Berry Family Mission Update
Serving in Kenya at Rift Valley Academy

We’re Back!

September 25, 2017 by berryfamily

Hello, USA!   Yes, we are back in the United States for a “home assignment” until Christmastime and then we will be returning to Kenya and RVA to start back with our students for second term. Home Assignment is a time where we return to our “home” country and reconnect with our family, friends, and supporters. We are visiting churches and also raising support for our return to Kenya. God has made it clear to us that we should return in December and we are trusting him to raise up a team of supporters to continue with us in His work as well. Let us know if you’d like to join our team of supporters or if you’d like to increase your current support.  Or give a gift here.

We arrived back in Michigan around the first of August and we have been busy ever since! So far we’ve shared at six different churches and are looking forward to the next several we have scheduled. We still have a few Sundays available, so if you’d like us to visit your church, let us know and we’d be happy to schedule a visit with you while we are back.

We traveled out to Minnesota and had a great time catching up with family and visiting Isle Evangelical Free Church and Opstead Baptist Church. We were also able to stop by Northwestern University and go out to dinner with six amazing graduates of RVA and hear about how college life is going for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in Michigan, we have also spent time with family and visited Journey Church: Northside, Journey Church: Pontaluna exit, Bridge North, and Lakewood Bible Church. We also met up with seven RVA grads who are now attending Calvin College and spent a day with them at Art Prize and had a picnic. It is so fun for us to see our students on this side of the ocean and see how they are doing and what they are working towards for their futures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have enjoyed some of the Michigan summer activities that we have missed and are looking forward to some of our favorite fall activities soon! We will soon be visiting Community Bible Church, Victory Baptist Church, Life Change Church, Shores Community Church, and Olivet Evangelical Free Church and are looking forward to those times as well. If you’d like to catch up with us sometime, give us a call, drop us an email or Facebook message and we’d love to meet up with you over a meal or chai or just a visit. Thank you for continuing to pray for our family, we could not continue in this ministry without you lifting us up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where you can find us in the coming weeks:

October 1st:  Community Bible Church – Strongs, MI

October 8th: Victory Baptist Church – Scottsville, MI

October 22nd: Life Change Church – Muskegon, MI

November 19th: Shores Community Church – Muskegon, MI

There are other dates coming soon, but this is what is sure right now!

 

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

Outreach to the Hospital

April 29, 2017 by berryfamily

I cannot even put into words how encouraged I am by these kids every time I spend time with them! They are super talented, love Jesus, love others, are kind and have great attitudes! I was able to take a group of eight students down to the hospital this morning to encourage the patients and workers. They brought instruments and sang to the workers in the kitchen and the laundry room, the patients in maternity, men’s ward, women’s ward, and pediatrics.  They also prayed for all the patients after they sang and played for them.  They let sick children play their guitars.  They were the voice and hands of Jesus to so many today.  I was so proud to be with them and witness the love they showed to so many today!  Thank you for investing in these kids and the work that they and their families are doing across this continent!

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

Our Life at RVA

March 9, 2017 by berryfamily

It is always hard to to try to explain to you all what is going on here since most of you have never been to RVA, Kenya, or anywhere in Africa.  We do so many different things here every week but here are a few pictures from the last week to show you a little bit of what we do here are RVA.  Our new regular, everyday life!

 

Girls hanging out at our house after dinner and playing with the boys.

 

 

 

Ben at volleyball tryouts.  He has a lot of guys trying out and volleyball will start right when the students get back from break to start third term.

Gabe dressed like his dad on “twins day” during our school spirit week and even went to class and stamped the students homework papers 🙂

Elijah helping the girls in the dorm with their dorm jobs while Mom is doing her weekly dorm cover.

Ian has been playing rugby after school this term and he really enjoys it!

Ben and Esther driving some RVA students down to the valley to run an Awana program with children at at orphanage and in the surrounding community.

