the game park in late June.
Did you spot the giraffe by the water hole?
During my devotions this morning, I pondered how to share our experiences of the past week. As I read Psalm 53, the fifth verse ‘jumped out’ at me: “There they were overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread.” On the first reading, I misinterpreted the identity of the ‘they’ and I applied these words to God’s children, rather than the ‘evil-doers’ being filled with terror and fear.

There was a bit of legitimate dread/ fear when we
came around a corner late in the afternoon while at
the game park and spotted a rhino family -
 especially when the big daddy crossed the road and
stared at us as though daring us to come closer.
As I continued reading and came to “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me” (54:4), I realized that my earlier interpretation was not a mistake. It was God’s reminder that I do allow things to overwhelm and confuse me, when I should be claiming His help and strength. I realized that my pondering what to share was based on the mixture of good and bad news experienced this past week. I was unsure how to balance the extremes as I tried to adequately share our prayer needs and concerns. His Word reminded me that I had to fully allow Him to help, guide and sustain me as I share today.

Pastors Ambrose (Parklands),  Samson Ojienda
 (Baptist Convention of Kenya) and  Bern Otuma
 (Eastgate Baptist) unveiling the dedication plaque.
The good, really good news was the joyful day our church family experienced last Sunday as we celebrated our 4th anniversary and the official inauguration of Parklands Baptist Church Eastgate (formerly PBC Mombasa Road) in our new home, the former site of the Embakassi Baptist Church. Words alone cannot describe the joy and praise as we remembered the beginning of our new church, how God has guided and sustained us, and the excitement of what is ahead as we minister in an area of with 1.2 million residents, with only “100,000 people attending church on any given Sunday” (shared in day’s program). Our prayer request is that our church family will put aside all ‘dread’ and anything that will keep us from claiming God’s power and being His witnesses in the eastern gateway to Nairobi and in all of Nairobi, Kenya, Africa and “to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8)

Jack and Pastor Ambrose with one of our favourite people -
Pastor David Kiatu!
Now for the bad or rather sad news. Early last week, we were keeping up with news from my family as my mother had risky hip surgery and my brother had a stroke. Just as we received word that the two of them were healing well, we learned that Jack’s Mom had suffered a mild stroke. As we began praising God for the care and healing she was experiencing, we heard that there had been another deadly attack on Kenya’s coast. (1) This did concern us as we prayed for peace and healing for all involved, unaware until late Monday that one of those killed was a friend and former colleague.

Weswah leading the procession for graduation at the
Kenya Baptist Theological College in 2008.
Jack shared the following on KBTC’s Facebook page (2) yesterday afternoon: “It is with profound sorrow and shock that KBTC announces the death of our former Principal, Enos Nambafu Weswah, 5 July, 2014. While visiting Mpeketoni near Lamu, he was brutally murdered along with 28 others. Weswah began teaching at KBTC in 1991 and served as Registrar, and Deputy Principal before becoming Principal in 2005. He served until retirement in 2010. He leaves Edna, his wife, and Yolanda, his daughter.”

Paper-thin chapatis, rice, veggies, chicken
and beef stew were served after Sunday's celebration.
Please join us in praising God for caring for our family members in the States and praying for continue healing. Pray also for God’s care, comfort and peace for Weswah’s family and all of the Baptist family in Kenya. Pray especially for the KBTC family as they serve our Father and minister during this time.

I know I often say that we are thankful for your prayer support, but please know that we do depend upon your prayer support and value the many ways you strengthen and encourage us. BERT YATES
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* Latest raids on Kenyan Coast - http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/06/us-kenya-attacks-idUSKBN0FB05R20140706
**Kenya Baptist Theological College Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/KenyaBaptistTheologicalCollege
Lots of great stories shared this past week in the Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples, which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sub-Saharan-African-Peoples/100173880060607.

And the finale of last Sunday's celebration - a "Piga picha, Mama" request
as we left! The youngest was too busy eating her chapati to pose!

July 6, 2014

Posted on Facebook last week by worker: “Love ALL the LIKES on my new elephant FB cover and profile picture, but what I really want is lots of people viewing / hitting LIKE on the SSAPeoples* page! Lots more people are needed to LIKE/ SHARE that page so even more people can be nudged to join God's work in Africa via praying, giving and serving!” RESPONSE: 86 new LIKES on the page - passing 1000 LIKEs! THANK YOU!!!
* https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sub-Saharan-African-Peoples/100173880060607