22 July 2013

Nonplussed in Nairobi!

Well folks – when we left the UK a few weeks ago our plan was to send out no more than 3or 4 updates before the end of the year because we didn’t feel we’d have much to report! And yet this is the third in a week for goodness sake! Believe me, our plan is not to wear you down with our constant emails, but we would value your prayers as there’s been another twist in the tale! ‘Delayed in Dar’ was followed by ‘Green for Go’ and we’d love this update to be entitled “Arrived at ABO” - but alas it’s going to have to be “Nonplussed in Nairobi”!

As you know, Ruth was discharged from hospital in Dar on Saturday and given the green light to fly to Nairobi, but we were aware that she’d have to get her blood checked here first thing Monday morning. Blood was duly taken and the results revealed that her INR count was too high. Last Monday her blood was too thick and this Monday it’s too thin! We’re thankful that the treatment has done its job but there is now a need to adjust the medication so that her blood is running as it should be! The doctors here are also rather cautious about us heading off into the wilds of Machakos for ABO and are keen to rule out various other causes before giving final clearance. That has meant further checks including an ECG and several other tests which have abbreviated names!

AIM's Mayfield Guest House - our home
for the next 3 weeks!
’m afraid all this means that we need to stay put in Nairobi for another week which does mean that ABO (the orientation course) is now not going to happen for us. Instead we’ve made the decision to hunker down here in Nairobi at the AIM guesthouse and wait for our initial week-long language course to begin on the 9th August. At this point, that seems a long time to wait! We’d value your prayers: that these tests (Tues & Weds) will go as smoothly as they can; that they don’t show up anything more sinister; that Ruth’s blood would once again flow as it should and that we’ll continue to be flexible and patient in all of this! Thank you so much for ‘holding the ropes’ – we really do feel loved and cared for in all of this, and although I wouldn’t want to promise, we’ll do our best not to be in touch again too soon!!  

“Giveth up forecasting what you plan to do on the morrow for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1 altered just a tad!)

PS: The first doctor we met this morning was a Coptic Christian from Egypt who happened to be a big fan of SAT-7 – the ministry that Ruth worked for before joining AIM.



20 July 2013

Green for Go!

We thought we’d send you a brief update on our situation - but firstly want to extend a huge slice of thanks to those of you who have sent us encouraging emails and also prayed for us during the last week. My young nieces prayed for “the blood to run” in Ruth’s legs and indeed it has done, although the anticipated three nights in hospital ended up being five! At 9.30 this morning she was ‘released’ from her rather fetching hospital gown and given the green light to fly up to Nairobi this evening – on condition that she has a further blood test on Monday to check that ‘the blood is still running’ as it should be.

A room with a view
We’ve been impressed with the care and attention Ruth has received at the hospital; even the ward security guard (seemingly there to prevent patients escaping and not would-be thieves entering!) popped in twice a day to check on her progress! Not so welcome was the company of a rather large rat that popped its head through a broken ceiling tile one morning – yep, even in a sea-view room at a private hospital!

Anyway, Ruth’s ‘release’ means that we can now head off to Kenya. We’re booked to fly at 8.30pm this evening and will then spend Sunday & Monday in Nairobi before heading off to Machakos to join Africa Based Orientation – better late than never we hope! Our prayer is that we can now play catch-up effectively at ABO and that the treatment Ruth is on will continue to work its ‘thinning magic’ without any complications.
Thanks again for your support, encouragement and prayers - asante sana!

Afternoon tea - apparently there's
a jam shortage in Tanzania!

Diary Dates:

Sat 20th July:                  Fly to Kenya
23rd July – 6th Aug:        Machakos ABO
9th – 15th Aug:              Language course in Nairobi
16th Aug:                      Fly to Dar es Salaam
17th Aug:                      Drive to Morogoro
24th Aug – 30th Nov:    Intensive Swahili learning course in