Thank you to all who have been praying for our family, our community hospital, the drought and the national doctor’s strike!  Esther is feeling much better, the nurses returned to work at the Kijabe hospital, we have had two good rains and will soon be into our rainy season.  The national doctors are still striking so please continue to pray for that situation.

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

Second term

February 3, 2017 by berryfamily

The last few weeks since term two started have been rough!  I have been sick since the day before the students returned and am still not feeling well.  I made three trips down the hill to Kijabe Hospital in one weekend and saw four different doctors.  They did lots of blood tests, samples, and an x-ray and still could not come up with a diagnosis.  I have had five different prescriptions but still have lingering symptoms.  Today, I am starting on anti-malaria meds in hopes of finally getting some healing.  My malaria test came back negative but the tests are notoriously inaccurate and since my symptoms are very much in line with a malaria diaganosis, they decided to treat it as such.  So I am hoping for an end to my symptoms in a few days though I have been told I will continue to be tired and feel worn out for quite a while after the other symptoms cease.

(View from my bed at Kijabe hospital)

My sickness has been hard on Ben too since I have not been able to do as much around the house and with the kids as I usually do.  The boys have all have a 24 hour flu virus during this time as well so our house has not been the place to be :).  We are blessed to have great friends here who have been bringing meals and taking the kids during the day so I can rest and picking me up from the hospital so I didn’t have to walk back home (which I didn’t have the strength to do anyway!).    Continue to pray for healing and strength over the next few weeks!

We had a Christmas party with our caring community kids last weekend since the students were home over the Christmas break.  It was really fun to fill stockings for them, play games, and have a gift exchange with items they brought back from their “home” countries.  (It is always a little tricky to talk about home when many of our kids have no idea where home is or they consider home a place that others do not think of as their home.).

Our kids also had a highlight last Saturday.  Each term the “titchie” or elementary school has a field day.  During second term the field day is all water games.  The boys really enjoy this day and even Gabe got to participate with the preschoolers.  They especially look forward to the giant water slide that is assembled on campus with a tarp, some sandbags, a hose, and a big hill!

Elijah is now a walker!  He is quite mischievous and is into everything so that adds an element of frustration (and cuteness) to everyday life.  He loves our pest control (cat), Zoe, and tackles her any chance he gets.  She is very sweet and usually lets him, without too much complaining.

 

Thank you you for continuing to pray for us!  We are so thankful for you and are continually aware that we could not be here doing what we do without you!

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2016 by berryfamily

img_1547

 

Our family wants to wish you a merry Christmas and hope that you can celebrate together with family and friends, remembering our Savior who was sent to earth because our Father loved us so much!   Remember he is the reason for the season and share this most wonderful gift with those He brings across your path!  Merry Christmas, friends, and wishes for an incredible 2017!

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

You have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

October 16, 2016 by berryfamily

p1000630

When we first knew God was calling us to ministry overseas, we thought our professions as teachers would be such a benefit. We were absolutely not going to go into ministry where we had to depend on others to support us and teaching seemed like a great way to work in a country and then find ministries to be involved in when we were not working. Well, God had other plans. He called us to Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. How awesome! A beautiful location, serving God by serving missionaries living in remote, sometimes even dangerous locations, teaching was the ministry, and our kids would not be completely isolated from other children and Christians! Our experience teaching in public and private schools, working at summer camp, leading worship, and many short term mission trips seemed like great fits for the work God had for us here in Kenya. “But wait….God, we would have to raise support to go there, it is not a paid position. God, we don’t really want to that. God that seems impossible and it would be a burden to so many others.” We had a lot of excuses for God. As we prayed about it, God started teaching us that having others support us was the ministry He was calling them to do. They needed to obey Him in the ministry He was calling them to just as we needed to obey Him in the ministry He was calling us to do. We reluctantly obeyed and started the support raising process. What blessings God poured out on us as we met with individuals and churches and shared the ministry that God was calling us to. What even greater blessings He has given to us as we have been living and working here in Kenya! The prayers and support and encouragement for all those He has called to the ministry with us have been more that we could ever have hoped for and are the reason we are able to continue in the ministry God has chosen for us.

