28 June 2009

Hiking to the top

During nap time, Chad, Jim and Faith hiked up to the top of the dunes. It is very hard work...sometimes it feels like you take one step and slide back down halfway! It also gets very windy up there. Faith was a tough cookie...the sand stings pretty good when it hits you!

25 June 2009


We always have fun playing on the dunes, and this time we got some fun photos. Our favorite is still the one of Jim jumping over me from the earlier post.

Nicole and I take a turn
Chad and Jim
At the end of the day, there was always plenty of stuff to take back to the campsite!

22 June 2009

More on camping

We spent three days at the Great Sand Dunes National Park down by Alamosa, Colorado. We went with our friends, the Cormans. We have talked about them before, they live right down the hill from us, and are on an extended furlough from ministry in Malaysia. It has been such divine timing to have them in our lives. They have so much encouragement and wisdom to share with us! They have two kids, a boy Joel's age and a little girl (named Kenya!) who is six months. We had a wonderful time with them!

Joel, Faith, and Kaeden
We have been to the dunes in the past, but always in the autumn. One of the great things about going at this time of year is the snowmelt creates a shallow creek at the base of the dunes. It makes an awesome place for kids to play.
Kaeden ran and ran and didn't stop!
As did Faith, aka "Hollywood"

20 June 2009

Joel and the caterpillars

Around the campsite and along the trail to the dunes there were tons of these little green caterpillars that would be out on the end of the branches of all the little bushes. The kids have lately gotten into bugs and worms and creepy-crawlies, so the caterpillars were a lot of fun for them. Here are some cute pictures of Joel checking them out.

Oops! They squish!

17 June 2009


We just got back from an awesome camping trip at the sand dunes here in Colorado. More pictures soon to come... We just have to pick the best 50! Summer is so fun!

13 June 2009

Don't judge a book by its cover, Part 2

So a lot of the thoughts I had on Wednesday were encouraged by some teaching we recieved on our retreat. One of our classes was concerning relationships with others on the mission field, particularly other missionaries. The inability to get along with fellow missionaries is one of the most common reasons for people to leave the mission field, believe it or not.

At our candidate week in November we spent time talking about this topic as well. We looked at all sorts of personality types, decided what best described our own selves, and also pinpointed personalities that we would likely conflict with. It is very helpful to spend time thinking about these issues and to be more aware of our own tendencies. So much better than never having thought of it!

Our speaker at the retreat in May had grown up in South America as a missionary kid, and then returned later with his wife and family for a number of years. He spoke of the impression that was made upon him as a young boy as he sat in on a conversation that concerned missionaries not working well together, and what an impact it had on him to see the relational struggles among the missionaries that were there to serve the nationals. And then he spoke of the other family that he and his wife spent a year with in language school at the beginning of their missions career. They got along really well and were thrilled they would be working in the same area when they moved to the more remote regions to begin their service. They were actually the only westerners anywhere around! With the camaraderie they had during language school, it seemed they were going to have great success working together! Turns out the stress of the field and the competitiveness that started to filter into their work ate away at the friendship until some changes in field assignments were made later.

At the end of the stories, one thing this speaker said really stood out to me.

"Never think you have anyone figured out. No matter how long you've knownthem, there's always something you don't know about: some piece of historythat has influenced them or some aspect of their personality you don't realize."

Our culture often says "don't judge a book by it's cover", but after we get to know a person past the first impressions, to the degree that we deem is "enough", we feel entitled to make a conclusion about them. Then we put that relationship into a category: "we could never get along", "they seem a little odd", "I love this person and completely understand them". And we do believe we have it all figured out.

It is easy for me to think of times that someone has decided they have me "all figured out" and it hurts, and I just ache to be listened to... to be given a little more room in that relationship. But if it is that easy for me to pinpoint moments like this, I wonder how many I have caused for someone else. I imagine I could listen more, ask questions more, and give a little more grace.

Wow. What good teaching this was. Thank you.

10 June 2009

Don't judge a book by its cover...

This is a phrase that we are all familiar with. When the phrase is used in reference to people, I bet we can all think of a time we were reminded that it takes time to get to know someone and that first impressions are not necessarily fair. I was reminded of this just yesterday morning.

