July 2022

In a nutshell: We’ve enjoyed being back together as a family in the UK and Ireland. We are heading back to Jos at the end of July, for the new semester starting early August.

Home assignment

We are currently splitting our time between the UK and Ireland on our first home assignment since before COVID. It is fair to say that none of the travel plans we had made at the end of 2021 went smoothly. Alanna and Asha flew to England at the end of January for what was meant to be a two-and-a-half week holiday to see Alanna’s family. While here, Asha contracted COVID – only 6 weeks after we all had it just before Christmas! Consequently, their first attempt to get back to Jos was thwarted. They stayed on with Alanna’s parents near Hull for the quarantine period and another few weeks, hoping to travel back to Nigeria in early March. Unfortunately, their second attempt to get back to Rick and the boys was again scuppered as Asha tested positive on the required PCR test. (Despite NHS guidelines recommending that PCR tests within three months of a COVID case are likely to show a residual positive despite recovery, this was an entry requirement for Nigeria at the time.)

By this point, it was too late for Alanna and Asha to return to Nigeria before our family’s planned return to the UK. They stayed on in Hull and were finally joined by Rick and the boys in London on 7 April. After a two-and-a-half month separation, it has been very good to be back together again. We spent a month in Banstead, visiting our home church, and then went north again to see grandparents and cousins. We have now moved on to Ireland, where we’re enjoying plenty of opportunities to catch up with family (as in the photo above catching up with Grandma), friends and supporters before heading back to Nigeria in late July for the beginning of next semester (which starts in early August).

We have seen God’s sovereignty in the way things have worked out. While we would never have planned the long separation, the enforced downtime in the UK has been beneficial for Alanna. She has had the chance to process the events of the previous two-and-a-half years and is now in a much better frame of mind to think clearly and plan for the time ahead. Time in the UK has been hardest for Asha, but we are grateful for a medical check-up and confirmation that she is back to good health after six months of frequent illness. Thank God for Asha and Alanna’s renewed health and pray that he would give us wisdom to help both of them thrive over the year ahead.

JETS 

In the meantime, classes have continued at the JETS seminary. Rick completed most of the semester’s face-to-face teaching before coming over here. The remaining lessons are being covered by a teaching assistant. His online courses also continued uninterrupted until the end of semester. Alanna’s first seminary class (in children’s and youth ministry) was a somewhat reduced experience. In the end, she was physically present for only the first lesson, but she did provide most of the teaching materials for the rest of the course (taught by Vic, an online Masters student and close friend who previously studied in Kagoro). Please pray for the students, that God will use what they have learned in their studies to bring glory to his name in their ministries.

Building relationships

During the semester, Rick continued to build up mentoring relationships with students from his Spiritual Life class. The pizza oven that we built in the garden last year has made social events easy. As well as allowing us to feed a number of people at once, making pizza together is a good ice-breaker and the activity helps conversation flow.

Kagoro

Back in Kagoro, the semester has been badly affected by violence in the local area. Some armed attacks have reached the outskirts of the town of Kagoro itself, so the seminary has sent students home again for the rest of the semester. Some form of online provision has continued and exams were held in May. Please do pray for the faculty and students as they attempt to carry on their training in a very unsettled period. Pray also for the community as they deal with trauma and loss, and struggle to know how to respond to the violence. Pray that the government will take seriously its responsibility to protect local citizens, and that God will give them wisdom and just practices in tackling the situation.

Can you believe it's ten years since we left for Nigeria?!

July

We will be in Ireland for the remaining few weeks of July. We will have one fairly quiet week. We will then help with a holiday Bible club and a Christian youth camp.

We are due to travel back to Nigeria at the end of July. Alanna hopes to have the opportunity to teach again next semester and is currently preparing lessons for an online course in Old Testament Poetry. Rick hopes to be teaching the Spiritual Life class again, with a new batch of students, along with a theology class, and a range of online classes.

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