September 29, 2014

In last week's update I shared how "God sent me a very special gift... when I decided to view the birds that were singing so loudly outside our home."  I promised as "my way of thanking you for allowing us through your prayer and financial support to obey our Father and join His work among Sub-Saharan African Peoples" to share a slideshow "of more bird adventures which will take the place of next week's update as I will be at a meeting!" (I'm leaving early, VERY early, tomorrow morning!)


WELL... "God created and it was GOOD"* is the promised slideshow!  And as I explained while posting these photos, my "plan was to use lots of God's Words to illustrate this, but His creations need no help in teaching what we can learn about God's care, as well as how we must claim his protection, from these babies as we enjoy them!"
And as I explained while posting these photos, my "plan was to use lots of God's Words to illustrate this, but His creations need no help in teaching what we can learn about God's care, as well as how we must claim his protection, from these babies as we enjoy them!" I found it astounding when I realized that this incredible event was photographed from the same spots where I stood to take photos during the Westgate Mall attack one year before.
Hopefully one of the last photo of KBTC's
incomplete building!
This week while I'm away at a meeting, please continue praying for Jack as he leads the Kenya Baptist Theological College. Great things are happening and problems are being solved, thus Jack and his team need your prayer support!
BERT YATES
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153141529050130.1073741849.685050129&type=1&l=312ae96ee5 (Can be viewed by anyone!)
To keep up with what is happening at KBTC, visit  https://www.facebook.com/KenyaBaptistTheologicalCollege. 

September 24, 2014

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds
of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert
and always keep on praying.” Ephesians 6:18

Poinsettia 'bush' in front of KBTC Library.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to those who prayed for us this past week. Your prayers “in the Spirit” were answered! Before I share more, I must say: WE ARE SAFE and OK! As you read the following, don’t worry about us, but thank God with us for the alertness, peace and direction He provides.

Why prayers for safety in travel are always needed in Kenya!
This was viewed as we returned to Nairobi from KBTC last Friday.
I have debated whether to share the events of the last few days, but God keeps reminding me of a friend’s reproach. When I mentioned a dangerous situation we had encountered in Kenya, he asked why I had not shared this when it occurred. He said that those who pray for us needed to know our real prayer needs and answers to prayers, even those that had been answered via general prayers!
One expects to see farm animals in rural Kenya (the previous photo),
but this was taken Monday in an 'upper class' residential part of Nairobi!
Now for our story: We approached last weekend with apprehension as it was the one year anniversary of the attack on Westgate Mall. Security warnings had been issued of the possibility of new problems, so we planned to skip visiting big malls and to stay at home once we finished needed shopping and errand running. To be honest, after we made these plans on Friday night, I questioned if we were over-reacting. Then we were awoken at four in the morning by a confrontation between persons with guns beside our home. As often happens in our part of the world, we have no idea what this was about, but it definitely made us decide to take planned precautions!

A photo I took during the Westgate siege which showed
 the contradiction we felt living so close, safe and sound
viewing peaceful scenes, as the siege continued
in the mall.  A THANK YOU from two families
 in the mall during the attack is shared in today's
Nudge to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples.
Things went well on Saturday and Sunday and there were no incidents, a definite answer to prayer. Volunteer friends were in the city, so we met them for a late lunch on Monday at a large mall in another part of Nairobi. I’m not sure how Jack felt, but I once again felt it was safe to shop at a large mall and began relaxing!

I was asked to take a photo last year after the
Westgate siege of the memorial area near our home
for those who died. Taking the other photos touched
my heart, this one left me broken hearted as
I recognized people we knew in the photos.
We met at the patio area of Java House, a restaurant beside the mall’s parking lot. As we ordered, a car moving at a high speed, crashed into several cars only yards from us. Thanks to the security training the IMB offers, we stayed alert and I wish I could say, kept on praying (beginning verse), but things happened too fast to do so! As we contemplated moving further away in case this was a diversion, smoke appeared and we also feared an explosion, which did come, but in the form of gun shots!

Soon after the accident on Monday, air planes began
flying very low over the mall - which brought back
bad memories of the helicopters which flew non-stop
during the day-light hours of the the Westgate siege.
I still don't like to hear hovering helicopters!
Joining others, we fled into the restaurant and the staff escorted out a back door and out the mall gates. Within a short time, those of us outside the gates were told we could return as it was simply a car crash. So we did! Later, I asked myself why we did this, but realized it was what we have learned to do – Allow caution and smarts (which includes following the Spirit’s guidance) to rule your actions, not fear!

After we returned home, we learned that the driver of the speeding car had a seizure and the smoke came from his foot fully pressing the gas pedal even after his car stopped. The shooting was police reacting to his not responding and thankfully no one was hit!

Viewed as we returned home after the incident on Monday -
a needed reminder of the beauty often seen in Kenya!
We were a bit shaken by it all, but God has sent refreshing joys our way in the last few days. Jack’s joy has come in unexpected contacts which have affirmed that God is working in the lives of those who can be assets to KBTC. He also met today with the contractor and architect of the ‘one-floor-completed’ building* now used as the dorm, classrooms, chapel and dining for students. His response at lunch time: A major hurdle is being removed! A major incomplete is going to be completed and donors are responding to the needed finances to complete the planned three floors of the incomplete building!

