We’re back in Loki!
It has been a crazy transition back, but we are finally settled in.
We want to thank all of you who made our first home assignment such a memorable one. The 5 months and 21,000 miles in the car passed quickly, but it was great to reconnect with as many people as we could. Thank you for all the wonderful dinners (and extra 15 lbs), fun experiences, and nourishment for our souls. We were filled physically, emotionally and spiritually; ready for another 2 years.
Christmas is around the corner. Our very American-looking tree with bright lights and our favorite ornaments has helped remind us of that. Without the constant billboards, commercials, and store fronts calling for our attention, Ian has provided the 10 day countdown to Christmas.
We arrived back to our home in Lokichoggio December 4th
. The rains had turned the landscape a beautiful, lush green. It truly is the prettiest time of year here. Definitely no snow, but thankfully the temps are a nice 90 degrees with cool nights. It’s a blessing to be eased gently into the 110 temps that we’ll see in a few months.
A local pastor returning to his home village in South Sudan.
AIM AIR is busier than ever, with a record number of flights last month serving the missionaries and ministries here in East Africa. God truly is advancing here. They’re glad to have Joel back, and are transitioning him into the Cessna 208 Caravan (a 14 seat turbine-engine plane). Leadership did their best to give Joel some time to get the family settled, but with the busy schedule, he was back in regular rotation after a few days. The AIM AIR team is amazingly supportive, from leadership to pilots – we’re one big family working together to meet a common goal. Praying it stays this way…
Joel's newer, bigger office.
The Loki welcome was gentle, but quickly had to re-engage our “Loki-brain” and think about how we do life here. Checking solar-power availability, checking water availability (our tanks, even during the rainy season, will run dry overnight since they only fill a few hours a day); even taking a shower takes thought. Things that have been automatic for the last 6 months, things we take for granted, require conscious thought again. Even outside communications like cell phone and internet take more time and thought to get reconnected. (That’s a whole other story but we’re connected now).
Logistics are one thing, but it’s the relationships that are the most challenging part of living here. Loki life is tough. We’ve been blessed with a sturdy home with a good roof (only a couple leaks) and food on our table every evening. Many of our friends do not share this luxury. In the first week and a half of arriving home, two local friends died suddenly: one was an ANA lady (Caroline was 35 years old and left 3 children behind) and the mom of our close friend, Jasimbo (he has worked for us since we moved to Loki)).
LaReina leading bible study at the ANA Group Christmas Party.
To those who bought jewelry made by the ANA ladies, thank you. It was a bitter-sweet day at the ANA Christmas party as we celebrated being together and God’s blessings, but mourned that Caroline’s sweet face and gentle spirit would no longer be gracing our group.
Praise Report! When we arrived back in Loki, tribal disputes between the Turkana people of Loki and the Toposa of South Sudan had heated up. The dispute had been escalating past simple cattle-raiding into gun-fire and retaliatory kidnapping. After several groups in town gathered to pray for peace, a peace treaty was signed last week. Please join us in praying that the people who were affected find forgiveness in their heart and stay within the peace treaty.
This is a truer representation of the landscape of Loki. Daily challenges that our Western heritage struggles to understand. So we love, we pray, we point to the source of hope. We encourage the Christians to stand firm in truth. And somehow life goes on. Even though they feel like the forgotten people, God continues to sustain them with a spirit of joy amidst such trials. Only God could do that.
Christmas always looks different here. We will have turkey (the one from Nairobi is thawing) and cranberries, stuffing, and all the fixings. We will join together with the 2 other families that serve with AIM AIR and celebrate the birth of our Savior. Then it’s back to work, the work that God is doing in drawing souls that don’t know Him yet to the safety of His arms. Peace on earth. There’s no place we’d rather be.
In His Service,
Joel, LaReina, Renee and Ian