Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Story of Boaz

We came to Kenya to help start a Christian Family Medicine Program, so young East African doctors could take the Gospel and better medicine to their people.  We prayed (and many of you prayed) that the Lord would bring such young, motivated doctors here.  And we came without knowing whether the prospective residents would come.  And we have learned again that when the Lord is up to something, you can trust him with the personnel issues.

We recently went through the resident selection process.  I am most very glad to announce that Boaz Niyinyumvu is our first resident.  Here is his story.



My name is Boaz Niyinyumva.  I am 31 years old.  I am the fifth child in a family of seven, three girls and four boys.  All my sisters are married.  I am an uncle of seven children.  My youngest brothers are still in high school.  There is a difference of nine years between myself and my next youngest sibling.  They were not expected to come.  I was born in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, in a small city called Kanyosha.  I grew up in a Christian family with a normal middle-class life.  I grew up with a Christian education.  I loved going to school.  When I was 3-5, I was following the older kids going to school, and I wanted to go, but they would always bring me back.  I had to wait until I was 7 years old.  According to my mother, I was an active boy, running everywhere, and according to my mother I was smart, asking questions of the old people.  At 7 years I went to school and started primary school.  So, I had a Christian education and went to Sunday school.  I grew up with acknowledgement that there is a supreme God in heaven who cares about children but hates sin.  I was told about Satan, the enemy of God’s people.  I was taught that when you sin you go to hell, but if you don’t sin you inherit the Kingdom of God.   I grew up with that.  Also deep in my heart I felt a deep connection with God.  I grew up as a normal child. In my classes, I was always first or second or third.  I started serving God in Sunday school, participating in Sunday school choir, singing or doing outreach in the city to tell other children that God loved them, and inviting them to come to church. 
Physically, intellectually, I was good and my family was providing what I needed and I grew up with this knowledge.  I tried not to do evil and didn’t want to go to hell.
In 1991, I was 7 years old.  I remember that there was a small crisis in Burundi but it didn’t last long.  One night there was a rebel movement from DRC attacking Burundi.  They said it was a Hutu movement fighting against Tutsi government.  I was too young to know what was going on.   In 1993, war broke out in Burundi while I was starting fourth year of primary school.  That’s when things started to change in Burundi, my life, and my family.  There were democratic elections and a Hutu president was elected.  There was a coup in October which led to the death of that president by the military.  The president was Hutu and at that time the military was about 99% Tutsi.  So it became a war of Hutu against Tutsi.  They were revenging against Tutsi, and the Tutsi said they were defending themselves.  A Hutu would be killed here, and a Tutsi somewhere else.  Tutsi would attack Hutus in their cities, and they would attack back.  If a Hutu was living in a Tutsi city, he moved to a Hutu city.  Hutu and Tutsi neighborhoods were separated.  If you wanted to go to town and you were a Tutsi and had to pass through a Hutu area, you had to pray, and vice versa.  They hunted each other.  It started slowly and became worse.
In 1994, my father and other families decided to take us to DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) in Uvira, in south Kivu.  Hutus and mixed Hutu and Tutsi went to Tanzania and Congo.  Because there was war in Rwanda, some went to Western countries.  We went to DRC with other Christians.  There life changed for me from a normal boy who loved school to a refugee boy who stopped studying.  As a refugee in DRC, you had no rights.  Soldiers from Congo would take you to prison and require money to be given them, though you had done nothing.  You had no right to run a business.  Many soldiers were not good, but were jealous of Burundians being helped by UN organizations.  So when we arrived in DRC, we were living like refugees but had money for a while and lived in a rented house.  After five months, our money had run out and we started struggling.  The government did something which led to the international community closing all borders.  None could come from Burundi, to pressure Burundi to stop killing.  No food could come to us.  My father had stayed in Burundi and had been sending us food.  Now no food could come.  We were isolated and had nothing and began struggling. I was not going to school and was 10 years old.  As a boy in Africa you have to make the family survive.  My brother and I started a small business of selling plastic in the market.  If we got money, we bought food for lunch.  In evening, if sold enough, we bought food for evening food.  At 6 PM, because there wasn’t much electricity, we sold evening petrol/oil for lamps.  We would call out “petrol” in the streets.  Whoever needed it would tell us to come.  If they learned that we were refugees they wouldn’t buy or would laugh at us.  Until nine we would go from road to road yelling “petrol.”  From that we made our family survive that period of isolation away from Burundi in DRC.  We were taken from the city and were isolated in a refugee camp.  It was 175 km from the city and 70 km from the road.  It was very far.  We lived there for months.  There were so many cases of diseases.   Diarrhea, salmonella.  People dying because we had little care and were far from the UN or MSF (Doctors Without Borders) doctors, who were not well equipped.  I saw a lot.  People dying.  I sympathized and wondered what I could do.  A voice came to me to do medicine so when I saw those things happening I could do something.  It was like a voice, like a wish.  Because life was hard, my family and others from the same city decided to go back to the city.  It was far, and we were forbidden by camp rules to go back.  We had to sell everything we had to get transport.  We sold blankets, tent, pans, to get money for family.  We left at night to sneak past guards, and when made it to the main road caught a bus back to the city. 
