God is a substitute for anything, but nothing is a substitute for God
Father Bob’s Mission to Africa in 2010
During November 2010, Rev. Father Bob Hudson traveled to Africa to meet with many Anglicans and also to attend the installation of Rev. Abraham Nihal as Bishop of Aweil in Sudan.
Members and friends of St. Lukes Anglican Church, and fellow Christians, Fr. Bob Hudson, now in Africa, has given permission to pass on his comments and thoughts as reported via the marvels of email. Please excuse any uncorrected typos!
Thanks to all who have sent replies…I may not be able to get back to each of you but know that I am receiving your thoughts and prayers….and they are needed and much appreciated.
Friday, Nov. 6, 2010, transiting Paris
While waiting at gate F2 for Kenya Airway flight KQ113 to Nairobi. . . it became increasingly obvious that we were not going to make our departure time as the boarding time continued to move further outward from the 10:05 AM scheduled start.
Finally at 12:00PM, we began to board the Kenyan Airways Boeing 767.
Take-off was smooth but 90 minutes past our scheduled departure time after we loaded all the passengers. It turns out the reason, as the captain informed us, was because the French aviation officials want to inspect the maintenance records of this airplane. When the inspector(s) were delayed…that threw everything off by 90 minutes. There were no noted discrepancies in the records, so we were released and [are] now due into Nairobi at 11:00 p.m. local time, 2 hours ahead of Paris. That will make the arrival gathering for me rather late.
. . . as we [now] enter African airspace over Benghazi, Algeria, at 4:30pm Paris time . . .with just under 5 hours to go before Nairobi touchdown.
Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010, 8:45am East Africa time (Maysville +7)
Good morning to you all. I am safely in Thika, Kenya, 40 Miles from Nairobi, at the Blue Posts Hotel overlooking the Chania Falls.
I actually slept in a bed last night for 5 hours.
I did not arrive at the hotel here until 2:00a.m. local time. After the plane from Paris was late, it took a long time to clear Kenyan Immigration, even though I had my Visa from the Kenyan Embassy in Washington D.C. – as there was only one line at midnight at Jomo Kenyatta Int. Airport and there were 4 flights from around the world landing at the same time (interesting airline scheduling) and many people were buying their visas then.
After I made it through that, I went to baggage claim. I recognized people from my Kenya Airways flight at one of the baggage belts so I waited with them. And waited, And waited. As I had a 5 hr layover in Paris . . . my bags were some of the first loaded onto the flight from there to Nairobi, therefore….I was the last 2 bags off. :o)
When I went to ground transportation…I recognized no one. I checked several times. A manager at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Francis, saw me looking and offered assistance. By using his cellphone I was able to reach Bishop Githiga in Thika at midnight asking for assistance. As it turns out, +Gideon”s driver, Peter, whom I knew from my 2005 time here, and the new Vicar of the Cathedral, Fr. Joseph, had been at JKIA for my planned 9:30p arrival. After they checked with Kenya Airways and stayed until 11:00p.m. they headed back to Thika….in fact, they were almost there when +Gideon reached them by cell phone (Praise the Lord) and Peter and Joseph turned around, came and got me and we headed for Thika…arriving here at 2:00a.m. local time.
I have had “a full English breakfast” with the freshest pineapple and papaya to be found.
I am headed this morning to attend a ceremony at 10:00 at St.. Andrew”s Pro Cathedral and then to go to Namrata Shah Children”s home and visit with Hannah Waithera and the other children. I will be going back to Nairobi today with missionaries from Memphis; Horace, Anne, Horace, Jr. and Mary Shea Tipton for dinner. They will bring me back to Thika Memorial Church tomorrow (5 blocks from the Blue Posts) where they worship. :o)
All is well. Thank you for your prayers for strength and safety.
So far, things here are as I remember them in April 2005. The people are welcoming and very helpful. I even recognize the desk clerk at Reception.
