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					                                                                                           December 2008
Dear Friends,

As this year is drawing to a close, it causes us to reflect on its beginnings…in Kenya. On the 30th of December 2007,
Kenya erupted into violence. Ben was in the U.S. with his mother (who had broken her hip). Jody was in Nairobi.
Ben returned to Kenya on January 10th. On January 6th, a Sunday, Jody attended worship at the Friends International
Center in Nairobi, and praised God that there was enough of a lull in the violence that it seemed safe to gather in
worship centers.

As she walked into the worship (already in progress), the worship leader was leading a prayer for forgiveness and
repentance. Later, the speaker began by saying, “Happy New Year” (it being the first Sunday of the new year). His
text was Ecclesiastes 7:8a “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.” He noted that the year had begun with
“tension and destruction;” but he stated that it is not how the year begins but how it ends that will determine whether
indeed it has been a good year. “This year, encourage ourselves that it will be a happy year.” So, how do we measure
it? Has it been a good year?

We have looked back over our year. Here are some of the highlights:

       In January, we helped the college begin our second semester in the midst of ongoing violence. Between us,
        we were teaching three classes related to Quakerism, its faith and practice and its theology, as well as a class
        on peace and conflict transformation. We also participated in the Friends peace conference that established a
        Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT) to minister to internally displaced people (IDPs).
       In February, the FTC community gave thanks to God that we were finally able to begin using the new
        Meetinghouse. Also, the FCPT began delivering food and supplies to displaced people in IDP camps. Jody
        participated in some of these trips. One of these deliveries was to an IDP camp just a few kilometers from us,
        and the FTC community helped with the delivery of food.
       In January, February and March, Ben was busy completing a long-planned Employee's Handbook, as well as
        work on the new college catalog. He also put in many hours with the Accrediting Council for Theological
        Education in Africa (ACTEA) to begin the tasks necessary to advance from Correspondent member status to
        Affiliate membership.
       From February (as soon as the country seemed safe enough) through May, nearly every weekend found us
        away from the college doing ministry in students' home village, monthly or quarterly meetings. We were
        amazed at how the Holy Spirit moved in these worship times, giving Ben an unusual freedom in preaching the
        Gospel. These ministry trips also occurred from September through November.
       In April, construction began on our new Administration building. We thank Dan Beane (Iowa YM) and
        Indiana Yearly Meeting for making this possible. The Certificate Short Course program (which meets for
        intensive classes in April and August each year) completed its 2nd year. These 36 students were now qualified
        to graduate in October. Also, the Friends Church Peace Team began to move into a second phase of its
        ministry--working to begin to do counseling related to trauma healing, for which Jody helped provide training.
       In May, we had an initial site visit from ACTEA. And the FCPT began reconciliation work—beginning with
        intensive listening sessions with the „receiving‟ community (those who would need to receive the IDPs when
        they returned, as the government was intent that they do). The students from the peace and conflict
        transformation class joined in these listening sessions.
       In June, we completed our first academic year with FTC; and began a full range of school-based (summer)
        programs at the certificate, diploma and degree levels. Many of the IDPs (to whom the FCPT had been
        ministering) were returned to their former areas. The FCPT was instrumental in helping this transition be
        smooth and without violence.
       In July (back in the U.S.), we ministered in some of your churches and we attended the Friends United
        Meeting Triennial at High Point, NC. It was good to see many of you there.
       In June, July and August, we reorganized the farming operation under one farm manager; completed (most
        of) the work on the new administration building, and the contractor turned it over to the College on August
        25, prior to the fall semester; partially renovated the former administration block to expand the amount of
        dormitory space available to men; purchased chairs for the Meetinghouse (with a gift from Eastern QM of
        NCYM). Special thanks to Angeline Savala who served as Acting Principal from mid-June through mid-
        August while we were doing visitation in the United States.
       In August, the summer intensive programs completed their classes. We returned to FTC to begin our second
        academic year. We accepted and received a record number of students into our residential program
        (including three students from Tanzania and two from Congo who are in our Certificate program by special
        arrangement with FUM and the John Sarrin Scholarship Committee; and two widows who are on full
        scholarship provided by the Miriam McDonald Memorial Scholarship Fund). We were excited to have
        students enrolled at every level of our bachelor‟s degree program. We noted at that time, that, “The financial
        support of international Friends, particularly during this time, has been critical for many people.
        Emergency funds have assisted thousands of internally displaced people. Your ongoing support for
        FTC allows us to carry many of our students who have not been able to secure their tuition fees because
        their sponsors' lives have been disrupted.”
       In September, we invited Yearly Meetings to participate in an education day at the College and it was held on
        19 September including a dedication of the new administration building; worked with the student body who
        had written and adopted a new constitution establishing a Student Association with a small Executive and
        full Student Council representing all classes; held new elections to fill those positions; purchased text books
        for several classes and books for the library; purchased a new computer allowing us to network PCs and
        printers in the Administration building, and a second computer for the library allowing us to automate
        circulation (thanks to a grant from Western Yearly Meeting to assist in our accreditation process). Enrollment
        for school-based programs (41) and residential programs (76) totaled 127.
       In October, we held graduation -- the largest graduation ever, with 58 "graduands." Thirty-six graduated from
        the "short course" Certificate in Pastoral Ministry program that was started two years ago when Patrick Nugent
        and Mary Kay Rehard were still here. It has been under the direction of Simon Bulimo, a member of the
        faculty and pastor in Lugari Yearly Meeting. Four graduated from the year-long residential Certificate
        program, and 18 graduated with Diplomas in Theology. Our chief guest was Prof. Dankit Nassiuma, Vice-
        chancellor of Kabarak University, who grew up in Chwele Yearly Meeting, near Mt. Elgon. He remembered
        his father's warning that if you educate a thief, you just make him a better thief! God wants us to walk what
        we talk: let the content match the label that we wear.
       In November, the Friends Church Peace Team worked on doing a survey in the area of the returned IDPs—to
        assess the current status of both the „returning‟ and the „receiving‟ communities—five months later. Students
        from the original peace and conflict transformation class also participated in this survey process.
       In December, we completed our first semester with students enrolled in every level of our degree program.

So, has it been a good year? Has the gospel been preached? Have lives been transformed by the good news and the
power of the Holy Spirit?

With your help, the answer is, “Yes!” Thank you so much!

In Mal. 3:10c, the Lord of Hosts says, “see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an
overflowing blessing.”

With your help, we have seen this blessing.

And, as we frequently hear in Kenya, “God bless you so much!”



Ben & Jody Richmond

				
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