When we arrived in the city, we went to Bethany church.  We slept there and lived the same life, selling plastic and petrol.  In 1995, after a year in DRC, we came back to Burundi.  Things were worse in Burundi.  Our house was destroyed to the foundation.  They even removed the stones and took everything.  We went to live in another refugee camp in Burundi, and it was the same.  We saw a lot.  Those diseases, cholera, malaria, dysentery, malnourished people, eating only maize and beans and not enough.  There was so much killing that no one was cultivating and they were fully dependent on support.  I was moved again to go into medicine.
Because there was so much killing between Hutu and Tutsi there were two Hutu rebel movements fighting against the Tutsi government after the coup.  My father decided to take us back to DRC in 1996.  After five months, war broke out in DRC.  Rwanda was part of the war, as were Uganda and Burundi.  Rwandese said they were chasing Hutu movement and accused them of committing genocide.  When war broke out in DRC we had to flee from Uvira to another city by the lake called Mboko.  When those soldiers came, they killed every Hutu they met on the way, accusing the Hutus of committing genocide.  They invaded.  I saw many people killed.  If they found a person hiding in the bush, they burned the bush and killed the person. 
We decided then to come back to Burundi.  We thought, “If we have to die, let us die in Burundi.”  There were rumors saying that if you were a boy over 18, the soldiers would give you poisoned food that would kill you after six months.  So all Burundians were afraid of going back on the road.  Those soldiers had been killing many people.  Because we made a decision to go back to Burundi and our only way was by that road and the lake had been closed, we decided to do this:  Ladies would go by the road and boys would go by the lake, though it was forbidden.  The day came for us to leave.  My mother and sisters and other ladies packed their things to go by road.  My father and my brother went to the lake to look for a boat to take us at night.  Four hours later, I was at home alone.  A voice came to me and talked to me.  It said, “Go into the house and take your bag and follow your mother.”  Without hesitation I entered, took my bag, and followed the way my mother and sisters took.  I asked people if they had seen my mother.  I went until I reached a market with a big mango tree around 4PM, and I slept there near the road.  While sleeping I heard voices say “That’s Boaz.”  That was the group of Burundians including my mother.  They gave me a fabric to dress in so I would look like a girl.  So I went in the group of ladies and passed the station of soldiers without problem and reached Burundi.  The same day I left, my father and brothers died.  According to the witnesses, they went in 3 or 5 boats on the lakes and met the marines’ boat from Burundi.  The Burundi marines tied them and threw them in the lake.  They were unable to escape.  But that is how I survived.
We reached Burundi and lived in the camp again for two weeks.  The government and church sent people to take us from the camp.  We started struggling for life.  The head of our family was gone.   It was difficult to make ends meet.  My sisters stopped studying but went into small business.  Before my father died, he and some of his friends had made an agreement that if one of them died the others would take care of the families.  One of these friends came and told me and my sister we could go to school and he would provide school fees.  In 1996, I went back to school.  This friend of my father had a family with many children.  He helped us and paid school fees not only for us but also for his family of 5 or 6 children.  In afternoon I made money on a bicycle taxi.  I did that for 3-4 months.  One day I remember that I took a person from a Hutu area to Tutsi area late in the day.  He gave me a lot of money for that.  Once I arrived at a military post station.  They told me that if I had a problem I was on my own.  They took my money and my bike and they beat me.  They wanted to kill me, but the chief of the station came and ordered them to give me back my money and bike.  It was dark, around 7, and the chief told them to find me a place to sleep and bring me back alive in the morning.  They gave me food and a place to sleep.  They soldiers did those things and I was sent back home.  Saved again.
Life was not easy.  We had no money, and I asked myself how I would do medical studies.  But if God has a plan, no matter what, it will happen.  In those hard times of studying, I finished primary school with good grades.  At the end of primary school there is a test to determine whether the student can go to secondary school.  The test was very hard.  Many people struggled and had to re-do the test many times.  Two thirds of the 30 people in my class had already taken the test several times.  When I took the test, three of us succeeded on the test and I was the only one who had taken it the first time.  I got entered into secondary school with little school fees.  God did that.
I went to public school.  I succeeded in high school.  After 4th year, there was another national test to decide whether the student does science or technical studies.  I succeeded in the test and was given my choice.  I chose my school.
 When in high school, in second year, I gave my life to Jesus in a Bible study.  I had grown up fearing God and punishment.  But that year in 1998 in a Bible group, the preacher spoke of God reconciling himself with the world.  Jesus reconciled God to His people, as our creator.  That day, based on my experience, I told God I was his.  I saw God changing my life in many ways.  Because when I succeeded in that exam, my family and school were very far apart.  Two buses every day both ways, which I couldn’t afford.  How would I be going to that school?  I had an aunt who lived near that school but in a Muslim family.  It was hard for me to leave my home and live in that family where there were 19 children from one man and three wives.  It was hard for me to go there but I went there and lived with them, which was difficult to do physically, mentally, spiritually.  Very hard.