So, after making it half way through our our initial two-year commitment to serve at Rift Valley Academy, God has asked us to once again trust Him and follow Him in His plan for us. The school has expressed their need for us to continue in the ministry here and we feel God has asked us to continue in the ministry He has laid before us. As I think about the years ahead, I am filled with excitement as I anticipate everything God will do and the students He will bring into our lives. I am honored that He is choosing to use us even though we are nothing special. I also begin to feel turmoil as I think about having to begin to ask to people to once again join with us financially in this ministry. “Not again God, not so soon.  Can’t we have a little longer break from this task that I do not enjoy!”  But then God begins to whisper to me, “Esther, Trust Me! I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I will supply your needs. Trust Me. Let Me be God. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present Your requests to God.’ I have called you and I will make a way.” I felt anxious and wanted to figure everything out myself. I wanted to make a plan B in case God got busy and forgot what I needed. I have knowledge that says “God will provide” but sometimes my emotions still take over and I think I need to make a plan. How foolish when I recognize my feelings. I serve a mighty God who is so much bigger than I and who loves his children so much deeper than I even love my own. He will not forget about me, He has always provided and I know He will continue to do the same.

So, as we look ahead, here is what we think will be happening (God could always let us know otherwise). We are planning on heading back to the United States for furlough after graduation in July. We will share more about furlough and our needs during that time as well as what we will be doing during that time in a later post 🙂 We plan to be in the U.S. from August through December and then returning to Kenya soon after Christmas to start back up with the students for their second term at the beginning of January. We will finish the last two terms of the school year and then two more school years to complete a two year and two term commitment to RVA. If you know anyone who is a Spanish teacher and would like to spend some time teaching the best students in the world from September to December 2017, the school is looking for someone to cover Ben’s classes while we are home on furlough 🙂

Please be praying with us that God will bring in the financial support for another term of ministry. We need to let RVA know in January if we are going to have support to return in the fall. The process of looking for someone to replace us can be very lengthy since whoever would replace us would also need to raise support. It is a much longer process than just hiring a teacher in the States, so we need to give them time to begin searching and praying.

Please also be praying for our time on furlough next year that it will be restful and that will be able to connect with many of you!

Pray for our students and their relationships with God.  We just finished up our Spiritual Emphasis Week (SEW) and the students were challenged with great words from the scripture.  Pray that as God spoke to them this week, they will listen and obey to what God was spoken to them about.

Also continue to pray for our family and the families we are serving. It can be hard living away from home and all things that are comforting and familiar. Our students are living in a culture different from their own as well as living away from their parents and sometimes younger siblings for many weeks at a time when they are here at school.

 

If you would like to make a one-time contribution or start an automatic monthly gift, here is the link:
https://www.egsnetwork.com
select: Missionaries (from USA) > Berry, Ben and Esther
Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

One Year in Kenya!

July 11, 2016 by berryfamily

One year ago yesterday, we stepped off a plane onto Kenyan soil. What an amazing year it has been. Our kids have grown, our family has grown, we’ve learned all kinds of new things, made lots of new friends, been involved in many new ministries, and missed you all tremendously.