16 July 2013

Delayed in Dar

When in Africa, they say there’s a big need to learn about flexibility! Well, we’ve only been here six days and already things have taken an unexpected turn, forcing a change to our schedule!
We arrived in Tanzania last Thursday morning as per the schedule – and into the hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam, complete with our five bulbous suitcases; maxed-out with the maximum excess luggage allowance! Both flights went well although our two-hour stop-over in Qatar provided a few chuckle moments! Despite the fact it was past midnight it was so hot and humid as we descended the steps of the plane that my specs steamed up completely, although that’s no excuse for what happened next!  It would seem that the cubicles in the Gents loos at Doha airport certainly weren’t meant for one man and his suitcase! In trying to manoeuvre my way out of the cubicle my passport & ticket somehow got knocked into the toilet, which was thankfully flushed! Much time was spent drying it out under the very hot hand-dryer!
Anyway – our first few days in Tanzania were spent with Tony & Cath Swanson in their home in Morogoro, which is about a four-hour drive from Dar. We were introduced to the rest of the small team there, driven around the town and its facilities, and were able to have a look at a potential house that might be available for us come December. All too quickly it was time for us to leave and so on the Sunday afternoon we were driven back to Dar in readiness for a flight to Nairobi on the Monday – which is where the unexpected turn comes into play!
As I type we should already be at ABO (Africa Based Orientation) in Kenya but alas it turns out that something else was happening en-route to Africa that wasn’t quite so amusing – a blood clot was developing in one of Ruth’s legs (DVT). What felt like a pulled muscle didn’t improve and it was decided that Ruth should get it checked out by a doctor, especially as Ruth’s mum has a history of DVT. Ruth had a number of blood tests done as well as an ultrasound scan and sure enough, a blood clot was found. The doctor gave a very definite ‘thumbs-down’ to the idea of us flying to Nairobi and instead admitted Ruth to hospital for regular enoxaparin injections and warfarin tablets (rat poison!) that will thin the blood and dissipate the clot – hopefully by Thursday!
I know the words ‘hospital’ and ‘Africa’ may raise a few concerned eyebrows - but be assured that Ruth is being very well cared for at the Aga Khan hospital in Dar where she even has her own room with an Indian Ocean view! We’re very aware that we’re amongst the privileged few in this country who can turn to good medical facilities when we need to and we’re very thankful for that – and for the fact we’re insured! Ruth will have to have a number of blood tests over the next few weeks and months to keep an eye on things but we’re obviously thankful that this was discovered now and wasn’t more serious than it could have been. We hope that she’ll be discharged on Thurs/Fri with a ‘thumbs-up’ to travel to Nairobi, possibly on Saturday, so that we can join up with the ABO class in Machakos. That’s the tentative plan but, as we’re learning, we need to hold on to our timetables and schedules lightly! “Many are the plans in the mind of a man but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)! 
So – in future, when I’m tempted to inwardly mock those folks in the aisle of a plane who are doing all sorts of weird and wacky contortions to keep their blood flowing, I’ll think again!!
Thank you for your on-going prayers or, as a certain Corsham pastor says, for ‘holding the ropes’ for us as we go through this.
Steve (and Ruth!)

13 July 2013

The following is taken from our partnership leaflet and explains a little bit about what we'll be doing in Tanzania.

Africa is a huge continent – in fact it’s bigger than China, the USA, Western Europe, India, Argentina and the UK.... combined!  There are over 54 different countries in Africa; 1 billion people; 1000 indigenous languages; 950 people groups who’ve never heard the gospel, which of course presents a huge challenge! AIM has been responding to this challenge for over 100 years and today there are four million Africans worshipping in churches founded through the work of AIM . But the job isn’t finished yet – and that’s why missionaries from the UK are still heading out to Africa. It’s the work of these mission partners, serving alongside local churches and pioneering work where is no church, which is helping to make a difference in the lives of African people.

The new conference 'room' at Sanga Sanga
created out of shipping containers!
We will be working with the Institute of Bible & Ministry (IBM) in Morogoro. IBM is an on-going theological programme for pastors and evangelists of the Africa Inland Church in eastern Tanzania. The goals of IBM are to enable, mobilise and inspire these pastors to a closer relationship with God and equip them to reach their own communities with the gospel. Much of the teaching is done through regional seminars where the pastors gather together for fellowship and fresh biblical input. Work is currently taking place to build a small retreat/conference centre, called Sanga Sanga on the outskirts of Morogoro, which will then serve as a central location for the activities of the Institute. Steve will be involved as a Bible teacher and in the planning of regional and diocese-wide seminars. Ruth will work as Communications officer as well as teaching English.

For the next few months though, our focus will be on orientation and language study.  It won't be until Christmas/New Year that we'll begin to take on our roles with IBM.