After the 4th year of high school, my pastor’s son asked me, “How do you live in a Muslim family?”  The pastor’s son was little, maybe 12 years old.  He went back to the family and told them about me, and that I was involved in kids’ ministry.  He went and asked his family if they could let me live with them. The whole family accepted and in my fifth year, my pastor came and asked me, “Would you mind if you would leave where you are now and live with us?”  I said I would ask my mother.  My mother said to ask my current host. I did, and he didn’t mind.  So I was taken from the Muslim quarter to the highest quarter of the city, calm and distinguished.  In the Muslim quarter, I lived in a room with 5 or 6.  But there, I got my own room.  Life went on changing.  I had been going to school on foot, but in my new home I was taken in a car.  At 1 PM I was being picked up. They really did a great job with me and took good care of me. A sudden change.  I studied and finished secondary school.  Then I took the test that determines your future.  If you do not pass it you are done with school.  If you do well, you have a chance of doing university, for me medicine. 
I was the second person at my school to succeed on that test.  They gave us forms to fill for what we wanted to take.  We had three choices.  I put first and second choices medicine, third choice low.  The first person also had asked for medicine.  But she was not given medicine.  She had higher marks than me.  But I was given medicine.  God did that, too.  I had to wait one year because we were so many students waiting for university and there were many strikes.  During that year of waiting I was deeply involved in VBS with children, working with Korean missionaries.  One day after a session, a Korean missionary asked me about my studies.  I told him what was going on.  He asked how many universities we had.  I told him which I wanted.  He said they would be paying it for me.  So my medical training was covered!  But on the third year those missionaries had to go back, so that was a problem.  How would I get fees to finish my training?
I was class representative for the first years of medical school.  We were having difficulty finding a teacher for genetics.  An American came to teach it.  During class he stopped class and asked me if he could pray for me.  In my heart I hesitated because everyone would know I had a problem.  I wanted to refuse, but a voice told me “Why refuse?”  So I allowed.  He prayed for me.  After praying, he said, “God told me to help you.  How can I help you?”  I told him.  He said, “From now until you finish your medicine I will take over.  I will give you medicine, pocket money, and will be helping your family.”  At the same time, my pastor’s wife whom I consider as my other mother introduced my biological mother to a Christian NGO called SISTER CONECTION helping widows. So my mother was receiving financial support from the NGO which made my life comfortable.  I had not been able to help my family much.  My church at high level also joined in my education.  So I was favored by God in many ways.   
Thank you God; you have your ways.  I never had a problem with school fees when I was at school.   God made it possible what He told me in refugee camp.  He helped me in all those tests when I was in difficult moments.  When I ever had a problem He brought a solution to the problem.  He made it possible for me to do medicine, even with solutions to every problem.  When I was doing medical studies in internship, we had to go up-country.  When up there, I met these people living in bad conditions.  Very poor.  Could not afford the least medical care, even paracetamol, less than a cent.  They could not pay for a blood smear.  My heart went to them.  God told me, “This is where I want you to be, to walk with these people.”  I felt I was part of them, it was part of me.  I made a decision that’s where I belong.  When I finished I went in January with a mission team in DRC.  Where we went, we went to serve very poor people who cannot afford treatment of malaria, which was almost free.  It was a calling for me.  “This is what I want you to do.”  This is the kind of place where things happen.  Because I have lived in those conditions, I feel that I can do more.  I left DRC with the heart of being a medical missionary.  My background, internship, first visit as medical doctor were directing me where and what to do.  I had a dream to do pediatrics.  I love kids.  So I wanted to be a pediatrician to do congenital heart defects.  Maybe a pediatric cardiac surgeon.  But God was directing me differently.  The first Sunday back home in Burundi from DRC, I met a pastor from here in Kenya.  They had a Christian NGO establishing contact with Burundian evangelical colleges.  He spoke English and my pastor had told me to interpret for this pastor.  I interpreted for him when he was preaching.  Afterwards I said “Thank you for the sermon but my pastor asked me to stay with you for a short moment of his absence.”  During that time, the visiting pastor wanted to know about me and I gave him a brief part of my story - I told him who I was.  He asked if I wanted to do more studies.  I said “Of course.”  He asked if I could come tomorrow for an introduction.  Next Monday I went to his hotel.  I met Ted Burnett.  He said he also wanted to know about me.  We talked and he told me that his father was one of the doctors who started one of the missions hospitals here.  I don’t remember which.  So I gave my email.  Two weeks after, I got an email from Bruce Dahlman telling me he got my email and asking if I was interested in Family Medicine.  He gave me the name of someone who could help me understand.  He gave me the email of a doctor in Burundi who was one of my teachers.  Eric gave me a brief view of Family Medicine and what it is.  I read about it and it was just who I am supposed to be and where I am supposed to go.  It was like an answer.  “This is what you have to be to go where you have to go.”  And considering the mystery of how it came to be known to me is part of the answer.  It is not chance.  It is not just something that happens. “It is me sending to you.”  So I applied.  When I applied, I had only just worked for two months after medical school.  I spoke of that to other people we were with in Congo and they decided to support me through the program.  That family of American medical missionaries was ready to assist me.  God has made it all possible.  And here I am.

