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Published: February 2nd 2008
On December 28 Gerry and I joined eight other people from Dodoma and flew to Nairobi, Kenya, to attend the Brackenhurst Conference. This conference is held each year for four days in late December/early January at the Brackenhurst International Conference Centre near Limuru, a town roughly 45 minutes by car north of Nairobi. This is an interdenominational conference the purpose of which is to provide an opportunity for people engaged in Christian mission work of all kinds in east Africa to gather for rest, recreation, fellowship and study.
The setting of the conference is very beautiful indeed. While only 60 km south of the equator, the conference centre is at an elevation of 7400 ft. The mornings and evenings were very cool, requiring fleeces and sweatshirts to be comfortable, and while the days were sunny there was not the oppressive heat that you do find in other regions of Africa. There always seemed to be a lovely cool breeze. With that climate much of the foliage is similar if not the same as what you would find on south Vancouver Island.
The people who attended this year, roughly 100 adults and 50 children from toddlers up
The Reception Area at the Brackenhurst Centre
Hard to believe we were only 60 km south of the equator.
to early teens, came from projects in Egypt, the Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and represented many European countries, Australia and New Zealand, as well as North America. They are engaged in all manner of projects including teaching, medical work, leading parishes, operating orphanages and homes, counseling, and horticultural projects, to name a few. There was a wonderful atmosphere at Brackenhurst as there were many young families that brought a vitality and energy to every gathering, particularly meal times.
One of the extra activities we participated in was a walk to a tea plantation not far from the conference centre. There were about 15 of us and we were welcomed by the lady of the house. While we sat in her beautiful garden (it could have been in England) she told us a little of her family history in Kenya and some of the details of tea production in that part of the world. Her great-grandfather had come from England in 1910, established the plantation and it had been in the family ever since. Before walking back to Brackenhurst we enjoyed a cup of tea and a biscuit in her dining room.
We came away from Brackenhurst with
a great sense of admiration for the many young families who have committed themselves to the work that they have been called to do. These are people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, many with young children, who are living and working in isolated and in some cases quite dangerous parts of Africa. Regardless of their home country or where they are working, their common approach is to face each new day, each new experience and each new challenge prayerfully, with confidence and commitment. It was truly inspiring to meet these young people and spend time with them.
The final two days of the conference were overlaid with concern for the violent response that was unfolding in the country following the Kenyan general election. Although there was no apparent threat to us, armed guards were stationed around the conference centre and we were asked not to leave the grounds - given the beauty of the place that was not a hardship. Eventually, after many changes to our plans and a considerable amount of prayer we made a successful exit from Kenya. I could not help thinking how insignificant was any anxiety or danger we may have faced in leaving
Kenya compared to the horrors experienced by so many Kenyans during that time and the days that followed.
The Brackenhurst Conference was a refreshing and enriching experience that we feel very privileged to have been part of. Gerry and I give thanks for the generosity of our supporters who made our attendance there possible.
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