December 2009

Greetings and Merry Christmas!

Last Sunday I returned from my week-long trip to Nairobi, Kenya.  I had made the trip along with two coworkers from JAARS for meetings with the IT leaders from our major African sites.  For online photos from this trip, see our Picasa photo web site.

The meetings were very productive, and I believe glorifying to God as we made good progress on the following four topics:

  1. The beginnings of a training plan for African IT coworkers.  Many of the IT workers in Africa have a great desire to provide computer support, but they often lack adequate training that those of us working in the USA have benefited from.  Over the next couple of years we plan to tackle that issue to help them become more self-sufficient and improve productivity.  This ultimately results in accelerating the work of getting God's Word into the languages of those who still need it.
  2. Strengthening the methods of communication with our computer support staff spread across that continent.  Many of them still lack adequate Internet access.  Better communications will help them in their day-to-day work and facilitate quicker resolutions to challenging technology problems.
  3. A proposal for a new software standard to replace Microsoft Office.  This software has recently become too expensive to purchase due to major licensing changes.  This has the potential to save our organization millions of dollars in the coming years and those funds can be directed to more strategic purposes such as language projects.
  4. More formalized standards for computer hardware and software to be used in Africa.  By providing guidance to our colleagues on what works well, we can help them avoid buying products that don't meet their needs as well as other recommended solutions.

We have over 1,000 missionaries working in Africa and even more people in partner organizations to whom we provide support and recommendations.  The use of computer technology is critical to their work and efficiency.  Communicating standards, recommendations, and providing ongoing training for the computer staff who support these workers can make a big difference in effectively advancing the Lord's work!

Toward the end of my week there I became sick with the flu.  Before the trip I had received a shot for the regular flu, but had not been immunized for H1N1.  Either I caught H1N1 or another strain of the flu which I most likely was exposed to during my travel.  One of my coworkers who had also been on the same air flights became sick too, at the same time with the same symptoms.  I was unable to participate in the last day of meetings in person, and was pretty sick for about 24 hours in total.

Following that I was still tired but able to function, and we spent that day providing network consulting to our IT coworkers at the Nairobi center.  I am thankful that my sickness was not more serious, and the Lord allowed me to get over it before starting 20 hours in the air for my return trip to the USA!

The last day of our trip we were able to spend some time shopping and sight seeing before our flight left that evening.  We visited a giraffe refuge around Nairobi and learned more about Kenyan wildlife.  If you check the online photos at the link listed above you will see some fun photos from the refuge center.  I also tried to take a number of pictures of Kenyans as we drove to different places, just to give you a feel for the atmosphere and general living conditions near this large city in Kenya.

While I was in Africa, Krista was preparing for and leading the JAARS Youth Christmas Banquet.  This year they have a large youth group and 56 teens attended the banquet.  She had great help from a number of parents who did most of the cooking and the banquet was a wonderful success!  Everything went smoothly and the youth had a great meal and a fun gift exchange.  I was sorry to miss the banquet and I had to convince Krista that I did not intentionally plan my trip to coincide with the banquet!

Krista and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.  Our family will be driving to Michigan for the week of Christmas to see our families and extended family.  We thank the Lord for allowing us to be part of His work this year, and we look forward to the coming year!  Thank you as well for your involvement as a partner in our ministry!

Wishing You Christmas Blessings,

Hank & Krista