THIS IS MY SHORT STORY OF MY LONG LIFE. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Signs of the Times

Since arriving at our new home in Chogoria, we have been gradually integrating into the life of this vibrant community.  Here are a few "signs of the times" that may illustrate some of the events, concerns, and victories of the PCEA Chogoria Mission Hospital and the community we serve.

This part of the Hospital was dedicated by none other than Jomo Kenyatta himself, the first president of the Republic of Kenya.  I think that's very cool.

A Mission Statement that's worth following.

We don't have Ebola in Kenya, and pray that we never will, but the Kenyan government and supporting organizations are ahead of the curve in awareness and prevention.

I like a lab that is so confident with their turnaround times that they post them painted outside the lab.  Among the tests are those for malaria, typhoid, TB, HIV, etc.

'Tis the season.  This crucial part of becoming a man in Kenya is offered as part of a comprehensive program teaching how to be a responsible Christian man, husband, and father.

Mosquito nets have made a big difference in decreasing the number of people suffering with malaria.

Posted in the outpatient area in English, Swahili, and Kimeru is the offer to help in medical and non-medical ways.

This is a good place.  It isn't like the place where I grew up.  Very different, indeed.  But we are exceptionally glad to be allowed to add a shoulder to the wheel here.  The Lord is up to something here.  We are privileged to be along for the ride.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I don't have any problems. (Our first village medical and evangelism outreach)

Yesterday, we had the indescribable privilege of participating in a village medical and evangelism outreach.

(We finished language school in September.  For the last month, we have been living and working at Tenwek Hospital in order to learn some African medicine, become familiar with the medical education system, and get our feet wet with medical missions in this country.  We will be moving to Chogoria around Oct 21st.)

Our friends the Crognales invited our family to go on this outreach to a local village near Tenwek.  All five of us went.  We joined 16 or so other folks and sallied forth on a couple of little buses in the morning.  After a while jolting along on dirt-and-rock mountain roads, we pulled in to a little schoolyard and found about 130 people already waiting for us on the hillside.

