Greetings to all our family, church family at Fathers House Shaftesbury, our friends at Copplestone Methodist Church and friends spread throughout the UK!

We arrived safely back home after a very long and tiring journey, but we received a warm welcome and although it was good to be back in England, we are delighted to be back in our own home after such a long time away. We both feel that four months is too long to be away and will make future visits shorter. As you are aware, this home leave was quite stressful with Pat being so ill for so long. However we are grateful that it happened whilst we were there as the outcome would have been very different had we been here in Kenya.

Gemma resumed nursery school for a week and a half and closed for the long Christmas holiday on Wednesday last week. She was worried about going back as she said she had forgotten all her Kiswahili, but within two days she was once again chattering away and is clearly very happy to be back as well. She has so much freedom here, and enjoys playing with her friends.

It was also good to visit our friends at Rapha Children’s Home. We had an amazing welcome from Fred and Ruth who run the home and all the children. Last Saturday we were invited for lunch and spent several hours there. We were very surprised to see what has been done in our absence. In places the layout of the home had been changed to reflect the requirements of the Government and the local authority.

For many years now Fred and Ruth have taken care of these orphaned children as part of their extended family. With the support of church members, friends and other well-wishers, they have lived by faith, relying on God’s provision to feed and clothe the children. It has been a major undertaking and has had many challenges. Throughout this time Fred and Ruth have dedicated their lives to the children feeling that they a specific calling to minister to these needy and disadvantaged children.

Whilst we were away the home was visited by the Children’s’ Department who are now requiring them to be registered with the Government. This will enable them to receive some assistance in future, but it will be limited to some food distribution, firewood and other ancillary support. Unfortunately, the changes which they are required to make involve some major expenditure. The following are just some of the alterations which need to be put in place before registration can take place:-

Plastering the inside and outside of the semi-permanent dormitories

Construction of two additional dormitories for the younger children

Construction of a Matron’s house

Construction of a food store

Digging of a soak pit

Construction of secure boundary fencing around the whole property

Laying of a special soil called Murram on the floor to provide a safe non muddy surface to walk on in the compound.

We are very grateful that due to some very kind and generous donations, the purchase of the entire compound has been completed. It has yet to be surveyed and be registered under one title deed, but this is in the process of being organised. There is a complication in that a part of the land was purchased by Fred and Ruth themselves some years ago, and extra small pieces were added in the name of Rapha to make up the present compound. The authorities require that the whole plot is registered in the name of Rapha, so Fred and Ruth are in agreement that their personal portion can be absorbed by Rapha, but they will need to buy another plot nearby to provide personal security for them and their family. We will give more information about this in due course.

We have been impressed that so much work has been done in our absence by Fred and the boys supported by Ruth and the girls. They have not just sat back and waited for help, they have got on and achieved a lot despite their meagre resources. With the money we have been given we are now able to come alongside and give them the necessary boost to achieve even more. We bought two sets of solar lights and these have been installed in the two dormitories. It has made a huge difference and the children are so grateful, they sang and danced with joy! We hope to buy several more sets very soon as they are very good and give an excellent light. We have a set at home and they have proved very useful when we have one of our very regular power cuts!

The boys, including some of the younger ones have dug a soak pit which now needs to have rough stones thrown in the bottom to provide adequate drainage.

Rapha has a Board of Governors and we are planning to meet them at the beginning of December to discuss the way forward. In the meantime we have met with the Chairlady of the Board, a lady called Hilda, a primary school teacher who is very committed to the welfare of the children. We have discussed the priorities and hope to start work on some of the items very soon.

Pat now has a work permit which gives her liberty to work freelance. She is no longer involved with IcFEM. Paul still has a work permit with IcFEM, but is looking at alternatives so that he can join Pat in more full time work at Rapha, in the meantime he is on the sidelines, supporting Pat and advising as necessary!

We will send further information in due course.

With our love and many thanks for your support and prayers,

Paul, Pat and Gemma.

(Hopefully we will have photos to follow)