A baby sunbird which was learning to fly spotted yesterday afternoon -
a baby which had lots of adventures which will be shared later!
God sent me a very special gift yesterday, which is partially shared above, when I decided to view the birds that were singing so loudly outside our home. More photos are shared below taking during my relaxing afternoon - special photos which I am sharing as my ways of thanking you for allowing us through your prayer and financial support to obey our Father and join His work among Sub-Saharan African Peoples! And look for a slideshow to be shared early next week of more bird adventures which will take the place of next week's update as I will be at a meeting!
BERT YATES
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- Report shared last year after the Westgate Mall attack: http://www.commissionstories.com/africa/stories/view/imb-missionaries-recount-terrorists-seizure-of-nairobi-mall
- More on the incomplete building in need of completion shared in the photos in last week’s update - http://bertandjackyates.blogspot.com/2014/09/september-17-2014.html.
- Remember that daily Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples are found at https://www.facebook.com/SubSaharanAfricanPeoples.
- For info on how God is allowing His children to join in His work at KBTC, visit https://www.facebook.com/KenyaBaptistTheologicalCollege. Both of these sites can be viewed by non-Facebook members.
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A few of the promised photos of views which left me totally refreshed yesterday - definitely one of those times that I know was not a co-incidence, but a GOD-incident!

Some baby birds were focused on learning new skills.
Some were learning how to protect themselves.
And some were just hungry!
Lots more will be shared in the promised slideshow!

September 17, 2014

“I am yours… Ensure your servant's well-being;
let not the arrogant oppress me… I am your servant;
give me discernment… My eyes stay open…
that I may meditate on your promises.”

These Common Waxbills were also enjoying the sunny day
as I walked yesterday to the upper KBTC building where
the students sleep, study, and eat.
As I read Psalm 119 in my devotions this morning, the phrases “I am yours” (v.94) and “I am your servant” (v.125) caught my attention. I found myself asking: Do I truly claim my position as my Father’s child, as His servant? How often do I fully recognize and claim that my relationship with my Father makes me a very, very special person and gives me access to authority, strength, and so much more.

The men's dorm is a bit cramped, but one day
they will have better sleeping quarters upstairs.
Verse 122 left me asking why I allow oppressive situations and people to leave me stressed, worried, etc. The psalmist’s desire to meditate (v.148) on our Father’s Word answered my query – I am too often overwhelmed because I fail to keep my focus on my relationship with my Father, who can do the impossible and enable me to join in doing His impossible to man work (Matthew 19:26)!

Classrooms, music practice rooms and the dining
room/ chapel and kitchen are all now on the lower
floor, which at the moment is the only completed
floor - with the exception of the shower block in
one corner of the second of the three planned floors!
I'm not sure why all of this passed through my thoughts this morning, but these are lessons and assurances that God has continually taught Jack and me in the two years since we began accepting that He was calling Jack to serve as the principal of the Kenya Baptist Theological College. There have been frustrating times when our focus was on oppressing issues, yet as we've focused on God, we've learned to totally trust and rely upon Him and experience anew the joy of being His child and serving Him!

The students aren't allowed in this room - but they do
enjoy what is prepared in the kitchen, including
this lunch of hot chapatis and vegetable stew. 
I asked Jack yesterday to write his current prayer requests for KBTC. As I read through his prayer items, I was awed by how much has been accomplished since he began serving as KBTC principal in January 2013. We have seen impossible things happen, including the many times that times of oppression and need turned into times of praise. Always at these times it was obvious that this was not about what Jack, I or others had done, but how God used our actions or those of others to accomplish His plans and purpose for KBTC. He continually showed us what a powerful, mighty, and awesome God we serve!

The students and staff enjoyed a full day yesterday of
Dr Greg Brooks, Executive Pastor at First Baptist Church at
The Villages (Orlando, Florida), teaching the book of Ephesians.
Thus I can share Jack’s prayer requests today with full knowledge that God has answered our past prayers and He can and will answer these, no matter how impossible it seems!

> PRAISE for renewed desire by students to prepare for service. (Bert: Praise also for the growing confidence in the ability of KBTC to prepare students for service and students arriving with fees.)

No, KBTC does not enrol students
this young!  Yesterday's second special
guest is the son of a staff member!
> PRAY for KBTC’s Board of Governors as they lead the college in the accreditation process. (Bert: This is an important step in KBTC becoming better equipped to train God’s children to accomplish His work.)

> PRAY for various staff as they travel around Kenya promoting the college and calling out potential students called to serve. (Bert: Today’s Nudge to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples gives clues to why prayer for travel is so important.)

> PRAY for finances to complete our main building for full use in 2015. (Bert: This sounds impossible, but as we've seen happen again and again in the last 2 years, our God will make sure the impossible happens when His servants truly seek to obey Him, seek His guidance and focus on Him.)