Their local pastor had advertised our visit.  After greeting them and sharing prayer and a short interpreted sermon, we started setting up shop.  Triage at this end of the school building, then the room for the docs and nurses, then the room for dental, then the pharmacy.  A little outbuilding served for a procedure room and place for more private exams.  Martha joined the triage team.  Helen, Meredith, and James started work in the pharmacy, arranging medications and systems.  Jim pushed together a couple of desk rails, met his interpreter, Vivian, and started in seeing the patients.  Seven providers (four docs and three nurses (two recent grads from the Tenwek nursing school)) saw patients.



One little disappointment:  few of the patients spoke Kiswahili, the language we spent three months learning.  They spoke Kipsigis.  Oh well.

Some of our patients had very simple complaints, like aches and pains.  We treated their symptoms, prayed with them, and showed them some love.  Some had physical problems that we could really help with, like folks who had undiagnosed asthma and urinary infections.  Some were truly heartbreaking.



One mom handed me (Jim) two triage forms, one for her and one for her 5-year-old girl.  The girl smiled, looking at me happily from under her hoodie, and wanting to hold my hands.  A little sweetheart.  Mom's problem was pretty straightforward- some headaches.  When we finished with mom and I asked how we could help her daughter, I was surprised to see tears.  The little girl had been complaining of headaches, had been crying, and still couldn't walk at 5 years old.  Then mom pulled back the hood.  The little girl had hydrocephalus, and her head was quite enlarged.  There was nothing we could do in the clinic about this, of course.  We explained that she would need a CT scan and some surgery, and explained how much that would cost.  The cost is much less than in the US, but was still well beyond the mom's means.  (The missionary doctors don't charge for services, but the hospital has to charge for materials.)  We provided them with some de-worming medications and vitamins, and gave instructions for how to arrange the surgery, but mom's tears never left and I doubt that they will ever be able to afford the CT or surgery.

Two ladies had large abdominal masses.  One man my age had progressive weakness and could barely walk.  He had been a robust farmer before April.    A lady in her 30's had horrible valvular heart disease and couldn't walk up hills at all.  Cancer.  Strokes.  Heart disease.

I don't have any problems.

We prayed with everyone.  Or almost everyone.  A couple of people escaped.  But Vivian and I held hands with our patients and asked God to intervene in their lives.  The faith was so apparent in some of them that I wanted to examine them again to see if they had been healed there and then.  I wish I had re-examined them.  All were grateful.

The pastors on our team were wonderful.  They preached on the hillside, sang with the children, prayed, and handled crowd control.  Of course, their work was the most effective of all.

Martha, Helen, Meredith, and James worked tirelessly throughout the day.  They acted as pharmacists, runners, messengers, encouragers, and general servants.  When the smoke cleared at the end of the day, we had seen about 250 patients in the clinic, about 95 patients had been tested and/or counseled for HIV, many had been seen in dental clinic, and at least 1,000 prescriptions had been filled.  The Word had been preached to hundreds.


 I wish I could say that we were able to take care of everyone who came, but I can't.  We had to send many away, because we simply ran out of time.  The sun was setting when we drove away, tired but glad that we were able to do a little something for some eternal souls made in the image of God.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

God's praise in a new form

Since arriving in Kenya, we have been adjusting to life here.  We are re-learning how to cook, speak, drive, shop, greet, hike, study, and so many other functions that were second nature back in the US.  One of our favorite new "functions" is our praise time in the morning in language school at Brackenhurst.  We always sing in Swahili, and until recently, our only accompaniment has been a drum (ngoma).  We also have some Korean classmates.  You should hear the blend of Kenyans, Americans, and Koreans singing Swahili words in English hymns to God.  Check out the video of this.
video


Sometimes, our morning praise time includes some of that Kenyan praise music.  But more commonly, we use European hymns that have been translated into Swahili (Kiswahili, for you purists).

Here is Amazing Grace, in Swahili:
And here's the translation of the first stanza:
In the grace of Jesus, I am saved; I was lost in sin, blind in soul.

You might say that some important phrases were literally 'lost in translation.'  And you'd be right.  But that's no fault of the translator.  Swahili commonly requires more syllables than English to convey the same information.  So when fitting the words into the song's meter, the translator had to truncate. In order to keep the tune and meter, we finish with words that seem less profound, less lyrical.

