2012, No.15 (19/11/12)

Dear Brethren

Greetings in Christ’s name from Nairobi. This is a quick email to solicit your thanksgiving and prayer for us.

Pastoral Theological Course (PTC)

From 7 th to 14 th November I taught the last session this year, on Reformation Church History and Apologetics. 4 of the 7 students have now finished their course work in Nairobi. All that remains is to finish some assignments at home, complete the 2 papers, and then they will graduate. The students have been a tremendous encouragement to me by their faithfulness and we had a lovely time of reflection and prayer with a small cake on the last afternoon. Microsoft Word - 2012, No. 15.docx

  • Elly Achok returns to his church in Mumias (West Kenya) having grown so much.
  • Charles Awelo returned to his church at Ihonje (near Mumias) and promptly resigned as it has become clear that the real power behind the church is a polygamous man on whose land the church is built and whose relatives make up most of the congregation. We will pray the Lord leads him into a fruitful ministry.
  • Isaiah Juma returns to Kasei in North Pokot where we have sent him especially to minister to the students in the secondary school.
  • Joseph Mucheru returns to Gilgil (near Nakuru) where he is seeking to plant a church. Our young people will be going there after Christmas for a mission to encourage him in evangelism.

We have agreed on 4 new students to admit for January 2014. We are also hoping that one Sudanese brother from a remote place on the Ethiopian border, Pochalla in Jonglei State, will be able to come. It would be impossible for him to travel each time as one way it would take him at least a week. We are thinking of the possibility of bringing him and his small family to the refugee camp in north Kenya (Kakuma) where many of his people escaped during the civil war, or even to Nairobi.

Church Meeting

We had a congregational meeting on 17 th where the Lord graciously gave us full unity. It is our practice that each pastor is re-evaluated every 3 years and the members again gave me their backing. I told them this will probably be the last time as at 70 I will seek to retire from the leadership of the church. May the Lord raise up more leaders to join with Pastor Murungi!

Pokot North

Tomorrow morning I am leaving early for another week and a half in Pokot North. I am going with Vincent Kajuma, a fairly new member with his wife Maggie, and at the meeting (above) we agreed that he should be one of our 2 interns in 2013, and also that he should join the PTC. Please pray that I will be an encouragement to the brethren there as I bring the word of God to them and exhort them again to put their preaching ministry ahead of school administration.

Priscilla is with Jonathan and family in the States and is due back the beginning of December, Lord willing. Please excuse the haste as it is bed time and I must leave before 06:00 tomorrow morning in order to beat the traffic jam.

In Christ’s service,

Keith Underhill

2012 No. 14 (13/11/12)

Dear Brethren

Praise the Lord that the car is finally here from Nairobi having been driven about 5000 kms. from Durban, South Africa. It took a week longer than expected which I suppose is quite good for Africa! Our patience was tested as we sometimes felt that rules were being made up on the spot – the truth is that very few people know all that is required. Let me relate what took place so that you can get some idea of what conditions are like in southern Africa.

Buying the car. Of course I had only seen the car on the internet. On arrival in Durban the owner kindly picked me up and let me drive the car to where I was staying, more than 50 kms. north of Durban (Waterfall). My patience was first tested when the money sent from the States to pay for the car delayed. It was a week after arriving that I was able to take possession of the car. During that time I had very encouraging fellowship with my hosts, the Afrikaans Pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church, and learned a lot about South Africa and the Afrikaaners, and attended the Church on Sunday.

Getting the car ready for export from South Africa. Now just drive the car to Nairobi as it is mine! How wrong I was. First we had to take the next day to go back to the seller to get an invoice and an affidavit of sale. We had applied online for an export document and were ready to travel up to Pretoria and receive it by email. That very evening we found there was another absolutely necessary document, only attainable in Durban, from a Company the Kenyan Government has authorized to check on the vehicle. So the next day we were in Durban, obtained the one document, but were told we needed another one from Customs. Friday evening we did start the drive, and stayed the night in Pietmarizburg. We spent the weekend with the Pastor of Lynwood Baptist Church in Pretoria, and I was invited to preach in the morning service. We received the necessary document on Monday morning and proceeded north to the Zimbabwe border, because we had been advised this is the best way out. There we were told that another document was absolutely necessary, one we had been told elsewhere did not apply for us. So we waited another 2 days. All these requirements are here because of large-scale car racketeering.

