Leaving Kijabe – for a year (28/5/17)

Executive summary:  We’re returning to Australia for a planned year home this June!

Life in the nonprofit, military or volunteer world has a rhythm:  workers in refugee camps work on location for a few months, then return home for some respite.  When Andy was in the Navy, a three year “sea duty” period of submarine deployments was followed by two years “shore duty”.  And in our world of Christian nonprofit work, an overseas placement of 4 years is followed by an assignment in a home country – for rest, reporting to partners, further education, reconnection.

In April, we marked 6 years in Kenya (4 years since our last extended home visit) – and we’re quite ready to spend some time at home 🙂 .  So in mid-June we’ll say goodbye to Kijabe for a year and return to Adelaide, Australia.  We have several priorities for this year – so here’s what we’ll be doing:

Taking a deep breath – the last 4 years have been fruitful but exhausting.  Back-to-back projects, leadership in a large hospital with insufficient resources, health challenges with our own kids, managing a revolving-door growing SIM team, a 3 month national doctors’ strike, serving in a (wonderful!) place where needs always significantly outweigh resources.  We are looking forward to taking some time to recalibrate and refresh.

Giving our kids further ‘roots’ in one of their passport countries – children like ours are sometimes referred to as “Third Culture Kids” – children whose life is mostly experienced in one culture (Kenya), with a passport from a second culture (or second and third, in their case!), but who often feel they “belong” to neither.  During this year in Australia we hope to give them roots there through a full year in an Aussie school.

Further education – Our time in East Africa has opened our eyes to areas in which we need to deepen our knowledge. Mardi will be starting a fly-in-fly-out modular Master of Business Administration at the Melbourne Business School, for further equipping in medical leadership – we are thankful that she was awarded a major scholarship which covers much of the cost.  Andy will complete his Master of Divinity from the University of Melbourne, wrestling with the issue of colonialism in theology, among other things.  We are both excited to have this opportunity to be better equipped for the work we are passionate about.

Connecting with partners – Many of you have faithfully partnered with us financially, prayerfully, emotionally, and we are looking forward to reporting back on the work, how we are doing, and connecting with your life and journey these past few years.

Continuing to be involved in our work here – Andy has projects that will continue while we’re gone, so will continue to work over email and Skype, with one or two visits back likely during the year.  The Pediatric Emergency and Critical Care training program will continue in the approvals process, with its launch is likely while we are in Australia – so Mardi will continue to help with teaching module development and research publications by distance.

Taking the opportunity to assess “what’s next” – we are glad to have the opportunity to step back and ask ourselves – how are we doing?  How was the last 6 years?  Did we do what we set out to do?  How might our calling and work look different next time?  We are at this stage planning to return to Kijabe in mid-2018.

So what does this mean for you in 2017-2018?

We still need a committed partnership team.  We will not be taking full time jobs in Australia – if we did we’d be unable to deliver the objectives above 🙂 .  We will be as reliant as ever on our team of financial, moral and prayer supporters as we have been while here in Kijabe.  For those of you who are regular financial partners, please don’t stop now! If you are someone who’s been reading about our work but are not yet a financial partner, we’d love you to join our team here.  We need and are grateful for your investment in our work.

We’ll still be quite busy –  We will have multiple constraints on our schedule, as we juggle postgraduate education, the kids’ school terms, speaking and fundraising trips (including five weeks in the USA), and rest.  If we can’t catch up with you, please know that we are trying to balance family, friends and partners in a way that renews, refreshes and reconnects us.

Thank you to those of you who have loved and supported us over the last 6 years.  We so look forward to this next phase and what doors may open for our next steps!

– A & M

Author: steeres

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Andy. What an interesting Thesis topic. I hope you will share your discoveries. Have you read Robert Woodbury’s article in CT? http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic965299.files/Woodberry%20APSR%202011.pdf
    Very helpful study on the fruit of conversionary Christian missions, often done side by side with the colonial advance, and in some sense part of it. I am hoping you will take a look at the possibility that colonialism might also have been, or paved the way for, a blessing in dimensions not appreciated today. Happy Trails; Dave and I will be praying for a restful, restorative and spiritually productive year. God bless and guide you.

  2. Thank you, Jan 🙂 Our best to you and Dave! I have indeed read the CT article, and also the much longer journal article published in a political science journal. It’s a terrific piece of work. I’m not sure if I can go so far as to use ‘blessing’ in the same sentence as ‘colonialism’, but I can certainly appreciate there is likely to be an ‘in all things God works for good’ dimension to this subject 🙂 To my understanding, one of the limitations of Woodbury’s work appears to be his direct equating of ‘democracy’ as a measure of success of Conversionary Protestant work. I’m not sure democracy as a system of government has been particularly useful for any African nation to date, and would question whether a Christian can point to a particular form of government and draw any conclusions about the usefulness/success of mission or church work therein. Certainly in the historical contexts in which Christianity has thrived most fruitfully, democracy was not the form of government of those in power…one thinks of the Roman Empire, China today, etc.

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