Greetings (from Graham)
I have been a bit more active this trip, as a colleague invited me to a Sunday evening walk along the perimeter running track around a cricket pitch; we arrived about 5.45 at the Jaffery Sports Ground. It was busy with dozens of people of all ages and all races busy walking or trotting or even running full speed around the perimeter track. It is hard surfaced and quite wide and I have been a few times and now fast-walk at least ten times round – I am told it is 400 metres so I guess I walk about 4 kms in about the hour
Last weekend, the same colleague suggested a walk through Nairobi Arboretum which is next door to State House, the official residence of the President. That was interesting in a different way. It is obviously under-maintained [lack of funds] but over-used. It was a Saturday afternoon and full of people, individuals, couples, groups and entire church or school outings. It is a vast area on a hillside and there is both organised paths, parkland and wooded areas all intermingled. We got a bit lost on one path and heard wild shouting and came across an area where individuals and small groups of adults were praying aloud – very aloud! – both in English and in Kiswahili – they were all walking backwards and forward in a small area whilst entreating God. A bit bizarre but indicative of a very different attitude some Kenyans have to their faith.
LUC continues to intrigue me; recently they had organised the fitting of removable long cushions in all the pews so it was more comfortable and the Minister took time to bless the new cushions and there was general approval of the innovation, even though the church is well on the way to reaching its New Sanctuary Fund target. They are going to build an underground carpark beneath the new building –it will be on the site of the current building and they will temporarily use another building on the site whilst the works are in progress. Guess it will be a couple of years away yet.
Last week in their Mission series, the preacher used Proverbs 3.28 to speak about Mission to our Neighbours, asking us – do you really know them? Do you reach out to them? Do you pray for them and do you ever invite them into your homes and to Church events? It is inevitable we have neighbours but are we ourselves patient, consistent and considerate towards them? ……………….or do we sort of ignore them? It is easy to acknowledge them in a neutral sort of manner but being pro-active and being genuinely neighbourly is sometimes more troublesome for us. In fact, do we even know the first names of our near neighbours?
Being a large congregation they have a wide array of activities going on all week, all of which seem to have a positive Christian input. No meetings pass without an active acknowledging why they are there. I notice from the weekly pew sheet that most Sunday afternoons there are Bible Study classes – last week there were five mentioned for that week. Whilst Sunday morning services are a big deal, there are no regular Sunday evening services at LUC so that the congregation have the rest of the day with their families and friends. It seems to be a general thing in Nairobi because most churches seem not to have Sunday evening services.
LUC has a school attached and recently one colleague organised the delivery of an entire set of key-stage books and teaching aides to the school, as his partner works in a school in the Midlands and she found that the books were to be scrapped and they decided to donate them.
This week at Lavington the theme was ‘Mission to the Poor’ – the Minister ran a children’s home within ‘Compassion International’ – they took children from 3 years old through to leaving secondary school or leaving University and a couple were there to give testimony to how well they had been cared for. They also had a 25-strong choir – a lively noisy cheerful bunch who sang heartily and loudly – the lead singer was a natural and will surely go far with a very powerful voice and uninhibited style.
The Reverend said that the poor were amongst us by divine design not by default, they are not someone else responsibility and we should minister to them. He said we should take pity on them, and not be cold and calloused; we should be practical not just giving lip service, and not be crafty but give unconditionally and not to begrudge them I think poor people in poor countries tend to be relatively more generous than us in very rich countries. He said we should be generous and not resentful. Not sure we all live up to these high standards!
It is mid-winter here and it is wet and cool [well, about 18° at night and 22° in the day] and the rains cause potholes and traffic is slow and the streets are muddy. Guess it is better in the UK.
enjoy your week,