South Africa. Compared to Kenya the area we travelled from Durban to the northern border through Johannesburg is rich and well developed. The Government is building housing areas for the general population, although we did see some shanty towns. South Africa

The roads were very good and we hardly saw an incident of bad driving. We were amazed to see lorries pull off to the side of the road to enable us to pass! Here in Kenya lorries often overtake and force us off the road! However the allowable speed (all the way through Zambia is 120kph/75mph) and we saw many overturned vehicles. The country has a bad reputation for crime and there is so much security. I was pleasantly surprised on the night bus from J’burg to Durban that we were lead in a good prayer over the intercom and I found everyone very friendly. New Road

(Zimbabwe.) While waiting at the border at Beit Bridge (Musina) we talked to a Clearing Agent on the Zimbabwe side. “It is impossible to drive the car through Zim. You have to get it transported on a bonded lorry through the country at the cost of $3,000!” This is because many say they are driving the car through, only to sell the car in Harare and make a huge profit (by not paying duty?). So we decided to change and exit through the Botswana border at Grobler’s Bridge (over the Limpopo River). This added a few hundred kilometres to our journey.

Botswana. After all this waiting it was a joy to arrive in Botswana with no problem. We did not see much as we arrived as it got dark and we were at the northern border at 7 a.m. having driven through the night. It is a large country with a very small population and basically one main road south to north. We really appreciated the ‘cats’ eyes’ so liberally adorning the road for night driving. There were many signs ‘Beware of elephants’ but we never saw any.

Zambia. We had to cross the Zambezi on a ferry. Don’t think this is remote for there was a long line of lorries. Zambia is a land-locked country and relies on both Durban (South Africa) or Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) as its port of importation. The immigration and customs formalities into Zambia were chaotic. As a result there are so many people offering ‘to help’ – changing money into the Kwacha or Dollars that are needed, being an agent to take you through the process, selling you the little plastic reflectors that are a must if not to be stopped by the police. I had to pay for a visa, 3rd. party insurance, road toll, Council tax, temporary import permit, and even a carbon tax. And all this just to take the car through the country! We had the privilege of getting some hours in bed in Lusaka before leaving at 6 a.m. in order to drive the 1,000 kms. to the border with Tanzania which we knew would close at 5 p.m. Zambian time (6 p.m. Tanzanian time). We were the last car through. Zambezi Ferry

Tanzania. The border post was similarly chaotic, and especially as it was raining. We had to drive very slowly through fog around Mbeya and then got 3 hours if rest in the car at Iringa parked in a petrol station. We had decided to take the direct route through central Tanzania, through the inland capital of Dodoma having been assured that there was a good tarmac road all the way from Dodoma to the Kenyan border. The Chinese are building a new road from Iringa to Dodoma but it was slow going on the dirt road. From Dodoma north the same but nothing new being constructed. So it was a gruelling day’s travel on bad roads, a good test of the car, and it was clear we would not get to the Kenyan border in time so we stopped in Arusha. We had begun to realize that we would not be able to take the car as an import into Kenya without first paying the customs duty. So we decided that I should take public transport to the border with Tanzania (Namanga), cross by foot, and hope to get on my way to Nairobi and pay the duty on Monday while Kiarie remained with the car in Tanzania.

Kenya. I got to Namanga about 10 p.m. to find there would be nothing until the early morning, so I camped at the police station and had a very interesting time talking with the officers on duty. Finally I was able to leave at 4.30 a.m. and through sleeping I do not remember the rest of the journey until arriving in Nairobi 2 hours later. It was Sunday and I had a joyful time with my brethren surprised that I was not overcome by sleep. We got the duty paid and the insurance sticker we must display on the windscreen and the car finally was driven in last Wednesday.Arrival

We are so thankful to those of you who helped us to make this purchase. It is ideally suited to the road conditions in Northern Kenya and we trust it will give reliable service in years to come. I will be going on my first safari early next week, to Pokot North.

In Christ’s service,

Keith Underhill