25 January 2009

More About RVA

The Rift Valley Academy is a Christian boarding school located in Kijabe, Kenya. It exists to provide a Christ-centered education to the children of missionaries serving throughout the continent of Africa. It was founded for a single family in 1906, and today has grown to support over 450 students of over 20 different nationalities whose parents serve with approximately 80 different mission organizations in over 20 African countries.

RVA is staffed by Africa Inland Mission with self-supported missionaries like us. Because the staff is responsible for raising their own support, students who attend are able to get a quality American education at an affordable cost. Heather and I feel honored to have the chance to serve these missionary families by contributing to a quality education for their children. Most of these missionaries have sacrificed so much already, but through RVA, their children still have a chance to get a great education. RVA has established itself as an exceptional school (Ranked #2 in Africa in this survey) with students accepted to even the most selective colleges. To learn more about RVA and its students, check out this youtube video about RVA.

Just like every school, RVA has its struggles... and I'm sure missionary kids often have problems academically, socially, as Christians and (gasp!) behaviorally. But I'm really excited about being a part of these kids' lives. Many of RVA's students end up returning to the mission field... What a great opportunity to serve the mission field in Africa both immediately and far into the future!

20 January 2009

Portrait of Submission

Clothed… in the common and profane, and the tendency for independence runs through every vein.
~Smalltown Poets, Clean

This weekend we had a GREAT learning experience… this one definitely falls under the painful category: prayer-card picture. Heather and I decided to do a self-portrait of the family for our prayer card which sounds innocuous enough, but about 30 minutes of cranky, crying, uncooperative kids later, I was starting to think differently… and to feel impatient, frustrated… not exactly the picture of a godly father, husband or Christian. I know I tend to be one of those people who does quite a lot on his own, forgetting to rely on Christ. It’s so often that the world drags me in over my head… and I can’t be vulnerable enough to just give it up to Jesus. I’m grateful (I suppose) for these little reminders that I’m not in charge of this journey… I need to surrender to Christ and his plan.
And I guess it all turned out just fine in the end.

17 January 2009

Faith and Faith

This is my sweet child Faith, just a few minutes ago. A few minutes before this, she was a totally different picture. The poor girl had a long couple of days. We had a wonderful trip to visit Jim's sister and her family yesterday (Friday), but without spending the night we got back home at 10. The kids did amazing well, but after getting up a little early this morning, then being trucked off to a friend's while we attended a missions meeting at our church, they are now worn out! We got home from the meeting well after nap time should have been started. As a side note, she rarely takes naps anymore, but after days like these, she will. So, I (Heather) listened to Faith yell and cry for quite a while. She was just so tired and confused after two pretty unusual days.

I decided to go in and just lay with her for a bit. She kept crying and telling me things that she was upset about, but she started to hold my hand, and then hug it to her stomach, and intermittently just listen to the radio that was playing. Then she put her fingers in her mouth (her soother) and pulled her blankie close and slowly... slowly... the eyelids got heavy, the arms relaxed, the head rested fully on the pillow. And then, the sign when I know it's for sure, the jerky, big breath that is let out so relaxed and calm. Peace.

It is a joy and a relief to watch your children go to sleep. With Faith, it's not too often anymore... Joel either, really. When they were babies, we got to watch it all the time. There are so many analogies to be made between being parents to your children, and how God thinks of us (His children). I'm sure you've heard some. While watching Faith relax and trust and fall asleep, I was thinking about following God's will and desire for our lives. I desired so much for Faith to fall asleep and get some rest, and once she finally decided that was okay (which is a decision she very much makes herself!) I felt a peace too. Not necessarily an accomplishment or success on my part, but an assurance that the afternoon would be better for it, and that my own child was at peace, calm and content in her world, doing what I knew was best for her.

How much do I fight what God desires for my life? How much do I tense up and yell and kick and scream? When I can truly submit to His will, the relationship prospers. Just as our family's does when the kids listen, obey, and enjoy each other. Only then can we grow deeper and really build lasting, loving bonds as a family.

I only hope I can make God feel the same way that I do when I watch my children fall asleep.

14 January 2009

Why RVA?

Heather and I have always wanted to support missions. Some of our most rewarding experiences together have been on short term mission trips to Chihuahua, Mexico and Biloxi, Mississippi. But why Africa? I guess you'd really have to blame Heather... I've never been, but what I've seen and heard is amazing. Heather's in the living room right now painting and watching "Hatari" ...a John Wayne movie filmed in Tanzania (Tanganika at the time) - It's a fun film to watch. The storyline is painfully slow-moving, but the African people have such a contagious exuberance about them, and the land seems so rich... although to view the Mount Longonot webcam at RVA, you'd never know it. Apparently this summer has been quite dry in the Kijabe area... things are looking a little brown. But the real reason for serving in Kenya, and specifically at Rift Valley Academy is this:

The work in Africa to further God's kingdom is exciting... According to the Joshua Project: Nearly 1 billion people from 3,743 distinct people groups live on the continent of Africa within 57 countries; 930 of those people groups may never have heard the gospel; nearly 260 million individuals have not been told of Christ's salvation; 20 countries fall within the 10-40 window, containing some of the most unreached people groups on Earth.
While Heather and I do not have the proper education or background to be on the front lines planting churches, we are able to serve a need for those who are- Rift Valley Academy provides a quality American education for expatriate students whose parents are serving throughout Africa. Because Heather and I are serving as volunteers for Africa Inland Mission and must raise all our support, RVA is able to provide that quality education to missionary kids while charging relatively little tuition - enabling more funds and resources to be distributed to the front lines of the evangelical movement in Africa.

10 January 2009

Welcome to Our Blog

Greetings from Colorado! We hope this blog becomes an important avenue of communication between our family and yours over the next few years as we prepare for and enter into the mission field in Kenya, Africa.

Our journey to Kenya began not too long ago in April of 2008, when we (Jim and Heather) began to talk about our next step. We love living in Woodland Park, but knew that this wonderful community was a stepping stone to something different. We quickly became involved in learning about Africa Inland Mission, an international organization with a US office in Pearl River, NY. After two applications, an interview, psychological surveys, and reading preparations, we arrived in New York for the final step (or the first step!) in November 2008. We attended a candidate week with 14 other prospective missionaries, and by the end of the week we learned we were headed to the Rift Valley Academy in July of 2010.

Africa Inland Mission was established in 1895 by Peter Cameron Scott. The work we are joining began over 110 years ago! We are humbled to be even a small part of an incredible story. We would love for you to join in as well. We cannot be sent without the strong and faithful support of our family and friends. We look forward to sharing with you about God’s work in Africa, and want to hear about His work where you are, too.