Some of our instructors are also prominent singers in their local church's choir.  But don't think of this choir as a stationary arrangement of robed Southern Baptists.  Oh, no.  Their music is festive, responsive, active, harmonious, and thoroughly wonderful.  When our Kenyan instructors give us original African hymns, with words and music not wedged into the grid of European hymnody, oh, how much more appropriate!  Responsive, joyous music with complex rhythms and harmonies.  That's how Swahili music is supposed to sound!

We do love singing tunes we have known for years.  The Sunday before we left the US, our wonderful Church blessed us by singing "Leaning On the Everlasting Arms."  We especially love this hymn, because we get to 'act up' in church (we lean when singing "leaning").  And a very neat thing happened here.  On our first day at Language School, we were very happy to recognize the same tune, this time with Swahili words. 

As we integrate into Kenya, we are trying to keep in mind that we can't wedge our American expectations into Kenyan life.  Those expectations often will not fit, and may produce awkward, truncated relationships.  We need to be ready to stretch and grow and find new, fuller ways of living.  Dwight Gradin taught us a quote:  "Learn a new language; grow a new soul." 





Kiswahili at Brackenhurst

Here we are at Kiswahili (the Swahili language) School at Brackenhurst, near Limuru and Tigoni Kenya.   After landing in Kenya June 12th, our hosts the Steurys, Manchesters, and Vanderhoofs helped us find the stirrups and ride.  They took us to buy phones and food and study materials and pick up the delayed luggage from the airport.  They fed us and held our hands.  And we are very grateful for their expert guidance.

Then three days later, they dropped us about an hour north at Brackenhurst Conference Center, where we checked into freshly renovated rooms and continued learning how to live in this country.  Our language course started on June 16th.  We have completed two weeks and are surprised at how much we have learned in a short time.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Meet our new friend, Ethan.

Ethan is a hero, through choice and dedication and long-term blood, sweat, and tears.  Ethan is a missionary who works with street kids in a gang neighborhood in Honduras.  Almost none of these kids have an engaged father.  Many of them don't know who their father is, and a few of them are orphans.  Ethan is the only father many of them will know.  He's the disciplinarian and the source of reward.  He teaches them how to behave, how to live without stealing, how to love.  Eight of the kids call him "Dad."  He has even taken one of them in, and spends much of his support money paying for the kids' school and clothing.  

Ethan works in a tough neighborhood.  When he drives in, if he doesn't give the proper signal, he finds a gun to his head, held by a gang member.  It has happened several times already.  Ethan has been tied up inside his own apartment and robbed, again at gunpoint.  He has delivered a eulogy for an 11-year-old kid, one of his Sunday School kids, who died due to violence.

Often we think of a hero as a guy running into a burning building to rescue someone.  That's a perfectly acceptable definition of hero.  But the "burning building" hero is finished with his deed in a few minutes and (hopefully) goes home.  Ethan is a more profound hero.   Ethan has been risking his life for years to save the lives of these otherwise hopeless kids.  He is currently back in the States, raising support to return to his work saving kids.  

Oh, by the way, Ethan is 23 years old.


Some young people are dissatisfied with the trajectory of their lives, dominated by electronics, and making little difference in others' lives.  Those folks would do well to ask the Lord for a job.  Perhaps He would give them a chance to be a hero, like Ethan.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Studying Hard at MTI

We're in our final week at Missions Training International.  It has been a highly fruitful time of superb training.  During the first two weeks, we concentrated on methods of language learning.  They showed us how to make our tongues and mouths create the most bizarre sounds.  Here are a couple of photos and videos of the training materials and drills.
video




video

The pronunciation drills were fun, but the language-learning games and processes were better.  Here's Martha following directions from world language-learning expert Dwight Gradin in the Vietnamese tribal language of Jeh.  
Dwight was one of a small team of missionaries who developed a system of writing for that language.  He is a master teacher.
During the last two weeks, we have been concentrating on cultural integration.  We have been involved in role-playing, simulations, and other imaginative means of teaching us how to thrive in our new home.  Here's a bridge-crossing exercise that may look sort of "summer camp-ish" but was actually packed with profound insights.  

 All of our instructors are former missionaries with extensive experience.  This has been a stellar month.  Helen and Meredith and James have been learning all day, too, in 'tracks' that are sometimes separate, sometimes included with Martha and I.  We are looking forward to putting our new training into practice in Kenya.