The building with a future! One floor completed, second floor
partially begun and the third floor still only visible on paper!
And as always, thank you for the strengthening and encouragement we receive by knowing you are joining us in prayer, BERT YATES
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Remember that daily Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples are found at   https://www.facebook.com/SubSaharanAfricanPeoples.

For info on how God is allowing His children to join in His work at KBTC, visit  https://www.facebook.com/KenyaBaptistTheologicalCollege. Both of these sites can be viewed by non-Facebook members.
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Now for some added photos that will hopefully help you appreciate why we love living in Africa!

And while Dr. Brooks taught yesterday, the security staff
were busy outside watching the expert on the right do his
job - Rounding-up moles!  Both times I left the building,
they tried to get me to view the most recent find
up close and personal - but I declined the offer!
In last week's update I shared a photo of a goat atop a truck
which we viewed as we returned for our weekend visit to
our home in Nairobi. Last Friday, we followed this truck
of chickens! We feared that most were dead, but when the
truck stopped for a bit due to traffic, hundreds of heads
began bobbing around, taking in the scenery!

Remember last week's photo of the cows that were walking
down the road to our church?  The herd had grown this week!

September 10, 2014

Pray for wisdom and ‘rest for their souls’ for workers among SSAPeoples whose ‘eyes are filled with tears’ (Psalm 116:7,8). Pray for those who cannot reach out and hug hurting children and friends due to required Ebola restrictions; for those who recently met a 14 year old who balances school with being the only caregiver for her two young cousins; for workers with sick friends lacking access to medical care.” Nudge to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples – September 10, 2014

Like most missionaries, I often repeat or sing Psalm 118:24 in my ‘heart’ language and in my adopted language. We truly believe that “This is the day the LORD has made” and desire to “rejoice and be glad in it,” yet sometimes this is difficult, times such as those shared in today’s Nudge to Action.

Another day that left my heart broken, but thankfully
also rejoicing.  This is just one of the views captured
during a past visit to a church in a huge Nairobi slum.
International news continues to tell stories of death and fear as Ebola invades West Africa. The stories shared by co-workers also speak of the sorrow of being in church services where worshippers are asked to not make physical contact with one another. In Africa it is considered rude if you do not physically greet one another with not just a hug or hand-shake, but often by holding hands throughout the conversation, thus I cannot imagine an African church meeting without any hugging or touching!

We spotted several girls in the school sponsored by
the church who attended class with an infant sibling.
There are also times such as the heartache felt last week by colleagues in southern Africa when they met a 14 year old girl who lives alone with her 3 and 7 year old cousins. Before heading off to school each day, the young teen gathers dung to build a fire, cooks and hauls all the water needed for cooking, drinking and bathing by her family of three.

This little group followed us around that day - the oldest
(with cup) was not just the 'ring leader' of the group...
The lack of medical care story was my own experience which occurred yesterday, one that still leaves me rethinking what I could/ should have done and if I was truly responding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jack had a meeting in town, so I had tagged along for needed shopping. As I searched for the skim milk that I prefer (and had not found for several weeks), I thought I spotted a friend who ‘entices’ customers to buy a brand of yoghurt. As I got closer, the woman turned to speak to a customer and her large face quickly led to my thinking I was mistaken, so I moved on.

... he watched out for the others.
As I left the shop, I heard someone call my name and as I turned I saw my friend, the yoghurt salesperson. Had I not been so close to her, I would not have recognized her without her usual smile and sparkling eyes. She was a woman in pain with a grossly swollen cheek and eyes reddened by fever. I could hardly understand her words and I think, but I’m not sure, that she shared that she had been to the doctor, but the medicine would cost more money that she had.

I had only a few shillings in my purse as I had spent all that I had on enough milk to freeze and use for a month, milk that I could have survived without. So, I offered all that I could at the moment, my prayers.

One of the many kids spotted that day who
left us with a smile and a tear in our eyes!
Now it may sound like a ‘righteous’ answer, but as I’ve rethought this experience, I remember that almost every time we leave home, we encounter someone with a heartbreaking need. Thus we must constantly seek and trust God to guide us in how we respond and how to use our time, monies and resources, even though sometimes this hurts as His way is not the way I want to choose.

Yes, viewing this walking sock/
hosiery 'store' did result in a bit of joy!
I could go on and on about all the thoughts and chidings which have passed through my mind in the last day, but I think you can understand why it is so important that you support us in prayer as we act and react to all we encounter as we serve our Father. Do pray that we will always be alert to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Pray also that we will have rest for our tears and our souls so that we will not become discouraged and unable to continue being a witness of our Saviour, the one in whom we rejoice and are glad. Bert Yates
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For daily Nudges to Action (Prayer/ Giving/ Serving) for Sub-Saharan Peoples, visit  https://www.facebook.com/SubSaharanAfricanPeoples. Non Facebook users can easily view the daily photos and prayer nudges by scrolling down the link.
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Cannot resist sharing my favourite photo captured this last
week - another one which isn't award winning, but it is
one of those that explains why we are never, ever bored
in Africa.  As we approached the truck, something black
kept bobbing-up beside the hooded guy sitting atop a
home- made tarp (from feed bags) attached to the top of
the truck. As we drew closer, we realized it was a... GOAT!