26 January 2010

Joy

Our kids bring us so much joy. It is amazing to watch them grow into their God-given personalities and to see them be brother and sister to each other. During those sleepless baby years, it often seemed like time was standing still. It felt like the kids would never be at the age to play hide and seek with each other. It sure has gone fast.

Here is a glimpse of the delightful chaos that we call home!

video

23 January 2010

Samosas



Samosas are a filled pastry found in many parts of the world... in Africa, they are often reserved for very special occasions.  When I (Heather) studied in Kenya in college, we had them for our farewell dinner, and they were worth the wait!  Soon after I got back to the states, I found a recipe, but was never brave enough to try it.  So finally, six years later, we enjoyed them this week for dinner.  There are many different varieties of samosas, but I think this was relatively close to what I had in Kenya the first time.

Samosas


1” piece ginger root
6 cloves garlic
2 lb. lean ground lamb or beef
3 large onions
1 T massala
1 T curry powder (I could have done with a little less curry)
1 T turmeric
Salt to taste
2 lb frozen egg roll dough, thawed (I used wonton wrappers, just a different size)
Flour
Oil


Process ginger and garlic in blender until well mashed.  Combine with meat, onions, massala, curry and turmeric.  Sauté in frying pan, over low heat 30 minutes, drain fat.


Cut sheets of dough into 3x6” strips.  Fold one point up to form a triangular pocket.  Fold over again, and fill with meat mixture.  Bring down the top and seal all sides with flour and water paste.  Deep fry a few at a time, until golden.  


Can be frozen, thaw and place in 400 degree oven until warm.
Serves 10-12

15 January 2010

Things we need and things we don't


As we're preparing to leave, there are a few things that we're really looking for help on.  There are a couple of things we actually do need, but mostly we've got a LOT of stuff to get rid of.  Some things are just conveniently falling apart (see Heather's post on her spatulas) and can just make a trip to the trash or recycle bin.  Others are not so conveniently falling apart.  The wonderful Explorer (which has been mine longer than Heather's) is now acting not-so-wonderfully.  Nothing life-threatening, really, but you know how older cars tend to have some strange quirks?  The Explorer has been basically quirk-free since I bought it... until about a year ago (Shortly after the loan was paid off, coincidentally).  The last year has brought new idiosyncrasies at an alarming rate.  At this point we're really praying for six more good months from it... anybody want it after that? It has new half-axels, front drive shaft, a rebuilt transfer case, and a new battery... all under a year old! =(  I'm including the only picture I have of it here... it's on the left, buried under snow.  Don't you want it?!


Other things we don't really need include the house... It's a lovely little mountian home built in 1919 with a new roof, new paint, new laundry room, new furnace, new porch, new kitchen... we bought it as a fixer-upper and my summers have been busy!  That and whenever anybody visits, we put them to work.  Really though, we're hoping to find some stable renters who NEED a cheap place; we feel at this time God is calling us to have this be a ministry, and we'd be able to let somebody use it basically at cost.  If you know anybody in Woodland Park who might fit this description let us know, but mostly be praying that something can be worked out.  There's tons of other stuff as well, from the unused to the well-loved which we'll be trying to get rid of at a yard sale May 8th (weather permitting) and another sometime later.  You could come buy stuff... for you we make special price! 

A couple things we DO need are some large suitcases or hard-sided containers for the flight to Kenya... have anything laying around?  Another thing: does anybody out there have connections through which we could get a good deal on Microsoft Office for Mac?  Anybody?  Heather likes thinking about all this stuff; it scares me to death, and I'd really rather not think about it.  This may be the reason she's prepared for events when they happen and I'm scrambling to cobble together some workable solution.  I'm glad she's around!

14 January 2010

From Here to There: Our Timeline

Welcome to the fourth installment of the week!  One of the most-asked questions we hear when people find out we're going to Kenya is, "When are you leaving?"  Until just recently, we've only been able to give a rough estimate.  Just last week, we finally heard some dates set in stone... soft stone... maybe soapstone...  or better yet, molten lava.  Anyway, here is a brief outline of where we are now and when the next steps will be completed.  Currently, I'm (Jim) still teaching at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park, CO.  Heather's helping out with the MOPS ministry at Woodland Park Community Church and taking care of our awesome kids.  We'll both continue to do so until the end of the school year on May 28th.  The end of May also marks the time at which we must have 100% of our outgoing expenses and pledged monthly support raised.


