OCMC News – Almost Home: An Update from Missionary to Kenya, Meg Photini Engelbach

OCMC News – Almost Home: An Update from Missionary to Kenya, Meg Photini Engelbach

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Christ is risen!

Two years and four months ago I left home to come to Kenya. Now I’m leaving home to go to America. “Home” will be a new experience. My world has changed, and probably yours has too. Friends and family members have married and had children, and I wasn’t there for that. Please forgive me and bear with me as I share my stories and listen to yours, and please keep me in your prayers as I return for my first “furlough.” As I visit New England and the West Coast, I’ll be in touch with my supporters, who have sacrificially made it possible for me to be in Kenya. Do keep in touch as well! I reach Boston on June 22, and I’d love to see you anytime thereafter! I haven’t made any appointments yet, so please contact me to make sure I visit you. As it takes shape, my schedule will be available on facebook or through contacting me. During this visit, I will also take some time off for rest and reflection on my next steps.

As always, we have been hard at work entering the texts into the AGES database. I have been working particularly with texts in Spanish and French, and also assisting with the proofreading of the English texts for the priests’ service book.

As I mentioned, last December Kenya was divided into three dioceses. In February I and Fr. John Wanguru and OCMC missionary Dr. William Black had the opportunity to visit the new Diocese of Kisumu to meet our friend, the new Bishop Athanasios. His diocese is the largest in Kenya, with almost 150 priests and even more parishes. The bishop is struggling to wean them from a long habit of dependence on foreign funds, and instead to make the Church self-supporting through the practice of stewardship. In a day and a half, we went with him to four parishes where he was introduced to the parishioners and they had a chance to see their new leader and tell him their goals for their churches. We had just enough time for a dinner in a restaurant of which one end opens on to Lake Victoria, and then we traveled back to Nairobi to resume work on Monday morning.

In April we were blessed with the visit of an iconographer who works in Finland’s Valamo Monastery. Sponsored by the organization Filantropia, Antti Narma led a three-week course for ten seminarians and chose the two best students to do an intensive summer course at Valamo, with the hope that they will continue producing icons for the Kenyan Church.

We were also blessed by the visit of Sister Sarah, a young Tanzanian novice nun who is being trained by Romanian nuns who are establishing a convent in Iringa, near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She came to Nairobi to apply for a visa to stay at the mother convent in Iasi for six months to learn more about monastic life in preparation for her tonsuring in October.

As I accompanied her to the Romanian embassy, I glimpsed the U.S. embassy for the first time. It is in a prosperous suburb called Gigiri, the home of ambassadors, diplomats, U.N. workers, and the wealthiest of the wealthy. I met some ambassadors at the birthday party of a Greek friend some time ago, and although they asked me where I lived, none of them had ever heard of Kawangware. My neighborhood is poor, but, since it is not as poor as the famous slums like Kibera and Mathare, it is simply unknown. Portraits of Kenya tend to focus either on the unbelievably wealthy men at the top or the poorest of the poor, ignoring the vast majority in the middle. This is a challenge for foreign workers, as they are placed in a class that makes it difficult to form real relationships with ordinary people, especially if they choose to live in a way that reflects their status.

by Meg Engelbach (Posted 5/5/2016)

Photo: OCMC Missionary Meg Photini Engelbach has been serving in Kenya under His Eminence Metropolitan Makarios for over two years. She is preparing to return to the United States this year to raise support to help continue her work and to share the ministries of which she has been a part. Please keep her in your prayers and invite her to visit your community.

 

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Alex Goodwin

Alex Goodwin serves as the Communications Director at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) in St. Augustine, Florida, where he lives with his wife and two children. Alex has participated on multiple mission teams to Africa. His duties at the Mission Center include broadening awareness of, and participation in, Orthodox missions among the faithful of North America.