IMG_5137

We want to thank you all for supporting us through your prayers and financial support. Here are a few examples of what has happened in the last year, due to your incredible involvement in our ministry here:

  • Helped a local woman pay hospital bills for her nephew who was injured in a car accident
  • Hosted many variety nights for students on weekends
  • Provided employment for 2 individuals in the community, a single mother and a man helping to raise his grandchildren.
  • Paid fees for a little girl to attend school
  • Provided help with hospital bills for a woman suffering with liver cancer
  • Hosted and provided dinner for new missionaries families just arriving to RVA for the first time
  • Taught Sunday School to a group of 8th grade boys
  • Served home cooked meals and family time for many students who are attending school here and missing their families
  • Gave work to a young man trying to earn money to buy a computer and pay for college this coming fall.
  • Connected and invested regularly in the lives of a group of six ninth graders throughout the entire school year – our caring community
  • Mentored a young man who is graduating this week and headed to college in the U.S. this fall
  • Lead worship services for Sunday morning services and special communion services for staff
  • Opened our home to students as a place to come and relax when they were not interested in attending a campus movie or other planned event
  • Witnessed over 15 students make a public profession of their faith in Jesus through baptism
  • Taught 60 high school students 1st and 2nd year Spanish
  • Worked alongside students doing outreach at a local orphanage for children who are HIV positive
  • Visited women and children who were in the hospital over Christmas time
  • Coached 12 high school guys in JV volleyball
  • …And my personal favorite….Josiah trusted in Jesus as his personal Savior!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your support and allowing us to be here doing this ministry that God has called us to do!

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

The Big Picture

May 23, 2016 by berryfamily

We had a busy weekend with student events in our home Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning.  We love teaching and mentoring and all that serving at RVA involves.  Today I got a reminder of the big picture and why God called us here.  During staff chai time this morning, after announcements and prayer time, a parent of one of our RVA students stood up and asked if he could share.  He thanked the staff.  He said that every time the gospel is shared in a village to people who have never heard of him and every time that an unreached person receives a Bible, we (the RVA staff) are the reason that it was able to happen.  The staff are supporting these missionaries who are learning languages and sharing Jesus in unreached areas.  He said with tears in his eyes that they could not do their ministry without us.  It was a good reminder of the big picture.  We are here and daily ministering to students and helping them grow in their faith.  But the big picture is that we are helping the gospel go out to people who need a Savior!  Thank you for being a part of that and allowing us to be here serving God where he has called us and equipped us to serve.

 

Colossians 1:28-29 (NIV)

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.  To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

 

And a picture of a cute baby that I get to spend time with every day (and night!), in case you needed to smile today 🙂

IMG_7546

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

Outreach Day

May 7, 2016 by berryfamily

Each term we have an outreach day where we lead a group of students on a ministry outing in the community.  Today was outreach day and for third term and we were able to take a group 11 high schoolers and spend the morning just playing with a group of HIV positive orphans nearby the school.  We played soccer, red light/green light, ultimate frisbee, did some coloring, bubbles, and face painting with the kids.  We also brought mandazi and shared a snack with the kids.   What a great opportunity to connect with the community and spend time in ministry with our students.

IMG_7446

IMG_7448

IMG_7441

IMG_7432

IMG_7451

IMG_7440

 

 

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »

RVA Students

May 6, 2016 by berryfamily

Who are the students at RVA? They are kids who have a heart for the unreached. Kids whose passport says U.S citizen but they do not identify with anything American. They are kids who who have lived in and have friends in more countries than most of us have ever even visited. They are just “normal” kids in so many ways and appear just like any other kids, but when you start talking to them, they are anything but ordinary. Most of them know that they are part of something so much bigger than them and they care deeply for the lost.

Ian’s big brother (high school mentor) Elliot, shared with the staff today about a people group in Botswana, the Basarwa people, that has less than .100% evangelical Christians and the tribe is dying because of a loss of their way of life. This 16 year old cares deeply for these people and wants to see them come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He wants to see missionaries go to these people and show them God’s love. A people who have no written language and only a couple thousand people remaining in their tribe. Elliot was so nervous to speak in front of the staff and lead them in prayer but his love for these people helped him to rise above his fears and share his heart which is mirroring the heart of Christ.

13166051_10154141558478407_8375058128807638750_n

I was challenged today as I thought about Elliot and his heart. What is in your heart? What is so important to you that it just flows out of you?

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Published in: Uncategorized    |       Discuss this article »