2018: A year of heartbreak and celebration.

2018 was a fast-paced blur with long days but quick-moving months (if that makes any sense!). Some say it was the worst year ever, others say the best. For us and most of the world, it fell somewhere between with contrasting moments of heartbreak and celebration.

Living in this world (and definitely this country), life is full of unpredictability, surprises and a roller coaster of emotions.  We are so thankful to serve a God who is constant. He cares for us in our happy times and in our sad, painful times. He has carried us through 2018 and we aim to lean close to Him through 2019.

Here’s a summary of each month as we look back on the year:

January: Heartbreak. We began the year with heavy heartbreak. Bluesky’s founder, Kim Pace, tragically passed away in a paragliding accident. Her death left us in shock, grieving, and uncertain of the future of our ministry.

February: Celebration! A blurry month of planning and chugging along in weekly youth ministry…celebrating the little victories, like getting our to-do list done!

March: Celebration! We jam-packed the month with our biggest student event, Disciple Now, which spanned two weekends as we hosted the SWAT team from Athens, Georgia in-between. We followed that up with a camping safari in Tsavo East and the Chuyulu Hills with dear friends…and our poor little 6 month who got drug along for the 13 hour round trip (bumpy) ride!

April: Celebration! Honestly, we can’t remember anything significant about April, other than continuing along in weekly youth ministry. So, we call that a celebration because we love our job! Oh, and Levi began sitting on his own…another reason to celebrate!

May: Heartbreak.  We wrapped up regular youth ministry for the school year and said heartbreaking good-byes to some dear students and families that moved away.

June: Celebration! Camp Bluesky began, which is always a celebration in our books! Nate spent three weeks serving as a counselor. Shanna divided her time with Camp and leading a girl’s bible study known as “Lit Coffee Group” that met every week in Nairobi. We also celebrated Tammy Preston coming on staff as Bluesky Global’s director…praises for the Lord always providing exactly what we need!

July: Celebration! Another jam-packed month! We moved houses one more time to what feels like HOME! Two weeks after moving, we put our new house to full-capacity use by  hosting dear friends visiting from Rome, Georgia! Nate also wrapped up his last session as a counselor with Camp Bluesky!

August: Heartbreak. (…but maybe less to do with the heart and more to do with the back.) Shanna had some chronic back pain that began this month and carried on for 2 solid months without answers. It really put a damper on our lives and ministry. We were thankful for eventually finding a wonderful physical therapist to help.

September: Celebration! Regular school year youth ministry started back up again! On top of that, Shanna’s parents came for a visit and Levi celebrated his 1st birthday! We took Shanna’s parents out to the Maasai Mara for a classic safari experience…complete with three little cheetah cubs that got up close to (and under) our vehicle!

October: Celebration! We carried on with regular youth groups and during a school break, got to travel to the nearby Aberdere Mountains and explore more of the beauty of Kenya with friends! Nate also celebrated turning 28 years old!

November: Heartbreak. Shanna had a miscarriage (ectopic pregnancy) that was very painful, both physically and emotionally for us. We were so thankful for friends who visited us in the hospital and/or reached out to us by text and email with encouragement through it all.

December: Celebration! We were determined to end the year on a good note…and what better way to do that than explore! Just before Christmas, we traveled to Samburu National Reserve for safari with sweet friends. Our car may have broken down 4.5 hours from home, but it was still wonderful trip! (Hoping to get it fixed soon…prayers it’s not too expensive!) Also, Levi started walking…another fun celebration!

Here are some photos from our December trip to Samburu…a great way to end 2018 and welcome 2019!

 

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The view of Mount Kenya as we drove from our hike in Ngare Ndare Forest! 
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How many giraffe can you spot? (scroll to the end to see the answer!) 
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A big bull elephant came VERY near our vehicle! 
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These Grevy’s Zebra are endangered…there are only an estimated 2,800 alive today. Notice how their stripes are really close together, which is different from the common zebra. 
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Family photo in Ngare Ndare Forest! 
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Our adventuring friends who were flexible and endured sitting on the side of the road when our car broke down and extending our trip a day to get it fixed! Fun fact: Jessica went to Shorter University, which is in Shanna’s hometown…but we didn’t meet until living in Kenya. …small world! 
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And to top our trip off, Nate ran into Santa! (I think Santa went on a diet in 2018) 

 

Thank you so much for keeping up with our lives here in Kenya. It means so much to have friends check in on us here on our blog! Beginning this year, we will be adding an email newsletter for our supporters and friends that will be the main avenue for updating about our ministry with Bluesky. We hope an email update will provide a more secure place for us to give deeper insights and details of our ministry.  We will continue blogging as well, but this blog will have more of a lifestyle focus than a ministry focus.

If you would like to be added to our ministry update email (we aim to send 5-6 time a year) please let us know by emailing shannamast@gmail.com!

 

*There are 13 giraffe!

 

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