UPDATE FOR THE BERRY FAMILY
Ben & Esther have been part of our church since the very beginning. They followed God's leading over 5 years ago and went to Kenya with all the boys. God was used them to make an impact in their school & community over those years. Maybe you're wondering why are they not in the Hope Christmas Project. Well they are in some transition. You can read their lastest update below. We will continue as a church to support them in this transition.
So much has happened since our last update and yet in the spirit of 2020, we are still uncertain about many things. We have been waiting the last few weeks to update you all since we hoped to be able to share a more complete picture with you, but since we are still waiting on so much, here is the update on what we know so far.
In our last update, we shared with you that we had prayed and come to a decision that we would be returning to Kenya after Christmas and finishing out the year with our students with a plan to return to Michigan after that. Well, shortly after that update, we received an update from Rift Valley Academy with a plan for starting school in January with students returning to campus. A 44-page document with the planned residential protocols to be instituted when the school reopens was sent to all staff. We were asked as a staff to let the school know if we felt we would be unable to abide by all the protocols set in place. Upon spending hours reading through this document and praying about it, we felt very uncomfortable with a few things in the plan. Most of all, we are concerned for Josiah. Josiah has been hospitalized in Kijabe before due to low oxygen saturation as a result of his asthma. Even when he is healthy, he rarely has full oxygen saturation due to the strain of living at a high elevation in Kijabe. With the new protocols requiring mask wearing at pretty much all times, including when in outdoor spaces, we were really not okay with putting him at risk of another hospitalization or at risk of sickness. That paired with our ministry being significantly reduced due to fewer opportunities to interact with students and those in our community, we made the decision to let RVA know that we were uncomfortable with returning at this time.
So, after 5 years of serving missionaries and their families from across Africa, we are done. It seems quite strange that our home from the last several years will not be our home anymore. Our boys are grieving in different ways at the loss of their home and friends. We still have so many uncertainties but we are confident that we have made the best decision for our family and that God has confirmed it. We still need to make a return trip to Kenya for closure for all members of our family, to say our goodbyes, and to retrieve and sell our belongings. We do not yet know when that will happen. We need to find jobs here in Michigan, a place to live, a school to send the boys to, and so much more. Please pray for us as you think about us. This is a hard transition made harder by the lack of closure and the abrupt departure.
Ways you can pray for the boys:
>For their hearts as they grieve the loss of their friends and home
>For new friends and connections here
>For a school and then the transition to starting up in the middle of the year
Ways you can pray for Ben and Esther:
>For wisdom as we parent our boys through this transition
>For finding meaningful ways to get involved in ministry here in MI
>For a job for Ben to support our family
>For classes for Ben to get his Michigan teaching certificate renewed
Ways to pray for the family:
>For a home and community to live and be involved in
>For finding God’s purpose for our time here in Michigan
>For clear direction on when to plan a return trip to Kenya for closure
We appreciate your continued support for our family. If you are currently sending financial support, our home assignment is officially set to go through December. We would greatly appreciate it if you could continue to send your gifts as we finish out our home assignment and transition back to Michigan. We hope that Ben will be able to find work soon and that we can give you a better idea of when to stop sending your support. We will send another update once we know more and include instructions as well as a time frame for discontinuing your financial support at that time. Thank you so much for caring about our family and supporting us through prayer in this time. If your church has been supporting us and would like us to share an update on what God has been doing through you over the last 3 year since our last visit, we would still love to come share with you. Please contact us to set up a time!
This is such a condensed version of all that has taken place and if you have questions or just want to know more, please feel free to contact us, we'd love to talk!
Ben, Esther, Ian, Josiah, Gabriel, and Elijah