At that point, we'll begin packing up the house.  We will travel to Pearl River, NY where the US headquarters of Africa Inland Mission is located for a couple of days of training and debriefing from July 20-22, 2010.  After that, we fly to Nairobi, Kenya for Africa Based Orientation in nearby Machakos.  We'll spend some time from July 27th to August 17th learning how to survive in a new culture (basic language, bartering, working together, etc...)  After that we'll head to Kijabe and Rift Valley Academy with a little over a week to prepare for the start of the school year (which we're guessing will probably be August 27th.)  Please pray for us as the end of May approaches.  In addition to being the busiest time of the school year for our family, we'll also be facing deadlines for the completion of our support, Bible classes...  I don't want to think about any more of that - just pray!

13 January 2010

What support looks like

As Heather and I were looking at international schools, many schools we saw actually paid teachers.  As we tell people we are raising our own financial support to go, we often get shocked or confused looks.  More about that in a second, but first, we'd like to talk about another very important kind of support:  We're also working to raise up a team of friends who are supporting us through prayer and encouragement.  This is incredibly important to us as we take our young family overseas, and something we may not have had much of if we chose a paying school.  We send out periodic prayer requests and updates by email, and if you'd like to support us in this way, fill out the form found here and we'll put you on the list.  We're excited about the team God's raised up and are encouraged by the faithfulness of those standing behind us in prayer.

As far as financial support is concerned, there are several benefits to hiring staff on a volunteer basis.  First and foremost, Rift Valley Academy is a ministry, and like most other ministries, funded through donations.  This benefits missionary work throughout the African continent as costs to the parents are kept at a minimum providing more available financial resources for them on their particular mission field.  We're excited about contributing our skills and resources to furthering God's work in Kenya.  Here is a more detailed outline of our financial needs and where the money goes: 

Currently we're raising support for two budgets.  Any money given to us from the point we began raising support in January 2009 until late May 2010 goes into our outgoing expense account.  This money is used to get our family moved to Kijabe and includes airfare, fees, paperwork, our first month's living expenses, travel and health insurance, etc... 

The second budget is pledged monthly support, 13.6% for the home and international administrative offices (who have been completing many of our travel documents and keep us organized... without their support, we'd be lost), 35% for missionary benefits (insurance, retirement, housing...) and 51.4% for ministry costs (our salary for daily necessities, our home assignment (furlough), social security, school supplies...).  We pray that we can use these funds wisely to the full glory of God.  We must have 100% of our support raised in both categories by the end of May 2010 in order to leave on our expected departure date.  You can see our current support progress in the "Support Report" on the right-hand side of this page. 

Support raising has been an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience.  In addition to feeling like beggars,  and occasional feelings of frustration and hopelessness we've also grown in our reliance upon one another in prayer and encouragement.  It's also been incredible to see God's blessing in our finances and His provision as we trust in Him. What a spiritually encouraging experience it has been to seek God's provision financially; first as we said all our possesions were His and really meaning it, then seeing God's faithfulness in meeting our financial and physical needs. (Heather wrote about this here)  I'm reminded of Malachi 3:10 when God is speaking to His people about bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse.  "...'Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing you will not have room for it!'"  We have been blessed!

11 January 2010

Jim and Heather 101: How we got here

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of our very first blog post.  One year and over 5,500 hits later,  it's probably past time to recount our mission and vision... the very reason we began this blog.  Our story begins in earnest in November, 2008 when we asked a few close friends to be praying for us as we visited Africa Inland Mission's U.S. headquarters for a time of interviews and seeking God's will about serving the church overseas.  Really, the story begins much before that with my desire to support missions and Heather's heart for Africa.  Before we got married in July, 2004 we planned to be in Woodland Park only a short time while Heather finished her degree at Colorado College and earned a teaching certificate.  After that, we hoped to travel, use our skills to support missions, and return right about now to start a family.  Heather did complete her degree, but for the rest, God had a different plan.  Two kids, and 4 years later, we re-opened that dream and began looking at international schools.  Most were on the 'tamer' side than our original plan.  We looked all over the world: the South Pacific, South America... but eventually began looking at Africa again.