I must add this caveat at the end that Internet availability and access are not predictable. The further I get away from Thika and Kenya, to Tabora and Sudan, the less reliable updates will be. It is not due to lack of information or my reflections, but rather the need for a reliable internet access point.
God”s blessings to each of you in Christ Jesus,
Sunday, 7:00p.m., Thika, Kenya, Blue Posts Hotel
Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior.
I have been going pretty much nonstop since Saturday Morning 10:00a.m. The reunion with many, many friends from April 2005, continues to be wonderful and more and more friends have been made,
I attended Thika Memorial Church this morning, the Youth service. I was asked last evening to preach as Horace Tipton was in the midst of seminary intensive work. We had Morning Prayer so I had lots of opportunity.
I preached on James 3:13-18 to the 25 attending youth (youth in Kenya can be up to 30years). Extemporaneously, the Holy Spirit had me preaching for 33 minutes. The theme was, Wisdom: where do you get it? From heaven above, or from the evil below?
After the service I had tea with the Vicar, Rev. John, and then we headed to St. David’ AC, Juja, Kenya, for the retirement of The Rev. Canon David Njorge (a 1989 graduate of Trinity in Ambridge), that service lasted from 10:00 to 4:30p.m. when we took dinner.
After dinner with the church leaders and a time of fellowship, we left for Blue Posts in Thika at 5:45p.m.
More tomorrow, I don’t get at it until 10:00 so that will be good.
Antimalarial Malarone has had no side effects and I slept clear through the night and my alarm had to wake me up.
Please continue your prayers, they are sustaining me. Bishop Gideon, Venerable Joshua send their greetings to Christians in Jackson and Maysville.
In Christ alone, Fr. Bob+
(PS: My visa for Sudan haas been arranged and a plan to get it picked up in Nairobi has been made. Keep praying that it will work out as God plans.)
Monday, 11-8-10, 9:30a.m. (East Africa Time), Thika, Kenya, Blue Posts Hotel
Good morning to you.
My schedule begins today at 10:00 with Nathaniel Gaitho, a senior coffee buyer I met in April 2005. Nathaniel is not an average sized Kenyan, he is over 6’3” and tops the scales about 280 pounds.
We will be touring the city housing areas and work of the diocese in those areas, as they bring the Good News of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Back to my Saturday, November 6th.
We started at 10:00 with a special, annual church service, of KAMA installation.
KAMA is the Kenyan Anglican Men’s Association. It is open to men, 25 age and older that are married or single that profess a faith in Christ and agree to live by a code of service to Jesus. The ceremony this year had 160 men installed, with many wives and families in attendance. There is a couple here in Thika with me from the Dio. Of Exeter , England and each of us, Brian, Joyce, and I were given the opportunity by Bishop Githiga to share our testimony, and bring any greetings we had for the church in Thika. I shared how I came to know Bishop Gideon in 2004 and how he was responsible for ordaining me to the deaconate and priesthood – then I brought greeting from Fr. Chuck Filiatreau and All Saints Jackson, TN, and my family of St. Luke’s, Maysville, KY.
After 1/2 lunch at 1:30pm, I headed with long-term missionary, Horace Tipton, to Namrata Shaw Children’s home – to meet the interim director, Rev. Joshua and tour. I visited with Hannah Waitira for a bit and Horace took photos of us by a mural in the dining area.
We had the other half of lunch in Rev. Joshua’s office visited about his 10-year ministry to the Maasi (fascinating) and then headed “up the mountain” to 7,500 feet where the Tiptons are living in the midst of huge tea plantations. The 30-minute ride took 2 hours due to “jams” on the Thika highway. We arrived well after dark and were greeted by Anne, Horace Jr. and Mary Shea. The children have grown into handsome and lovely young adults in 5-1/2 years since I have seen them.
Horace is in the midst of 2-weeks of intensive classes at St. Paul’s Theological Institute in Limuru and being pressed for time had asked the Vicar at Thika Memorial to find a replacement preacher for 11/7 – but on 11/6, Horace found out no replacement had been found for him. I told Horace if I could help I would be happy to aid him. Being very pleased for the help, after 11:00pm dinner I retrieved the 2 Scriptures for Morning Prayer and selected James 3:13-18 to preach on.
