Out of Africa

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Hodders bid varewell to Kenya.

by Jolene Hodder, Commissioner –

Jessica Hodder (center) dances with friends during a farewell meeting held in honor of her family, [Photo by Jolene Hodder]

I will bless my people and their homes around my holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing (Ezekiel 34:26).

After three years of amazing adventures in Africa, we moved out of our cottage on the compound to prepare it for the arrival of our successors.

Our few possessions were shipped to London; we surrendered our keys and are now in temporary quarters, waiting for Jess to finish her exams. The events of the last few weeks have come as the showers of blessing we needed.

The rain came down in buckets the morning of our territorial farewell. Despite the downpour, thousands of Salvationists insisted on marching past us one last time. As we stood on the platform outside the Kabete gathering place—shivering noticeably under our big umbrellas—it was difficult to hold back the tears. Our African family, with their soaked uniforms clinging to them, marched proudly down the street, wading through large mud puddles and grinning from ear to ear. What an overwhelming gift of love.

During the tributes, we were each asked to respond. I was determined to control my emotions since I became emotional in my first farewell meeting with the women of the territory. Jessica, however, broke down and cried. As I looked throughout the crowd, I was surprised to see so many young girls and women also wiping their wet eyes. A respected employee told me that African women only cry openly when there is a death. Apparently, the Hodder girls can make Africans cry other times, but I am told this is a good thing. One young woman said, “Tears will now come to us when they are needed.”

Ken and I were grieved about the weather during the farewell luncheon because we knew how hard everyone had worked. One senior officer would not listen to our regrets. He looked directly at Ken and said, “Now, Colonel, you know Africans see rain as a blessing. The rain is fitting today for you and your family have brought us many blessings.”

The cold, rainy season is here and it has rained heavily almost every day for more than a week. As we cuddle together in our blankets trying to keep warm, we remember all the blessings we have received during the past three years. We are grateful for prayer and financial support, encouraging emails and welcome care packages.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we start a new chapter in our lives, in a new culture and in a new ministry.

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