We are thankful to the Lord for His mercy to us once more. We have now returned to Kenya from the UK and are back in the Mission house in the area of Kiranze.
On 22nd June, the money having been provided for flight tickets, we set off for our first trip home in nearly three years. We left the house the day before the flight as it is a 3 hour drive to the airport, and we have to cross the Likoni ferry onto Mombasa island. Sometimes the crossing can be very lengthy as the ferry operators decide to go on a ‘go slow’ to protest about pay or something causing massive delays. We stayed at a hotel for one night to make sure we could get to the airport on time. We enjoyed a hot shower too! It was good to be able to remove all the filth of rural life! However, we woke in the morning to find that the apartment had been broken into, the laptop had been stolen, but worse than that; the rucksack containing all our documents (passports, flight tickets, marriage and birth certificates and work permit, which had just taken 6 months to get!) Out of all the bags that they could have taken they took the one we most needed to get home. I (James) went to the reception to report the theft, they called the police who came very swiftly. I gave them the details of all that was lost and told them that God has the hearts of all men in His hands. I went back to the family, we prayed together, believing that God who has brought us this far was able to complete our journey. I rang the British embassy to inform them of the missing passports and the lady there told me there was no way we would be flying that day, it would probably take a week to sort emergency passports costing over £800 for us all, and I would have to travel to Nairobi to sort it all out! When I came off the phone the hotel security guard came to the apartment and asked for me to follow him, he took me to the front of the hotel, to a set of steps going down to the beach and asking me to look over the edge, pointed to a neat pile of folders placed next to the bottom step and asked me, “are these yours?” Looking through them I told him they were and that every document was there! Filled with thankfulness I took them back to the apartment where there was great rejoicing as we told the children the Lord had answered prayer and made the thief give the passports back! In fact the whole hotel was in wonder at the great God of heaven who can make a thief bring back something they had stolen. We had to wait for the police to come back and see the things that had been returned. When they came, they stood outside of the apartment and said, “we have never met a white man who believes in God” (these police officers were tourist police dealing with white people all the time, how sad that the nations who took the gospel to these people now reject the God they once served). The three policemen were Christians from different denominations, but we all worship the same God through Christ Jesus, to whom we prayed and parted ways. We flew back that night and arrived in the UK on 24th June.
There were many happy reunions! It was lovely to be back with family and friends and at our home church Hastings, joining them for worship again.
About 2 weeks after arriving, Jesse and Daisy became unwell with a high temperature but as others in the extended family were unwell we thought it was the same bug as them, then they seemed to get much better, but overnight they became very poorly so we took them to the GP who said they had some unusual symptoms and because we had come from a high risk malaria zone they should go to the Brighton children's hospital straight away for blood tests. They were weak and could barely walk by the time they arrived with Elsie. Blood results came back showing they both had falciparum malaria (which is the worst type and can kill in a few days if left untreated). They were taken to the high dependency unit and stayed in for 4 days. They responded well to the treatment and were discharged with medication. A few days later, however, Jesse had a high temperature again so we were advised to take him back to Brighton. He was readmitted with very low hemoglobin and an enlarged spleen. Daisy was also readmitted a few days after Jesse with the same symptoms, this time they did not respond so well to the treatment and even seemed to deteriorate. It seems the first course of medication hadn’t been enough. Jesse especially was very weak, not eating and kept being sick. Daisy had to have another blood transfusion. The doctors were puzzled.
My brother Tom arranged for a prayer meeting to be held at my parents’ house in Eastbourne on Tuesday 18th July. About 25 to 30 came and as many who were able prayed. It was the most wonderful prayer meeting I have ever been to, I and others felt a real outpouring of our hearts to God and a unity one with another. The night of the prayer meeting Elsie had come home from the hospital very upset, she was wondering if Jesse would survive much longer because he looked so ill. In the morning she went to the hospital to swap with her mum and the sight that greeted her was two completely different children, ‘full of beans’! The Lord had answered prayer again and healed them. They were soon discharged and the following week we held a thanksgiving service at my parents’ house in Eastbourne. One text that has stayed in my mind from the prayer meeting is Acts 10:31 ‘Cornelius, thy prayer is heard..’
We then spent a busy but enjoyable two months moving around the country preaching, doing mission presentations, visiting, then a week in Scotland to relax before coming back. The children have enjoyed being taken to different places, making new friends and meeting the cousins again and some for the first time! We are so thankful to all who helped and supported us in so many different ways, from providing vehicles for us to use, to giving us a place to stay. Many also gave money to use for living expenses and even bought food shopping and made us cakes and meals. We are so grateful. We have, however, returned to kenya slightly larger than when we left, and the Kenyan bluntness has made sure we know about it too! (“Wow you have got fat” is normally the comment when we meet one of our friends!) It is supposedly a compliment here as it’s a sign of wealth, (not the image we really want to portray!) Hence the Kenyan diet begins once more!
Thank you to all those who put so much effort into arranging, organising and taking part in the Mayfield sale and mission presentation, also the presentations in Nuneaton, Luton and Lochcarron. We really appreciate all your kindness and generosity. We have been greatly encouraged in the mission work.
We would also like to thank the children and teachers of Framfield and Blackboys C of E schools for asking me to do a talk about the work in Kenya. Thank you so much for all the hard work you put in, selling things in your schools and also giving your pocket money for the work here. It was so nice to meet you all and to see your interest in the photos, especially the bugs!!!
We returned to Kenya on Monday 18th September. The flight was not without its problems, starting off when we arrived at the airport to find it cancelled and then it turned into a 3 hour delay. We tried to keep in our minds the promises that God has for His people, that all things will work for their good. The airline gave us a free food voucher for dinner, also 2 extra seats for the children to spread out on the plane and 3 seats with extra legroom. Our connecting flight also amazingly waited for us and we got a bus from one plane straight onto the other, arriving safely and on time to a rainy Mombasa (meaning it was nice and cool)!
We have now settled back into life here. As you can imagine it was quite a shock to the system being back in rural Kenya!. The house was in good order, howbeit very dusty and full of bugs (clothing/cups/books/everything full of it!) and it seems as we moved back to the UK, the spiders moved in! Thankfully we had some extra help on arriving back. James and Samantha Jempson came to stay and were a great help in settling us back in and sorting everything out. Their children, Joshua(11), Rosie (10) and George (8) got on very well with ours, enjoying homeschooling together and playing outdoors, though they weren’t too thrilled with the giant bugs and frogs! Elsie is very pleased to have a new washing machine, kindly donated, which uses much less water than hand washing (just one bucket per load!) and does a 40 degree, 35minute cycle, powered by the generator. It’s freed her up to spend more time homeschooling and to hopefully learn Swahili better to communicate more freely with the locals.
We have finished building a driveway to allow vehicles to pass without getting stuck in the rainy season. God willing we will now begin the other part of the mission house, then put up a perimeter fence to mark out and add security to the plot.
We have also begun holding Sunday services here, with about 20 to 25 attending each week. Some of the male workers have been coming to the service which is a real blessing as they have not attended a Church before. Their motive may be to get more work, but we know God’s Word is powerful and able to change the hardest heart. Pastor Mapema takes the morning Bible study and I take the preaching service afterwards. We hope to swap at the end of each month.
We give thanks unto the Lord for His mercy and kindness in bringing us safely back and helping us to continue His work here. Thank you all once again for your support. Please remember us in your prayers as in the coming days the elections are due and there has already been a lot of trouble in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa.
James & Elsie Gudgeon
Ps. We apologise for delays in replying to emails etc, things have been very hectic since arriving back and we had some internet issues to begin with.