More of Sunday, 7 November 2010
By 9:45am, the Holy Spirit placed His words in my mind and for 30 minutes I preached to a 18-35 year old congregation about Wisdom: There are only 2 places to receive wisdom as James wrote, from heaven above, of from the earthly, sinful place where demons dwell. We each have to chose which to believe and put to work in our life – and we cannot do both.
I was graced after the service with a Kenyan tradition of a group of 9 young ladies (8th graders) who prepared (just then), a “Presentation” for me. The presentation was in their native Kikuyu dialect and consisted of syncopated and canon singing and dance – I was most blessed and appreciative of their offering and welcome to me.
The extended day of worship ended with a celebration of the service and retirement of The Rev. David Njoroge, the Vicar general of the Diocese of Thika. Canon David is a 1989 graduate of Trinity School for Ministry, a point we discussed as we were eating dinner – a traditional Kenyan dinner…more on that later.
I am getting ready for another day of ministry here, Nathaniel Gaitho will be by in less than an hour to collect me. I will be in his capable hands all day.
Bishop Githiga asks that I send his greetings to each of you.
Serving in God’s vineyard, I leave you His blessing, wherever you may be.
Tuesday, 11-9-10, 6:20p.m. (East Africa Time), Thika, Kenya, Blue Posts Hotel
(This email was actually prepared and ready to be sent 10-1/2 hours ago….but the heavy rains knocked out the power to the Blue Posts Internet café and as it turns out, the power and intenet has only been back on for 3 hours.)
Bwana Asifewe (Praise the Lord in Kswahili)
My Monday was filled with grace, fellowship, eating, rain, eating.
I was met at the hotel at 10:00 sharp (people who have experienced African culture will understand the grace and power of starting anything at the agreed upon time) with Nathaniel Gaitho.
Nathaniel has retired in 2008 from fulltime coffee buying/marketing and has gone into consulting with many of his same contacts. His trips to the USA are less frequent, but still a double necessity as he is about my height and weighs about 280 pounds.
We spend the day until 3:30p.m. Touring the Ruiru district and several of the many coffee farms. Much like the “tea regions” in Kenya they are lush – not the picture of Kenya or Africa most people have. He coffee bushes which produce are older than I am, the are pruned on a 5 year cycle to sustain their production, so at any given time, 1/2th of the farm is in one of each of the 5 stages of pruning…what a making of a great sermon, planned pruning to sustain and increase output…I believe Jesus had several words to say on the topic of pruning. :o)
After having a typical East African lunch of nyamachoma (nominally cooked meat on the bone and carved at the table, eaten with fingers) & ugali (corn flour and pater made into a stiff paste) we headed back to Thika. I to the hotel to rest and email (yesterday) and to get prepared for dinner at Dr. Kenya’s home. I was to be picked up at 7:00p.m. (operative word…was)
Dr. Kenya is a professor at St. Paul’s Theological College in Limuru (near Thika and Nairobi). We were graciously received at his home and were joined by Bishop Gideon and Mary, Canon Vicar John (a young man of early 30’s and hus wife Sudan and 16month old daughter Marcy, Solomon and his wife, and Brian and Jane from Exeter.
Due to being in the “short rain season” the skies litterally opened up about 6:30pm and it poured buckets….and buckets. Well because of the rain, I was actually picked up at 8:00 and after a few stops arrived at 8:30.
Kikuyu custom is to gather in the salon (living area and have a drink of coffee, tea or fruit juice and fellowship). Because we were running so late, we actually cut that short and began to eat at 9:30pm. After a WONDERFUL typical Kenyan meal in t5he salomn and sharing testimonies, I had the opportunity to visit 1:1 with Dr. Kenya.