It was on one of these exploratory sessions that Heather and I looked at Haven of Peace Christian Academy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and noticed that they needed a biology teacher.  The school was staffed through Africa Inland Mission, and after some thought, we began the application process.  While applying, we kept finding information about another school (Rift Valley Academy) which really seemed to us to be a better fit and tugged at our hearts.  We really felt, however that God was leading us to go through with the application process.  At the conclusion of the candidate week at U.S. headquarters in New York, we were told that they felt God was calling us to serve with Africa Inland Mission...  At Rift Valley Academy!  I can't really describe the peace that hearing those words brought to our hearts.

More details have followed by fits and spurts, but at this point, we'll be arriving at U.S. headquarters in New York on July 20, 2010 for a short debreifing after which we'll fly to Kenya.  I'll be teaching high school biology and secondary science at Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya to the children of missionaries from around the continent of Africa.  Faith will be enrolled in kindergarten there, and Heather will be taking care of Joel and helping out around the school.  It has been encouraging and humbling to watch God's hand over the last year of preparation. We're really excited to be a part of what RVA is doing to support God's work in Africa and to be His hands and feet by partnering in the ministry of Rift Valley Academy.

09 January 2010

Up next week...

Starting Monday, we are going to have a five-day blog review that will cover the who, what, when, where, and how of our move to and ministry in Kenya.  It has been a while since we've talked about the reason WHY we started this blog!  So if you are a new reader, or an old reader, hopefully some of your questions will be answered.  Let us know what you'd like to hear about.  You can leave a comment on this post, or keep track of the topics next week and ask more questions then.

Here's the schedule:

Jim and Heather 101:
Part One: Ministry at RVA
Part Two: Kijabe, Kenya
Part Three: Why and how we are supported
Part Four: Our timeline
Part Five: Things we need and things we don't

Stay tuned!

06 January 2010

My spatulas are trying to tell me something.


It seems many things in our house are in this state.  Ready to be replaced.

So are we, in a sense.  We know, and those around us know, we are on our way out of here.  It's easy for us to withdraw right now.  What's the point of building relationships that will be physically distanced in six months?  What's the point of deepening emotional ties that will be painfully torn apart very soon?

But Timothy reminds us to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith. (2 Tim 4:7)

I'm not throwing out those spatulas.  They will serve me well for the next six months.  That middle one's maybe even got a few years left in it.  Neither should I drop out too early from this race that is before us.  God has us in Woodland Park during this time for very good reasons.  We haven't physically dropped out of the ministries and relationships we are involved in here, and we must fight not to drop out of them mentally or emotionally.

So here's to not throwing in our dirty, tattered, and frayed towels... yet.

04 January 2010

How we do Christmas

"First Christmas" in Woodland Park, December 19th.

Attempt to get a good "under the tree picture" of the kids.


And... try again...


Nope.  Moving on...


Handmade puppets from Grandmom.  Joel loved his even more, resulting in only blurry pictures...


But here's a good one:


That afternoon, driving to Paonia, Colorado, Jim's (aka: "Jimmy") childhood home.


Where the creation of this wreath is highly debated.


And where there are wonderful treasures to explore on the farm.  Yep, that's the Willys Jeep that was the getaway car in our wedding!


Where Faith enjoys helping feed the dogs and the horses... a lot!


Back inside everyone lined up for their Christmas haircuts:  Faith, Joel, Jim and Andrew. (Heather's brother)


And Andrew is back at it again with Faith on his shoulders... this time, making tortillas!


And FINALLY it is Christmas morning again!  Look at that excited boy!


And what is Christmas without thoughtful, lovely gifts?  Yep... that's a starling trap that we crafted for Jim's parents.  Side note: it created a lot of conversation during the break about the birds, and Joel asked at lunch one day if we could go out and shoot some birds after we ate.  Hmmm...


And sweet cousins...


And the hilarious re-gifted "white elephant" gift.


Maybe all that laughing is what sent poor pregnant Pamela to the hospital!


It was a beautiful time.  We are thankful.