Building community through loving service

Staff_team_2015 Posted by Gillian Maganda on Fri, 01 Dec 2017 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Often for Mission Partners who are living and ministering overseas, one of the biggest sacrifices is being far away from family and friends. This often means they are missing out on the significant milestones in the lives of their loved ones: feeling guilty if aging parents are experiencing ill health at home…not being able to see their nieces and nephews grow up…the list continues.

Having visited around the diocesan offices and departments in Kajiado, there was a real sense of family and community which Ronnie and Maggie are very much a part of. They are genuinely loved and appreciated by everyone I spoke to. The way in which they interact, care and respect their work colleagues and community members has been beautiful to witness. Even when driving with Ronnie to work, he would stop and greet people he knew, taking the time to acknowledge that they are important and worthy of respect – which is so important in the local culture.

I arrived in Kajiado just as the CMSI Team from Tuam Diocese in the west of Ireland were preparing to leave. They too spoke of this amazing Church family. The Briggs and I were able to spend Tuesday morning with them, reflecting back on their time in Kenya. One of the things they all have been impressed by is the warmth and love of God’s people in Kajiado. Individuals in the diocese had time for them and demonstrated patience and respect at every turn. Individually and collectively, many commented that they, as a Church in Tuam, have much to learn from their Kenyan brothers and sisters – they live for the moment, their uncomplicated lifestyle and communal living is something they have been greatly challenged by, and will remain in their hearts as they return home.

Turning to today, I again saw this family of faith in action. News had come through of a prominent Church and community leader’s death, and I was able to accompany Rev Naftaly, Ronnie and Maggie to pay our respects to the widow and family circle.

Ronnie writes:

The man who died was Tom Matianyi and will have been well known to many from Ireland who have visited Kajiado over the years. He even stood as ‘best man’ at the marriage service for a couple from Northern Ireland. He also visited Ireland in 1996/97.

Tom had been the manager of the Maasai Rural Training College. He was a great support to myself and Maggie and was a close friend. He had some health issues back in 2007 and doctors from NI – Gary and Patricia Mckee – who were here at the time, helped to diagnose Tom’s heart problems. He was given a quadruple bypass and since then has been in good health. He began to deteriorate over the last few weeks and sadly died earlier this week.

Gillian continues:

There was a genuine outpouring of deep sorrow amongst the community, and even though the word ‘Pole’ (pronounced Pol-eh), meaning ‘sorry’ in Swahili was used over and over, Ronnie explained to me later that it the context of a funeral, it has a very deep meaning – a standing alongside, and identifying with the family in their loss and pain.

As many of our Mission Partners have experienced, the Church community in each of their locations have become their family. The depth of relationships built and developed over many years, are forged through supporting one another in the challenges and blessings of everyday life.

They are what Henri Nouwen describes as ‘Building community through loving service.’ * He further adds:

Community comes when we are prepared to love and serve each other…we are called to lay aside our pride, priorities and position and clothe ourselves with the garment of humility.

I for one have much to learn, and seeing these qualities lived out in the lives of our Global Partners and Mission Partners in Kajiado, has been truly inspirational and humbling.

*Taken from: ‘Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen’

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