Monday, August 27, 2007

“Pioneers” – A Nice Endorsement

Recently Doctors Nate and Kim Smith and family spent five days with TMM missionaries
Shayne & Tari Russell. Nate is an Infectious Disease specialist overseeing Aids treatment in Kenya. Kim is an OBGYN at Kijabe Medical Center. On July 18 they posted the following on their web-link to the University of Maryland and a local TV station that is monitoring his work (I'm so thankful for the Russells and the work they do, so please indulge me: the emphases are mine):


After almost a year back in Kenya, Kim and I decided we needed a few days of rest and relaxation together as a family. Masai Mara is one of our favorite places to go on safari, and it seemed like a good place to get away from the pagers and meetings and emails. So this past weekend we loaded up the Land Cruiser and set out for the Mara.

Tari and Shayne Russell are good friends of ours who live and work with the Maasai people near the Sekenani Gate that leads into the Masai Mara reserve. I first met Tari when she came to Kijabe Hospital several years ago with typhoid and brucellosis, occupational hazards of living and working with the Maasai. The Russells work with two other missionary families, the Johnsons and the Sawyers, and it was their combined hospitality that provided us a "base camp" for our daily sojourns into the Mara.

Life is harsh for the Maasai. The ground is mostly stones, and what little soil there is is a dry, powdery dust. The Maasai are traditionally nomadic herders who live in small compounds they build out of sticks, cow dung and thorn bush. Up on the ridge where the Russells live, there is no electricity or running water. Everything they have, they have had to build themselves.

I suppose harsh is a relative term. Before coming to work with the Maasai in 1995, the Russells had already weathered a military invasion in Goma (Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1992 and the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In addition to pastoring the small flock of Maasai believers, Shayne and his colleagues have also managed to construct a church building, a medical clinic and several wells for the Maasai community. They also have plans to build an education center for the Maasai children.

The Russells still live in the small, tin-roofed house they started with. It looks like it was partly constructed using the metal container in which they transported their earthly possessions from the US to Kenya. However, Shayne is in the process of building a more substantial structure using cement and local stone. "How much longer will it take?" I ask. Shayne admits that it will really depend on the finances; he builds a little at a time as the money comes in.

Shayne and his colleagues seem to be as comfortable with building construction and vehicle repair as they are conversing in Swahili or preparing a sermon. I can pump gas and maybe change a tire; hammering a nail in straight is a challenge for me. I try to imagine surviving in a place like the Mara. "Did you do these sorts of things before coming to Africa?" I finally ask. Shayne laughs. He describes himself as a youth pastor with "no skills" prior to his missionary career. An eleven-month training program with The Master's Mission (TMM) gave him the basics, but the rest has been learning by doing. I am amazed.

After four days with these special friends, I am impressed by their capabilities, humbled by their hospitality, and inspired by their faith. These are true pioneers.

Nate Smith

P.S. You can find out more about Tari and Shayne Russell and the work they do at or by emailing them at <shayne@masaimissionscom>.


Thanks Nate for the good words and for the good work you are doing in Christ's Name!


At 8:50 PM, Blogger The Deiterings said...

Hi David. That's an awesome endorsement. Thanks for sharing.

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