As I was leaving to go exercise with some other moms, a service man showed up that we had been expecting. He was a bit scruffy, long ponytail, flannel shirt, the works. Jim took him into the house and I went on my way. After almost two hours, I returned, a little surprised he was still at our house. Jim had quite a list of things to accomplish during the time he was supposed to have alone, to get ready for our presentation to our church that evening. So I got home, the kids were fussy and hungry, and I said something like "were you able to get anything done?" to Jim. I was feeling a little overwhelmed. This guy was supposed to get his work done and let Jim get his work done!

Jim came into the kitchen while I was making my lunch and said "I'm sorry I didn't get a lot of things done, but I had a really great conversation with Joe*." Turns out, he's a really neat guy. Sadly, his wife recently left him, taking their newborn. He is worried that she has severe postpartum depression and he is hurting for his family and life that has been turned upside down. Jim shared some of our story with him and prayed for him.

I was humbled by all that went on behind the scenes in my morning. Joe worked very hard to get things up and running for us again, he delighted in talking to Faith while she ate her lunch and watched him work, and he and Jim were given an opportunity to share each other's burdens. Wow. What an awesome reminder of God's plan for each of our days.
*Name changed for privacy reasons.

06 June 2009

A Thousand Questions

This video was shown at the future missionaries retreat last week following a devotional by Matt Macy, a Friends Youth coordinator. It was originally made by the Willow Creek Church (Chicago area) last year. I (Heather) really like the creativity in the video...it's a little more than the normal churchy missions video, a little longer too, so hang in there.

It raises the questions we all struggle with concerning the hurt that seems so rampant all over the world. I felt myself wrestle right along with the questions as the video played. However, by the end, there really is a clear answer... a peace. Not a happy, painless peace, but a peace about our calling as Christians: that we were created to love others... all around us, all over the world. Not to fix, but to love, to share our hope in Jesus.

03 June 2009

Special People

Meet Dave and Mae Kellum. The first night of our retreat at dinner, we were sitting next to them, and we began to talk with them about missions. We told them we were headed to the Rift Valley Academy and their faces just lit up! Turns out Dave attended as a boy from 2nd grade through graduation (11 years!), and then their three children all attended high school at RVA. They served most of their years in Burundi and Rwanda, two countries found southwest of Kenya. They continue to return, leading short-term missions trips and maintaining the relationships that many years built up.

We listened to many stories about Dave's time there as well as when they sent their kids off to school at Rift. There is a very famous story in the history of the school; we had heard of it a few times. This is from the RVA website:
Saturday, March 28, 1953 is one of RVA's greatest stories. It was clear the Mau Mau were raiding in the area, several days before the town of Lari had been burned and RVA was the next target. All went to bed sure they would be awakened by gunfire in the night. The staff prayed for God's protection, and the attack never happened. Months later when several Mau Mau were captured they said they were on their way to attack the mission station but were prevented from doing so by the large number of soldiers that surrounded the campus. Historical record shows that the only British soldier anywhere near Kijabe that night was [a single man named] Chipps. God had sent his angels to protect the school.

Dave was a student at RVA when all this happened. I can only imagine how the tension of these years in the middle of the Mau Mau rebellion shaped him and prepared him for the lifetime he would spend serving the people of East Africa. It was somewhat of a thrill for us to hear firsthand some of the dramatic history of the school.

What we treasured even more was their encouragement to us about the importance of the Rift Valley Academy. They truly spoke from their hearts about the pain and adjustment that comes with dropping a pre-adolescent child off at school hundreds of miles away and learning to entrust that child to the teachers and staff to love, encourage, grow, and nurture during the years that are traditionally lived out "at home". These kids really do leave the coop earlier than most American kids, and as my Grandmother said, "once you leave, you don't really come back home." What a powerful choice these parents lovingly make. RVA exists to give missionary kids in Africa a top-notch primary and secondary education that may not be found easily in the parents' mission field, and also to be an "in-between" to American or western life so that they can function well in their home culture, and colleges if they so choose.

I loved how every time Dave gently but passionately told us of the far-reaching impact of our work, he would tear up. From someone who lived through what we hope to be a small part of, it was incredibly affirming. We have been so blessed to meet this couple. What a legacy!