I learend he had been a professor att Seabury-Western Seminary, in Chicago. As we Anglican church people are awa\re, S-W has had to close it’s doors and cease operation in the past 18 month. The lack of enrollment in the uber liberal seminary had dropped to an unsustainable level.
I learned from Dr, Kenya that until 2000, he had taught there. After a round of “marriages” of practicing & professing homosexual students, he informed the then Dean/President that he would no longer be able to attend services in the chapel and that he would be resigning his position that coming spring.
Dr. Kenya than began the process of finding Bishop Githiga in his home country and finally after 2006, was able to come back home and begin teaching at St. Pual’s.
He and I spent an hour discussing the authority of Scripture and how everything we do, or say, or think, of believe must be anchored on the Word of God…or it is no faith at all.
I left the conversation refreshed, encouraged, and so very thankful, that in a time as ours, there remain men (and women) who are standing strong in the faith and saying, “No we will not accept this new innovation in belief, our belief is in the authoritative Word of God.” To quote Dr. Kenya – the Word is prescriptive and descriptive of how we are to live and behave.
So I made it back by midnight to the Blue Posts.
Peter the Bishop’s drive will pick me up at 8:30 for a 9:00am meeting with Bishop Githiga, and then I will be handed off to The Venerable Joshua and possibly (hopefully) to Namrata Shah and some physical work on the property there with a mission team , Halping Hands, from the UK.
Serving in God’s vineyard, I leave you His blessing, wherever you may be.
Wednesday, 11-10-10, 8:00am (East Africa Time), Thika, Kenya, Blue Posts Hotel Bwana Asifewe!!
Tuesday was another glorious day in Thika, Kenya.
I spent the hours after a full English breakfast at the Blue Posts preparing to meet with Bishop Githiga at 9:00a in his office.
As you know from yesterday’s late posting at 6:20pm, the internet and power were lost in my hotel due to numerous power poles failing in the heavy rain of Monday evening. I only lost power intermittently in my room, and it was only a minor inconvenience.
(During my visit with the Bishop, the ever efficient administrative staff confirmed my airline ticket to Dar Es Salaam on Thursday, 11 Nov.)
After my meeting with Bishop Githiga, where we shared mutual greetings from friends and colleagues in America and Africa, I made a quick stop at the Diocesan treasurer to contribute our semi-annual sustenance pledge for Hannah Waitira, whom Barbara and I have been supporting since April 2005, I was introduced to a visiting team of missionaries from Sussex in the UK – Hand-in-Hand.
Hand-in-Hand has been along term friend or Namrata Shah, most recently funding a complete kitchen build and outfitting, a 50,000-gallon cistern (filled on one rainy season) And today they brought a donation to Bishop Githiga of 2,000 Pounds for his discretionary fund. Praise the Lord!!!!! They also pledged £3,000 toward the expansion of the living quarters (do you know that as the youth age…they get larger and require more space :o) once the first £4,500 of the estimated £7,500 is raised.
I accompanied them to Namrata Shah and we set about erecting chain link fence around the perimeter of the maize and crop fields to keep the livestock out. My role was chief tie cutter and wrapper of the chain link to the already placed 5 barbed wire strands…little did I know that the skill I learned and used in Honduras in June 2009 would come in so handy in Kenya in 2010 working with these UK missionaries.
I toured and visited the construction site of the “American Project” to construct 48 family units of 2-bedroom and some 1-bedroom apartments for Diocesan staff. This was a farsighted project designed and promoted by Peterson Karanja (director of Development and Microfinance in ACK Thika) and +Gideon. When 40% of the Diocesan budget goes to providing housing for the employees (it is Kenyan federal law that ALL employers must either provide housing OR housing allowance). This elimination of that cost, and ability to turn Diocese owned houses into rental income will allow the Diocese to increasingly expand their spending on outreach and mission to other counties…like the USA.
Tomorrow I will be in the capable hands of my friend David Njoka, whom I met at All Saints, Jackson, TN, in June 2004 along with Bishop Githiga.
Serving in God’s vineyard, I leave you His blessing, wherever you may be.
