A letter from Marta Bennett in Kenya
June 16, 2012
Reflections on the past year in the United States;
Projections for the year ahead in Kenya
It’s been a good year. Though it was very hard to pull away from Nairobi at the end of July 2011, as we look back almost one year later, the last 11 months based in New Haven, Conn., has been a gift to us as a family.
- Being a part of a wonderful international community at Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, Conn. (OMSC: www.omsc.org), with individuals and families from Korea (serving in Madagascar, Malaysia, and Kenya), Myanmar, India, the Netherlands (serving in Austria), Greece, Armenia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Ghana, and the UK, with many more passing through from all over the world.
- Participating in seminars at OMSC throughout the year, which addressed current issues in missions, world Christianity, intercultural and interfaith dynamics, the environment, personal reflection, and more.
- A wonderful school for Justin and Sara (Imani), with excellent and committed teachers, good friends, and many involvements, including the girls’ dance group, Talent Show, school musical, national junior honor society, school trips to Washington, D.C., and local venues, plus community opportunities, like the New Haven Youth Soccer traveling team for Justin and New Haven First Presbyterian Church youth group for both.
- Reconnecting with long-term friends from decades ago, from Seattle days and Kenya years, including former Seattle Pacific University colleagues, Daystar University colleagues and students, NIST (Nairobi International School of Theology) colleagues, and Nairobi Chapel friends, who are all now here in the Northeastern part of the U.S.
- Time with family: Attending my niece Marta’s wedding last September at Martha’s Vineyard, my brother Sheldon’s retirement events in Boston, visiting my niece Liz and her husband Charlie in N.Y.C., and Christmas with my brother Kirk’s family, staying with niece Karen and her family in the California Bay area.
- Meeting with several supporting churches around the East Coast for the first time in person, and making connections with new congregations with so many wonderful people—to see how God is at work through them in so many ways, sharing a bigger picture of what God’s people are involved with locally, nationally and around the world.
- Attending the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference in Washington, D.C., expanding knowledge, insight and practical skills in advocacy for justice, with special emphasis on issues relating to Africa.
- We depart for Kenya on July 12, where we will move back into the same house where we lived before, and I will move back into my office at NIST, which is now officially called International Leadership University (ILU).
- I will resume responsibilities as head of the department of Leadership Studies at ILU, teaching, mentoring, advising and administrating.
- The kids will return to St. Christopher’s Secondary School in years 10 and 8.
- We are eager to reconnect with friends and colleagues there, and to jump back into life and ministry, including church involvements and with neighbors and networks of friends in Nairobi, as well as possibly teaching short courses and/or advising master's theses at ILU-Burundi as before.
- At the same time, this coming year or two will be a time for evaluation, exploration, and discernment regarding future ministry commitments: to be reappointed elsewhere in Africa by the PC(USA)? To stay in Kenya—for how long and to be involved in what? Other options? For the kids’ sake, I want them to be able to finish high school, preferably at St. Christopher’s, which is a Kenyan British system school. This is their deep desire. Both have expressed interest in doing their undergrad degrees in Kenya as well, as much as they have loved their time here in the U.S.
Schedule for our remaining three weeks in the U.S.:
- Sunday, June 24: Assisting in worship at University Presbyterian Church, Seattle, at the 10:00 a.m. service, and presenting during an Adult Ed. Hour at 11:30 a.m. (Geneva Hall at UPC)
- Sunday, June 24: Dinner with a faithful prayer group and friends
- Tuesday, June 26: Evening with Bethany Presbyterian Church folks, Seattle
- Sunday, July 1: Preaching at Community Presbyterian Church, Cannon Beach, Oregon
- Sunday, July 8: Preaching at Mukilteo Presbyterian Church, with presentation following, Edmonds, Wash.
- Miscellaneous other gatherings with friends, colleagues and churches in the area, still being finalized
- Monday, July 9: Return to New Haven, Conn., for final packing up
- Thursday, July 12: Depart for Nairobi, Kenya
We covet your prayers as we wrap up our year in the U.S. and return to Kenya. Do pray for Kenya and the region. National elections will be held in March 2013, and we are praying and working toward a peaceful process and good leaders to be elected, to lead the country forward in positive directions. Pray also for our university, ILU, as it continues to face a variety of challenges, that the vision could proceed, and many could be equipped as fruitful leaders.
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 99
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