PS: Have I mentioned the rain? It began at 11:00p.m. last night and has continued from a downpour to a drizzle for the past 9 hours…Mount Kenya continues to make its own weather. God is good, all the time, because it is His nature.
Thursday, 11-11-10, 8:20am (EAT) AKA . . . Transition Day from Kenya to Tanzania, Thika, Kenya, Blue Posts Hotel
Wednesday, 10 November began early with rain…nd lots ofa it, some scattered throughout the day…and ended with, well, more rain. But all is well.
As I was sitting in the veranda of the Blue Posts Hotel enjoying breakfast before my companion for the day arrived, Davis Njoka, my mobile phone rang and it was not a number I recognized…and it was from a county other than the US or Kenya.
When I answered, I heard the friendly voice of my friend, Fr. Elias, [former housemate at seminary] from the Diocese of Tabora, Tanzania. He was checking in from Dodomo, the capital of Tanzania where he was participating in a conference. We agreed to establish contact again when I am physically in Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam later Thursday.
Davis was punctual at 9:00am; as a Kenyan businessman, he gets very frustrated with other who might choose to keep “Africa Time” (if you arrive within 1 or 2 hours of when you are supposed to be somewhere …you are viewed as “not late”. It is an interesting comparison to have when two different people view the phrases “On Time” and “Not late” as meaning one and the same thing.
After sorting out our options for the day, knowing that we were to be at Bishop Githiga’s house for dinner at 7:00pm, we struck out for Lake Naivasha and the Rift Valley. Unfortunately, our track necessitated us going through Nairobi and the massive “traffic jam” where the only thing moving above 3 mph is…nothing.
The slow (read, stopped) travel allowed Davis and me to catch up from our last time together in Jackson, TN in 2007 and from my last visit to Kenya in April 2005. With Davis’ vast experience as a lay-leader extraordinaire…literally since he was instrumental in the steering committee that met with Archbishop David Gitari in 1988 and convinced the Archbishop that there were so many Anglican Christians in the Thika area, that they could no longer be pastored by the Dioceses of Mt. Kenya South and Mt. Kenya Central. The committee with Davis as the head recommended that portions of those 2 dioceses be merged to form the Diocese of Thika, and that there was a professor at St. Paul’s Theological College, The Rev. Dr. Gideon Githiga who would make a good initial bishop. Archbishop Gitari agreed and so in 1989 it happened.
Davis was most interested in how St. Luke’s, Maysville formed, and I shared with him how in November, 2005, several families decided that faithfulness to the clear meaning of the Gospel was a matter of eternal salvation, and they struck out to form an Anglican parish in Maysville. Davis was curious to understand how a layperson [such as I] from western Tennessee ended up as an Anglican priest in Maysville, KY. As those two stories melded together, a common denominator was Bishop Githiga in Thika…and how through the grace of god and following the lead of the Holy Spirit brought the people that would become St. Luke’s together with me, a seminary student at Trinity School for Ministry in Pennsylvania.
Hours of discussion included Davis wanting to know more about the structure of all Christian denominations in Maysville, and him sharing that in the past 5 years, how the budget for the Diocese of Thika has gone from $275,000US to now, $2,750,000US — a tenfold increase, and how the number of Anglican Christians in the diocese has doubled in that period of time to over 80,000. We both agreed that the key to growth in the number of people hearing and responding to the Gospel is highly dependent upon the largest group of ministers within and congregation — the laity. As they are able to share their testimony unashamedly with others they already have a relationship with, the Word of god and its power will do the rest. Nothing will turn the heart of a person more effectively and quickly toward God than having someone they already know, and trust, share with them what the Lord has done in their life.
We arrived at Bishop Githiga and May’s home at 6:50pm and we were warmly welcome, unlike any welcome I have experienced anywhere else. Several other guests arrived for the farewell dinner and program.
If you have never experienced a farewell dinner in Kenya, the event is difficult to describe, and event photographs cannot capture the happening adequately. The host, in this case, Bishop Githiga, welcomes the entire gathering and introduces each person to all the others in the group so that all gathered will know each other personally. In this case, there were 14 of us. After introductions, we visited among small or large groups as we were seated in the salon and enjoyed hot tea or coffee or fruit juice. After some conversation, some testimonies were shared by guests recalling some significant thing that the Lord had done or is doing in their life. We then proceed to the dining room where the traditional Kenyan celebration meal has been arranged, buffet style in large heated Dutch ovens. Since grace was already said in the earlier part of the program, there is a hand washing station set up where we wash our hands over a large plastic tub as warm water is poured over our hands from a pitcher. With hand dried using paper napkins, we proceed to serve ourselves and return to our seats.
As we eat in the salon, fellowship continues. Again, it is focused on the movement of the Holy Spirit with the lives of the guests. In the Anglican Church in East Africa (as I can speak personally of no other locale), the emphasis in each life is how the person has become a new person in Jesus Christ since they have come to know and follow the Lord. The best way I can describe the outward manifestation in the person is that being a Christian is not something they do, along with many other responsibilities in their life, being a Christian is who they are. Their life (actions, words, thoughts…being) are focused on enjoying the fruits of an active relationship with Jesus as their personal, and corporate, Lord and Savior; Christ is the person they serve and they feel blessed with the knowledge that His Word is true now, then, and forever.
If the guests were clergy only, or the spouses of clergy, the temptation would be to minimize the size and scope of such outward expressions as something “the clergy do because that is who they are.” Well, the truth of the matter is, of the people gathered there, only ½ fit that description, the other ½ were everyday lay persons, mothers, fathers, private business people – the one common denominator each shared with the other was their love of the Lord and hope He has made their life, their being, so much richer now, and not just in heaven where they are assured they will be with Him someday.
After dinner, the guests of honor are invited to speak words of encouragement to the assembled guests and host. My new friends from Exeter [UK], Jane & Brian Inwood, shared their appreciation for all the assistance in traveling the width and breadth of the Diocese to reestablish the linked prayer relationship between individual parishes in Exeter and Thika. Their epiphany in the weeklong mission was that mobile phones are EVERYWHERE in Kenya, whereas Internet access can be spotty. They have taken back mobile phone numbers from volunteers whereby “instant” prayer requests can be shared and not stuck in a logjam of months of delays.
I shared my story of how Bishop Githiga and I came to know each other in January 2004 when a group of us in Jackson, TN, were called out by the Holy Spirit to stand up for the Authority of Scripture and plant a new Anglican Church there with the truth of the Gospel as the basis. We 42 Christians knew we were to be under the authority of a Godly bishop, and through the connection of a Kenyan clergy on Memphis, we asked Bishop Githiga to provide us temporary oversight until a new national Anglican church could be established with North America. He agreed and through the following 6 years, he was directly instrumental in me being ordained into the royal order of deacons and then the royal order of priests in the one true, holy and apostolic church in July 2008 when I was instituted as Rector, St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Maysville.
As I recounted the history of our relationship, it was difficult for me to get the words out without becoming emotional…Bishop Githiga has been directly responsible for bringing the hope of the Gospel to so many lives – he truly is a humble servant of the Lord.
After presents were exchanged and a final blessing given, we began to depart at 10:30.
I did have the opportunity to publicly invite Bishop Githiga to come and be our guest at St. Luke’s and he has accepted and planning will begin for him and Davis Njoka to come and be with us in Maysville in June, 2011. He will combine that visit with a trip to Exeter, their linked diocese, and All Saints Anglican Church in Jackson, TN. Hopefully, Bishop Githiga will grace us with one or more teaching sessions that will be made available to the larger community – where he can share first hand of the Lord’s work in Kenya, to save people’s lives through the Good News and ease their burden this side of heaven.
Checkout is in 5 minutes and then I depart for Nairobi, another “jam” and the adventure to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
Serving in God’s vineyard, I leave you His blessing, wherever you may be.
Please click here to continue to the next phase of the mission